From Mumbai to Washington: Now is the Time to Renounce the War on Terror
Posted on: Thursday, December 4, 2008
Right now, while the horror of the attacks in Mumbai is reverberating around the world and tensions between India and Pakistan are mounting, there is a crucial move that President-elect Obama could make to chart a positive course forward. Obama should renounce the “war on terror.”
Think about it: since the weird semantic banner was first unfurled, the number and ferocity of terrorist attacks has only increased . Mumbai is just the latest battle-front. And in the seven years since George Bush put the world on notice with his “you’re either with us or with the terrorists” declaration, the US has actually managed to fuel support for groups that use terrorism. That’s because the “war on terror” has led millions of people to conclude that the US is an even greater threat to their safety and freedom than Al Qaeda and other violent fringe groups.
And who can blame them? After all, George Bush and Dick Cheney literally declared the whole world to be their battlefield—and forever. Under the banner of the “war on terror,” the US has overthrown a sovereign, if nasty, government (Iraq), trampled the UN Charter (the 2003 invasion), tortured prisoners (“enhanced interrogation techniques” to quote the Bush Administration and the Nazis), openly armed and funded death squads (the “Salvador Option”), and lowered the bar on governments’ accountability to human rights standards and civil liberties worldwide.
Now, the Indian government is poised to go down the same road. Leaders of India’s main opposition party, the Hindu-nationalist BJP, are demanding that their government act like the US did after 9-11. They see no reason that India shouldn’t avail itself of the same strong-arm tactics that the Bush Administration has enjoyed—and legitimized.
Here’s the reason: terrorist attacks are not acts of war to be responded to in kind, but crimes against humanity. As crimes, they should be investigated and the perpetrators tried and prosecuted. We have the body of international laws and institutions needed to pursue genuine justice in the wake of terrorist attacks. Let’s use them. And let’s dust off the tradition of peaceful cooperation between governments (we’re going to need it anyway, to deal with the global recession and climate change).
The lessons of the past seven years are that there is no military solution to terrorism; that a militarized response only feeds the same constellation of forces that produce support for terrorism; that a war on terror enhances the power of extremists on both sides and shuts down the space for dialogue, diplomacy and decency.
That’s the message we need to deliver loud and clear to President-elect Obama and his new foreign policy team. We may not be able to undo all of the damage inflicted by the Bush Administration, but we can demand a new direction, starting with a forceful human-rights based response to the atrocities in Mumbai.
Many people in India and Pakistan are calling for just such a response from their governments. Those of us in the US should demand no less of the incoming administration. The best thing President-elect Obama could do to chart a new and improved US foreign policy is to renounce the “war on terror.”
Archives"Press Room" Home December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
Kaitlyn Soligan, Media Coordinator
PHONE: +1 212 627 0444
MADRE Makes News
Los derechos de las mujeres empiezan en nuestra union (El Diario, July 30, 2013)
Women Organising To Survive: Syria's Civil War And Beyond (AWID Friday File, July 5, 2013)
Des sages-femmes israéliennes et palestiniennes unies pour sauver des vies (Opinion Internationale, June 28, 2013)
Preparándonos para otro huracán (El Diario, June 24, 2013)
Change, and I mean it (Huffington Post, June 24, 2013)