There are disagreements concerning the ends and means of employing torture as an investigative tool. One might dispute that the means are more important than the ends they realize. The question of ethics also crops up while dealing with such topics. Human rights activists hold that an individual however inhuman he/she may be needs to be treated ethically maintaining human dignity. An additional barrier towards legalizing torture is that a lot of thought and effort needs to be pumped in to make torture acceptable to all sections of the society. Surely, the reputation and stature of the United States will never improve if it acts arrogantly and violates basic human rights. (Palmer, 2005, p.41)
The Bush Doctrine is perceived by many commentators as a reactionary policy framework. But, President Bush is not radically different from preceding Presidents. In fact, the underpinnings of the Bush Doctrine can be traced back to the Cold War era. Let us consider the Nixon Doctrine. The following are words spoken by Richard Nixon in the way of explaining his doctrine:
“First, the United States will keep all of its treaty commitments. Second, we shall provide a shield if a nuclear power threatens the freedom of a nation allied with us or of a nation whose survival we consider vital to our security. Third, in cases involving other types of aggression, we shall furnish military and economic assistance when requested in accordance with our treaty commitments. But we shall look to the nation directly threatened to assume the primary responsibility of providing the manpower for its defence.” (Library of Congress Archives)
What is remarkable in the above passage is that it has some similarities with the Bush Doctrine. While the modes of engaging an enemy state and the protocol to be followed may be different, both administrations were essentially focusing on extending the American Imperial project that was an off-shoot of its victory in the Second World War. Hence, President George Bush is simply continuing the American Imperial agenda, that can trace its origins in the initial stages of the Cold War and which still continues today.
Apart from the geo-political significance of American militarism, the image of the country is also at stake. Popular opinion in the rest of the world is very unfavourable towards Americans – they don’t seem to make a distinction between the government and its populace. According to Robert Kagan,
“To forge a renewed political consensus on the use of force, we first need to recognize that international legitimacy does matter. It matters to Americans, who want to believe they are acting justly and are troubled if others accuse them of selfish, immoral or otherwise illegitimate behaviour. It matters to our democratic friends and allies, whose support may attest to the justness of the cause and whose participation may often be necessary to turn a military victory into a lasting political success.” (Kagan, 2006, p.24)
Kofi Annan, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations had displayed tact and skilful diplomacy in all his interactions with the United States government. It is an indication of the gravity of the violation that he openly questioned the legality of the Iraq war. Other notable diplomats too joined Annan in his condemnation of the war. For example, A.M. Slaughter argued that the invasion of Iraq by America and its allies “was categorically illegal under international law”. Richard Falk noted that “the illegality of recourse to war against Iraq in 2003 was clear. It was also clear before and after the war that there was no reasonable basis for invoking the ‘illegal but legitimate’ formula used by the Independent International Commission for Kosovo to deal with an exceptional circumstance of humanitarian emergency.” The academia across the world was also of a similar view. A majority of influential diplomats and political commentators outside of the United States concurred with these views (Harnden , 2004, p.26).