[unrev-II] Fwd: [issues] Fw: COMMENTARY: Our Allies, the Despots

From: Jack Park (jackpark@thinkalong.com)
Date: Thu Sep 27 2001 - 07:39:14 PDT

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    >From: Len Duhl <len-duhl@socrates.Berkeley.EDU>
    >From: "AMILAnet" <amilanet@amila.org>
    >To: "AMILAnet mailing list" <amilanet@amila.org>
    >Subject: COMMENTARY: Our Allies, the Despots
    >By William Saletan
    >Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2001, at 4:00 p.m. PT
    >In the war on terrorism, what are we fighting for?
    >President Bush says we're fighting for democracy, pluralism, and civil
    >liberties. Terrorists "hate what they see right here in this chamber: a
    >democratically elected government," he declared in his speech to Congress
    >last week. "They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of
    >speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other. They
    >want to overthrow existing governments in many Muslim countries such as
    >Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan." Bush concluded, "This is the fight of all
    >who believe in progress and pluralism, tolerance and freedom."
    >It sounds good, but it doesn't add up. A coalition of governments that
    >believe in all these principles can't include Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or
    >Jordan. According to the U.S. State Department's latest Human Rights Report,
    >all three countries restrict freedom of speech, the press, assembly,
    >association, religion, and movement. Jordan is a monarchy propped up by
    >security forces that have committed "extrajudicial killings." The Saudi
    >royal family "prohibits the establishment of political parties" and enforces
    >"a rigorously conservative form of Islam" through "religious police."
    >Egyptians "do not have a meaningful ability to change their Government."
    >Egyptian security forces "arbitrarily arrest" and "torture" people in the
    >name of "combating terrorism."
    >Are you passionate enough about freedom and democracy to exclude these
    >countries from an anti-terrorism coalition? Are you willing to give up Saudi
    >cooperation in the detection and destruction of Osama Bin Laden's financial
    >network? Are you willing to give up Egyptian intelligence, which informed us
    >of Bin Laden's plot to kill Bush in Europe two months ago? Are you willing
    >to sever ties with Jordanian security forces, who thwarted Bin Laden's plans
    >to massacre tourists in the Middle East two years ago?
    >No? Would you rather have the help of those countries against Bin Laden than
    >push freedom and democracy on them? Then let's take a harder case. According
    >to the State Department, Pakistan harbors and supports Muslim extremists
    >associated with hijackings and suicide bombings against India. A few years
    >ago, we slapped sanctions on Pakistan for testing nuclear weapons. In 1999,
    >Gen. Pervez Musharraf seized control of the country in a coup. But now that
    >we need Pakistan's help to stage operations in neighboring Afghanistan,
    >we're lifting the sanctions and offering substantial economic aid. Is that
    >OK with you? Are you willing to tolerate military dictatorship, nuclear
    >proliferation, and a faraway proxy terror campaign in order to get
    >Pakistan's assistance against Bin Laden?
    >Does it bother you that 62 percent of Pakistanis, according to a Gallup
    >Poll, oppose their dictator's decision to support the United States in this
    >conflict-or that only 9 percent of people surveyed by Gallup in 27 Muslim
    >nations favor airstrikes against Afghanistan? Does it bother you that the
    >Pakistani and Saudi regimes are keeping their collaboration with us as
    >secret as possible in order to avoid angering their citizens? We're not just
    >ignoring democracy as a goal. We're deliberately circumventing it. Is that
    >OK with you?
    >Maybe we can justify these compromises, and maybe we can't. But we can't
    >even have that debate until we stop deceiving ourselves about what we're
    >doing. We're not building an alliance for democracy, pluralism, or freedom
    >of speech and religion. We're setting aside those principles in order to
    >build the broadest possible alliance against terrorism.
    >We've been here before. Pearl Harbor drove us into an alliance with the
    >murderous Josef Stalin against Hitler. The Iron Curtain drove us into an
    >alliance against communism. To contain and defeat the Soviet Union, we
    >compromised human rights, pluralism, and democracy wherever we thought it
    >necessary. We propped up right-wing dictators. We tolerated torture. We
    >armed Pakistan. We armed Afghanistan. We armed Bin Laden.
    >Then communism collapsed, and all the principles we had suppressed while
    >fighting it rose to the surface. We sanctioned Pakistan. We denounced
