Erik Voeten flags a new paper:
Courtenay Conrad and Will Moore have an important new article (ungated version) in the American Journal of Political Science that analyzes why states, if ever, stop using torture. The use of torture is remarkably persistent: 93% of states that are accused of using torture in one year will face similar accusations in the following year. Conrad and Moore find that liberal institutions matter, especially in the absence of campaigns of violent dissent. If violent dissent persists, however, even countries with strong liberal institutions are highly likely to carry on torturing.
From the abstract:
[S]tates rarely terminate the use of torture when they face a threat. Once campaigns of violent dissent stop, however, states with popular suffrage and a free press are considerably more likely to terminate their use of torture. Also given the end of violent dissent, the greater the number of veto points in government, the lower the likelihood that a state terminates its use of torture.
It took the US seven years before we got rid of it. But we still have not held anyone accountable for it. And one party has core elements that want to bring the waterboard back.
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