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State torture in the contemporary world.

The international political debate and media focus on the abuse of Iraqi detainees by American soldiers and interrogators at Abu Ghraib prison outside of Baghdad and the treatment of foreign detainees at Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba has raised not only the issue of the morality of state torture, but also its controversial utility as an effective policy tactic. Not surprisingly, therefore, much of the debate is concerned with whether the acts of torture were the isolated actions of a few rogue soldiers or the result of a strategic policy by the Bush administration to use torture as a method to extract counter-insurgency information from detainees. While there is little dispute that these acts were illegal according to several of the accords, treaties, resolutions, and protocols the United States has either ratified or been a party to, an important conceptual issue is whether the activities in Iraq and Cuba can be categorized as a systematic state terror policy. The related central theoretical issue is why torture, as an instrument of state terror, varies in its utility among countries in the contemporary period.

Arguably, the above acts of torture committed by US soldiers are not the policy equivalent to the state torture reported by several NGOs for countries such as Sudan, North Korea, Egypt, and Russia. In other words, the policies utilizing tactics of state torture range from its incorporation in a larger strategy of genocide in Sudan's Darfur region and the brutalization of street children in the slums of Colombia and Brazil to suppress poverty to the more subtle strategies evident in liberal-democratic and advanced capitalist nations, such as the United States and Canada. In the latter countries, Amnesty International (2000) records several incidents in which recent immigrant communities have been systematically intimidated by government agents engaging in counterterrorist campaigns. For example, in Canada, a Syrian immigrant businessman, Maher Arar, was arrested in New York because of questionable information provided by Canadian security officials to their US security partners. Arar was then deported directly from the US to Syria where, he claimed, he was tortured for more than a year before being released and allowed to return to Canada.

We propose that the variation in the implementation of policies of systematic torture as part of state terrorism can be best explained by recent changes in the global economy, the growth of liberal-democratic political ideology since the end of the Cold War, and the advent of anti-state Islamic terrorism. It will be further argued that the primary explanatory variable is economic, in that the type of macroeconomic structure--agrarian, industrial, or advanced capitalist--of a state explains the relative disutility of torture for that government. The political culture and structure of a country obviously is also important since, by definition, liberal-democratic political systems preclude the use of the most extreme policies of state torture, such as the routine and widespread use of concentration camps, particularly against its own citizens. In certain extreme exigencies, including international and civil wars, internment camps have been established in advanced liberal-democratic countries. In contrast, totalitarian political systems always employ national and institutionalized state torture policies. The gulag system during Stalin's regime in the former Soviet Union or the secret prison system in Iraq during the reign of Saddam Hussein exemplify a more sophisticated form of this use of state torture policies in an industrial economic system, while the Pol Pot regime in Cambodia illustrates this approach in an agrarian economic system. As Duvall and Stohl (1983) assert, there is a differential utility curve regarding state terrorist and torture policies that depends mainly on the interaction between the type of economic system and the type of political system of a country. However, a new factor that needs to be included in a utility curve involves the manner in which the world underwent a substantial restructuring of international relations based largely on a single superpower, the United States, with the end of the Cold War. Keohane and Nye (2001) have elaborated a complex model of foreign policy strategies that have emerged since the end of the Cold War. Their model understandably includes the central role of economic globalization, the re-emergence of pre-Cold War political fissures, and the unresolved intranational racial and ethnic political rivalries engendered by traditional European colonialization of most of the remaining regions of the world. In other words, the use of state torture against internal state or government threats in the contemporary historical period is affected by a different and unprecedented configuration of national and international economic and political variables.

The general hypothesis of this article, therefore, is that the utility of state torture has declined throughout the world and that this downward trend will continue, primarily because of the needs and requirements of an interdependent global economy and the supremacy of liberal-democratic political ideologies among those countries with the greatest influence on the international community. Nonetheless, national variations in the extent or type of state torture will remain. Again, this variation is primarily dependent on the type of macroeconomic structure of a country and its consequent economic integration in the emergent global economy. Within the context of this global economic dependency theme, the variation in dependency by the classical types of macroeconomic systems must be explained. However, before discussing the various economic systems, it is important to define state torture.

Definition of State Torture

For the purposes of this article, state torture is the infliction of physical or mental pain, or both, as a political act implemented with the consent or tolerance of the state as part of a national policy to respond to real or perceived internal threats. Given these criteria, this article does not focus on defining whether a specific act constitutes torture or examining individual instances of torture, but rather on examining the economic and political conditions that influence a state's decision to implement a policy of torture against its own citizens to combat internal threats to its security and why there is an increasing disutility for state torture in the contemporary period. In this article's context, state torture is a method of governing that creates an infrastructure, complete with trained torturers, torture chambers with standard operating procedures, and detention centers that practice torture (Herman, 1982). A government adopts and implements a 'policy of torture' to control and terrorize its people. Because the overarching purpose of state torture is to maintain the status quo or to destroy internal or external political, ideological, or military threats, real or imagined, to the state, torture, as defined in this article, is fundamentally a political crime. Still, there is little consensus in the literature on what specifically constitutes state torture. The only major agreement is that state torture must include the deliberate infliction of severe pain or discomfort (Suedfeld, 1990) and that torture is 'a systematic activity with rational purpose' (Amnesty International, 1984: 30). According to the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture, torture is:
   ... Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or
   mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as
   obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession,
   punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is
   suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a
   third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind,
   when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of
   or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other
   person acting in an official capacity. (Convention Against Torture
   and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment 1984)

However, in those instances where the state legitimizes an otherwise objective act of torture and thereby denies the intent of the UN convention, the authors contend that the act should still be considered torture. For instance, Israel has authorized the use of 'shaking' during the interrogation of suspected terrorists and, therefore, the 'shaking' of suspects does not constitute torture in Israel. However, many victims of shaking claim that this act is torture. This position is important because it prevents the individual state from defining techniques that have been categorized by international political organizations as constituting torture as an acceptable form of punishment. While the same argument could be applied to the United States and its use of capital punishment as a form of formal-rational state torture, it is beyond the scope of this article to introduce the enormously complex definitional issue of whether capital punishment, or the threatened use of the death penalty, can be considered a targeted policy implemented and maintained by the US government to torture or terrorize a segment of its population into conformity, maintaining the status quo, or ensuring that a specific government remain in power. In other words, it is possible to argue that the disproportionate number of impoverished minority individuals in US prisons, generally, and those who have received capital punishment, specifically, constitute a form of state torture, capital punishment is not considered a form of state torture in this article partly since the US use of capital punishment, while often abhorred, is not illegal according to the international laws to which the US is a signatory. Similarly, this article does not consider the economic or social policies of governments that have lead to the marginalization, criminalization, and disenfranchisement of whole segments of a society as a form of torture, although it can be argued that these policies, by other definitions, constitute state torture. Torture, as it is considered in this article, involves more explicit state activities aimed fundamentally at achieving explicit state-defined goals within a country.

State torture occurs with either the expressed consent or tolerance of the government and has a multitude of purposes beyond its juridical origins. The utility of state torture for a government is determined by its ability to achieve certain ideologically defined macro goals. Through the organizational structure of state terror and the actual process of administering torture to an individual, the state can translate its macro goals to the individual level. The infliction of extreme pain is designed typically to extract otherwise secret information, force certain conforming behaviors, or damage victims in a manner that transforms them into symbols usually directed toward specific groups in the general population, or, at times, to the entire population.

