Bob's Links and Rants

Welcome to my rants page! You can contact me by e-mail: Blog roll. Site feed.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Amnesty International Blasts "War on Terror"

Washington's global anti-terror policies are "bankrupt of vision" as human rights become sacrificed in the blind pursuit of security, a leading human rights group charged on Wednesday.

Amnesty International also rapped partners across the world in the United States' self-declared "war on terror" for jailing suspects unfairly, stamping on legitimate political and religious dissent, and squeezing asylum-seekers.

"The global security agenda promoted by the U.S. administration is bankrupt of vision and bereft of principle," Amnesty head Irene Khan said, launching its annual report.

"Violating rights at home, turning a blind eye to abuses abroad and using pre-emptive military force where and when it chooses has damaged justice and freedom, and made the world a more dangerous place."

Specifically, Amnesty lashed Washington for unlawful killings of Iraqi civilians; questionable arrest and mistreatment of prisoners in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay and Afghanistan; and opposition to a new global criminal court.

"The world is crying out for principled leadership," Khan added, saying the negative effects of U.S.-led anti-terror policies had spread far and wide.

"Governments are losing their moral compass, sacrificing the global values of human rights in a blind pursuit of security."
That from CNN, which also has an online poll I'd like you to vote in: Should some human rights be sacrificed for security?

I've felt pretty much ever since it was declared in 2001 that human rights and political dissent were not just collateral damage of the "war on terror." They were its main target. Governments in the Philippines, Indonesia, Pakistan and elsewhere were rewarded by the Bushies for repressing their own opposition. On May 8, 2002, I wrote the following on my blog:
Spend a few days in Indonesia and you'll find many people asking you a question you weren't prepared for: Is America's war on terrorism going to become a war against democracy? -- Opening sentence of Thomas Friedman's opinion piece in the NY Times today. While the article as a whole is great, especially coming from the usually pro-Bush Friedman, this sentence assumes an incredible naiveté on the part of his readers. The war on terrorism has been a war against democracy since the very beginning. Had it been around in the 1770's, Bush's war on terrorism would have been supporting the British in detroying the terrorist infrastructure of those al Qaeda colonists like Washington, Adams and Jefferson whose rhetoric causes their followers to dump tea in the harbor and shoot at redcoats from behind fences.

Friedman ends his article much more intelligently than he starts it:

America needs to be aware of how its war on terrorism is read in other countries, especially those in transition. Indonesia is the world's biggest Muslim country. Its greatest contribution to us would be to show the Arab Muslim states that it is possible to develop a successful Muslim democracy, with a modern economy and a moderate religious outlook. Setting that example is a lot more in America's long-term interest than arresting a few stray Qaeda fighters in the jungles of Borneo.
I'm glad to see that this idea is finally making it to the headlines on CNN. And I think I need to send AI some more money!