I had to write an article review and this article was really, really interesting. Of course, it may only be interesting if you like politics, but it was amazing how the author looked at the consequences of how we react to terrorism. I'm posting part of the review that I wrote if you don't want to read the article itself.
"An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind." -Muhatma Ghandi
This was written just after the United States invaded Iraq and before the fall of Saddam Hussein, and the author points out that "an immediate democratic transition may not be possible in such a warped political environment." Immediately after September 11th, many governments rephrased their actions in foreign countries, labeling them anti-terrorist to avoid human rights violations repercussions. Roth points out that governments can acknowledge civil liberties, without inciting extremist groups and organizations. He cites Iran for "a gradual and partial political opening has corresponded with a movement demanding greater respect for civil liberties." and that "the appeal of violent, intolerant movements diminishes as people are given the chance to participate meaningfully in politics." Another problem that occurs with an attempt to encourage human rights is America's unwillingness to support human rights, even "refusing to sign treaties on women's rights, children's rights, economic, social, and cultural rights" In May of 2002, the Bush administration even went so far as to un-sign the International Criminal Court, a forum for prosecuting future cases of genocide, that the Clinton administration hesitantly signed.
Roth also notes that the Patriot Act was used as a blanket to obscure the reasons for the over 1000 detainees that the US government held after September 11th. In addition, Bush's refusal to follow the Geneva convention codes in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba not only endangers possible American prisoners of war, but flaunts Washington's aversion to human rights standards."
It's frustrating to think that our own government has ignored human rights and civil liberties. A country that was founded on the ideals of liberty and freedom and yet, now is a country that denies these most vital rights as they are taken from the neediest of citizens. This begs the question, what then, are the measures of human rights? How do we know that America is different from Saudi Arabia? Or Nazi Germany? We have all heard the reports of Muslim women in their birkas being forced to remove them at airports while catholic nuns in habits are allowed to pass free. Is this a violation? How about when we demand just treatment for our men in arms when they are prisoners of war, and then blatantly refuses to follow the Geneva Convention codes of conduct towards POWs. Referring to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Bush said 'Well, Al Qaeda members are prisoners of war, but Taliban members are not.' OK, then American military are POWs, but private contractors who are American citizens fighting beside our military, are not? Can we pick and choose the specific enumerations of the Geneva Convention that we choose to follow? How about the human rights we choose to honour?
How can we, as a people, encourage our government to behave like those they govern have inherent value, and inherent rights? All people have value and deserve to be treated like humans. Regardless of race, creed, or country of origin. And now, you might say to me, But Jane! that doesn't make sense. If someone is a terrorist and is trying to take lives, don't we have the right to protect ourselves and interrogate them and do whatever is necessary to protect America? Well, the answer is nuanced and complicated. No. Alright, that was a little easier than I thought. Who has not heard the phrase "Violence only begets more violence." It's like when people think that capitol punishment is a deterrent for crime, when every study says otherwise. You can't FIX terrorism. You can't fix ANYTHING by usurping human rights and using it against a group of people. The only possible way to stop violence and terrorism is to provide civil liberties to an oppressed people, and to give them hope for participation in their government.