The wide variety of specific torture techniques can be classified into five main categories: active physical pain, such as hitting or whipping; passive physical pain, such as forcing someone to remain in an uncomfortable position for a long period of time or suspending an individual in the air; techniques that produce extreme exhaustion, such as forcing an individual to engage in continuous physical activity; fear-inducing techniques, such as near-drowning or near-suffocation; and a combination of physical and mental pain, such as sleep deprivation and sexual assault.

To legitimize the use of torture, governments frequently point to a history of focused violence against the state. This violence often takes the form of insurgency, guerrilla operations, or terrorist acts against the state. For example, in Israel and the United Kingdom, the prolonged and unsuccessful history of government policies to stop terrorist attacks was used to justify both of these liberal-democratic states' implementation of torture as a state policy, whether covert or not. In certain countries where actual attacks did not occur, the government might exaggerate the potential of individuals or groups to threaten the state. In China, for example, there have been accusations by human rights organizations that state torture is used against religious and national groups, like the Falun Gong and Tibetans, even though there is no evidence that any anti-state terrorist acts emanate from either group (Amnesty International, 1996, 2001). As such, a systematic policy of state torture typically involves subjecting citizens to torture not because of any criminal acts that they may have performed or are planning, but because they hold political or religious beliefs deemed dangerous to the authority of the government (Kelman and Hamilton, 1989).

In effect, state torture can escalate into a general state policy under the guise of national security. In other words, torture is practiced by the state against a wide variety of people for a constantly expanding range of reasons. In Chile, for example, Augusto Pinochet Ugarte's military-dominated government maintained its state torture apparatus even though the actual threat of revolutionary terrorism had long ceased to exist. Similarly, it is possible to argue that state torture has been used in advanced capitalist countries, like the United States, in this way. There is evidence that the US government under President Richard Nixon, for example, used methods that could constitute torture against individuals or groups deemed a threat to the status quo due to their opposition to the Vietnam War (Blackstone, 1988; Churchill and Vander Wall, 1990). However, advanced capitalist nations have not established state torture infrastructures to support a systematic policy of torture as defined in this article.

Macroeconomic Systems and the Disutility of State Torture

There are fundamental differences in the economic structures of agrarian, industrial, and advanced capitalist societies. Wealth in agrarian national economies is typically concentrated in a small group of families based on ethnic clan kinships. Middle-class professionals are few and concentrated overwhelmingly in urban areas. Since manufacturing industries are limited or nonexistent, skilled, semiskilled, and unskilled laborers are too few to constitute a substantial working class. Often, the capital returns on exports are not reinvested sufficiently in expanding the productivity of the single-crop agrarian infrastructure unless a multinational corporation dominates largely for its shareholder's benefit. As well, the vagaries of world market overproduction or shortages resulting from either oversupply or natural disaster affect the consistency of wealth generated domestically, further restricting the ability of rural workers to avoid chronic poverty (Bates, 2001).

The extreme concentration of capital ownership within a small elite, among foreign based multinational companies, or in both, along with an inherently unstable foreign market based on commodity prices, contributes to low economic growth rates, political instability, and authoritarian regimes with little public legitimacy. As well, educational and health systems essential for social mobility are vastly underbudgeted in contrast to military, police, and internal security agency budgets that sustain the state torture apparatus. In addition, those individuals who control the government are often drawn from a colonially-introduced ethnic group, while the rural majority is typically either an indigenous group or imported slaves (Human Rights Watch, 1995). This inherent and grossly disproportionate distribution of economic and political power intensifies the instability of these societies which, in turn, negatively affects foreign and domestic investments. To offset gross capital under investment, especially in periods of monetary or fiscal crisis, the national governments and businesses in these vulnerable countries depend on international financial aid agencies, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and advanced capitalist nations to prevent the collapse of their fragile agrarian economy. This fundamental economic weakness is even more evident in the non-foreign-controlled part of the agricultural economy because of the inherent conservatism of agrarian elites (Bates, 2001).

Because this type of agrarian economy, historically, has often had political systems that lack legitimacy, as will be discussed in greater detail below, the utility of state torture increases, largely as government officials react viscerally to real or imagined internal threats to the vulnerable status quo. The extent of the agrarian economy's dependence on delivering farm products to markets in liberal-democratic countries can influence the government's ability to use torture because, for the most part, liberal-democratic publics oppose torture-based governments that violate human rights, and, since the end of the Cold War, this public anti-torture sentiment has intensified. In effect, agrarian-based countries may be more likely to reduce their use of state torture if their wealth is seriously threatened by the loss of foreign market access.

Industrial nations are characterized by economies in which more than 50 percent of the gross national product (GNP) is derived from manufacturing and extraction industries. Industrial economies require major capital investments in factory and plant infrastructures and in transportation systems. A substantial proportion of the manufactured and extracted products are exported to the massive markets of advanced capitalist economies (Kiely, 1998). Major urban centers are needed for the many middle-class professionals required to service the financial, education, health, and government institutions that are integral to the operation of complex extraction, manufacturing, communication, and transportation networks. Skilled and semiskilled workers, along with unskilled workers, are numerically dominant in the national labor force.

Depending on the level or extent of the industrial component of the economy represented by manufacturing and extraction industries, potentially substantial rural populations often remain impoverished. It is not uncommon for industrial nations to have a relatively wealthy industry-based urban population and a poor rural population. Consequently, major migrations occur and can result in widespread unemployment, ill-housing, ill-health, low levels of education, and large family populations concentrated in shanty town or ghetto areas of major urban centres. Along with the vulnerability of mainly unskilled workers to recession cycles of industrial economies, rural immigrants become an enormous potential source of political instability (Amnesty International, 2000). Rarely are economic growth rates in industrial countries sufficient to absorb the steady migration of unskilled rural immigrants into the urban workforce. This threat is compounded because birth rates, despite extremely high death rates, are also very high among rural immigrants. As with agrarian countries, where rural and urban populations are historically defined by different ethnic groups, this adds to the potential political instability of industrial countries.

For most of the last century, many industrial countries resorted to economic policies that protected domestic industries by restricting foreign competition, which often allowed monopolies to form that were either allied with the government or owned by its members (Bates, 2001). Unions, as well, are usually politically important. Often, unions associate themselves ideologically with a particular government or its opposition political parties. The ability of unions to mobilize workers to strike, engage in street protests, contribute money for elections, and vote gives them considerable political and economic power. As well, the media and universities are also an integral part of the political stability of industrial countries, since activist student movements can challenge a government's policies and its very legitimacy.

Until the 1930s, industrial economies were subject to the 'boom-bust' growth cycle. Over several centuries, this cycle consisted of a period of strong economic growth, high employment, and high profits and capital gains that eventually generated rampant inflation. Invariably, excessively high prices caused demand for goods and services to drop. Unemployment resulted, bankruptcies increased, and the downward momentum of deflation ended in depression. With as much as one third or more of the work force unemployed and the national currency relatively worthless, economic collapse led to enormous political instability in many industrial countries.

