the national interest

Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, and the Torture Primary

Republican Presidential Candidates Hold Third Debate In Colorado
Marco Rubio and Donald Trump are not competing for the humaitarian vote. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Max Boot has a powerful and welcome column in the conservative magazine Commentary blasting Donald Trump for proposing to bring back torture. “Trump has suggested that we should do things ‘a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding’ to captured terrorists,” writes Boot. “He didn’t spell out what that would be: Pulling out their fingernails? Putting them on the rack? Burning them alive? But he did offer a hint when he noted that ISIS was ‘cutting heads off Christians and plenty of others.’ He seemed to be suggesting that the U.S. should engage in some head-lopping too.” There are, however, two relevant points that Boot’s Commentary readers might be surprised to learn.

First, Trump is not the only Republican candidate defending torture. Another pro-torture Republican is Marco Rubio. Senator Rubio opposed a Senate measure affirming the ban on torture by the United States government. As Rubio says over and over, “If we capture any of these ISIS killers alive, they are going to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and we’re going to find out everything they know.” Like Trump, Rubio’s method is to thrill audiences with the promise of torture without delving into specifics. It seems a little odd to single out Trump for doing something without mentioning that one of his rivals is doing it, too.

Second, and perhaps related, Boot is a foreign-policy adviser to Marco Rubio, a fact that is not disclosed in his Commentary story.

Trump, Rubio, and the Torture Primary