Updated: Jan 12
The Oxford dictionary defines terror as the extreme fear created as a result of violent acts by others (New Oxford English Dictionary, 2009). However, the term ‘war on terror’ is a military campaign against terrorism. At the turn of the millennium, the United States government alongside its allies started the Global War on Terror (GWOT) as a counter-attack to the terrorist mission that led to the destruction of the world trade centre in the eleventh of September 2001-New York City (9/11).
Henceforth, the war against terrorism has been placed on international radar. Some researchers, for example, (Delahaunty & Gordon, 2009) claim that waging war against terrorist activities is a good cause that ensures global safety. On the other hand, (chamberlain, 2013) believes that although taking up arms and going to war is detrimental to the society, this war is justifiable because crimes against humanity are involved. Well, I believe otherwise. On the surface, both of these notions might be true and many might even concur with them. However, there is more to this war than what meets the eye. Many despicable acts come alongside this war. The most unfortunate part is that the whole world seems to comply with it as though we are under compulsion.
2.0 PROBLEM STATEMENT
This military campaign may have started based on innocent intentions but twelve years down the line, it is crystal clear that it has been manipulated and evolved into a movement set on selfish gains by exploiting victim countries. Not only has it led to the violation on human rights, but created chaos and havoc where there was peace. I hereby argue that this global war on terror is just a façade used by fascist countries as a sick excuse to get a free pass to do as they please which eventually leads to the breeching on the laws protecting human rights. The maturation of torturous correctional facilities, support of deadly drone strikes and deployment of troops to foreign grounds undermines basic human rights.
3.0.1 ARGUMENT 1:
My first argument revolves around a deep analysis of how these rights a being violated. It takes us to the issue of inmates in correctional facilities being subjected to torture. A renowned example of the struggle against terrorism failing to uphold human dignity is the miniature hell on earth created by the American government-Guantanamo bay. A facility with only 166 prisoners most of whom are convicted arbitrarily without fair trials. The purpose for its creation was to detain criminals whose presence in the community was a threat to international peace.
The reason sounds logic, doesn’t it? But wait until you hear of the unspeakable; the inhuman treatment that the detainees go through on a regular basis. I mean, it defeats the purpose of having prisons in the first place. Correctional institutions are supposed to rehabilitate criminals and mould them to become better members of the society after being released. Guantanamo bay is like nothing you’ve ever heard of before. French intellectual, Thierry Meyssan condemns these activities in his articles. He writes, “The torturers have elevated their crimes to a new level of sophistication.
For example, control of prisoner’s sensorial perception was achieved by way of sleep prevention using stressful music and long-term isolation.” (Meyssan, 2013). Furthermore, stubborn inmates are subjected to physical torture like plucking of toe nails and teeth without anaesthesia. Prisoners are forced to go on hunger strikes to attract international awareness. Sadly, that also leads to a method of force feeding; where tubes are forcedly inserted from the nose to the stomach while being restrained.
Retired army general, Paul Aussaresses compares these torture methods to the ones used by Nazis in Germany during the Holocaust. (Aussaresses, 2009). How many more stories of torture must we hear until we change our perception of Guantanamo bay? How many stories should we hear? How many more Anwar Al-Awlaki should die right in front of our eyes before we decide to get up and do something. Our brothers and sisters are being detained even before being proven guilty while the rest of us enjoy the comfort of our homes. I think that it is time for the world to join hands and condemn the American government for running the facility and further compel them to shut it down once and for all.
3.0.2 ARGUMENT 2:
My second argument as to why I believe that human rights are continuously being abused under the war on terror is because of the American foreign policy on drones. Many attacks are made on countries which are presumed to harbour terrorist groups like Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabaab. Somalia and Afghanistan continue to suffer as powerful countries forcedly storm their land, destroying properties and sacred grounds like mosques and churches in the quest to bring suspects behind bars.
The quest for the suspects is definitely a good cause but the damage brought as a result of it creates far more harm than good. In 2012 alone, NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) single headedly, carried out nearly 333 drone strikes in Afghanistan. There are nearly 60,000 internal refugees living in Kabul refugee camps because of US night raids and drone strikes (Council on foreign relations, 2013). The international media houses have obviously been biased giving minimal or no coverage at all on this issue. Is it unbelievable? Well…believe it because such inhuman acts are happening right under our noses on a regular basis under the false curtain of righteousness.