In the 19th century, radical ideologies emerged to challenge the capitalist economies. Whether socialist, communist, or fascist ideologies, capitalist elites were threatened. In the absence of an institutionalized liberal-democratic political system, the capitalist economic cycle contributed to the emergence of weakened nascent liberal-democracies, authoritarian regimes, or totalitarian societies. It is, therefore, in industrial societies that the most comprehensive and efficient torture complexes developed, as in Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. However, this is not to suggest that liberal-democratic societies, especially during the Cold War and the demise of the European empires, did not implement policies of state torture domestically, albeit to a very limited extent and extensively in their foreign policies. According to Arendt (1973), the very complex structure of industrial urban society allowed state terrorism and torture to reach the unprecedented level of total government control of entire societies. It is the industrial economy's ability to provide dense urban populations that contributes to the government's ability to control all communication and transportation systems. The latter can move citizens to torture complexes efficiently and in virtual secrecy. Also, authoritarian or totalitarian governments have much greater control over the distribution of wealth and internal capital markets and, as well, can isolate their economies from global markets even though the common citizen may suffer substantially lower standards of living.

Advanced capitalist economies exist when 50 percent or more of the country's gross national product involves service industries or workers. Manufacturing and extraction industries gradually decline proportionately, but they remain integral to the largest economies. High-technology, research-based industries are the major growth areas. The urban professional workforce dominates economically. It is beyond the capacity of this article to describe in full the enormous complexity of the advanced capitalist economy; suffice it to assert that countries, such as the United States, Singapore, Japan, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Israel, exemplify it. However, regarding its direct relationship to the disutility of state torture, one of the most critical attributes of advanced capitalist countries is the instant global access to a complete range of economic and political information. Businesses require unprecedented access to economic and related political data to make immediate decisions about investment and manufacturing policies 24 hours a day. Any attempt by governments to interfere with or restrict access to such data can elicit an immediate negative response from the global business community. As will be elaborated in more detail below, these responses can be catastrophic to national industrial economies or even national agrarian economies.

Most critically, advanced capitalist economies efficiently produce a level of wealth that is unprecedented. In liberal-democratic countries, this wealth is distributed so that a relatively affluent middle class can act as a powerful stabilizing force, removing the government's perceived need for a policy of sustained political repression (Corrado, 1992). While domestic conflicts over social, political, and economic policies may arise, the legitimacy of the state itself is rarely challenged other than by small fringe groups, and these challenges are not perceived by the government as a serious threat to the status quo.1 Unlike the situation in developing and industrializing countries, the absence of this threat removes a fundamental 'utility' or policy purpose for brutal repressive measures, such as state torture. (2) In addition, economic conflicts in advanced capitalist societies are typically based on creating alternative ways of producing capital and wealth, rather than focused on abandoning capitalism and reallocating control of the means of production or redistributing wealth, as sometimes occurs in agrarian and industrial nations.

Sustained Economic Growth as a Basis of Political Stability

Political economists agree that sustained economic growth requires political stability, regardless of whether that political stability is achieved by consensus or is imposed (Caporaso and Levine, 1997). The supposition is that government imposed political stability is the most likely context for the implementation of state torture policies. However, since the end of the Cold War, the number of countries with regime-imposed political stability have declined, in part because there is no effective alternative market, such as the former Soviet bloc countries, for goods produced by countries using complex state torture systems. In other words, few economies can achieve sustained economic growth today without access to advanced capitalist markets. As noted above, even agrarian economies require this market access. Also, governments whose primary economic policy is based on economic growth recognize that state torture policies have limited effectiveness in controlling the potential political instability associated with high levels of urban unemployment and major population shifts from agrarian villages to urban industrial complexes.

Reliable employment in manufacturing service jobs for rural immigrants depends on strong national economic growth lasting at least a decade. Sustained economic growth not only provides employment, but allows for rapid expansion of housing, transportation, and communication infrastructures. By increasing the size of the national economic output, governments are in a better position to claim political credit or legitimacy for the improvement in the general standard of living for its citizens.

Most important, the emergence of an urban working and middle class is essential for the development of industrial economies. The most dramatic illustration of this economic growth variable is the Republic of China. Beginning with the Deng Xiaoping regime in the 1970s, China's economy evolved from a centralized command socialist economic infrastructure to a centralized capitalist infrastructure, initially in major coastal metropolitan areas, such as Shanghai and Guangzhou (Canton). These special economic zones were allowed to develop privately capitalized manufacturing companies, often in partnership with foreign multinational companies, and were also allowed direct access to foreign capitalist markets. In contrast, the once-universal and dominant state-owned industries have gradually shrunk as parallel private capitalist industries have expanded. In effect, the centralized Chinese Communist Party has engaged in an explicit policy of strong and sustained economic growth for the last quarter of a century. Economists generally agree that the Chinese economy has been fully integrated into the global capitalist market to such an extent that it has been responsible for mitigating the recession in the United States. The most recent economic and political policy changes designed to move the major growth sectors of the Chinese economy toward the advanced capitalist level include the creation of the nascent Shanghai stock market, admission into the World Trade Organization (WTO), private ownership of housing, and membership for Chinese capitalists in the Chinese Communist Party. Again, it can be argued that sustained economic growth has been a major reason that several Chinese governments in the recent past have perceived the political security and legitimacy required for the fundamental restructuring of the Chinese economy. They have also liberalized nonpolitical relationships, allowed people the freedom to choose the style of clothes they wear, the types of entertainment they engage in, and develop friendships throughout Chinese society regardless of social or political position.

Regarding the once-pervasive state torture complex that existed during the lengthy Mao Tze Tung regime, which was responsible for the torture and death of millions of Chinese citizens, it can be argued that this torture complex has been substantially reduced, to a large extent because of the impact of sustained economic growth. Before examining political and economic factors entailed in this impact, it is important to demonstrate that the potential effect of sustained and strong economic growth on the development and implementation of state torture policies applies not only to totalitarian regimes, but also to liberal-democratic governments. Ireland, Northern Ireland, and Great Britain provide an example of this dynamic.

Ireland has had the strongest growth rate in the European Union (EU) for more than a decade. Beginning in the 1960s, major structural reforms of the Irish economy were initiated. These reforms were based primarily on foreign investment incentives with the aim of providing the capital necessary to transform Irish agriculture, tourism, and manufacturing. Economic reforms accelerated after Ireland joined the EU in 1973, and this transformation led to fundamental social and political changes, with the emergence of an affluent Irish middle and professional class. Culturally, Ireland no longer perceived itself as a de facto British colony, since the Irish standard of living was higher than in many regions in the UK. Irish domestic politics shifted from its traditional focus on the dispute in Northern Ireland to social issues, such as abortion and divorce reform, to bring Irish law into conformity with EU laws. The fundamental improvement in the standard of living contributed to the increase in Irish public support for a political solution in Northern Ireland. In effect, by the 1990s, these socioeconomic reforms played key roles in allowing successive Irish governments to exert influence on the Republican movement, including the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and Sinn Fein in Ireland and Northern Ireland, to reach a compromise agreement that had seemed unfathomable.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Ireland was inextricably linked to the IRA's anti-state terrorist attacks against Protestant paramilitary opponents and the British army. Ireland not only provided a safe haven for the IRA, but also served as a vital source of recruits and financing. Corrado (1983, 1992) predicted that as the Irish economy became more integrated into the EU and underwent the resultant sustained economic growth, anti-state terrorist organizations, such as the IRA, would steadily lose support throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland and a political compromise would likely be reached. It could be argued that the transformation of the Irish economy has had a far greater effect on the bitter three-century conflict between Britain and Ireland than the systematic use of state and anti-state violence. The direct intervention of several Irish prime ministers was central to the political settlement that has established a relative peace in Northern Ireland. In turn, it is possible to assert that state torture policies utilized by Northern Ireland's police (Royal Ulster Constabulary) and the British military and intelligence services (Finn, 1991) ceased as a result of the Good Friday Peace Accord of 1998-9. While strong and sustained economic growth is a critical variable in the disutility of state torture policies, the distribution of minimum levels of wealth also matters. Obviously, economic growth is related to the latter variable.

