Niet slecht bedacht

door SV op 28/06/2009

in Buitenland

In de categorie “beter goed gelinkt dan slecht bedacht” deze Amerikaans-Franse prof, die uit de martelingen in de Frans-Algerijnse oorlog (1954-62, voor de liefhebber) en de reactie erop lessen trekt voor het heden. Een voorproefje:

As an American today, what I find really significant about the use of torture in the Algerian War is what it did to France, which underwent a profound crisis of democracy as it attempted to hold on to Algeria. Now, obviously, not all of the ways that France got ripped apart over the Algerian War can be blamed on torture — as I said, it was a war of decolonization, and the loss of Algeria, which had been previously understood by most French people to be an integral part of France, was traumatic in all kinds of ways. The collapse of France’s Fourth Republic in 1958, in the wake of what was essentially a military coup in Algiers, along with the subsequent attempted coups and civil violence that plagued the Fifth Republic until the conclusion of the war, had all kinds of complicated causes. But what torture did do was poison the public sphere: to conceal the fact that the military was torturing, French governments turned to censorship, seizure of publications deemed deleterious to the honor and reputation of the Army, paralyzing control over the movements of journalists, and prosecution of those who nevertheless continued to publish evidence that torture was going on. Torture fueled high-level government deception; it robbed France of any moral high ground from which to denounce FLN terrorism; it put in an impossible, shaming, corrupting position the roughly two million men who served in France’s conscript Army in Algeria. (Most of them had nothing directly to do with torture, which tended to be the job of elite units.) And, of course, inevitably, over time it seeped back into metropolitan France, so that by the end of the war torture was being employed by the Paris police.

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