United Nations Human Rights chief, Dr Navi Pillay continues to condemn the policy on drones and terms it as “profoundly disturbing under the basis of human rights.” (Pillay, 2013). I am sure that if you spot a rat in your house, you do not bomb the whole house hoping to kill one rodent. Similarly, the search for a few men should not lead to the killing of hundreds if not thousands. The terrorists themselves use air strikes to send messages across, but retaliating by using the same method (playing fire with fire) is a questionable self-defeating practise.
Such measures do not uproot terrorism but rather nurture it. Pillay adds, “ The worrying lack of transparency regarding the use of drones has contributed to a lack of clarity on legal bases for drone strikes as well as ensuring compliance with the applicable international law, (Pillay, 2013). I believe that all countries involved should follow the international policies that protect human rights as they apply to everyone, regardless of world status. Possession of the power of veto in the UN does not give them the right to do as they please.
3.0.3 ARGUMENT 3:
Last but not least, is the deployment of foreign soldiers in suspected terrorist hideouts under the UN peace keeping missions. The international community, particularly the countries involved with the global war on terror sees this method as a means of disrupting terrorist plans as it restricts their movements and increases chances of them being caught. This might either cut down the pace of their missions or cripple them completely. However, on the negative side, the unexpected happens.
Troop camps are exposed to spies sent out by the enemies leading to theft of vital information further threatening the lives of innocent civilians residing nearby. More often than not, uncontrollable fights break out; damaging property, dispersing families and traumatising poor folks. It is a known fact that whenever foreign troops are deployed in a particular area, although their mission is to restore peace and order, the aftermath, even if it is positive leaves a lot that is unaccounted for.
Ironically, the peace keeping process is not as peaceful as it is termed. It usually involves a series of attack-counter-attack methods leaving the inhabitants of those areas on the losing end. Dr Richard Ashby points out that the aftermath of military activities should be morally judged living a lot to be questioned on how we individually respect and value other’s rights, (Ashby, 2013). Unfortunately, if the soldiers retaliate, the people killed are just viewed as collateral damage. Think of the look in a mother’s eye when her babies are nowhere to be found or the fright in the face of a toddler when all the loved ones are dead or nowhere to be found, not forgetting the awful sight of debris of where peaceful homes once existed. All these prove that the deployment troops as a means of curbing terrorist activities is like ‘signing a deal with the devil’ – hardly anything good comes out of it.
To conclude, I strongly feel that the initiation of the war on terror would have been beneficial to the whole world as the most wanted terrorists would be hunted down and put behind bars. However, on a very serious note, had the initiators stuck to the fundamentals laid down in the beginning, peace would prevail presently and to the future generations. Honestly, the world would be a better place if wars of any kind stopped existing.
The establishment of correctional facilities such as Guantanamo bay, dispatching of troops to peaceful areas and the American foreign policy on drones have added salt to injury. They are a manifestation of the abuse of human rights from a mission which started by innocent intentions and graduated to bringing deadly outcomes. If we continue to observe at a distance, no change will take place. We need to realize our individual responsibilities as a collective whole towards betterment of the society. If we all speak with one voice condemning this war, it will save a great deal of lives lost as a result of breaching of basic laws governing human rights. The war against terrorism is a war against humanity.
1. Steel, Miranda. (Ed). (2009). New Oxford Dictionary(2nd ed.). Malaysia: Oxford University
2. Aussassress. (2013, July 2). The war on terrorism and the end of human rights. Retrieved 12 16, 2013, from The scholarly commons: http://scholarship.law.georgetown.edu/facpub/892/
Chamberlain, J. (n.d.). War on Terror. Retrieved from Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013-05-27-1
3. Delahaunty, R. (2013, April 12). What is the role of international human rights on the war on terror. Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.A.
4. Gordon, H. P. (2010, July 8). Can the war on terror be won. Retrieved from Council on foreign relations: http://w.foreignaffaris.com/articles/63009/philip-h-gordon/can-the-war-on-terror-be-won
5. Meyssan, T. (n.d.). The secret behind guantanamo. Retrieved July 2, 2013, from Voltaire.et: http://voltairenet.org