Some 150 years ago, the West all but abandoned torture. It has returned with a vengeance
In 1849, pacifists felt history was on their side. A series of idealistic revolutions had shaken autocratic regimes across Europe the previous year, extending universal voting rights in many countries and spurring extensive constitutional reforms in Denmark and the Netherlands. Hundreds of intellectuals, philanthropists, and politicians had gathered in Brussels to discuss how to bring an end to war itself, endorsing arms limitations and a ban on military lending. In August of that year nearly a thousand delegates from Europe and North America convened in Paris to further their plans to bring down “the war system” and replace it with the rational adjudication of a Congress of Nations.