The Great Debate

Torture, deny, repeat: ‘Enhanced interrogation’ never works, the CIA never learns

By Tim Weiner
December 12, 2014

A Guantanamo detainee's feet are shackled to the floor as he attends a "Life Skills" class at Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval Base

When the United States was attacked on 9/11, every member of the Central Intelligence Agency’s clandestine services had a rule book on the conduct of interrogations. It was clear and concise.

Details of how U.S. rebuked foreign regimes while using same torture methods

By James Ross
December 11, 2014

A protester dressed as a detainee of the US government demonstrates outside the White House in Washington

So the CIA doesn’t consider “waterboarding” — mock execution by near drowning — to be torture, but the U.S. State Department does.

Will cheap gas last? The answer and nine other predictions for 2015

By John Lloyd
December 11, 2014

A customer fills up his tank in a gasoline station in Nice

It’s something of a tradition in journalism to gaze into the crystal ball and give readers a view of what we believe will come with the New Year. Below are my 10 predictions for 2015.

Ghost army: You, too, can command an Iraqi division for only $2 million

By Peter Van Buren
December 10, 2014

Members of Iraqi security forces and Shiite fighters eat on their vehicle on the outskirts of Baiji

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi recently revealed that there are 50,000 “ghost soldiers” who haunt the payrolls of the Iraqi Army. Many see the phenomenon as a factor in the army’s defeat at the hands of the Islamic State, and as an example of how Prime Minister Abadi is trying to initiate reform.

It’s a weird war when Iran and the U.S. are bombing the same country

By Michael Williams
December 10, 2014

A Syrian Air Force fighter plane fires rockets during an air strike in the village of Tel Rafat

The McDonnell Douglas’ F4 Phantom was a workhorse of the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War in the 1960s. It was retired from the USAF and the British Royal Air Force some 20 years ago. But the vintage fighter-bomber put in a surprise performance a few days ago over the skies of northern Iraq.

#BlackLivesMatter: How the world sees Eric Garner, Michael Brown cases

By Amana Fontanella-Khan
December 9, 2014

A police officer holds a shield outside the Berkeley Police Department headquarters in Berkeley

Across the world, people are learning different lessons from #BlackLivesMatter.

In some countries, developments in Ferguson and Staten Island are leading opinion makers to question the United States and what it stands for. Their judgment, in other words, is focused outwards. Elsewhere, the opposite is true, as some use this moment to raise uncomfortable questions about their own imperfect democracies.

To deter U.S. from torturing again, those involved should be prosecuted

By Kenneth Roth
December 9, 2014

Barbed wire fence surrounding a military area is pictured in the forest near Stare Kiejkuty village, close to Szczytn

The publication of the long-awaited summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee report on the CIA’s torture provides a useful moment to consider the lessons learned from this sorry chapter in American history and the steps that might be taken to avoid its recurrence. With the truth now told about this blatantly illegal policy, President Barack Obama has a chance to reverse his misguided refusal to prosecute the officials who authorized the torture, ending the impunity that sets a horrible precedent for future United States presidents and governments worldwide.

With Pearl Harbor attack 73 years in the past, Japan to vote on its future

By Joshua W. Walker
December 8, 2014

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Pearl Harbor is a powerful reminder of the importance of Japan. The surprise attack launched 73 years ago, Sunday (or Monday by Tokyo time) by Japanese forces changed the course of history, plunging America into World War Two and, eventually, sealing Japan’s imperial fate. From the ashes of the war these bitter enemies forged an unlikely alliance that has weathered many storms. Today it is more important than ever before.

from Hugo Dixon:

Can we live the good life without economic growth?

By Hugo Dixon
December 8, 2014

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Is the good life possible without economic growth?

Merely raising the question challenges the conventional contemporary wisdom that a society’s prime goal should be to boost its income continually. But it is one that the West, especially Western Europe, may have to confront. Europe is not just suffering the after-effects of a nasty cyclical downturn, it has probably entered an era of low growth.

The pope’s door is always open to ISIS. Why America’s should be, too.

By Jonathan Powell
December 8, 2014

Hamas fighter speaks on the phone as he sits inside the personal meeting hall of President Abbas after they captured his headquarters in Gaza

Pope Francis strayed into controversy recently when he said that, while he supported military action against Islamic State, he also would not rule out speaking to the group if it would help bring peace to Syria and Iraq. “It is difficult, one could say almost impossible, but the door is always open,” he said.