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The war on terrorism, & civil/human rights?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
My reaction to news reports this week:
It's bad enough having to hear about so-called "ghost" detainees in Abu Ghraib, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn...2005Mar10.html , but now there are reports of minors also being held there, one as young as 12: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4339511.stm and http://www.cnn.com/2005/LAW/03/10/ir....ap/index.html
(BTW, those reports are based on government documents obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act, so can hardly be dismissed as left-wing propaganda.)
Sweden, Germany and Italy are accusing the CIA of kidnapping people and sending them off to be tortured, too. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4339511.stm

It's not just the U.S. There has also been a tremendous amount of controversy surrounding Britain's new Prevention of Terrorism Act: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/4288407.stm .
Germany has just announced a bill that would allow the government to store records of all residents' phone calls, cell phone calls, faxes, text messages and internet connections for an entire year. No English-language link as yet.
I'm sure I could find plenty of other stories to fume about (like the ban on lighters in U.S. airports).

Sorry, but you can't preach human rights or civil liberties to other countries, while ignoring them left and right yourself, at home and abroad, in the name of "fighting terrorism".
::censor::censor::censor:: Where does this end? Aren't we playing into terrorists' hands by going too far? Are we all going to end up with GPS transponders, so that every movement can be traced, all in the name of protecting freedom?

This isn't an invitation to bash any particular country or government, but simply an inquiry as to whether there has been an overreaction, especially on the part of democratic countries that generally attach considerable importance to civil liberties.
post #2 of 16
I think the terrorists managed to do what they planned from the start - install fear and paranoia to all their enemies. They're going to let us destroy our culture, freedom, and ecomony, while they sit back and laugh.
post #3 of 16
I think you are absolutely right.
post #4 of 16
I agree. The terrorists have won when we allow our own values to be corrupted like this in the name of 'keeping us safe'.

I am outraged at what our own government is proposing, and indeed by what they have already done (keeping several men prisoner without trial). If they know these people are terrorists they should prosecute. If they don't have the evidence they should be released. Mind you, if the evidence they have is the same as the evidence for the existence of WMDs in Iraq, I'm not surprised the govt is reluctant to let these cases come to trial.

Sue
post #5 of 16
Let me throw in a different perspective. Although I am not saying that I believe in the following statements (nor am I saying I am do not believe).

If you recall in the 1990s, there was talk about "Asian" values and how they differ from "Western" concepts of human rights. It talks about a focus on community over the individual. Such concepts were not entirely new. In fact Bentham's theory of utilitarianism, to a certain extent supports this idea. That it is justified to engage in a course of action if such action results in a benefit to the entire society even if a small minority suffers. The opposite view point is that by Kant whereby individuals should not be treated as a means to an end.

Thus what is happening at this moment is the realisation by Western governments that one may have to adopt measures that may be considered "undemocratic" in face of a particular situation. Thus just as the US detains people at Guantanamo in the interest of protecting the security of the nation, it can be argued that the detention by China of "political" prisoners is in the interest of protecting the stability of the nation, which in turn creates a stable investment climate thus resulting in raising the standard of living for many. Similarly, the detention without trials suggested in UK is not new but the British have introduced it before in Malaya during their insurgency.

This of course leads to the question of whether democracy is the "only" way. One may adopt a knee jerk reaction and claim that of course, democracy is the only way. But looking at the US presidential election turnout, even in the important 2004 election, shows that about 40% of people did not vote. And with previous elections where close to 50% of the people did not vote, one has to wonder whether do people really care about democracy. Furthermore, you see many people who travel to work overseas in countries that are not democracies. And yet they find it perfectly fine to stay there for years working and even raise their family there. So if a government is doing its "job" ensuring growth in economy, etc, etc then does it matter if the government is not democratic? To be precise does it matter to the people who did not vote?

Furthermore, history have shown that repressive regimes are have been successful at crushing terrorism, such as Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia during the 1990s. In the case of Egypt, during the 1970s Sadat tried to liberalise the country and expand political participation but was faced with violence. And in the 1990s Mubarak ruthlessly crushed the Muslim brotherhood which is involved in terrorist operations but yet oddly enough was formed during the most democratic years of Egypt. Similarly, ETA's activities grew in strength in the first two decades of democratisation, after the fall of Franco dictatorship.