The Distribution of Minimum Wealth Levels

Unequal distribution of wealth enhances the usefulness of internal state torture policies. As noted above, advanced capitalist societies distribute wealth through taxes, allowing for the existence of welfare state programs and institutions in the areas, for example, of health, education, housing, employment, and disabilities. In effect, a minimum standard of living maintains a threshold for most citizens that prevents the absolute and widespread poverty often evident in industrial and agrarian societies. In most advanced capitalist countries, the means of producing capital are typically not owned exclusively by a relatively small group of elites. And, despite the continued relative concentration of wealth, these elites allow for certain levels of taxes and wealth redistribution (Pronk, 1996).

In advanced capitalist societies, the distribution of wealth that helps maintain a minimum standard of living for most citizens diminishes the violent conflict associated with vastly unequal lifestyles and opportunities along ethnic, political affiliation, religious, or cultural lines. In contrast, agrarian and industrial nations, with more recent colonial histories, are more likely to be ruled by governments dominated by an ethnic or racial group that discriminates against other ethnic groups, in terms of wealth distribution and terror. These governments also typically have a much weaker legitimacy base upon which to consolidate their state power (Duvall and Stohl, 1983). In effect, most of the wealth is controlled by a minority of people who distribute part of their wealth to the political, police, and military institutions to entrench and enhance their respective ethnic group power bases.

Agrarian and industrial societies, therefore, are more politically volatile and economically vulnerable to disruptive and violent attacks from the impoverished than are advanced capitalist states. Because of this real or perceived threat to the status quo from the disenfranchised, the economically disadvantaged, or the ethnically dominated, governments are more likely to implement torture complexes to control these people. South Africa, during its apartheid period, exemplified this grossly unequal distribution of minimum wealth levels and the use of the concentration of wealth within the minority white population to fund its vast torture complex. Moreover, Amnesty International (2000) reports that the more industrial countries of Brazil and Peru and the largely agrarian countries of Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala are among the most frequent human rights violators. In contrast, the agrarian countries of Ethiopia, Kampuchea, Uganda, Haiti, Paraguay, and Afghanistan under the Taliban government utilized full-scale torture complexes against their respective internal enemies. All of these countries, to varying degrees, were characterized by economies without minimum distributions of wealth.

Sustained torture complexes are used explicitly to maintain the unequal distribution of wealth and to control disenfranchised groups. Specifically, the state engages in torture against individuals whom they perceive to be a threat to their continued control of capital and resources. In advanced capitalist societies, with a broad middle class and universal welfare state programs, the distribution of minimum wealth levels is sufficient that the business and professional classes maintain their dominance without directing or requiring the political system to use terror policies (Pronk, 1996). (3) However, certain human rights advocates accuse Singapore's long-standing Lee Kuan Yew government of using intimidation of its citizens and opposition political parties to maintain its one-party control of the political, economic, and social institutions in one of the most advanced capitalist economies. While it may be possible to argue that intimidation through the threat of arrest, loss of employment, or restrictions on career advancement is a subtle form of a state torture policy, in Singapore, it appears that the overwhelming majority of citizens grant legitimacy to its government. There is a high average standard of living enjoyed by virtually all of its citizens, despite the diverse ethnic, religious, and cultural profile of its population and the political and economic dominance of the Chinese Singaporeans.

With few exceptions, economic growth depends on foreign trade. No domestic market is sufficient in the present historical period to allow for sustained economic growth. It is important, therefore, to explain how external economic dependency directly affects the disutility of state torture.

National Economic External Dependency

Economic dependency refers to the varying degree that the strength of a national economy is based on foreign trade, capital investment and financing, and foreign-based multinational corporations. Economic strength refers to the ability of a national economy to provide goods and services at levels that meet the expected standards of living across important political and economic groups. Hong Kong, for example, has had, until recently, one of the strongest economics in the world. Yet, its unskilled workers' standard of living was not high relative to its middle-class professional and entrepreneurial groups, and downright meager relative to its capitalist elite. Similarly, the oil-based economies of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirate Republics, Kuwait, and Brunei provide among the highest standards of living for all their citizens, yet they provide significantly lower standards of living for certain types of 'guest-workers,' such as Philippine domestics. In effect, the strength of an economy is independent of the actual distribution of wealth to all the social groups in a society.

Another important dimension of economic dependency is the proportion of the gross domestic product (GDP) that involves foreign trade and investment. The United States demonstrates this, since it has by far the world's largest and strongest economy, yet its standard of living, to a significant degree, depends on its levels of exports and imports, such as oil and gas. Depression levels of unemployment would occur if the US economy was limited to only its domestic market for production and consumption. The connection between standard of living and foreign trade was cruelly exemplified during the United Nations-imposed trade embargo on Iraq in the 1990s. Iraq's economy was based almost entirely on oil exports. During the period of 'complete' UN oil sanctions, most of its citizens' standard of living dropped to survival levels, except for a small military and business class associated with the Ba'athist regime.

The complexity of economic dependency is therefore obvious, yet the concept is central to understanding the utility of state torture because the level of economic dependency of a particular state is sensitive to political and economic sanctions and negative global publicity. Economically dependent societies are immediately susceptible to the effects of embargoes, boycotts, sanctions, and the reduction of friendly export markets. This relationship is so critical that high levels of economic dependency of a particular economy is a necessary, though not sufficient, condition for international policies against state torture to work against an offending government. A related condition, however, is that no substantial alternative trade and financial markets be available to the violator. This is the context of the present global economy, unlike the conditions that prevailed during much of the 20th century, when the US and its allies and the Soviet bloc countries respectively provided alternative markets to governments regardless of their commitment to improving their human rights records (Chomsky and Herman, 1979). However, with the end of the Cold War, foreign aid to former Communist-bloc countries could be linked to a government's commitment to implementing liberal-democratic principles. In other words, democratic political reforms can become a prerequisite for foreign aid and trade access in countries that were economically dependent on advanced capitalist nations.
   The need for access to international capital thus set in motion not
   only the reform of economic policies, but also the reform of
   political institutions, as elites sought to deal with the new
   global realities ... In several Latin American states, military
   governments had presided over the economy in the times of the debt
   crisis. The stagnation of the economy, high rates of inflation,
   capital flight, and rising unemployment undermined the popularity of
   these regimes. Professionals, businessmen, and intellectuals
   increasingly called for lower public deficits, greater openness of
   the economy, and less protectionism, while also protesting
   autocratic rule, the arbitrary use of force, and military
   government. Economic and political demands thus blended, animating
   new political alliances and linking the demands for
   market-orientated policies with demands for a return to democracy.
   (Bates, 2001: 94)

In effect, debt-ridden countries in need of foreign aid frequently turn to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for financial assistance, as well as lender countries for debt relief. Since the funding from the IMF and other such organizations is provided by advanced capitalist nations, these agencies demand certain political economic reforms that reflect liberal-democratic and procapitalist principles.

