Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Albert Camus on Terrorism and Torture

Reprisals against civilian populations and the use of torture are crimes in which we are all involved. The fact that such things could take place among us is a humiliation we must henceforth face. Meanwhile, we must at least refuse to justify such methods, even on the score of efficacy. The moment they are justified, even indirectly, there are no more rules or values; all causes are equally good, and war without aims or laws sanctions the triumph of nihilism.
Torture has perhaps saved some, at the expense of honor, by uncovering thirty bombs, but at the same time it arouses fifty new terrorists who, operating in some other way and in another place, will cause the death of even more innocent people. Even when accepted in the interest of realism and efficacy, such a flouting of honor serves no purpose but to degrade our country in her own eyes and abroad.
But, to be both useful and equitable, we must condemn with equal force and in no uncertain terms the terrorism applied by the F.L.N. to French civilians and indeed, to an even greater degree, to Arab civilians. Such terrorism is a crime that can be neither excused nor allowed to develop.

. . . it seemed to me harmful and indecent to condemn terrorism in the company of those who are not bothered by torture.


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