excerpted from the book

Tainted Legacy

9/11 and the Ruin of Human Rights

by William Schulz

Thunder's Mouth Press, 2003, paper

... there are different types of terrorism, just as there are different types of murder, the basic elements are the same: non-state actors (to use the technical term) committing acts of violence against "noncombatant targets, " involving violations of those targets' human rights, for some larger political or religious purpose.

... the question about "state terrorism." Aren't political and military forces sometimes themselves the purveyors of terror? Ought not the pervasive nature of government repression around the world-the disappearance, torture, and execution of tens of thousands of civilians, often in the name of "fighting terrorism"-give us pause about adopting the name solely for the acts of nonstate actors? Aren't many states responsible for terror just as bad, just as "terrifying," as "sub national groups or clandestine agents" and often even worse?

Indeed, they are. And we have names for those acts-names like "police brutality," "torture in custody," "extrajudicial execution," "war crimes," "genocide." National governments have killed far more innocent people than terrorists ever have, hundreds of millions more.

Democracy is no panacea, particularly in the face of the unprincipled and brutish. It must often be introduced piecemeal, while simultaneously the infrastructure of the civil I society that underlies democracy (a free press, nongovernmental organizations committed to nonviolent change, a corruption-free elections bureau, mores that require a peaceful transition of government, etc.) is built up gradually. Free elections are a sine qua non of democracy and respect for human rights, but they alone are not sufficient. Not sufficient to guarantee that human rights will be preserved. Not sufficient to ensure that peace and security will be maintained. Not sufficient to make certain that democracy itself will be there tomorrow.

George W. Bush

"At some point we may be the only one left. That's OK with me. We are America."

A year and a half after 9/11, the Pew Global Attitudes survey revealed that U.S. favorability ratings had dropped precipitously in almost every country polled-and this was several months before the divisive war in Iraq. Positive images of the United States in allied Muslim

countries like Turkey and Pakistan had diminished 22 percent and 13 percent respectively over a previous survey done two years before. People in virtually every nation polled concluded that the United States acted unilaterally and failed to take the interests of their country into account in making international policy. Even in such friendly countries as Canada and Great Britain, majorities disliked the spread of American customs.

No doubt it is inevitable that the world's richest and most powerful nation will generate a measure of resentment. Ours is a unipolar world and it is hardly realistic to expect the "hyperpower," as the French call the United States, to voluntarily sacrifice its interests or its might in pursuit of an abstract ideal of international comity. At the same time, for that hyperpower to fail to recognize the disadvantages of international opprobrium, to treat its friends dismissively, and its skeptics as adversaries, is to invite an ultimate catastrophe.

The United States' relations with the rest of the world turn on man) things-on the use of our military, the health of our economy, the depth of our pockets, the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, the tempering of our hubris, and the respect we pay those weaker than we. But they also depend to a degree that appears to have gone unrecognized by Washington of late, on the extent to which we honor human rights, respect the rule of international law, and model the kind of democratic civil society that we would encourage others to pursue. As Shakespeare put it in Act II of Measure for Measure: "O, it is excellent /To have a giant's strength; but it is tyrannous to use it like a giant."

Similarly, victory in the war against terrorism depends upon a myriad of tactics-from tracking down terrorists to disrupting their finances to protecting cyberspace to building a coordinated system of homeland security. It requires a less oil-dependent economy in order that we might be less reticent to criticize oil-producing states. G' But it also depends upon nurturing relations with our allies who can ' supply intelligence and assist with law enforcement. It depends upon cultivating moderate factions within the Islamic community, both at home and abroad, who can counter the influence of radical Islamists. It depends upon addressing the complaints that feed the terrorist retinue-complaints about corruption, poverty, and lack of access to true democracy. It depends upon offering the world a better idea than the terrorists offer.

As noted Jordanian journalist Rami Khouri put it, "It takes many years of political, economic, and human degradation to make a terrorist. So fighting terror can only succeed by rehumanizing degraded societies, by undoing, one by one, the many individual acts of repression, obstruction, denial, marginalization, and autocracy that cumulatively turned . . . decent, God-fearing people into animals that kill with terror." Human rights are the handmaiden of that process. They are the scourge of corrupt regimes and the implacable foe of tyrants.

To the extent that the war on terror will be won by persuading the retinue to reject violence and seek change through democratic means, it will only be won with the help of human rights. To the extent that corruption in Muslim countries is routed and good government adopted, thereby depriving extremists of a keystone of their appeal, it will only be because the rights to dissent and to organize, to expose and to excoriate, have been embraced. To the extent that moderate Islam challenges its radical counterparts, it will do so, as it has in Iran, in tandem with openness to the kind of global values reflected in the struggle for human rights-support for the empowerment of women, for example, and rejection of the harsher interpretations of shari'a. To the extent that predominantly Muslim countries will recapture the glory of an enlightened Islamic past, swept up in learning and scientific advancement, they will do so only by adopting norms of tolerance, free inquiry, free movement, and free speech. And to the extent that repressive governments are inherently unstable governments providing breeding grounds for terrorism-Sudan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan-a human rights regimen offers the best hope of a peaceful transition to a liberal democratic state.

