DISTINGUISHING BETWEEN FORCE AND JUSTICE IS CRUCIAL
IN OUR WAR AGAINST TERROR.
Why to run a New Age Gulag Archipelago is not a good idea. 6/5/2005.
To Bill O'Reilly,
"O'Reilly Factor", FOX NEWS Corporation.
In our civilization, "arrested by law enforcement" does not equate with "terrorist". A law professor tried to explain this to you; she pointed out that the prisoners made by the USA should undergo judicial examination. Your answer consisted in brandishing the Geneva Convention pertaining to military personnel, and claiming that these people arrested by the US were not wearing a uniform (officially 68,000 were arrested so far, but in truth more since some have been "disappeared"; others have been detained, very officially, for more than three years, without charges). The law professor then pointed out that many of these people were indeed civilians, just like you, Bill. You angrily replied that she "lost the argument", because "the US was not rounding up people in the Middle East".
Well, the US was not rounding up people in Africa, either, but still ended up with millions of slaves, and even more died during transfer to US custody. How did the US get all these slaves? Did the US "round up people" in Africa? Of course not. It was cooler than that: the US bought people from others, who were selling them.
Well, lo and behold, the US government has proposed to buy well known terrorists for huge amounts of money. This is common knowledge, and the US government wants us all to know about it. The US is proud of its people-buying program! What does this mean? Of course it means that smaller terrorists go for less, and, one should guess, people who are not terrorist at all, for even less. Indeed, the rumors have it that simple, innocent peasants were sold by crafty warlords to the naive Americans, so as to pocket the bounties. Don't steam up: Auschwitz was long a rumor. Remember that the Germans had a moral duty to be suspicious and failed to fulfill it, in the name of petty nationalism.
There are various hints that this may be going on (not Auschwitz, but buying innocent people to fill up US jails). An example. The first batch of British citizens who was in US custody at Guantanamo was freed instantaneously after transfer to British custody: according to British Justice, they were blatantly innocent, although they had been held for years by US armed forces, without charges, or judicial review.
Your angry brandishing of a Geneva Convention was irrelevant. You seem to be unaware that there is ALSO a Geneva Convention on how an "occupying power" should treat the CIVILIAN population. When one is talking about people who were caught, NOT wearing a uniform, the Geneva Convention on CIVILIANS should be used. Imprisonment without charges, or buying civilians, for whichever reason, is a no-no.
Everybody can see that the US administration flouted serious aspects of the Geneva Conventions in Iraq. For example, the Convention on civilians requires, among other things, the "occupying power" to maintain as much of the defeated government and administration as possible, so that the basic order and services of CIVILIZATION can be maintained for the benefit of the population during the occupation. Not to do so is tantamount to TORTURING the entire population of a defenseless country, with lethal consequences (from the failure of institutions such as health services, sanitation, order, food distribution, resulting in death of civilians). Even the Nazis mostly respected that part of the Geneva Convention when they occupied European countries, and so did the Allies, of course, in 1945. But the Bush administration did not bother with it. Instead it dismantled the Iraqi government, administration, army and police, and pointed out that the Geneva Conventions were "quaint".
You seem NOT to recognize the necessity of trying to maintain distinctions between institutions such as defense, law enforcement, justice, and the law. This makes you into an honorary Muslim Fundamentalist. Indeed conventional Islam is characterized by a resolute refusal to distinguish between any of these institutions, and having religion added to the mix to dominate it. Since you profess a boundless admiration for Jesus Christ, one of the illuminated prophets of Islam, you are more there than you think.
Of course our very old, and very wise, civilization knows better than the religious fanatics, and distinguishes carefully between all these institutions. Our fight with the Islamist fundamentalists is about TEACHING them the necessity and superiority for these distinctions. Islam, the Islam bin Laden admires so much, basically had a war chief (the Caliph) being all the institutions of civilization, all by himself. It's all right when one has highjacked civilization as Islam did at its origins, but one cannot sustain civilization that way, as proven by the subsequent degenerative collapses of all the powers which embraced Islam, after the brief blossoms of parasitism they enjoyed.
Our war with the religious fundamentalists is a PHILOSOPHICAL WAR. It is not about who will be jailing, buying, shooting or bombing more people into submission. Islam means submission: it enjoys these activities. It is not where we want our civilization to go. This is where bin Laden wants us to go. We cannot teach the religious fundamentalists what they already know best, that force primes justice. We have enough force, we can afford an independent justice. All the more, since justice is where a lot of our force lays.
Democracy is not just about individuals voting, it is also about INDEPENDENT INSTITUTIONS embodying philosophical principles and giving them powers no single individual could possibly incarnate. These institutions are the buttresses of our civilization, they hold it up. We will not weaken our institutions by subjugating our institution called justice to our institution called defense. That would not just weaken our civilization durably, it would weaken us MILITARILY. Your civilizational ancestors, the Franks, won wars, for eight centuries, because they were always on the correct side of civilization. Learn from them. The Franks conquered nearly all of Western Europe, and went all the way to Jerusalem, in no small measure because they built, distinguished, and empowered many independent institutions, such as government, army, justice, education, churches, etc... Independence from each others made those institutions even stronger, each a Caliph onto itself, and onto the world.
When the Islamists were defeated at Poitiers in a series of battles (~ 731/732 CE; even their greatest Emir was killed) they whined that they had met with a "wall of steel". Be that wall of steel. Stop panicking. We don't fight with bombs and planes much, WE MOSTLY FIGHT WITH CIVILIZATION AS OUR MAIN WEAPON. The dearth of institutions besides the Quran in Islam is its loss. That is why it is so important for the Islamists that the Quran not be flushed down the toilet. Learn. See? It is their entire civilization going down the drain. What would they have left, once "THE Book", the Quran, goes down that toilet? Nothing much, that is why It is so sacred. We don't want our Western civilization so fragile, that it could be flushed down a toilet. We are not Islamists. We don't want to go around, screaming that there is No Toilet, But That Toilet! That is why, among other things, we want our justice strong and independent. We don't want it to disappear as an institution by submitting it to the Pentagon and the CIA. We are not Islamists, we don't submit. Except to reason, and reason needs many institutions.
Going to invade Iraq without further ado was real stupid, be it only because that is exactly what bin Laden wanted the US to do. The next real stupid thing to do is to make our entire society a subset of the military. It was tried many times before (by Athens, and by Rome, and by Germany, and many others). It is conduct unbecoming a democracy. It always ends up in dictatorship, civilizational collapse, and helping the savages. That bin Laden wants you to do just that, is no excuse anymore. You are learning. It is time to grow up, and wise up. It is time to stop parroting Ossama bin Laden!
As we are at it, should not the USA stop proposing money to acquire people it wants to put in chains? It looks bad: worldwide, only the USA has been in the business of buying people throughout recent centuries, for whichever reason. Even the Nazis and the Stalinists did not sink that low. At a time when US government officials condemn the purchase of slaves, it may be a good first step for the US to stop purchasing would-be detainees as if they were for sale. OK, the USA is the only democracy which ever owned slaves, it is a grand old American tradition, to buy and chain. And you may say that, nowadays, the US does not purchase people for slavery, but to render justice, a point most non-Americans will find specious. And then, anyway, yes, so, deep down, you knew all along that justice mattered to you? So why the double talk? Or is justice just for Americans? What about the 96% of the planet who are not Americans? Do you think they can't see what you are up to?
June 5 2005