Friday, 5 September 2014

How Western Politics Makes the World More Dangerous for Everyone

I know that many people will probably disagree with some of the things that I am about to write. When you read this please read it from the perspective of a global citizen, a human being, not a Jew, Christian, Muslim, American, Australian, Black, White etc. We are all people and all our lives have equal value. We have so many more similarities than we have differences and 99.9% of us want a better world.

13 years after September 11, 2001 the world is a lot more dangerous than it was in 2001. The events of that day truly frightened a lot of us. It felt like a turning point much like the fall of the Berlin Wall 10 years previously.

But it wasn’t a true historical turning point it was a horrendous crime - but it was just that - a crime and should have been treated as such. Throw in George W. Bush who was lagging in the polls and a US Administration that had difficulty remembering their history the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq followed.

The president and his team forgot about American values, they ignored this: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

A very simple and powerful statement that still echoes through history.

Instead of standing up to these criminal terrorists they stooped down to their level. The Bush administration reinterpreted the US Constitution, the Geneva Convention and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, to allow torture, locking people up indefinitely without trial, assassination and more.

Now supporters of the war on terror will tell you that these terrorists are scum that don’t deserve to be treated as human beings. And to a certain extent I agree, anyone who commits an act of terror against civilians is scum.

The thing is. Who and what is a terrorist? Well a guy with a Turban and a beard carrying a gun - well that is certainly a terrorist. He is guarding his flock of goats from wild dog attacks, but yeah a terrorist. A terrorist isn’t going to come straight out and say they are a terrorist. It is almost impossible to tell the difference between somebody who has taken up arms to defend themselves and their family from someone who has more sinister objectives.

Take the example of Dilawar an Afghan taxi driver who was accused of transporting terrorists. He was arrested by Afghan militia men accused of firing rockets into a US army base and handed over to US authorities. Five days later he was dead. The autopsy revealed that he had been beaten to death and cause of death declared a homicide. His legs were so badly beaten that if he had lived they probably would have had to be amputated. He was also forced to stay awake standing with handcuffs attached to the ceiling. Years later it was shown that it was actually a local warlord who was firing rockets into the army base, then blaming and arresting locals in an effort to ingratiate himself to the Americans.

This happened in 2002 and many US leaders both military and civilian toured this facility knew what was going on and knew that it breached US law. This new culture of torturing suspected terrorists was exported to Iraq and eventually resulted in the Abu Ghraib torture and abuse scandal. If this wasn’t enough the Bush Administration opened Guantanamo Bay detention camp that was deliberately outside of US “jurisdiction” so they could deny inmates “certain unalienable rights.”

They also expanded the use of the CIA tactic of extraordinary rendition transferring prisoners to another country where torture is legal. They used tactics such as water boarding, sleep deprivation, stress positions and sensory deprivation. They would do this day after day absolutely destroying the person.

This is wrong because history has proven it to be so. There is there is a reason torture is forbidden. There is a reason why accused criminals have a right to a trial and are able to hear the evidence against them. There is a reason why assassination went out of style.

When people are denied rights, treated unfairly and have their friends and family victimised or killed they get angry. And it is often righteous anger that cannot be stopped. This is what happened in the American War of Independence. Americans were sick of being second class British subjects they paid tax but were unable to vote. The British are also used a number of tactics to humiliate and anger the American people many of whom would have been glad to remain British if they were given equal rights to citizens in the homeland.

So it was a trip back to the dark ages when the Bush administration started reinterpreting the Geneva Convention, misusing the term unlawful enemy combatants, finding a way to circumvent their own constitution - which apparently means that they can do anything to them. So they torture them eventually determine they no longer pose a risk and release them. Years later the prisoners eventually go home and many people hear about the way they were treated by the Americans. Social media is also used to make people intimately aware of exactly what happened to these people in custody and it goes viral. This angers and radicalises a large number of disaffected young males and they sign up for the global jihad.

Imagine you are a citizen of Afghanistan and you know of many people that have been arrested, abused and held without trial. Meanwhile photos and videos are uploaded to the Internet showing all these barbaric acts that American citizens have conducted. Wouldn’t you feel angry? Damn right you would. You may even take up arms and fight against this injustice.

All these excesses of the so-called war on terror only make us less safe. It makes it easy to tag our governments as evil as many of them are doing just that. The immense righteous anger that gets created by our governments ignoring their own constitutions and international law helps create a large number of converts to the jihadist cause.

Many western nations were formed in reaction to the excesses of totalitarian regimes. The reason why many of our countries stopped torture, stopped unfair imprisonment and made it so everyone was equal before the law, was because our brave ancestors stood up against the abuses of kings and queens and said we don’t want this to happen anymore. Our ancestors fought and died to give us the rights that we now have. I’m sure they would have thought that by 2014 everybody in the world would have similar rights.

Western leaders have forgotten what made us great. They are desecrating the memory of our ancestors and destroying their legacy. Once we lose our rights more people will have to die to get them back.

If our leaders continue down their current path we will lose more and more of our rights and we will not be any safer, in fact we may have a new enemy - our governments. All those tactics now used against terrorists will start to be used against citizens. How do I know this? History, I read it.

Ancient Rome went through a very similar degradation of rights. Gradually over hundreds of years Rome went from a republic with a leader who was the equal of a citizen to an empire with a God Emperor who could have any citizen executed on a whim. People stopped believing the empire was something good, corruption flourished, society stagnated and eventually it disintegrated. This similar pattern has been repeated many times throughout history.

When governments are given the right to do evil, eventually that evil gets visited on the citizens of that government. We need to stand up to our governments and make them realise that what they are doing is wrong and that it needs to stop.

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