FORA Politics

Season 2009 Episode 0602

Torture and Democracy: What Now?

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Torture and Democracy: What Now?
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In his lecture for Sydney Ideas, Darius Rejali traces the development and application of one torture technique after another in the last century, and he reaches startling conclusions.As the twentieth century progressed, he argues, democracies not only tortured, but set the international pace for torture. Dictatorships may have tortured more, and more indiscriminately, but the United States, Britain, and France pioneered and exported techniques that have become the lingua franca of modern torture: methods that leave no marks.Under the watchful eyes of reporters and human rights activists, low-level authorities in the world's oldest democracies were the first to learn that to scar a victim was to advertise iniquity and invite scandal. Long before the CIA even existed, police and soldiers turned instead to "clean" techniques, such as torture by electricity, ice, water, noise, drugs, and stress positions.As democracy and human rights spread after World War II, so too did these methods. Rejali takes up the challenging question of whether torture works and also addresses what to expect of the new Obama administration and the prospects for the future of torture internationally.moreless
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