The United States is committed to promoting democracy around the globe. But democracy, as we have noted before, is a two-edged sword that can bring tyrants to power as easily as pluralists. If America is identified with autocratic regimes; if it is justifiably charged with ignoring inconvenient human rights claims; if it is seen as skirting the rules at home and undermining international human rights abroad, its promotion of democracy will be suspect and its insistence that others abide by the rule of law seen as a charade. As one Egyptian dissident put it with a rueful laugh, "John Ashcroft's arrests of Arab men, the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, military tribunals-all of it is exported from here [Egypt]." Nothing undermines the democracy agenda more thoroughly or extends a ore welcome invitation to extremists than such hypocrisy.

... the United States has rarely been sympathetic to the notion of economic rights. Americans believe in equal opportunity for every individual but associate a right to "an adequate standard of living," "the highest attainable standard of . . . health," and "education . . . directed to the full development of the human personality," with collective economies long since discredited. That is one reason the United States has never ratified the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, from which these phrases come, despite the fact that there is nothing in that document that specifies how its rights are to be realized or repudiates a capitalist system. All this may account for the modest amount of international assistance the United States proffers. Total American spending on nonmilitary foreign aid in 2002 represented a mere 0.15 percent of gross domestic product, placing the United States last among twenty-one industrialized countries. On a more comprehensive measurement, the 2003 Commitment to Development Index prepared by the Center for Global Development and Foreign Policy magazine, gauging whether twenty-one countries' aid, trade, immigration, investment, peacekeeping, and environmental policies help or hurt poor countries, the United States finished next to last.

Such penuriousness is hardly defensible under any circumstances. In a globalized economy in which the United States has become associated, fairly or not, with the excesses of an unregulated market and the absence of appropriate safety nets, it is downright dangerous, and that danger is multiplied when the United States appears to manipulate the market to its own advantage through protectionism. While no one believes that America can buy her way into the hearts of poor people, she certainly can make their lives considerably easier by championing economic justice in the form of debt relief, support for micro lending institutions, increased assistance to countries committed to good government and human rights, and generous follow-through in the rebuilding of Afghanistan and Iraq.

A more equitable distribution of the world's resources will not in and of itself put an end to terrorism, but it will reduce the appeal of those who would characterize the West as bloated and self-satisfied and demonstrate to the would-be retinue, the "undecided," that there may well be avenues more productive than the terroristic through which to meet their basic needs.

In his book Why Terrorism Works, Alan Dershowitz argues that we should "never . . . try to understand or eliminate [terrorism's] alleged root causes, for that would "encourage the use of terrorism as a means toward achieving ends." But Dershowitz is confusing root causes with proximate goals. For while it may well be wise to resist giving in to terrorists' demands, it is absurd not to try to reduce the conditions that encourage those susceptible to but not yet seduced by terrorism's siren song. As one Israeli defense official explained when asked, in the face of Ariel Sharon's crackdown on Palestinians, why all the arrests and killings had not brought an end to suicide attacks, "It's like we're mowing the grass. You mow the lawn one day and the next day the grass grows right back." To - ( resist terrorist blackmail is wise; to ignore the seeds that make such blackmail attractive is stupid. It is difficult, if not impossible, to deter the hard-core terrorist who has no fear of death, so the goal must be to reach those not yet converted to thanatophilia. President Bush has said that the war on terror will never end. He may or may not be correct, but one thing is for sure we guarantee that conflict's perpetuity if we ignore what fuels it in the first place.

We knew this during the cold war-that struggling countries were more susceptible to the economics of collectivism than healthy ones-and we responded with favorable trade conditions, public works programs, and the Peace Corps. In similar vein, economically unstable states like Pakistan and eroding ones like Nepal (to say nothing of outright "failed" states like Somalia and Chechnya) are vulnerable to those who would exploit economic discontent for political gain. Like slaveholders in the pre-Civil War South who constantly feared that a few firebrands might ignite the smoldering resentments of large numbers of slaves, so Western economic powers ought rightly worry that extremists can easily spread their venom among the oppressed, thereby refurbishing their numbers. The solution in both cases: to set the economic captives free.

If the United States is seen as undermining those values and those institutions, be it by hamstringing the ICC, ignoring the Geneva Conventions, discrediting the U.N. or flaunting its use of the death penalty, many ... allies will fade away or at least be far more reluctant partners...

Tainted Legacy

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