Governments that rely on state torture complexes typically distrust any autonomous economic power bases that could support rival political organizations or parties. Cronyism and corruption are routine policy methods to ensure the loyalty of major financial institutions (such as banks) and other key industries (such as energy and transportation). Important businesses, therefore, often operate under both secret procedures and the protection of the government's police or military operated torture complex. In response, the IMF, World Bank, the US, and the EU have increased their demands that such governments implement the same transparent business practices characteristic of liberal-democratic economies before financial aid packages are approved. Additionally, the more comprehensive the aid and trade package required by an oppressive government to avoid economic collapse, the more wide-ranging the economic and political reforms that may be demanded by the donor agencies or countries. At the extreme, the US and the EU have demanded the removal of a government and the dismantling of its torture complex before providing massive financial aid. This was the situation in Yugoslavia (then composed of Serbia and Montenegro), where Milosevic's policies in Kosovo and the resulting war led to a total economic collapse. The hopelessly divided political opposition united, and the once-loyal military and police organizations forced Milosevic's government from power. In its place, Yugoslavia created its first liberal-democratic government. (4)

On the other hand, Russia and China are examples of the complexity of applying the construct of economic dependency to explain the disutility of state torture in the current geopolitical context. The Russian currency collapsed several times during the late 1990s, and its economy reached depression levels of production and consumption. Political and business corruption was widespread. Billions of dollars in financial aid, mainly from Germany, but also from other EU countries and the United States, were stolen and deposited in financial institutions outside of Russia. In the midst of this general economic dependency context, the Russian military employed a policy of widespread torture and murder to subdue the Checheyan nationalists' guerrilla armies, their civilian supporters, and thousands of nonpartisans, especially in the capital city of Grozney. Despite negative western media reports and threats to end foreign financial assistance, Yeltsin's and Putin's governments continued their state torture policies. However, global politics are central in explaining why the economic dependency threat was not carried out. At first, the United States and European countries were more concerned with political instability in the entire Caucasus region, where multinational companies have major investments in the development of massive oil fields and pipelines. Second, there was great concern about Muslim fundamentalism spreading throughout this region. This foreign policy goal was intensified after Al Qaeda's terrorist attacks in Washington and New York City on 11 September 2001.

As for China, in contrast with the strategy employed for Russia, the United States, the European Union, and other key World Trade Organization countries followed a 'constructive engagement' policy, in which trade is maintained with violating states in the hope that an improved standard of living will result in the establishment of a large, stable middle class who will ultimately demand political and economic reforms in the form of liberal-democratic and capitalist ideology. In theory, the more the Chinese economy becomes integrated with advanced capitalist economies, the less utility there will be for China's comprehensive state torture complex. In effect, state torture's gradual disutilization seems feasible only given the precarious internal political and military divisions within the massive national and regional Communist party organizations governing approximately 1.25 billion citizens. The immediate foreign policy objective of the donor countries is to assist the moderate procapitalist factions within the government and business class in achieving sustained economic growth sufficient to satisfy the general population, while not threatening the interests of the Communist state's near 60 year hold on power (The Economist, 2001).

The Internal Economic Costs of State Torture

Notwithstanding the negative effect of policies of state torture on foreign aid, trade, and investment, building and maintaining a torture complex requires enormous domestic financial costs. A government constructs a comprehensive torture complex typically to help maintain its power, to sustain its ideology, or to implement its policies. While historically there are far too many versions or types of torture complexes to describe a prototype, one of the more comprehensive contemporary examples existed in Iraq prior to the removal of the Ba'athist regime. After the Ba'ath Socialist Party took power in a 1968 coup, Saddam Hussein, who became President of Iraq in 1979, modeled his torture complex after Stalin's. Some of the prototype's considerable costs were due to redundancies in intelligence, internal security, and military organizations (Aburish, 1999).

The Iraqi state's version had five secret intelligence services whose functions overlapped. Its leaders were chosen personally by Hussein for their proven loyalty to him. These services were integrated with the hierarchies of the military and police forces. In effect, information about potential and actual enemies of Hussein or his government could be obtained at the neighborhood block level. Informants were employed to spy, for example, within apartment complexes, workplaces, schools, and in most other social groupings. By having overlapping intelligence services, Hussein effectively had these agencies spying on each other and always searching for indications of disloyalty. This comprehensiveness required a massive annual budget. In addition to the specialized security and intelligence units, there were also the physical infrastructure costs. Finally, the ultimate power of this torture complex resided in the Republican Guard divisions of the army. These elite units were trained and designed not only to deal with external threats to Iraq, but also for internal security against any real or perceived threats to Hussein or his Ba'ath Socialist Party (Aburish, 1999). Republican Guard units were instrumental in the state torture and genocide directed at the Kurds in northern Iraq and at the Shi'a Muslims in the marsh section of southern Iraq.

The selection and training of the thousands of individuals who staff the multitude of roles within the torture complex is elaborate. The effectiveness of this costly model, however, can be surmised by its ability to avoid any serious internal threats to the Hussein regime despite the physical devastation of the Gulf War, major armed Kurdish and Shi'a Muslim rebellions, and massive, sustained economic sanctions and embargoes that created virtually a decade of economic depression in Iraq. As witnessed in 2003, it took the might of the American Armed Forces and the support of several coalition countries finally to remove Hussein and his government from power.

The more comprehensive torture complexes, which include military, judicial, and administrative components, can, in some cases, operate on budgets large enough to threaten the economic stability of the state. Moreover, the costs of maintaining a torture organizational complex continues to rise, especially during periods of economic decline as it is during these periods that threats to the stability of the government increase (Denemark and Lehman, 1984). Depending on the strength of the domestic economy, in certain cases, state torture complexes require continuous external financial support. This includes foreign financial investment, not just in terms of capital but in the technology, training, and tools of state torture (Amnesty International, 1996; Denemark and Lehman, 1984; Pion-Berlin, 1984). For example, during the Cold War, the United States provided substantial resources directed by its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to support and maintain elaborate torture complexes throughout Latin America (Chomsky and Herman, 1979). The Soviet Union, in turn, subsidized similar, and often more proportionately costly, state torture complexes within its satellite countries and allied Third World states. In the absence of a Cold War context or a fundamental external security threat, the cost of maintaining a comprehensive torture complex can be difficult to justify to those who are economically powerful in industrial societies when the viability of the national economy is at risk. As well, foreign support is extremely difficult to obtain or maintain based on a purely domestic conflict threat.

The Political Organization of the State

As mentioned above, advanced capitalist economies are typically associated with liberal-democratic forms of governance. The interdependency of these two key concepts is central to the utility of state torture complexes in contemporary societies. A well established tradition of liberal-democratic institutions reduces the utility of state torture because its characteristic political stability reduces the need for leaders or factions to engage in torture as a routine method of governance. In more authoritarian political systems or those characterized by continual political instability, governments confront fewer political, economic, and social constraints against policies of state torture. The most common institutionalized constraints include an independent media, stable political party configurations, and an autonomous judiciary (Sloan, 1984). The lack of effective institutional constraints likely reflects the absence of a government's popular or consensus legitimacy. State torture in these cases, therefore, is seen as an efficient policy to maintain a government's power.

While broad legitimacy is essential to democratic forms of government, there are numerous obstacles to their effective institutionalization in many contemporary agrarian and industrial societies. Most of the countries included in these two economic categories have been colonies of the major European empires and, more recently, republics and regions of the Soviet Union, such as Georgia and Chechnya. Few colonies escaped some degree of systematic violence by colonial governments or the development of torture complexes, especially in response to 20th-century nationalist, independence, guerrilla, and terrorist movements. With some exceptions, such as India, most colonies did not experience democratic principles and institutions for a prolonged period, or in a manner that allowed for their institutionalization. Like Nigeria, most colonies were constructed on the basis of the military, strategic, economic, and political conveniences of the colonial power with no substantial consideration for the historical enmities among ethnic groups, tribes, and indigenous empires forced to exist within an arbitrary colonial administrative boundary (Corrado, 1992). When nationalist or liberation governments did emerge in these countries, the successful leadership and political party institutions often were unaccustomed to liberal-democratic institutions. Not surprisingly, the political systems that emerged in many ex-colonial societies, such as Latin America, Africa or Asia used state torture as a major instrument of policy.

