The New Christians

The New Christians


War & Torture: Foggy & Hellish

posted by Tony Jones
Dean_Rusk,_Lyndon_B._Johnson_and_Robert_McNamara_in_Cabinet_Room_meeting_February_1968.jpg

Last night I watched The Fog of War, in which Robert McNamera reconsiders his participation in LBJ’s escalation of the Vietnam War by the addition of ground troops to the campaign of air bombing approved by JFK.  Of course, there’s a lot more to the film than that, but that’s the crux: What would have happened if JFK hadn’t been assassinated.  According to McNamara, Kennedy would have seen that Vietnam was an unwinnable ground war and would have pulled out with only a small fraction of the final total of American casualties: 58,196.

Here’s the Fog of War trailer (by the way, the music, by Philip Glass, is astounding):


Speaking of unwinnable, Keith DeRose has pointed me to a public television documentary that he describes as “one of the most important links I’ve ever found.”  The title is Torturing Democracy.  The entire film is online, and here’s the trailer:



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Albert the Abstainer

posted January 11, 2009 at 4:11 pm


I just finished watching Torturing Democracy, and I cannot overemphasize how important it is that people view it and fully consider its implications.
It says things that nobody wants to hear, but that everyone needs to know. It is accurate and that is backed up by all the government documents that are referenced. This is not ambiguous, it is in our faces. We do not have ‘plausible deniability’ anymore. The Bush administration has acted in an anti-constitutional manner, and has gravely undermined any semblance of the historic American values of freedom and democracy. The argument that torture is necessary for the security of the nation is bogus. All torture does is undermine the dignity of the torturer, the tortured, and the society that practices it. In practice, a tortured person will say what the torturer wants to hear, without regard to the truth of it. One of the most dangerous shortcomings of the Bush administration has been a willful blindness to anything that does not fit within their ideological template. I pray we never see the likes of this administration again. After viewing Torturing Democracy, I am convinced that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and a host of others should face war crimes. This, alas, will never come to pass, but it should.



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Keith DeRose

posted January 12, 2009 at 2:33 am


You seem to be far from alone in your reaction, Albert — and among those who react similarly and many who didn’t have such a view before watching TD. So maybe there’s some hope for some kind of justice — perhaps some kind weighty determination made that various U.S. higher-ups actually committed serious war crimes, even if the guilty are not punished.



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Scott Lenger

posted January 12, 2009 at 12:33 pm


I’m currently reading William Cavanaugh’s “Torture and Eucharist.” Though it was written before 2001 and focused on the Pinochet regime in Chile, it’s startling how many parallels there are between those events the current practices in Guantanamo and black sites. Even more startling is how the church in America has been similarly inept at articulating a faithful response to the Bush administrations practice of torture.



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