Despite the trillions being spent worldwide to combat terrorism, there is no war on terrorism. This bears repeating: There is no "war on terror."
We note this when as a society we think about the global AIDS epidemic (Dec. 1), the human rights situation worldwide (Dec. 10), and the rights of migrants (Dec. 18) during a rise once again in the anti-immigrant movement in this country. It's also a time when the world's major religions focus on peace and good will.
If we were actually engaged in such a war, it would be clearly defined, with unambiguous objectives and parameters. It would first necessarily target despotic governments that threaten humanity and use state terror to torture and systematically deprive their own citizens of their human rights. And it wouldn't force allied nations to act against their own citizens' wishes.
A country involved in such a war wouldn't permit the export of torture instruments , wouldn't sabotage international weapons treaties, nor blackmail nations to exempt it from the international war crimes tribunal. It wouldn't proliferate its own weapons of mass destruction, nor research the use of "mini-nuclear bombs."
In actuality, President Bush is hurtling toward U.S.-worldwide economic and military domination. Hence, "You're either with us or against us." This dictum allows us and our "allies" to ruthlessly stamp out domestic opposition ... all in the name of combating terror. How many of these allies are undemocratic and notorious human rights violators.
The failure to define this war permits the president to place the nation in an unconstitutional permanent state of war (against any nation he so chooses, without congressional approval).
Currently, the war on terror is as vague as the "war on drugs"
-- and as "winnable." Ironically, in Afghanistan, where both these wars intersect, heroin production has skyrocketed since U.S. "liberation."
The president can't declare a war against Islam (though his surrogates have) for fear of igniting a global religious war. He can't define the war as being against Arab extremists or even simply against (the catch-all) al-Qaida, because that would restrict him from places such as Colombia.
This worldwide "war on terror" is oxymoronic because, as others have noted, it's a war against a method, not an enemy. Additionally, the 2002 "Bush doctrine" invites a pre-emptive permanent state of war where any opponent of U.S. policies can be designated an enemy.
The question begs to be asked: If a people are being viciously repressed anywhere worldwide -- including at the ballot box -- what permissible method can be used to rebel?
To wage a successful war against terrorism and terrorists, a clear definition of what constitutes legitimate insurrection is also in order. Without it, there wouldn't even be a United States, and there can't be an end to the war on terrorism. Perhaps that's the president's objective.
And what might constitute a U.S. enemy? Any nation that disagrees with U.S. goals (France, Germany and Russia)? Yet the administration's claim is that this war isn't directed at traditional nation-states (outside of Afghanistan, Iraq, North Korea, Iran, Syria, Libya, Venezuela, Cuba, etc.), but against terrorists and their supporters.
The ramifications of such an open-ended war are that anyone could be deemed a suspect or an "enemy combatant" and held secretly, without charges and legal representation (our post-9/11 U.S. reality). Don't we now also have special prisons (Guantanamo) and overseas prisoner transfers (for purposes of
torture) outside of U.S. and international jurisprudence? Have we also not seen "special registration" of Arab-Muslim men? And aren't intelligence units once again spying on peace groups?
This war encourages societies to consolidate power, defend the "homeland" (the Fatherland), govern from a place of secrecy, enact repressive "temporary" laws (USA Patriot Act I and II), and create "suspect" (including "no fly") lists. It also encourages the militarization of nations and for them to copy the tactics of the U.S. and Israeli military (i.e., deceptions, pre-emptive war and military assassinations without trials and much "collateral damage"). It invites scapegoating (Clear Law for Criminal Alien Removal of 2003, HR 2671), and it encourages debates over who's a citizen (Roman Empire), who's loyal and patriotic (McCarthyism), and who's worthy of civil and human rights protections (a throwback to medieval debates over who is human).
Most important, it diverts scarce resources from addressing the critical problems that actually confront humanity -- problems often cited to justify both terror and counterterror.
* Reminder: Dec. 12 has been chosen as a day when everyone can show their solidarity (economic strike) with migrants in this counrty, especially in California where the anti-immigrant movement is once again rearing its ugly head. For more info, call 888-467-6114 or go to: http://www.savesb60.com/
Gonzales is the author of 'The Mud People: Chronicles, Testimonios & Rembrances' ($19.95, Chusma House, ISBN: 1-891823-05-1). Email: email@example.com She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Rodriguez is the author of 'Justice: A Question of Race' - Bilingual Review Press and the electronic books, 'The X in La Raza' and 'Codex Tamuanchan: On Becoming Human' . Both are coeditors of 'Cantos Al Sexto Sol' - Wings Press
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