So one question is whether democracy is a luxury. And if people get what they want then it does not really matter who serves it to them. Is civil liberties really that important? Or to be precise while it may be important to some people, there are many who simply do not really care about it. Are democratic nations attaching too much weight to civil liberties and perhaps too little weight to good governance, such as provision of services, reduction of crime, etc.
------------
Final little point, although not really on point is the "GPS" thing that was mentioned. Is it really that bad to implant a microchip into a person's body to track their movement? We have no hesitation in implanting it into fluffy and some parents would want to implant it into their children.
post #6 of 16
Our country has gone in a very "let's spread our Christian 'morals' everywhere" direction. Well, here's something Christians are supposed to follow. It's called the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you'd have done to you. So does that mean the people orchestrating this war want to be abused at Abu Ghraib prison as well?
post #7 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by wodesorel
I think the terrorists managed to do what they planned from the start - install fear and paranoia to all their enemies. They're going to let us destroy our culture, freedom, and ecomony, while they sit back and laugh.
This is what I have thought. We handed them everything they could dream of.
post #8 of 16
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marge
This is what I have thought. We handed them everything they could dream of.
So what's the "right way" of fighting back?
post #9 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by jcat
So what's the "right way" of fighting back?
Well I know the WRONG way. You don't TORTURE for one thing. I mean maybe we just need to start with the obvious.
And THEN go to the fine points....
post #10 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by bumpy
Let me throw in a different perspective. Although I am not saying that I believe in the following statements (nor am I saying I am do not believe).

If you recall in the 1990s, there was talk about "Asian" values and how they differ from "Western" concepts of human rights. It talks about a focus on community over the individual. Such concepts were not entirely new. In fact Bentham's theory of utilitarianism, to a certain extent supports this idea. That it is justified to engage in a course of action if such action results in a benefit to the entire society even if a small minority suffers. The opposite view point is that by Kant whereby individuals should not be treated as a means to an end.

Thus what is happening at this moment is the realisation by Western governments that one may have to adopt measures that may be considered "undemocratic" in face of a particular situation. Thus just as the US detains people at Guantanamo in the interest of protecting the security of the nation, it can be argued that the detention by China of "political" prisoners is in the interest of protecting the stability of the nation, which in turn creates a stable investment climate thus resulting in raising the standard of living for many. Similarly, the detention without trials suggested in UK is not new but the British have introduced it before in Malaya during their insurgency.

This of course leads to the question of whether democracy is the "only" way. One may adopt a knee jerk reaction and claim that of course, democracy is the only way. But looking at the US presidential election turnout, even in the important 2004 election, shows that about 40% of people did not vote. And with previous elections where close to 50% of the people did not vote, one has to wonder whether do people really care about democracy. Furthermore, you see many people who travel to work overseas in countries that are not democracies. And yet they find it perfectly fine to stay there for years working and even raise their family there. So if a government is doing its "job" ensuring growth in economy, etc, etc then does it matter if the government is not democratic? To be precise does it matter to the people who did not vote?

Furthermore, history have shown that repressive regimes are have been successful at crushing terrorism, such as Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia during the 1990s. In the case of Egypt, during the 1970s Sadat tried to liberalise the country and expand political participation but was faced with violence. And in the 1990s Mubarak ruthlessly crushed the Muslim brotherhood which is involved in terrorist operations but yet oddly enough was formed during the most democratic years of Egypt. Similarly, ETA's activities grew in strength in the first two decades of democratisation, after the fall of Franco dictatorship.

So one question is whether democracy is a luxury. And if people get what they want then it does not really matter who serves it to them. Is civil liberties really that important? Or to be precise while it may be important to some people, there are many who simply do not really care about it. Are democratic nations attaching too much weight to civil liberties and perhaps too little weight to good governance, such as provision of services, reduction of crime, etc.
------------
Final little point, although not really on point is the "GPS" thing that was mentioned. Is it really that bad to implant a microchip into a person's body to track their movement? We have no hesitation in implanting it into fluffy and some parents would want to implant it into their children.

I had heard that the countries that have had less terrorism, such as Turkey..? are one that invested in the who or what was terrorizing them. I am not sure about this but I heard that. Such as helped the oppressed folk have better schools.....
post #11 of 16
Transatlantic Cooperation
in War on Terror

(from a study on www.csis.com)
To successfully combat international terrorism, the United States and European Union must resolve their differences over how to address the underlying drivers of the rising phenomenon, according to a new report by the CSIS International Security and Europe programs. "[T]he success of future transatlantic strategies for combating terrorism rests on whether or not the two sides of the Atlantic can reach a common understanding of key drivers…such as poverty, the role of Muslim NGOs, demographics, and the radicalization of education…and how they come together to fuel radical Islamism," the report states. "Only then can a constructive transatlantic dialogue begin." Julianne Smith of CSIS and Steven Simon of RAND released the report on August 31.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marge
I had heard that the countries that have had less terrorism, such as Turkey..? are one that invested in the who or what was terrorizing them. I am not sure about this but I heard that. Such as helped the oppressed folk have better schools.....
Mmm, qualified yes to this.

