Buried with the motives and causes of our humanitarian wars, lies an elaborate system of excuses and consolations. We give ourselves the right to conduct wars of choice, with destructive effects on others out of all proportion to the risk to ourselves, because we know we are not the sort of people who enjoy wars. So, too, we may reserve the right to torture when torture is really necessary, just because we are not the sort of people who torture. By contrast, the enemy must be fought by tremendous and disproportionate means precisely because the enemy are the sort of people who do torture. Hunted back to its hiding place, this train of thought would perhaps disclose the premise that it is better to be killed by Americans than it is to be killed by other people.
– David Bromwich, The Torture Compromise of 2007
h/t War in Context