The terrorism–torture link: When evil begets evil

Werner G K Stritzke, Stephan Lewandowsky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter in a book

2 Citations (Scopus)


Joshua Key, a 28-year-old US soldier and father of two, deserted the US army during a two-week leave in the early months of the second Iraq War (2003–). He described his most common duties while in Iraq as “busting into and ransacking homes” (Key, 2007). In the course of these routine duties, Key was troubled by the fact that he never found anything in those homes that appeared to justify “the terror we inflicted every time we blasted through the door of a civilian home, broke everything in sight, punched and zipcuffed the men, and sent them away.” When reflecting on the consequences of his actions, Key concluded that “we, the American soldiers, were the terrorists … The ones we didn't kill had all the reasons in the world to become terrorists themselves.” What this disillusioned young soldier was doing in his reflections on his war-time experience is what Noam Chomsky (2007) calls looking in the mirror. Chomsky often uses the metaphor of looking in the mirror to remind us that to ask who one is, what one does, and how one is perceived by others, is an essential step toward understanding the dynamics that fuel the vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence. This book intends to provide a careful look into that mirror using the tools of an inter-disciplinary analysis, in order to shed light on what we consider to be a particularly invidious instantiation of the logic of fighting evil with evil; namely, the use of state-sponsored torture in the so-called “war on terror.”

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTerrorism and Torture: An Interdisciplinary Perspective
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780511581199, 9780521898195
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2009

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