Tuesday, 23 August 2011


The US anti-terrorism campaign as institutionalized during the George Bush administration (2001-2009) with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security was in many respects not just a reflection of the assault on civil rights and human rights, but an attempt to strengthen international finance capitalism that was finding resistance by national laws protecting the environment and workers rights within which are immigrants and under-represented groups. This was the case not just in the US, but across Europe, Australia, and other countries using 'anti-terrorism' as a pretext to diminish social and environmental laws and strengthen corporate capitalism.

As a result of the anti-terrorism campaign, there have been individuals and segments of society that have benefited while others seriously damaged despite having not even a remote connection with 'terrorism'. And because it is simply impossible to oppose anti-terrorism in any country for fear of being labeled unpatriotic, opportunists and profiteers from the public and private sectors line up behind this campaign to make careers and cash in. From the US and UK to Australia and Russia, money intended for the 'anti-terror' campaign was used to reward political allies in politics and business. Funds are spent on purposes other than strengthening security; not that there is such a thing as ensuring security from terrorism, experts agree, given Israel's six-decade-long experience with anti-terrorism against the Palestinians and England's protracted struggle against Northern Ireland.

A number of countries with poor human rights records, including Sri Lanka to Turkey, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Colombia and Peru have been using the US-led global anti-terrorism campaign to crack down on opposition groups, to weaken legal and judicial rights to their citizens, and to raise defense and police budgets. Even democratic Australia has used anti-terrorism laws against Kurdish, Sri Lankan Tamil, and in general Muslim groups. The EU has also conformed to the US-led anti-terrorism campaign as has Latin America that is one of the most least likely areas in the world to have a terrorism attack that matches the profile that the US Homeland Security projects to the world. Of course, each country tailor-makes its own 'terrorist' enemies, thus serving national political goals. For Israel, Palestinians are 'terrorist', for China it is Muslim Uighurs and Han Chinese in the far-western region of Xinjiang; and so it goes with each country profiling its terrorists.

Besides the constrictions that 'anti-terrorism' places on democracy, labor and minorities are among the social groups in all countries seriously hurt by the global anti-terrorism campaign. A number of governments used the anti-terrorism campaign in the last ten years as a pretext to curtail civil liberties and human rights, but also to attack organized labor and environmental justice, while promoting corporate welfare. Not just the nascent anti-terrorism businesses that were created, but all corporations lined up behind the anti-terrorism campaign because they saw the benefits to their interests whether they were in the communications business, banking or in the defense contractor sector.

As governments transitioned from the Cold War to the 'anti-terrorism' war in the last decade, they burdened the general taxpayers whose money into the hundreds of billions around the world has been wasted on a phantom enemy the state has blown out of proportion, but which benefits the political and business establishments in each country distracting public focus from domestic social and economic problems to the terrorist enemy. Fewer than 400 people annually lost their lives as a result of 'terrorism' acts in the last decade, as compared with more than 30,000 on US highways annually. Despite these statistics, the entire world used terrorism has used terrorism as a pretext to raise defense spending to levels that contributed to the global civilian economy's weakening and deteriorating living standards for workers and the middle class.

In April 2008, homeland security secretary Michael Chertoff waved the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, a host of other environmental protection legislation, religious graves and freedoms for Native Americans, in order to construct the infamous 700-mile fence along the border with Mexico. Chertoff served as anti-terrorism czar from 2005 to 2009 and then decided to cash in by opening his own consulting firm on 'security' issues that has become the fastest growth industry since the introduction of the global anti-terrorism campaign. Cashing in on anti-terrorism is  not only patriotic, it makes good business sense because government guarantees contracts. But is the world any safer, or any better off socially, politically, economically, or in any sense at all?

Following the military response in Afghanistan and Iraq, securing Muslim states to cooperate with Washington, and paying lip service to pro-West Muslims and to Islam as a religion of peace, anti-terrorism policies have only increased Muslim militancy and created greater fear and instability inside the US and around the world. Because the corporate sector, the corporate-owned media, and nostalgic Cold Warriors who will always need an enemy to fight, and will follow the expensive and dangerous route to prevent non-state-sponsored violence, only citizens at the grass roots level can bring pressure on their representatives to end the ant-democratic and bogus campaign on terrorism which is a pretext to diminish human right, labor rights, and weaken environmental laws while strengthening corporate welfare.

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