Obama's War: A Lecture
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 10-26.
In this lecture, Tariq Ali talks about why the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable and can only lead to a bloody stalemate. Ali discusses dissent in the U.S. government over the surge, the lessons not learned from U.S. involvement in Vietnam and Iraq, the fate of the British in Afghanistan, and the need for a quick exit from the current conflict. He also describes Pakistan's perilous situation and the tasks facing the antiwar movement.
Key words: Afghanistan, Pakistan, counterinsurgency, President Karzai, corruption
The Sahara Emirate: Al Qaeda in the West, for the West?
Jeremy H. Keenan
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 27-46.
The article argues that Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is fundamentally a creation of the West, for the West. It explains how the “war on terror” was introduced to northwest Africa in 2002 through the fabrication of “false-flag” terrorism in the Sahara by the U.S. and Algerian intelligence services to legitimize U.S. post-September11 policy in Africa. The article explains how the West, operating primarily through infiltration and orchestration of AQIM by the Algerian “mukhabarat” (state intelligence services), had by mid-2010, transformed AQIM, or the Sahara Emirate as it has become known, into a self-fulfilling prophecy reflecting genuine Islamist and jihadist tendencies.
Key words: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, Algeria, Libya, oil, counterterrorism
Obama's Nobel Peace Prize Speech--Embracing the Ethics of Reinhold Niebuhr: More Continuity than Change in U.S. Foreign Policy?
William F. Felice
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 47-60.
In his Nobel Peace Prize speech, President Obama argued forcefully that the U.S. and the international community “cannot avert their eyes” when international laws “are flouted.” He stated the need for “consequences” when governments brutalize their own people, citing “genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in the Congo;…repression in Burma.” He emphasized multilateralism, stating the “closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.” And, to the dismay of many nonviolent, peace activists, Obama embraced the role of the military and the use of violence in a world of terrorism and evil. These comments echoed warnings given by Christian ethicist Reinhold Niebuhr who stated that moral choice in foreign policy is often not between the moral and the immoral, but between the immoral and the less moral. Obama has cited Niebuhr as one of his “favorite philosopher[s].” This article explores the connections between Niebuhr's views of human nature and politics and the normative framework Obama presented in his Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo. In addition, Obama's foreign policy during his first years is analyzed in relation to his rhetorical commitments at Oslo. If Obama has adopted the ethical approaches of Reinhold Niebuhr, what are the foreign policy implications? Thus far, the Obama approach has not meant fundamental change, but rather a “realist” continuity in U.S. foreign policy.
Key words: Afghanistan, Darfur, drones, extraordinary rendition, just war, Machiavelli, National Security Strategy, Barack Obama, Reinhold Niebuhr, Nobel Peace Prize, political realism
The “Just War” Theory: Application to United States and Israeli Militarism
Daniel C. Maguire
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 61-72.
War is state-sponsored violence. The classical “just war theory” (JWT) attempted to show the limits that justice theory impose on this activity. JWT is widely used. For example, President Barack Obama's Nobel Peace Prize address did so, but the restraints it puts on warring are rarely understood. The JWT provides criteria to critique the militarism of the United States and Israel and shows how militaristic assumptions curtail creative diplomacy, thus imperiling the security of both nations, as well as international peace more broadly.
Key words: war, peace-making, policing paradigm, just war theory, militarism, United States, Israel
Imperial Laughs: A Soldier's Song and the Colonial Present
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 73-83.
In this article, the author provides a critical reading of a song--controversially called “Hadji Girl”--written by a U.S. Marine deployed in Iraq in 2005 that became publicly known via the Internet. The article discusses the ways in which the song conveys particular logics of dehumanization and “racialization” regarding the Iraqi people. The author contends that the dehumanizing coordinates of the song point to how contemporary U.S. sovereignty justifies itself and its violence through intertwined cultural logics of racial superiority and regenerative violence that is in many ways colonial, or, rather, neocolonial, in character.
Key words: Iraq, music, U.S. imperialism, U.S. colonialism, dehumanization, racism
The Future of Security? Surveillance Operations at Homeland Security Fusion Centers
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 84-98.
Since President Obama took office, state surveillance has grown and mutated. In particular, there has been a renewed commitment on the part of the Department of Homeland Security to create a robust network of “fusion centers” across the country to share and analyze data on citizens and others. Such centers may prioritize counterterrorism activities, but the orientation of many fusion centers has expanded to include “all hazards” and “all threats,” such as responding to environmental catastrophes or investigating non-terrorist criminal gangs. This article analyzes several problematic cases in which personnel at fusion centers have exploited the significant leeway granted to them to engage in racial profiling, political profiling, illegal data mining, and illegal data collection. The author argues that for surveillance states to be more democratic, their police apparatuses should possess clear guidelines that respect the law, follow their own guidelines, and subject their activities to routine public scrutiny. To do otherwise is a recipe for abuse.
