Torture is wrong. Torture is unproductive, at least on average (I don’t exclude that occasionally it will give rise to useful information). And torture is corrupting: once you start, it’s hard to stop, for reasons that I explained in my blog.
For all these reasons, President Trump’s reported willingness to encourage the use of torture as reported in the New York Times is reprehensible. But if the President intends to change American practices, as opposed to striking an attitude for his voter base, he will encounter significant obstacles. The first obstacle is the Detainee Treatment Act 2005, and related court rulings. Then, the President’s new secretary of defense is entirely opposed. His CIA director-designate is not opposed, but it seems the CIA as an organization does not want to go back there.
Finally, America’s allies will not cooperate. What does Trump really want to achieve? How strong are the checks and balances of the US political system? It will be an interesting time.
Prof Mark Harrison, Dept of Economics, University of Warwick
Dr Harrison has writen more on this topic on his blog