O What a Rogue and Peasant State Am I

Imagine that the head of a foreign state suborned a covert paramilitary group to torture detainees in secret black sites the world over. That paramilitary group, as it happens, had conspired in the past to topple various foreign régimes it deemed ill-suited to its taste; and the methods of torture it employed were developed as preparation for what to expect a lawless foe to inflict on them. Imagine further that when the grisly details of that torment came to light, the administration responsible not only defended the practice, but insisted on doing it again. It would be very difficult, I posit, to take seriously that state’s commitment to justice and the rule of law, even and especially as it wages war beneath the banner of those two aims. And when that state goes on to aid in the prosecution of foreign war criminals, while continuing to exempt itself from international tribunals, it starts to look rather dubious.

What I have described comports by any reasonable standard with the workings of a rogue state. It is also a precise (if perhaps uncharitable) account of the United States’ very own behavior.

Read more: Jordan Calazan Manalastas, O What a Rogue and Peasant State Am I: Torture and Impunity in the United States of America, 3 Cornell Int’l L.J. Online 1 (2015).

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