‘Remembering’ Philip Johnson

When Kurt Waldheim, a former U.N. secretary general, was found in 1986 to have served in a German military unit that may have committed wartime atrocities, his reputation was ruined. Although elected president of Austria, he was forbidden to visit the United States. Shunned by the international community, he eventually dropped out of politics. Continue reading “‘Remembering’ Philip Johnson”

A Test on ‘Tyranny’

“We were blindfolded and our hands were tied behind our backs. . . . They made me sit on the floor. When I tried to speak, they said ‘Are you here to talk? Shut up, you are a terrorist. Just confess to being one of the Mahdi Army.’ They poured cold water over me and applied electric shocks to my genitals. I was also beaten by several people with cables on my arms and back.” Continue reading “A Test on ‘Tyranny’”

Only a Game?

It is 9 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. You are the president of the United States, or the chancellor of Germany, or the British prime minister. You switch on the news and learn that three members of a Turkish family, recently arrived in Munich, have been diagnosed with smallpox. Continue reading “Only a Game?”

The Torture Myth

Just for a moment, let’s pretend that there is no moral, legal or constitutional problem with torture. Let’s also imagine a clear-cut case: a terrorist who knows where bombs are about to explode in Iraq. To stop him, it seems that a wide range of Americans would be prepared to endorse “cruel and unusual” methods. Continue reading “The Torture Myth”

A German Lesson for Remaking Iraq

Yesterday Germans celebrated the 15th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. Or, to put it differently, yesterday Germans marked 15 years of what has been the most peaceful, most comfortable, most orderly transition from totalitarianism to democracy ever — the polar opposite of the transition now taking place (if it is taking place) in Iraq. There was no violence, no unrest. There was no looting or pillaging. Continue reading “A German Lesson for Remaking Iraq”