    >Afghanistan's religious intolerance. We started talking about human rights
    >and the treatment of women.
    >Then came Sept. 11. A new global menace commanded our attention. Suddenly,
    >democracy in Pakistan and women's rights in Saudi Arabia seem expendable.
    >The concentrated fear that drove us to anti-fascism and anti-communism is
    >driving us to anti-terrorism.
    >Anti-terrorism, like its predecessors, can't easily be dismissed as immoral.
    >Were we wrong to help Stalin defeat Hitler? Were we wrong to help the
    >Afghans defeat the Soviets? Such compromises seem clearly worth making when
    >one menace gets big enough to outweigh the others and when the others can be
    >dealt with once the big one is dead.
    >The trouble with this kind of absolutism is that it's bounded only by
    >itself. Everything hinges on the definition of a single enemy. Once you
    >distort the scope or nature of that enemy, your campaign against it runs off
    >the rails. Start calling liberals Communists, and anti-communism becomes a
    >totalitarian monster. Start calling conservatives fascists, and anti-fascism
    >becomes a pretext for purging them from universities.
    >Anti-terrorism faces the same problem. What counts as terrorism, and what
    >doesn't? The question isn't just theoretical. It's on the table right now,
    >as the United States weighs the price of adding two new wings to the
    >coalition against Bin Laden.
    >The first wing consists of Iran and Syria, who sponsor terrorist
    >organizations other than Bin Laden's. Iran borders Afghanistan and hates the
    >Afghan regime. Yesterday, according to the New York Times, a senior Bush
    >administration official "suggested that Iran could provide information and
    >perhaps crack down on border traffic and any financing that helps Mr. bin
    >Laden's organization, Al Qaeda. The official added that the United States
    >had not asked Iran to take any specific action like halting the flow of
    >weapons and other support to the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon and material
    >support to militant Palestinian groups like Hamas." Is that deal kosher? Are
    >you willing to look the other way while Iran funds Hezbollah? Are you
    >willing to narrow the definition of the enemy to terrorists who have
    >directly attacked the United States?
    >The other wing consists of Russia and China. While Iran and Syria want to
    >narrow the definition of terrorism, Russia and China want to broaden it. A
    >few days ago, China's foreign ministry suggested that the campaign against
    >terrorism should address "separatists" in Tibet and Taiwan. Russian
    >President Vladimir Putin called for a "mutual understanding in the sphere of
    >fighting international terrorism"-in other words, a free hand for Russia to
    >crush rebels in Chechnya. What about the atrocities Russia has committed in
    >that war? Never mind, says a senior member of Germany's ruling party:
    >"Silence on Chechnya is the price for this new solidarity. And I don't think
    >Germany will be the only country to pay it." Will the United States pay that
    >price? Will you?
    >Terrorists are "the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th
    >century," Bush argued in his speech to Congress. "By abandoning every value
    >except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism, and
    >totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it
    >ends, in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."
    >Bush is half right. There is a grave, but there is no path. There is only
    >anti-fascism and anti-communism, which themselves prevailed by abandoning,
    >at crucial moments, every value except the enemy's defeat. With that
    >singular focus comes a singular responsibility.
    >If anti-terrorists twist the definition of terrorism so that they can
    >continue to use it while slaughtering civilians in the name of fighting it,
    >they'll be the ones who have obliterated every value except the will to
    >power. Like Joe McCarthy, they'll become the enemy they set out to defeat.
    >They'll be the ones who end up in history's grave. Or worse, they won't.
    > [ mas'ood cajee - mcajee@hotmail.com ]
    >| The preceding document was posted on AMILAnet - a service of |
    >| American Muslims Intent on Learning and Activism (AMILA) |
    >| San Francisco Bay Area - http://www.amila.org |
    >| ---------------------------------------------------------- |
    >| Opinions expressed in the above post are those of the author |
    >| and do not necessarily reflect the official views of AMILA |
    >| ---------------------------------------------------------- |
    >| subscribe: "subscribe amilanet" to amilanet@amila.org |
    >| unsubscribe: "unsubscribe amilanet" to amilanet@amila.org |

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