Experiences from history are in fact roadmaps guiding our plans for the future. We can see what has been tried, what is successful and what is feeble and useless. Maybe what make democracies strong are the tragedies inflicted by communist or fascist dictators; maybe the Republic of Turkey survived because it did not repeat the errors of the Ottoman Empire; maybe history has seen such insanity that nobody now chooses to invade anyone else’s land.
Although history is so full of lessons, it is sometimes hard to learn from failures. Plans left over from the First World War, industries needing to keep working, secret state apparatuses, promises and secret threats all enter the equation. The huge mistakes of today are the result of lessons from history that have still not been learned.
The invasion of Afghanistan after September 11 produced the Taliban. That was a mistake for America. The tumor that resulted did not just infect Afghanistan, but migrated to Pakistan. America wanted to solve the problem from the outside, using drones, but left behind it thousands of dead civilians. The U.S. could not win there, but just created and strengthened the Taliban.
Somalia’s oil and uranium beds could not be shared by Europe in the West and China in the East. The country was afflicted by artificial turmoil and fell apart. Djibouti emerged, and Western super powers built bases in the tiny nation. That conflict gave birth to al-Shabaab. Their writ runs in just about every inch of Somalia.
The same tactic was tried in underground resource-rich Nigeria. And Boko Haram, which is so evil as to raid villages and slaughter 2000 innocent souls without batting an eyelid, was born. Iraq was occupied. And that just guaranteed al-Qaeda’s strength. Syria was broken up, and an increasingly powerful ISIL,which was actually born in Iraq, emerged from the ruins.
The domestic turmoil in Africa alone last year resulted in the deaths of 6347 civilians in Nigeria, 2116 in the central African Republic, 1817 in South Sudan, and 4425 in Somalia. The toll reaches horrifying proportions when the numbers of dead fighters are also added.1
History has shown time and time again that trying to deal with people through violence, turmoil, division and enmity just ends in tragedy. Yet longstanding plans, industries such as the arms sector, secret state apparatuses and powerful threats keep compelling some people to repeat this terrible mistake.
Guantanamo was the work of just that perspective. Immediately after his election in 2009 President Obama gave the good word: “We will close the camp down.” That promise, which has not been made good in the following six years, was again on the agenda in Obama’s State of the Union address last week. The president reiterated that promise, and added,“It makes no sense to spend $3 million per prisoner to keep open a prison that the world condemns and terrorists use to recruit.”2
It is of course good to hear such determination. But these promises do not change the fact that there are detainees in Guantanamo who have not been brought before the courts for 13 years and who are systematically tortured. Readers will remember that documents leaked by Wikileaks in 2011 revealed that there were 780 detainees when Guantanamo was opened, of whom 220 were branded as dangerous terrorists, 380 had gone to Afghanistan and committee trivial crimes and 150 were completely innocent.3Although the number of detainees declined by half in Obama’s time, bureaucratic obstacles in the U.S. administration are not permitting that disgrace to be rectified. Another problem is that the U.S. is unwilling either to release detainees to other countries or to have them on its own soil. Even if detainees win the right to a release, they will still be condemned to remain behind the same bars so long as there is no country willing to admit them.
These words by MoazzamBegg, who spent three years imprisoned in Guantanamo, are highly significant: “I was imprisoned with numerous people on terrorism charges,” he says, “And most of these people were not politicized before they went to Syria, they really went to help the Syrians. Now they’re politicized. Now, they hate the government.”4
These words summarize the terrible outcomes of a policy of torture, rage and war. It is terrifying that a new generation living with and born out of hatred is emerging. The factors exacerbating that accumulated hatred are still continuing.
Not only does this policy worsen hatred, it is also a disaster for the world in material terms. At a time of vast levels of poverty, hunger and disease, almost all investment is made in the arms industry. The U.S. is spending $755 million in 6 hours in its attacks on ISIL, and F22s use $60,000-worth of fuel in a single sortie. On each occasion, American jets launch missiles costing a total of $74 million, Tomahawk missiles costing $1.45 million each. The bill for the war is expected to reach $10 billion.
The Obama administration is clearly trying to heal the wounds opened during the Bush period and to put an end to fighting. But it is also a fact that it is facing obstacles. There is known to be a mindset within the global secret state apparatus that learns nothing from the past when it comes to war and hatred and that foolishly regards the tragedies of the present day as a success. This is the same mindset that not only targets the Middle East or Africa, but has also set fire to Ukraine, frozen relations with Russia and triggered tensions from Brazil to Thailand.
Communities ready to crush one another with the sparks of that mentality are no less guilty. The world therefore needs a change of mentality. We must mobilize to expose ideological errors and to show that the world was created for togetherness andfriendship, not for war. We cannot achieve any success by sitting and waiting and saying ‘what concern is that of mine?’The solution to war can only come from correcting the false ideas that cause wars and educating those heedless societies that go along with that error. Let us not forget; no rocket and no Guantanamo has been able to prevent this tragedy. Nor ever will.
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Special coverage on China's Two Party Sessions by The Daily Mail - People's Daily