Key words: surveillance, fusion centers, Obama, profiling, chilling effect, intelligence-led policing
Addendum for the War on Terror-Somewhere in Switzerland, Dilawar Remembered, and Why the Martens Clause Matters
Wm. C. Peters
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 99-122.
This essay looks at Obama administration policies in Afghanistan in 2011, emphasizing where things began. Its focus is the murder of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base by U.S. soldiers in December of 2002. When this brutal mistreatment was reported, a junior enlisted soldier who asked whether his unit was acting in accordance with the Geneva Conventions. The noncommissioned officer glibly responded that “Geneva was somewhere in Switzerland.” Regardless of a proper characterization of U.S. intervention in Afghanistan under international law, and whether any of the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 fully applied to the conflict at that time, physical abuse of detainees hors de combat is a war crime in violation of long settled principles of the law of armed conflict (LOAC), as well as domestic U.S. law under the umbrella of the Constitution's Supremacy Clause. First appearing in a resolution at the Hague Convention conference of 1899, and the later 1907 convention to which the United States is a party, the Martens Clause requires that in situations arising in war and occupations not covered by existing conventions, “the inhabitants and belligerents remain under the protection and the rule of the principles of the law of nations, as they result from the usages established among civilized peoples, from the laws of humanity, and from the dictates of the public conscience.” Early U.S. Army commanders in Afghanistan placed little emphasis on enforcing international law applicable to detainees held at the Bagram Control Point (BCP). Judge advocate staff officers for the command were likely unaware of all aspects of the handling and interrogation techniques applied by BCP personnel. Still, they profoundly misunderstood basic provisions of international law that should have guided U.S. actions and failed to implement proper LOAC training regimes and legal oversight of operations.
Key Words: Dilawar, Martens Clause, Bagram Control Point, Geneva Conventions, war crimes, Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC), judge advocates
Illusions in Truth Seeking: The Perils of Interrogation and Torture in the War on Terror
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 123-148.
While scholars continue to bring to the forefront of discussion important economic and geopolitical aspects of state crime committed in the American war on terror, the area of inquiry can also gain insights from the sociology of knowledge as it corresponds with the field of science studies. Accordingly, this analysis seeks to understand the epistemological foundation of torture by examining the assertion that “enhanced” interrogation is a valuable method of uncovering the truth because its techniques are believed to be scientifically based. Much like other attempts to solve crimes through the use of “science,” the effectiveness and reliability of torture as a means of truth seeking is illusory. The reemergence of brutal interrogation in the wake of September 11, 2001, as this critique demonstrates, is facilitated by several key developments: namely, the putative respectability of “scientific” discourse, a belief in the psychology of interrogation, claims of reversible injuries, and dishonest interpretations of law.
Key words: torture, third degree
Review of The Trauma of Psychological Torture
J. Patrice McSherry
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 149-157.
This review addresses the nature of psychological torture by examining Almerindo Ojeda's edited volume of the subject. This book addresses the dangers of “enhanced interrogation” from political, legal, psychiatric, and neurobiological perspectives; its contributors underscore the dangers of separating science from ethics and divorcing the healing professions from their mission to alleviate suffering. It details how eminent scholars became involved in CIA research that promoted torture.
Key words: torture, CIA, book review
Review of The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual: Or, Notes on Demilitarizing American Society
Jeremy H. Keenan
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 158-159.
This brief piece reviews a pamphlet entitled The Counter-Counterinsurgency Manual. Written by the founders of the Network of Concerned Anthropologists, it is a rejoinder to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps' 2007 Counterinsurgency Field Manual. Their critique focuses on the manual's third chapter, “Intelligence in Counterinsurgency,” which seeks to mobilize anthropologists for war.
Key words: anthropology, counterinsurgency, Montgomery McFate
Obama's War And Anthropology: Ethical Issues and Militarizing Anthropology
Amy Mountcastle and James Armstrong
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 160-174.
This article explores the current debate among anthropologists concerning the uses of anthropological expertise in and by the U.S. Department of Defense to prosecute the war on terror, specifically the counterinsurgency wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of the most significant debates in anthropology of the decade, questions of ethics collide with a number of motivating factors that might compel anthropologists to use anthropological methods, knowledge, and expertise in service of the military. What are some of the opposing and supporting arguments for this? Can anthropologists do good by embedding in military units to collect data on insurgents? The authors set out to untangle some of the issues that have come to light and offer food-for-thought as anthropologists and social scientists grapple with this issue.
Key words: human terrain, anthropological ethics, counterinsurgency, Afghanistan
Moral Drift and the American Psychological Association: The Road to Torture
Citation: Social Justice Vol. 37, Nos. 2-3 (2010-11): 175-182.
The author takes a look at the politics of the American Psychological Association from inside its central office in various governance positions. His commentary examines why psychology was important to the Bush administration's interrogation program, the role psychologists played in detainee torture, and how the APA came to facilitate the process.
Key words: American Psychological Association, ethical breach, torture research