29th August 2012
Obama, liberty is for everyone, even the Taliban!
Shailesh has raised a new and unexpected slant on my observations that USA presence in Afghanistan is no longer justifiable. Effectively, USA is turning into an aggressor, Evil itself.
Shailesh suggests that “different rules apply to domestic and international conduct.” According to him, “US goes to war with everyone or does anything whenever it expects an overall net benefit”. And that “Its a jungle out there!”
To me such an approach smacks of serious moral relativism. Anyone who postures a defence of integrity in public life (Shailesh has actively worked for IAC) and basks under the shadow of Gandhi (even if it was a fake shadow: for fasting was Gandhi's method of self-purification – which IAC/ Team Anna did not even remotely understand) should presumably be able to avoid moral confusion.
“I do have an unyielding belief [Sanjeev: Ha! Nice joke, Obama!!] that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn't steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.” [Source]
Because the Universal Declaration of Human Rights agreed by all nations says that "Everyone has the right to life, liberty". Presumably that includes even the Taliban! [Note: I disagree with aspects of this UN resolution such as "right to work", though.]
And because I have outlined in detail the basic philosophy of freedom in DOF, which shows that freedom MUST BE ACCOMPANIED by accountability. In all cases. No exception.
Yes, during war it is not possible to guarantee these rights to every human being born on this planet, but war is NOT an occupation that goes on for ever. It has a short duration – 5 days, 10 days, even 1 year. But 11 years! Really? That is also war?
That too a "war" by a MEGA POWER (USA) against a tiny ragged bunch of jokers (Afghanis) who don't have the capability to install a water tap and can't write their name! A full on attack by Goliath against David. That too is war?
For 11 years the USA has professed that it is fighting the Taliban. But in this process, its "war" became a routine job like that of a hairdresser. Just a routine job. Snip hair. Press a few buttons and kill a few people each day.
This is not war, regardless of any US parliamentary "authorisation" or protestations to the contrary. War has certain characteristics. There have been NO characteristics of war since the bombing of Tora Bora came to an end. It is all police action. Lawless police action. Controlled by an ENTIRELY UNACCOUNTABLE armed force. No judicial inspection of the killings.
Back to some basics, again:
We create a government for the defence of our life and liberty. We then circumscribe it with a Constitution so that it doesn't misuse its monopoly power (over arms) against us – or against others humans on this planet.
What you are saying, Shailesh, is that Constitutional restrictions don’t apply outside one’s borders.
To justify this stance, you have raised the issue of enforcement.
But it doesn’t matter that there is no World Government (I’d oppose such a thing tooth and nail – and this time I really mean tooth and nail!) to enforce accountability.
Exactly as it doesn't matter what the US parliament says (it can say it is undertaking a "peace" mission in Afghanistan for all I care: only actions matter), it doesn't matter if no one can bring Obama to account. Enforceability doesn't make an action right or wrong. An action's merit depends ONLY on its innate characteristics.
We need to determine whether an action is free. We need to ask: has freedom been exercised properly?
This is the fundamental message of liberty – that there is no licence to harm, no licence to kill. All our actions must be accountable.
An opinion about right or wrong can’t be informed by the existence of institutions of accountability. Many such institutions should exist (e.g. you have fasted for one such institution- Lokpal, although I don't think this one is needed, but that's a different matter), but their non-existence does not give a blanket cheque for wrong action (e.g. corruption in India, or the American killing, like flies, of Afghans without due process).
Obama says that human rights must be supported everywhere but he doesn’t mean it. For immediately thereafter he goes home and starts punching holes into people's heads through his drones, while sitting on a computer screen half way across the world.
I'm not able to stop him or bring him to account. He should pause and think about what he said in Egypt. And stop himself. The most urgent implication of freedom is self-restraint; discipline; responsibility. Without such self-restraint there will be no end to chaos, corruption, and violence.
But I'm definitely able to point out that he is wrong. I don't see why I should stop speaking the truth just because someone powerful is a liar! Do you want me to support the murder of innocents, Shailesh? Even as you pretend to don the mantle of Gandhi?
Shailesh, I trust this discussion has made the THEORETICAL case, the moral case, about the limits of freedom very clear. What Obama does or not do is up to him, but he remains accountable for ALL his actions. Always will. We all will, too. Always. For ALL our actions. Regardless of their existing any system of enforcement.
Even regardless of any such enforcement system in any afterlife (whose existence I question).