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lost to national interest

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Claims made on this morning’s news that documents have been uncovered in Tripoli revealing the CIA’s collaboration with the Gaddafi regime over anti-terrorist activities and extraordinary rendition are a reminder, as if we need it, that the USA’s soi-disant war on terror is a highly selective campaign. More honestly stated, it’s a war on terror directed against the US, which tends to shade into war against nations exhibiting less than friendly feelings towards the US, such as Venezuala. Generally states are perfectly free to terrorize their own people so long as they collaborate with the US government in achieving US aims vis-a-vis terrorism directed towards the US.

This is not an anti-US rant, it’s more an observation of realpolitik. States virtually never invade other states for humanitarian reasons. They always invade other states out of self-interest. Empires or superpowers don’t stay that way by being overly humane or selfless, rather they stay that way by [amongst many other factors of course] being convinced that their interests are the interests of civilization as a whole, that a strong and powerful [Rome, Britain, USA], makes the world a safer, more stable, and no doubt better place. And of course such a conviction justifies any means to achieve and maintain that end.

It should also be pointed out that it isn’t just the CIA collaborating with the Libyan terrorist and his regime, but British, French and no doubt other intelligence agencies. In many respects the empire these days is the empire of ‘western interests’.

However, in the globalist twenty-first century it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain this assumption of ‘imperial superiority’. To do so would mean to turn our back on much of  the vast anthropological, social psychological and other scientific data gathered over the past 150 years. We can no longer dismiss foreign cultures as barbarian or racially inferior. In fact, we can no longer dismiss them as foreign, as many of them live amongst us.

Fortunately, we no longer have to put up with the diplomatic double-speak that seeks to justify such collaborations in terms of a somehow exemplary ‘national interest’. Organisations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and dare I say Wikileaks [not to mention a multitude of politico-social blogs and web-sites] generally seek to provide balance by taking a resolutely internationalist and basically human perspective, and it’s not surprising that Human Rights Watch has been able and willing to uncover the kinds of behaviour that British and US nationalists would, on the one hand, consider quite acceptable while on the other would want to keep completely under wraps. CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood’s response was typical:

It can’t come as a surprise that the Central Intelligence Agency works with foreign governments to help protect our country from terrorism and other deadly threats. That is exactly what we are expected to do.

Befriending a brutal mass-murderer, and even seeking to keep him in power at the expense of his own suffering and tortured people, is just the price you might have to pay in order to keep US citizens safe, or a bit safer, on the other side of the globe. This is the problem of such nationalist organisations, or nationalism generally. It is necessarily based on the assumption that the lives of people of one nationality are of more value than the lives of people of other nationalities. This is, to my mind, a really profound and terrible problem.

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Written by stewart henderson

September 4, 2011 at 3:48 pm

Posted in politics

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