This history of political instability is central to any theory of the utility of state torture. Lopez (1984) argues that continual or radical changes in government structures or leadership make state torture more viable and defensible, because new governments feel extreme pressure to consolidate power, especially after a coup, widespread revolt, or long-term rule by force. In these situations, governments resort to purges, exterminations, and torture, as well as using other tactics such as detention, press censorship, travel restrictions, and economic coercion of certain groups. For example, the state-sponsored ethnic genocide by the Idi Amin regime in Uganda, and the immediate execution of religious and political opponents during the first years of the Khomeini regime in Iran and the Hussein regime in Iraq, illustrate the link between radical shifts in a state's structure of government and the immediate utility of state torture policies.

The recent trend away from military governments in agrarian and industrial countries has not existed long enough to institutionalize liberal-democratic institutions or to produce the generations needed to develop the corresponding liberal-democratic culture. In effect, the existing governments have experienced the advantages of repressive policies. As Corrado (1992) states, the more governments have resorted to illegal or unethical political strategies to maintain their positions of authority in the past, the more likely they are to engage in policies of torture and terrorism to eliminate dissent in the future. For example, in the Republic of Haiti, it was assumed that once the brutal military regimes had been replaced by the liberating hero of the democratic revolution, Roman Catholic priest and President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, Haiti would not have to fear the use of torture. However, democratic critics of his government maintain that he, too, intimidated the democratic political opposition with threats of violence from the remnants of the once terrifying and ubiquitous state torture complexes created by the brutal dictator, Papa Doc Duvalier (Amnesty International, 1996).

The Politicalization of Multiethnic Populations

Violence, including torture, involving groups that define themselves by their ethnic differences is one of today's paramount human rights problems. In agrarian and industrial societies, state torture is more common in countries with a high degree of ethnic differentiation and where different political communities have a strong ethnic identification. In advanced capitalist societies, civic and political party identities are important; however, they are not restricted to ethnicity. As well, diverse ethnic groups share equal political and human rights as citizens. While far from perfect, all ethnic communities are more broadly represented in the media, the armed forces and police, the government sector, education, and other public institutions (Human Rights Watch, 1995). Israel, however, is a partial exception to this pattern. Israel restricts access to citizenship and to certain government institutions by religious affiliation. Obviously, the half-century of animosity and violent conflicts with the Palestinians and other neighbouring Arab states distinguishes Israel from other advanced capitalist societies. Similarly, Northern Ireland is another exception since, even as part of the United Kingdom, there were severe disparities historically between Catholics and Protestants in gaining access to life opportunities, including access to state institutions. However, in advanced capitalist societies, in general, it is unusual for ethnic-based political parties to promote policies that include the use of violence, let alone any tolerance of torture, as a policy instrument (Corrado, 1992).

Nonetheless, ethnic divisions in advanced capitalist liberal-democratic societies remain politically important and a major source of political conflict. Beyond the United Kingdom and Israel, many other countries, including Canada, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, and France, have experienced violent incidents involving anti-state terrorist groups. Yet, within these countries, more recently, attempts to use repressive policies against these groups, or even isolated instances of state torture, has invoked major public opposition and criminal proceedings against government officials and police personnel. In contrast, in many agrarian and industrializing countries:
   A government's willingness to play on existing communal tensions to
   entrench its own power to advance a political agenda is a key factor
   in the transformation of those tensions into communal violence. The
   'communal card' is frequently played, for example, when a government
   is losing popularity or legitimacy and finds it convenient to wrap
   itself in a cloak of ethnic, racial, or religious rhetoric. (Human
   Rights Watch, 1995: 2)

This scenario unfolded in Rwanda in 1994, when Rwandan Hutu extremist political and religious leaders, in an attempt to maintain their authority, directed Hutu soldiers and paramilitaries to commit genocide against members of the Tutsi minority (Human Rights Watch, 1995). Moreover, as Pronk (1996: 10) concludes:
   In weak states, in which traditional structures often have more
   legitimacy than the official authorities and in which no strong
   middle class with a direct interest in stability has developed yet,
   social conflicts can easily be politicized by mobilizing competing
   groups along lines of ethnicity, religion, or kinship. Mobilizing by
   ethnic or religious elites often occurs on the basis of an imagined
   cultural heritage. Such 'imagined communities' tend to ascribe
   themselves deep historical roots.

Strong ethnic differentiation, therefore, combined with failing economic and social development programs and the manipulation of conflict issues by political and cultural leaders is a persistent primary cause of state torture policies in numerous 'developing' nations.

Liberal-Democratic versus Radical Ideologies

The sustained use of state torture complexes is also most commonly associated with radical ideological governments. In discussing the proliferation of torture-oriented regimes in Latin America, in the 1970s, Pion-Berlin (1984: 9) asserts that:
   Acts of state terror against nondissenting and dissenting citizens
   are rational to the extent that they are goal oriented acts from the
   point of view of their perpetrators. Policy-makers with strong
   ideological predispositions may logically take violence to be the
   most sensible instrument of policy for the achievement of desired

Clearly, liberal-democratic and advanced capitalist societies have engaged in repressive policies, including state torture, to protect their dominant ideological ideals both internally and externally. Nonetheless, systematic torture policies or complexes to respond to or prevent internal threats, real or perceived, are rare. Simply put, policies of sustained state torture are neither necessary nor required to achieve ideological conformity as it already exists within the vast majority of the population. In effect, virtually all citizens in advanced capitalist nations have a vested interest in the continued economic growth and political stability of the state. Internal conflict, consequently, is rarely based on challenging the state's entrenched ideological principles. Political systems that maximize and guarantee individual freedoms, such as liberal democracies, are least prone to internal violence from their own citizens, regardless of how marginalized or disenfranchised a segment of the population may feel.

In contrast, fascism and various forms of Marxist-Leninism are ideologies that advocate violence to achieve and maintain the radical restructuring of a society. In developing and industrial societies, those ideologies have led to policies of sustained state torture. In effect, the less democratic a regime, the more likely it will murder large numbers of its own citizens. In describing the impact of these radical ideologies in Latin America, Lopez (1984: 66) claims that ideology leads to political repression because it creates a centralized state in which the government's needs, not the individual's, are the primary focus of all political, economic, military, and social policies:
   In some political systems, this will take the form of technocracy
   controlling phases of life from information to economic livelihood;
   in others it will demand a network of secret police, 'emergency'
   policies for the suspension of political and human rights; and in
   others to a history of a thoroughly intimidating population that
   knows well (and therefore acts accordingly) the repressive potential
   of the state.

