Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Illegal U.S. Mandate to Police the World

As the Presidential election looms large on the horizon, it appears to dwarf actual current events worldwide, including a new illegal U.S. invasion of another sovereign nation. In this instance, it is an invasion of Syria that the U.S. has executed on the blatantly provocative grounds that 'We are taking matters into our own hands'. By what legal mandate does the U.S. swoop down into the territory of yet another sovereign nation to kill civilians or any one else for that matter? There is absolutely no legal justification for such actions. In fact, it is an act of state-sponsored terrorism, plainly illicit and moreover, one that may have unpleasant results in terms of furthering international hostility towards the U.S.

The 'American people' appear to be oblivious of the extent to which the U.S. military, purportedly acting 'in their name', is committing acts of terrorism throughout the globe or if not oblivious, certainly are not responding to the threat to the rule of law that these actions represent.

What other war crimes will Bush commit before he leaves the White House? His determination to fabricate evidence in order to drum up public support for his outrageous invasion of Iraq is public knowledge now but the dangers represented by his attitudes have not be addressed properly. His own definition of nations including Iran and Syria as part of an imaginary 'axis of Evil' should have acted as a warning to the American people to curtail a dangerous megalomaniac willing to wage war against the entire world in pursuit of his own agenda. Yet, without ever declaring war, Bush now has escalated his international dubious 'war on terror' by invading Syria.

This sort of arrogance and lack of concern for the rule of law will not go unchallenged by the world even if the American public chooses to sweep it under the carpet. While the American public puzzles over a Presidential election consisting of two candidates who, au fond, represent similar platforms where international policy is concerned, they allow the current Executive to commit acts of state-sponsored terrorism without expressing the outrage these attacks merit. Democrat and Republican alike both in the past and in terms of their vision of the future have embraced a foreign policy that spells ultimate ruin in terms of justice and which only will encourage more hostility and retaliation against Americans.

In the context of illicit actions undertaken in the name of the 'American people', I would recommend the recent film, 'Rendition'. The title of the film refers to a common U.S. practice known as 'extraordinary rendition' whereby individuals, including American citizens are kidnapped by the C.I.A. or other government agents and sent abroad to be tortured. The practice began under Clinton's presidency but achieved greater popularity after the 11 September 'attacks'.

One such actual case is that of Maher Arar, a software engineer with dual Canadian/Syrian citizenship, who was 'detained' in September 2002 during a layover at John F. Kennedy International Airport. He was held in detention on American soil for two weeks without any access to a lawyer, then deported, not to Canada, but to Syria, ironically the subject of the latest illicit American military 'strike'. Under U.S. recommendation and pressure, he was tortured in Syria as a suspected 'terrorist'.

Ultimately, Arar was held in Syria for almost a year before the Canadian government secured his release. Exonerated by the Canadian government and awarded $10.5 million in damages, the U.S. government nonetheless has removed neither him nor any of his family members from its international 'terrorist watch list'.

Another case is that of Khalid el-Masri, a German national with the same name as wan al-Qaeda operative involved with the Hamburg cell. Seized at a border chequepoint in Macedonia while on vacation, he was handed over to CIA operatives who drugged him and flew him to Afghanistan. There he was tortured and abused for months before finally convincing his captors that they had the wrong man. Without apologies or restitution, el-Masri was flown back to Europe and dumped on a lonely road in Albania. He eventually made his way back to Germany, where he continues to pursue legal action.

Countless others detained by the CIA simply have been taken to Guantanamo, where only a few have been released. Mamdouh Habib, an Australian citizen of Egyptian birth was kidnapped in Pakistan in October 2001 and sent to Egypt under the 'rendition' programme, where he endured electrocution, cigarette burns, and beatings for six months before being sent to Guantanamo. There he languished until 2005, when he finally was released without ever being charged.

In 2005, the media actually published information to the effect that the U.S. was maintaining a network of secret prisons throughout the world where the CIA kept and interrogated thousands of individuals never charged with any crime. Some of these facilities were alleged to be on European soil. Among other sites, a former Soviet air base in Eastern Europe was used as a detention centre where 'enhanced interrogation' techniques, otherwise known as torture, were applied. When exposed, the U.S. government quickly moved the detainees to North African facilities, safely out of reach of further investigation.

The film 'Rendition' delineates the chilling reality of these practices, and shows how even the innocent can be 'persuaded' to admit guilt when broken by tortures now known to be commonplace at U.S. facilities like Guantanamo as well.

One wonders how either of the Presidential candidates, should they be successful in gaining the vote, will address fundamental human rights issues such as 'rendition'... McCain makes much of his own detention in the past but one doubts that he would make any changes where 'rendition' or the spurious 'war on terror' are concerned. Unfortunately, one can expect no better from Obama, a man who clearly embraces the 'special relationship' with the occupiers of Palestine, stating that: 'My view is that the United States' special relationship with Israel obligates us to be helpful to them in the search for credible partners with whom they can make peace, while also supporting Israel in defending itself against enemies sworn to its destruction.' Where Iran was concerned, he declared that 'The world must work to stop Iran's uranium enrichment program and prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons' and avowed that 'we should take no option, including military action, off the table'.

So here we have Frick and Frack, who may march beneath different party affiliations but who both have no intention of changing U.S. foreign policy in any substantial way. As long as the 'two-party system' retains its stranglehold in American politics, there is no hope of justice in terms of international affairs.

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