'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Globalizing the War on Terror 

So, the US military ruled a year ago that two Chinese Guantanamo prisoners, Abu Bakker Qassim and A'del Abdu Al-Hakim, are not "enemy combatants", but the US refuses to release them.

The problem is the US can't find a country that's willing to take the two men, and it can't give them back to China because they are members of the Uighur ethnic group which is lobbying for an independent state, East Turkestan, and given that the two men were picked up in Pakistan the US rightly believes that Qassim and Al-Hakim would be persecuted by China as political dissidents. The US, of course, can't just make them American citizens and dump them in Times Square with twenty bucks and a letter of apology because that would involve admitting that the two guys were, you know, totally innocent.

Now China is lobbying for the pair's extradition on the grounds that, you guessed it, China wants to help out with the war on terror:

"We hope the American side would repatriate the terrorists of the Chinese citizens," said Qin Qang, a foreign ministry spokesman, on Thursday.

"Terrorism is the enemy of humankind. East Turkestan is a part of the international terrorist force and casts a serious threat to international societies including China and the US."

which highlights the beauty of the "war on terrorism" construct as a propaganda tool and highlights one of the great ironies of the Bush administration's characterization of its imperial adventures as a global war on terror. Such a characterization grants license and rhetorical cover to all manner of repressive regimes throughout the world to pursue their own terroristic policies. From Russia and Chechnya to Turkey and the Kurds to Israel and Palestine, the familiar dynamic in which a powerful state is in conflict with a weaker opponent over issues of regional autonomy or control of natural resources, in the post-911 world, consistently gets re-cast such that the state is nobly fighting a war against terrorists.

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