CIA torture: Shock, but not awe

Ambassador's view
Dr Alexander Yakovenko, Russian Ambassador to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Deputy foreign minister (2005-2011). Follow him on Twitter @Amb_Yakovenko
CIA torture: Shock, but not awe
The world has been shocked by the US Senate report on the use of torture by the CIA in its “war on terror.”

Even the published version, heavily redacted and with almost 7,000 pages still classified, gives a mind-boggling picture of a deliberate descent into medieval practices by a country that positions itself as a beacon of democracy and human rights in the world.

This is yet more proof of the sorry state of democracy in America. It also explains why many started re-reading Alexis de Tocqueville, particularly the critical part of it, including the dangers of conformism for a country born out of Protestant fanaticism. Sir Walter Scott shows it in graphic detail in his “Old Mortality.” Of course, it is for America to get over these institutionalized crimes, for there can be no salvation without repentance and redemption. It will help to give up on claims to exceptionalism, all the more so that this position has never been vacant in Christianity. As the Financial Times writes in its editorial, the rule of law must apply to those responsible.

But for America’s partners it’s a case of what kind of country we are dealing with and who is in charge. President Barack Obama recently said that he was surprised to know how little he can do in his office. Geoff Dyer in his FT piece raises the issue of America’s deep state, i.e. a state within a state, which operates according to its own compass, regardless of who is formally in power. That’s why the problem reaches far deeper than the previous Republican administration. This outright irrationality is scary, especially when the American military hints at deploying medium range cruise missiles in Europe, which would create another Cuban crisis.

As to American allies, who got involved in this shameful enterprise, nobody in the international community will accept Mr. Kwasniewski’s reasoning that it was necessary to build Polish-American trust. Though, of course, it is precisely about the trust in international relations. There must be no place for tribal and ideological allegiances here.

So, all must come clean. One avenue for that is the UN Human Rights Council and its Universal Periodic Review. Another way for America to prove its normalcy would be to sign and ratify all the existing universal human rights instruments.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.