There is no shortage of US foreign policy actions and inactions in the region to inflame enemies. The Senate report is small potatoes compared to that.
Larison seconds Drezner:
It is extremely convenient for these people to discover the possibility that a report about past U.S. abuses might inspire outrage and even violence in response. There was no such concern among hawks about the foreign policy implications of torturing people when it was being done, and they expressed no similar worries that other U.S. actions would provoke violent responses. If one raises the possibility that aggressive U.S. actions in other parts of the world could have dangerous consequences for Americans later on, that is normally denounced as “blaming” America. Strangely enough, that doesn’t seem to apply when there is a chance of exposing our government’s egregious abuses to public scrutiny and some small measure of accountability for those abuses.
And many of the people crying blowback over this report were the same ones dismissing concerns that keeping Gitmo open would stoke resentment and terrorism in the Middle East. Waldman has it right:
The cynicism necessary to attempt to blame the blowback from their torture program on those who want it exposed is truly a wonder. On one hand, they insist that they did nothing wrong and the program was humane, professional, and legal. On the other they implicitly accept that the truth is so ghastly that if it is released there will be an explosive backlash against America. Then the same officials who said “Freedom isn’t free!” as they sent other people’s children to fight in needless wars claim that the risk of violence against American embassies is too high a price to pay, so the details of what they did must be kept hidden.
On that count, Drum argues that the release of the torture report will save lives:
[O]ur conduct during the early years of the war on terror almost certainly inflamed our enemies, bolstered their recruitment, and prolonged the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. This cost thousands of American lives.
President Obama may have banned torture during his administration, but is there any reason to think we’ve now given up torture for good? Not that I can tell, and it will cost many more thousands of American lives if it happens again. So for our own safety, even if for no other reason, we need to do everything we can to reduce the odds of America going on another torture spree.
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