The Canadian minister of foreign affairs ordered that a PowerPoint presentation used for training diplomats be rewritten after its public release during a lawsuit. The PowerPoint presentation lists the U.S. as a country with “possible torture/abuse cases.” It continues by listing six interrogation techniques unapproved by the Canadian government allegedly used by the U.S.
However, it is obvious the U.S. did not react negatively to this news because it is not accurate. That would imply that the U.S. itself knows it is not a “possible” user of torture techniques. I thought the U.S. government had accepted the fact that torture had been used in several prisons. I thought they had finally recognized that the videos released across the internet were not simply jokes performed by bored suburban teenagers. If anything, the Canadian government should change the word “possible” to “known.” It shouldn’t matter that the U.S. doesn’t approve of the incidents of torture and abuse. If the qualified officers that represent the country are breaking the rules, then the government itself is breaking the rules and should take the responsibility.
So how did this happen? Why is Canada almost reflexively announcing it will change the documents? It is a simple matter of power and diplomacy. Canada and the U.S. have an unspoken agreement not to speak bad about each other to keep relations pleasant. It doesn’t matter what we know to be true about them or what they know to be true about us as long as these truths are never released to the public. It is an awkward state of affairs, because the citizens of the U.S. talk bad about the government incessantly. The U.S. government seems to focus more attention on garnering false approval from other countries than on assuring its own citizens of its worth. Thus we only find it necessary to stand behind our government for nationalistic reasons, reasons that rarely hold much truth.