During the past several decades, religious ideologies have also become more prominent in governments that employ state torture. The most prominent are the radical fundamentalist governments in the Middle East and Asia. Several theocratic regimes have established various forms of state torture complexes. Iran, under the leadership of the Ayatollah Khomeini (1982-9), for example, initiated the current trend of linking religion, power, and state terror. Currently, state torture is designed to force mass conformity to a narrow fundamentalist interpretation of the Koran, according to a small group of religious elites such as certain ayatollahs in Iran or the recently toppled Taliban government of Afghanistan. This vision of the Muslim religion vehemently opposes liberated roles for women and fundamental liberal-democratic political principles. All of the above radical or nonliberal-democratic ideologies reject the primacy of individual rights over state rights in the structuring of a citizen's everyday life and beliefs. For these governments, state torture is, therefore, not a violation of an individual's right to choose but instead the right of the state to coerce conformity to the government's national vision of a citizen.

Precipitating Incidents of Anti-State Violence

Specific events that are perceived as direct challenges to a state's authority increase the likelihood of policies of state torture. Not uncommonly, repressive governments emerge rapidly when civil disorder is brought about by violent incidents (Corrado, 1992). Even in advanced capitalist societies, repressive policies have been implemented to counter terrorist threats. For example, the 1970 kidnapping and murder of the Quebec Provincial cabinet minister, Pierre Laporte, by the Front Liberation de Quebec (FLQ) resulted in the Trudeau government's decision to temporarily implement the War Measures Act, suspending many civil rights, to prevent any further terrorist violence. Typically, once the precipitating event is responded to and no further violent incidents occur, the repressive tactics in liberal-democratic societies cease.

However, this is not always the case. For example, during the late 1980s, the Gonzales government in Spain continued a secret campaign against the Basque Fatherland and Liberty (ETA) anti-state terrorist group, which elicited allegations that the government ordered and participated in the torture and assassination of alleged ETA terrorists and sympathizers (Cohen and Corrado, 2003). Once the clandestine campaign was made public, criminal proceedings and other official public inquiries effectively condemned these actions. Similarly, in Northern Ireland, reaction to a number of major IRA bombing campaigns in English cities precipitated an extreme police and security response that involved secret policies of state torture (Finn, 1991). These incidents were also eventually exposed by the British media and several falsely convicted and imprisoned Northern Irish Catholics were released from custody.

However, in industrial and agrarian societies, governments are far more likely to institute or expand a comprehensive torture complex in response to a major anti-state violent incident. Indeed, a single incident is sufficient ideological justification to react massively against not only the typically small number of actual members of an anti-state terrorist group but also against the far broader groups of sympathizers. Strategically, members of the media are often intimidated by the state torture complex and so the public is exposed only to the government's description of the threat posed by a violent incident. Not uncommonly, as exemplified in several Central and South American countries, such as Argentina and Chile, the threat is vastly exaggerated by the government and thousands of innocent people are tortured and murdered. As well, this embellishment serves to further justify symbolically the need for fundamental ideological reform, rather than just the removal of the potential threat of additional incidents of anti-state violence. States of emergency are often declared which allow a government to deny national and international access to any information about the state torture complex.

Media Exposure of State Torture

The global media are critical in explaining the basis for an increase in the disutility of state torture policies in any societal context. The more extensive the technological expansion of the global media, the less viable state torture policies will become because of the increased risk of detection. This media expansion includes the advent of globally positioned satellites that can relay television and other communication channels to virtually every country in the world on a 24-hour basis. It also includes the recent advances in worldwide fiber optic digital cable networks and the exponential growth of the Internet. As well, these advances are directly related to the exposure of once highly secretive state torture incidents and complexes. For example, the state torture complex atrocities in Bosnian Serb concentration camps and the ethnic-cleansing policy of the Milosevic government against the Kosovar Muslims were reported daily in vivid and horrifying television accounts.

The success of news networks, such as CNN, as viable business enterprises quickly spawned additional global news networks. Because violence typically attracts viewers, it is as much if not more a business imperative rather than a humanitarian motive that accelerates media coverage of cases of state torture. Whatever the motivation, today's global news networks are absolutely essential to exposing state torture policies and facilitating efforts of NGOs, such as Amnesty International's attempt to lobby liberal-democratic states, and in urging key international governments, such as the United Nations, to respond vigorously against countries and governments that persist with policies of state torture.

The greatest publicity impact occurs in advanced capitalist liberal-democratic societies. However, it has also become increasingly difficult for industrial countries to prevent citizen access to global information networks. Most critically, multinational corporations demand access to business and political news to conduct their daily business decisions effectively and efficiently. For example, global hotel chains typically are connected to the news and business communication networks. Even agrarian countries have become increasingly connected to the global community to attract foreign investment and joint business ventures. Once-closed industrial countries, such as China, and agrarian countries, such as the Republic of Haiti, are steadily increasing the media access they provide to the global community.

As well, international media have increasingly become inseparable from national media; they are often interdependent news sources. The attempts, for example, by Putin's government in Russia and the former Milosevic government in Yugoslavia to control their respective national media were in many ways counterproductive because the international media simply exposed their efforts to manage state torture information. Equally important, the international media can virtually shame international government and agencies into action against state torture by reporting the tragic human consequences of inaction. It was, for example, the horrifying television reports of the mass torture and executions of nearly 800,000 Tutsi and moderate Hutus in Rwanda that caused the public outcry and resultant United Nations interventions.

Legal and Sanctioning Roles of the International Community

In the current global climate, the international community and its governmental and non-governmental agencies have substantial power to impose economic sanctions. Most important, the United Nations, especially since the end of the Cold War, has escalated its enforcement of anti-torture policies. As discussed above, the more dependent an offending state's national economy is on external trade and financial resources, the more effective the international community's anti-torture policies will be. Duvall and Stohl (1983) present one of the most convincing models of this dependency principle. According to them, the more politically and economically reclusive or isolated a state, the less concerned their rulers need to be about external response costs to policies of torture or their vulnerability to international pressure or domestic retribution (Duvall and Stohl, 1983). The lack of resolve on the part of the international community to intervene in agrarian and industrial states considered 'marginal' or less strategically or economically useful partly explains why the state torture and genocide policies used in, for example, Cambodia by the Khmer Rouge, and the current atrocities effected by the Sudanese government in its civil war, did not elicit immediate intervention by the UN and the European Union, or even any substantial indication of resolve.

The role of international organizations, such as the UN, differs in advanced-capitalist, industrializing nations. These distinctions have direct consequences on the utility of state torture. Not only have all liberal democracies signed international agreements condemning the use of state torture, they have also included provisions in their criminal codes against its practice. Moreover, because of their primacy in the fight against state torture internationally, their condemnation of other nations' use of torture, and their position in the global community, liberal-democratic nations have severely limited the usefulness of and need for state torture.

International governmental organizations and non-governmental organizations also have disarmed the utility of state torture policies in industrial and agrarian nations. While the international community has not been successful in abolishing the practice of state torture entirely, it has made it more costly and risky for governments to engage in policies of sustained torture. The UN has attempted to hold states legally and politically accountable for engaging in state torture. For instance, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia continues to investigate cases of state torture and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda issued a series of indictments against those accused of participating in state torture. Fueled by the atrocities committed in Iraq, Yugoslavia, and Rwanda, international leaders have renewed progress towards the creation of an international criminal court to hold government officials accountable for state torture policies. Furthermore, bestowing Nobel Peace Prizes on individuals who have either abandoned terror tactics, such as former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, or spoken out against their government's repressive policies, such as South Africa's Nelson Mandela and East Timor's Cardinal Belo, may demonstrate to other leaders the international benefits of abandoning policies of state torture. Moreover, while not always doing so, as mentioned above, the international community continues to link principles of good governance as a precondition for foreign aid packages or World Bank and IMF loans.


