Torture is back. And, as before, we have some questions to answer. Events oblige us, after – let’s face it – decades of complacency, to make a serious moral calculation in the absence of the comfortable absolutes we’ve observed over the last Century or so. So:
Question 1: is an aversion to torture a luxury we can no longer afford? If we scrupulously decline to torture a suspect and thus fail to prevent a terrorist incident killing dozens, have we, nevertheless, done the right thing?
Question 2, more subtly: if we’re offered a sheaf of intelligence gathered by means of torture in some less fussy part of the world which, we’re told, provides good evidence for a planned attack in Britain, should we say “thanks, but no thanks”?
Question 3: what happens to a state that permits torture in its police stations (or, more likely, grants secret CIA ‘torture flights‘ landing rights)? Does it leave behind its claim to being a ‘civilised country’ or does it grimly acknowledge the inevitable conditions of survival in a multipolar world?