by Greg Grandin
(Greg Grandin is the author of a number of books, most recently Empire’s Workshop: Latin America, the United States, and the Rise of the New Imperialism. He teaches history at NYU)
"The world is made up, as Captain Segura in Graham Greene’s 1958 novel Our Man in Havana put it, of two classes: the torturable and the untorturable. “There are people,” Segura explained, “who expect to be tortured and others who would be outraged by the idea.”
Then — so Greene thought — Catholics, particularly Latin American Catholics, were more torturable than Protestants. Now, of course, Muslims hold that distinction, victims of a globalized network of offshore and outsourced imprisonment coordinated by Washington and knitted together by secret flights, concentration camps, and black-site detention centers.......
But this kind of promiscuity has its risks. In Latin America, the word “disappeared” came to denote not just victimization but moral repudiation, as the mothers and children of the disappeared led a continental movement to restore the rule of law. They provide hope that one day the world-wide network of repression assembled by the Bush administration will be as discredited as Operation Condor is today in Latin America. As Greene wrote half a century ago, on the eve of the fall of another famous torturer, Cuba’s Fulgencio Batista, “it is a real danger for everyone when what is shocking changes.”"