USA – Quo vadis?

Der von mir sehr geschätzte politische Analyst Tony Judt zeichnet in der aktuellen New York Review of Books 12/2005 ein düsteres Bild der amerikanischen Zustände. Die Lektüre von The New World Order* ist für alle deprimierend, die in der Vergangenheit einen differenzierten Blick auf Amerika warfen und die Verdienste (von der intellektuellen „Produktion“ über das Buchwesen bis hin zum unethnologischen Staatsbürgerschaftskonzept) im Gegensatz zum in Europa sehr populären primitven Antiamerikanismus durchaus zu würdigen wussten.

Inzwischen jedoch hat die republikanische Kultur in den USA einen bisher kaum für möglich gekannten Tiefstand erreicht. In den Worten Tony Judts:

The unrepublican veneration of our presidential „leader“ has made it uniquely difficult for Americans to see their country’s behavior as others see it. The latest report from Amnesty International—which says nothing that the rest of the world doesn’t already know or believe but which has been denied and ridiculed by President Bush —is a case in point. The United States „renders“ (i.e., kidnaps and hands over) targeted suspects to third-party states for interrogation and torture beyond the reach of US law and the press. The countries to whom we outsource this task include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria (!), Pakistan— and Uzbekistan. Where outsourcing is impractical, we import qualified interrogators from abroad: in September 2002 a visiting Chinese „delegation“ was invited to participate in the „interrogation“ of ethnic Uighur detainees held at Guantánamo.

At the US’s own interrogation centers and prisons in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay, at least twenty-seven „suspects“ have been killed in custody. This number does not include extrajudicial, extraterritorial „targeted assassinations“: a practice inaugurated by Benito Mussolini with the murder of the Rosselli brothers in Normandy in 1937, pursued with vigor by Israel, and now adopted by the Bush administration. The Amnesty report lists sixty alleged incarceration and interrogation practices routinely employed at US detention centers, Guantánamo in particular. These include immersion in cold water to simulate drowning, forced shaving of facial and body hair, electric shocks to body parts, humiliation (e.g., being urinated upon), sex-ual taunting, the mocking of religious belief, suspension from shackles, physical exertion to the point of exhaus-tion (e.g., rock-carrying), and mock execution.

Any and all of these practices will be familiar to students of Eastern Europe in the Fifties or Latin America in the Seventies and Eighties—including the reported presence of „medical personnel.“ But American interrogators have also innovated. One technique has been forcibly to wrap suspects—and their Korans—in Israeli flags: a generous gesture to our only unconditional ally, but calculated to ensure that a new generation of Muslims worldwide will identify the two countries as one and hate them equally.


For there is a precedent in modern Western history for a country whose leader exploits national humiliation and fear to restrict public freedoms; for a government that makes permanent war as a tool of state policy and arranges for the torture of its political enemies; for a ruling class that pursues divisive social goals under the guise of national „values“; for a culture that asserts its unique destiny and superiority and that worships military prowess; for a political system in which the dominant party manipulates procedural rules and threatens to change the law in order to get its own way; where journalists are intimidated into confessing their errors and made to do public penance. Europeans in particular have experienced such a regime in the recent past and they have a word for it. That word is not „democracy.“

Den Bericht „Guantánamo and beyond: The continuing pursuit of unchecked executive power“ kann man bei Amnesty International nachlesen.

* Der Artikel ist mittlerweile im kostenpflichtigen Archiv der NYRB.

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