Darkness legible

In The National (Abu Dhabi), Wesley Yang praises Jane Mayer for exposing America’s complicity in torture in her book The Dark Side but criticizes her for holding onto an illusion about America’s virtue:

Americans confronting a world of enemies who wish to do it harm have responded to those threats with varying degrees of restraint or its absence, stupidity or wisdom, and have compiled in the process a long and extremely mixed record of both heroism and abuse – sometimes fatally intertwined – that absolutely rules out the kind of wounded innocence that Mayer repeatedly sounds throughout The Dark Side. That she can sustain this view – and in this she resembles almost every other mainstream writer on the subject – in the face of her knowledge of precedents like Operation Phoenix, and despite the relentless rigour she brings to the pursuit of the darkest truths, testifies to a deeply ingrained predisposition of a certain kind of liberal: those who wish to reconcile a heroic view of the American past with a moralistic approach to foreign affairs.

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