Losing the Moral Compass: Torture and Guerre Revolutionnaire in the Algerian War   [open pdf - 78KB]

"One of the keys to success in the US war on terror and counterinsurgency, in Iraq and around the world, is the ability to use intelligence to effectively target the adversary. Obtaining useful intelligence is one of the most important challenges of counterinsurgency operations. This requirement has focused attention on the interrogation of combatants captured on the battlefield and in raids on safe-houses in third-party states. Almost from the beginning of US counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, accusations have been made that US interrogation techniques have included torture. Typical of the domestic reporting is an article in Newsweek in June 2004, titled 'New Torture Furor,' which states that the US Defense Department was exploring legal means for justifying torture. The foreign press has echoed what was reported in the United States, and expanded upon it. The German magazine Der Spiegel asserted that torture was rampant among US forces, and it represented the United States as 'exempting itself from international criminal jurisdiction. While the rest of the world is expected to abide by the UN Convention against Torture, for example, the Americans evaluate international law on the basis of whether it serves their interests.' This type of reporting is a strategic distraction and has the potential to cause a crisis in American foreign policy. It erodes international and domestic support and can embolden the enemy. Senior US officials have had to speak forcefully on the subject of torture to control the domestic and international damage, distracting their focus from the details of nation-building in Iraq."

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U.S. Army War College, Parameters: http://www.carlisle.army.mil/usawc/parameters/
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Parameters: United States Army War College Quarterly (Summer 2006), v.36 no.2, p.63-76
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