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T.Solo: Globalization, Terror, Virtual Colonialism

Globalization, Terror, Virtual Colonialism

by Toni Solo

At the recent Labour Party conference in Britain, Tony Blair led a one minute standing ovation for Home Secretary John Reid for a speech in which Reid declared "And let's be clear. It cannot be right that the rights of individual suspected terrorist be placed above the rights, life and limb of the British people. It's wrong. Full stop. No ifs, no buts. It's just plain wrong." This is the same logic he inherited from his predecessor Charles Clarke which led to the killing of the innocent Brazilian "terrorist suspect" Charles de Menezes and the subsequent return to duty of the police officers who shot him dead. An officer responsible for the botched operation was recently promoted.

Likewise, Reid's spurious desire to look tough is probably why the individuals accused of the recent alleged plot to blow up passenger airliners were arrested on evidence probably elicited under torture from detainees interrogated by the security forces in Pakistan. New Labour gave a standing ovation to Reid's justification for such cynical folly. But it does nothing to protect people in Britain. Reid's factitious bombast serves principally to cover up New Labour's foreign policy failures and its pathetic subservience to the Bush regime in Washington.

It is hard to know how to begin an analysis of the self-evident contradictions and implicit abandonment of generally accepted international legal standards by New Labour in Britain. One might note that Tony Blair's sacred "British way of life" is now defunct. Reid's declaration implicitly trashes protections for individuals accused of terrorism by abandoning fundamental principles that previously forced governments to deal with facts rather than their own feverish inventions. In New Labour Britain, people travelling by air now have to be wary of tubes of toothpaste and bottles of water.

Or one might concur with observers who have pointed out that Pakistan is exactly the kind of tyrannical nuclear rogue state dictatorship the "war on terror" might be expected to target. But perhaps a better place to start is to put the "war on terror" hypocrisy of Tony Blair and George Bush in context. 30 years ago this month a Cuban airliner was blown out of the sky by a terrorist bomb killing over 73 passengers and crew shortly after taking off from the Venezuelan capital Caracas. Most of the victims were young athletes returning from a sporting event in Venezuela.

Among the people responsible for that mass murder is an individual with a long record of involvement in terrorism, Luis Posada Carriles. Luisa Posada Carriles is currently in detention in the US for an immigration offence. The US government has ignored requests for Posada Carriles' extradition from the Venezuelan government. The US government's refusal to extradite him to Venezuela is a gross breach of the Montreal Convention for the Suppression of Unlawful Acts Against the Safety of Civil Aviation. But Posada Carriles has long been a protected accomplice of the United States intelligence services.

The contrast between US behaviour in this case and that of the Lockerbie bombings is instructive. Follwoing the Lockerbie atrocity, the US and Britain put pressure on the government of Libya's President Ghadaffi. In that case the British authorities, backed strongly by the US government, found it convenient to invoke the Montreal Convention. But in the case of Posada Carriles, the Convention poses a problem for the US and its allies since Posada is a protege of the US government which itself has persistently intervened to undermine the government of Venezuela's President Chavez. The case indicates in a clearcut way how the "war on terror" is an opportunistic motif manipulated at will by the US and its allies for political purposes.

After escaping from prison in Venezuela while the authorities there looked the other way, Posada Carriles worked for the CIA in El Salvador, helping to organize the terrorist Contra war against Nicaragua for which the US government was condemned by the International Court of Justice in 1986. Before his detention by the Venezuelan authorities he worked for the Venezuelan security police DISIP and was notorious for torturing detainees during interrogation. Information uncovered in the 30 years since the Cuban airliner was destroyed demonstrates clearly that the government of Carlos Andres Perez may well have been an accomplice to the crime as well as to Posada Carriles' escape from prison. Perez is in exile in disgrace in Miami from where has has called with impunity for the assassination of President Hugo Chavez.

Another indication of the falsity of the "war on terror" was the recent decision by the British government to receive 9 British residents currently held by the US government in Guantanamo. The US knows it has no case against them and wants to unload the men onto the British. The British refuse the terms the US authorities are demanding. British Home Office head of counter-terrorism William Nye was reported as saying the Guantánamo detainees "do not pose a sufficient threat to justify the devotion of the high level of resources" (2) that US is demanding. So, in other words, there is no case against the men. The British regard them as of little or no risk in the "War on terror". While the US and British bureaucrats shift around at their desks, the men remain subject to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in Guantanamo. Both countries are in breach of their obligations under the relevant international conventions on the treatment of such detainees and on torture.

Guantanamo as a propaganda symbol of the Bush regime's "war on terror" has become a liability. Even its self-evident usefulness as a training ground for US torturers in readiness for bigger, better Guantanamos on the US mainland and elsewhere no longer compensates for the stigma it has earned the US system of government and of justice. Both Guantanamo and the case of Posada Carriles are instances of the wider malignancy of US and allied policy for which the "war on terror" is the general pretext.

The obvious underlying logic to the deployment and manipulation of the "war on terror" motif is to justify injustice. This is apparent whether one is dealing with repressive domestic anti-civil rights and anti-immigrant legislation or with a rationale for the corporate virtual colonialism marketed by its promoters as "globalization". The world leaders promoting globalization know their espousal of injustice and aggression is intolerable for the impoverished majority, their victims. It represents a deliberate negation of the achievements of the anti-colonialist movements of the last century and of the UN Charer and Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In order to sustain the re-colonization of the resources they are accustomed to control without hindrance, the United States and its European and Pacific allies have hit on a kind of virtual colonialism. One can see it. It has real effects. It achieves its purpose of enriching a tiny global elite at the expense of the interests of the overwhelming majority.

But when one moves to touch it, to pin it down, it mutates into a plethora of public relations images. The images range from the apparently benign "development cooperation" (we'll help you if do what we say) through "trade talks" (do what we say not what we do) to the malignant, pernicious monstrosity of the "war on terror" (do what we say - or else).

1. "Reid pledges crackdown on extremists", Matthew Tempest, Guardian Unlimited,September 28th 2006
2."Britain to US: we don't want Guantánamo nine back",Ian Cobain and Vikram Dodd, Guardian, October 3, 2006


toni solo is an activist based in Central America - contact via

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