Saturday, March 23, 2013

You Can't Make War on a Concept

     Twenty-six prisoners-of-war in Guantanamo have been on a hunger-strike for a month.  Most of them have been held as prisoners, without trial, without conviction, for twelve years.
     What exactly is the "war on terrorism" we started in the Bush era?  How can we declare war on anything other than another country?  When we declare war on a country, the war ends when one country surrenders.  Then, the prisoners-of-war are liberated and returned to their country.  Furthermore, we know that the prisoners of war are soldiers from the other country.
     In a "war on terrorism," the prisoners are anyone a country holding them decides they are.  Such are "war" never ends.  This is why, despite Obama's promise to do something about Guantanamo, the prisoners held there are unlikely ever to be afforded a fair trial, or released.  No state in America will agree to accept these prisoners or put them on trial:  they are too afraid.  What does the rest of the world think about our activities at the Cuban military base?  Who knows?
     Some of the alleged terrorists held at Guantanamo may, in fact, be innocent.  What exactly are they innocent of?   Terrorism?  What does such a concept mean, except that we are afraid of them?  There is no agreed-upon definition of terrorism.  It seems to me that "terrorism" means that we, Americans, are in fear of these people, for unknown reasons.  A terrorist is someone who terrifies us.  They are guilty of terrifying us.
     We might justifiably be terrified of anyone whom we have kept incarcerated, and tortured, without rendering charges, without a trial, and with no end in sight.  Wouldn't you be angry if someone did this to you?  Even if the "terrorists' weren't angry at Americans to begin with, they surely have a right to be angry now.
     Don't think this problem doesn't apply to you or me.
     I see many parallels in my situation, although I suppose I should be grateful not to be jailed by the DOJ.  The Obama administration wants to put more "terrorists" on criminal trial than Republicans--who want military tribunals.  (It's problematic getting convictions through military court systems.)  So far, no one wants to assume responsibility for Guantanamo prisoners-of-war.  No one can decide whether this is a military problem, or a DOJ problem.  President Bush:  Where are you now?
      I am not in jail, but I am being held without accusation, conviction or a trial.  My property has been seized and I have been forced, effectively, out of my business and profession.  Such treatment seems to be the modus operandi of the DOJ these days.  The way people in Guantanamo have been treated spans multiple administrations, and is not a party-specific problem.  It's a problem that is endemic to American policy.
     The tactic of attacking without cause, holding and punishing people without a trial or a conviction, and keeping them in limbo ad infinitum seems to have become an insitutionalized policy.  I am a victim, and so are prisoners in Guantanamo, and so are thousands of Americans whose lives have been damaged irrevocably, like Gibson, Mountain Pure Water, Midamor and Duncan Outdoor Sports (thousands of others decline to speak of their humiliation at the hands of the DOJ), without cause, and so are the hundreds of thousands of foreign civilians killed by United States in the "war on terrorism," or by drones every day, and so might you be, soon.   

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