Saturday, November 5


When I was in the ninth grade I won a citywide DAR citizenship speech contest. Mine began with a dramatic intoning of Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev's famous threat to the U.S., "We will bury you." I went on to predict that American values of "liberty and justice for all" would overcome repressive, soulless communism. Our light, I said, and the devotion to human rights embodied in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, would extinguish the darkness that communism sought to spread across the world.

That appeared to be the case when the Soviet Union collapsed. But the Bush administration seems to have adopted more of our enemies' values and tactics than those of our founding fathers.

Rosa Brooks agrees:

During the Cold War, we thought we knew what distinguished us from our Soviet bloc enemies. We did not have a gulag; we did not imprison and torture our enemies. But the war on terror has distorted our national values. We have used some of the same tactics we once decried. The Soviet Union's legacy of terror lives on, its tactics embraced by some of our leaders. Vice President Dick Cheney continues to insist that the McCain amendment, which prohibits U.S. personnel from cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners, should not be applicable to the CIA.

Somewhere in Moscow's Novodevichyi cemetery, Khrushchev is probably laughing inside his grave.

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