In the research literature, no theoretical model attempts to explain the utility of state torture in contemporary societies. There are several theories of state terrorism, but they do not specifically attempt to explain policies of torture as part of a campaign of state terrorism. Most important, the broader policy concerns associated with theories of state terrorism do not address the key questions of the feasibility of governments utilizing state torture complexes in the context of the 21st century. The issues raised in this article focus on explaining why state torture policies as a tactic to prevent or respond to real or perceived internal threats to the state or a government, particularly in their most extreme manifestation (i.e. comprehensive torture organizational complexes), are unlikely to exist in advanced capitalist societies and are likely to diminish in industrial and agrarian contexts.

Essentially, we argue that the disutility of state torture policies is related to the contemporary economic context. With the advent of a global market for trade and capital, regional economic integration intensified in Europe through the European Union and within North America through the North American Free Trade Agreement. Along with Japan's domination of capital investment and trade among Asian economies, these three blocs of countries exert direct pressure on the economies of virtually every country in the world. And, without access to one of these three economic blocs, the economic stability and growth of any country could be placed in jeopardy. This was evident in Indonesia when the Suharto regime's brutal use of its state torture complex in East Timor threatened a cut-off of trade, investment, and financial ties with Japan, the US, and the EU.

The end of the Cold War signalled the end of the automatic support for totalitarian and authoritarian regimes based on any of the traditional ideologies underlying such political systems. Liberal-democratic values prevailed within all of the major economic states, except China. The United Nations Security Council, therefore, is now also dominated by this ideology. Its principles simply are inimical to state torture of any kind. Yet, obviously, there have been many examples of both torture incidents in most liberal democracies and the latter's continued tolerance of state torture in nonliberal-democratic states. Nonetheless, the central theme of this article is that, given the economic interdependence of countries as a result of globalization in the post-Cold War era, the utility of sustained state torture policies, as defined in this article, will diminish everywhere.

It is extremely difficult to hide policies of sustained state torture in the contemporary world. And, once reports of abuse are broadcast across the global media, it is increasingly difficult for liberal-democratic states and the international government organizations and NGOs that they dominate to ignore governments that engage in state torture. Obviously, economic and political self-interest still remain crucial in explaining why torture policies are tolerated in one state, yet condemned in another. Nonetheless, constructive engagement, as an economic policy with countries that still operate comprehensive state torture complexes, such as the economic policies of Canada and the United States towards China, can be justified, somewhat, by the argument that the use of state torture in China has diminished drastically in both intensity and quantity. This reduction in the use of state torture in China may be motivated in part by the government's desire to promote a more positive image globally since its selection by the International Olympic Committee as the site for the 2008 Olympic Games and its entrance into the World Trade Organization.

However, one method for avoiding direct responsibility for using state torture policies has recently emerged in the events involving the response to Al Qaeda and the military confrontations in Iraq and Afghanistan by those governments who feel threatened by Islamic fundamentalist groups. Private sector companies appear to be meeting the state torture service market under the guise of providing civilian security that was typically provided by a government's police and military agencies. The assertion is that these security companies are largely being operated by former, often retired, police and military officers from previous state torture regimes. These companies often conceal their torture tactics and are not bound by the international and national charters outlawing torture tactics by governments. In effect, in some parts of the world, state torture is becoming a privatized industry supported, in part, by liberal-democratic governments. It appears that these 'security companies' have been playing an important role in conflicts such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Clearly, state torture complexes still exist, and there are scenarios where even liberal-democratic advanced capitalist states might consider and institute policies of state torture. One such scenario would entail the threat of a catastrophic terrorist attack or a similar direct military threat from an enemy country. Currently, in the American context, Iran and North Korea are seen as being potential 'rogue nations' that might constitute such a threat. Another scenario would involve a terrorist group, such as Al Qaeda, threatening or carrying out a catastrophic violent attack, such as the partially successful Satin gas attack by the Aum Shinri Kyo cult in the Tokyo subway system in 1995, or the use of a 'dirty' bomb or a nuclear bomb in an attack similar to 11 September 2001. Still, the predicted trend of state torture is that its use, at least in its classic historical manifestations as we defined, will continue to decline as a policy in all contexts, and disappear altogether in the liberal-democratic, advanced capitalist context.


(1.) Recently, in advanced capitalist countries, where international trade and financial organizations have met to discuss their roles regarding outstanding or controversial issues brought about by the global economy, major riots have occurred in cities, including Seattle, Quebec City, Stockholm, and Genoa. There are peaceful protests by interest groups concerned with the shift of global corporation manufacturing plants to the cheap labor markets of the most impoverished agrarian countries; the degradation of the environment through massive World Bank-funded projects in the Third World; genetically modified mass produced food exports; and genetically altered animal experimental research. However, in many instances, radical groups have joined these protests. Whether provoked or not, the police response has often been violent. However, these protests are often not directed at an ideological restructuring of a national economy or political system, with the obvious exception of the participation of anarchist revolutionary groups.

(2.) While it can be argued that the use of the death penalty in the United States or implementation of specific sections of the Patriot Act that suspend the civil rights and liberties of citizens could be defined as specific acts of state terrorism, and that certain actions taken by the United States' government against those it defines as a threat to the state either have in the past or could in the future result in state torture, it is beyond the scope of this article to debate these definitional, complex issues.

(3.) While it is evident that a large number of minority groups and sub-cultural groups in advanced capitalist nations have no minimum standard of living, such as American Indian Nations and many First Nations people in Canada, and that many people from these distinct ethnic and cultural groups continue to characterize their current and historical treatment by the American and Canadian governments as a form of torture and state terror, these occurrences, although extremely important, are not central to the main theme of this article. These groups neither pose a threat to the status quo (as they are not interested in overthrowing the state's liberal-democratic, capitalist institutions), nor are they defined by the state as constituting the potential to substantially alter the status quo. As a result, the Canadian and US governments do not require a systematic policy of state torture to respond to 'control' their minority groups.

(4.) While elections have taken place before in Yugoslavia, electoral fraud and the intimidation of opposition leaders and political party members by the torture complex were widespread.


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Irwin M. Cohen is a Professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University College of the Fraser Valley. Dr Cohen's research interests include young offenders, juvenile justice, Aboriginal victimization and resource access, state torture, and terrorism. He has co-authored several manuscripts on state torture, terrorism, juvenile justice, young offenders, restorative justice, and mentally disordered offenders. Address: Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University College of the Fraser Valley, 33844 King Road, Abbotsford, BC V25 7M8, Canada. Email:

Raymond R. Corrado is a Full-Professor in the School of Criminology and the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University. He also is a Visiting Fellow at Clare Hall College and the Institute of Criminology, University of Cambridge and a founding member of the Mental Health, Law, and Policy Institute at Simon Fraser University. Dr Corrado has co-authored four edited books, The Multi-Problem Violent Youth; Issues in Juvenile Justice; Evaluation and Criminal Justice Policy; and Juvenile Justice in Canada, as well as having published many articles and book chapters on juvenile justice, young offenders, terrorism, mental health, and Aboriginal victimization. Address: School of Criminology, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, BC V5A 1S6, Canada. Email:

Irwin M. Cohen * and Raymond R. Corrado **

* University College of the Fraser Valley, Canada.

** Simon Fraser University, Canada.

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Author:Cohen, Irwin M.; Corrado, Raymond R.
Publication:International Journal of Comparative Sociology
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2005
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