Monday, April 25, 2011

Just wrong

By Carl 

It makes little sense to spread democracy around the globe if we are not going to practise democratic ideals:

The Daily Telegraph, along with other newspapers including The Washington Post, today exposes America's own analysis of almost ten years of controversial interrogations on the world’s most dangerous terrorists. This newspaper has been shown thousands of pages of top-secret files obtained by the WikiLeaks website. 

[...]The files detail the background to the capture of each of the 780 people who have passed through the Guantanamo facility in Cuba, their medical condition and the information they have provided during interrogations.

Only about 220 of the people detained are assessed by the Americans to be dangerous international terrorists. A further 380 people are lower-level foot-soldiers, either members of the Taliban or extremists who travelled to Afghanistan whose presence at the military facility is questionable.

At least a further 150 people are innocent Afghans or Pakistanis, including farmers, chefs and drivers who were rounded up or even sold to US forces and transferred across the world. In the top-secret documents, senior US commanders conclude that in dozens of cases there is "no reason recorded for transfer".

However, the documents do not detail the controversial techniques used to obtain information from detainees, such as water-boarding, stress positions and sleep deprivation, which are now widely regarded as tantamount to torture. 

Now, let's see what the Framers had in mind with respect to "democracy":

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Words you and I, if you're American, had to learn by heart. This doesn't mean that some men who are not American do not have the same rights and privileges as Americans. It says that the Creator made all men equal, that all men are entitled to life and that all men are entitled to their personal freedom. It also says that even a Teabagger ought to recognize these rights, that it doesn't require deep thought or evidentiary hearings. All men are entitled to these rights. Period.

The Framers were smart enough to elucidate these points and outline these rights in a supporting document to this Declaration, our Constitution.

Right up top in the first Ten Amendments, the Bill of Rights, the Framers delineated what is liberty. Liberty is the protection of the individual from the tyranny of the majority, that beautiful phrase of John Stuart Mill. That majority can take the form of mob or governance by mob rule.

It means that any man in the entire world should be free from the depredations of our exertion of American will and might over him. One can make the case that in war, these rules should be suspended, and perhaps there is a point to be made there but it seems to me that if you can't have a higher batting percentage than roughly .500 in the application of that suspension versus harming innocents, you have no business being in the business of war in the first place.

The willful negligence... and that's being overly polite... of the Bush and Obama administrations in the pursuit of the aims of their aggressions in Afghanistan, Iraq and now in Libya will come back to haunt American citizens. How can it not? How can Americans expect to live a life of freedom in a world where freedom is a slogan and not a philosophy? How can we expect to continue to presume that what we own and what we enjoy cannot be taken from us at a moment's notice, not just by those who would do us harm, but also by those who wave the flag of "freedom" in our faces?

How can we in good conscience say we are bringing freedom to the world, but only to the part of the world that agrees with us? For if one man is not free, they I am not free. And if I am not free, then my fellow Americans are not free. 

(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)

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