Turkey adopted a two pronged approach to their PKK problem. The first approach is an all out offensive as can be seen in their strike of Northern Iraq following the first Gulf war to strike at Kurd territories. And by strike I mean large scale invasion with tanks, air support, etc. The second approach is the investment in the oppressed folk but of course the cynic may ask how much of this is well intentioned and how much of it was to placate the EU so that Turkey may join it. Afterall they threaten to send troops into Iraq if the Kurds form an independent state. But perhaps the turning point of their fight against the Kurds was the capture of Ocalan leader of PKK. Shortly after there was a ceasefire.

Furthermore, if I am not wrong Israel do spend quite a bit on education in the occupied territories and that have not exactly stopped the war.

Now as to your point on the radicalisation of education. The worst excess of these radicalisation occurs in private schools. So returning to the original point made in the first post, the question is whether does preventing teachers from teaching radical ideas constitute a breach of the freedom of expression? After all there are a number of private schools in developed Western countries that promotes their special brand of hatred too. Furthermore, the terrorists involved in 9/11 are not dirt poor. And let us not forget that Osama was born in the very wealthy Bin Laden family.
post #13 of 16
I live in the USA. That being said, I do not agree with everything I see both here and abroad especially in how the whole terrorist situation lately is being delt with. I feel we have lost so much more in the way of personal freedom in the last 10 years then we have lost in the last 35 and I am not sure it is worth the cost.

I also am not a big fan of claiming to go to war for WMD then switching to "free those oppressed people" and "give them democracy" wether they want it or not. To me, it seems it is the people that must make themselves free by whatever means are at hand, not be forced in to "choosing freedom". Being forced is not a choice and freedom must be earned and fought for to be appreciated. It is such a joke to me that we have to do exactly what we accuse others of doing with the claim we do it for a better reason. Sorry but if army guys came into my country and started blowing up my world and told me to resist is terrorism and I must choose their way of life.. I am not sure how I would take it, but I doubt it would be with a happy attitude.

Tracking people via microchips.. bad idea. Sounds a bit to close to the "mark of the beast" that one must have in the "end times" to be able to buy or sell anything and for identification. When does it stop? When the implants also are able to hear and see everything around the person and transmit that as well as location? How about a little explosive charge incase they are discovered to be involved in alleged terrorist activites. How much can people be scared into accepting to avoid "terror"? Ain't that a kick in the pants?

Who get's to spearhead things like watching (over?) us? Homeland security? Boy.. don't I feel safer now... let's just keep combing agencies until we get one big one in charge of everyone and give them lot's of power. Surely that is the way to keep us all "free"? Blech! Seems more like something that used to be known as the SS.

I only see things getting worse and worse and leading up to a rather bad ending for all of us. Of course I did go to "private schools" for part of my education in the US so perhaps I am just biased because of my "religious" upbringing.
post #14 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cirque
Of course I did go to "private schools" for part of my education in the US so perhaps I am just biased because of my "religious" upbringing.
LOLOL! Well, Tim, we've definitely seen lately how people's minds have been poisioned in the name of "religion"!
post #15 of 16
Well just to put in a word for private religious schools just in case one misinterprets. Just as there are religious schools that are conservative there are private religious schools that are liberal. This is very similar to religious organisations. I went to a private Catholic HS that seemed quite liberal. It celebrates the religious festivals of most main religions from your christian, to muslim to buddhist. And the prayers that are said before an important occassion include not just the catholic ones but also other ma in religion. Then of course there was the pornographic "incident" where the school showed pornography because it believes that if you try to hide something and make it taboo, it will just make people more interested so might as well show it and engage in a discussion on it.

By the way when you say "mark of the beast" do you seriously believe in such things or are you saying it with as joke.

Anyway I don't think microchips are all that bad, nor are identity cards. Or perhaps instead of microchips, one adopts the measure that is planned by China whereby they launch 100 satellites so as to be able to keep track of every spot in the country at any one time.
post #16 of 16
It's interesting, last night I saw Ramsey Clark (Attorney General under Johnson) on Charlie Rose and he is choosing to help defend Saddam. Because as he puts it, everyone deserves rights.
http://www.charlierose.com/

I think Ramsey is on the right track.
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