Impacts of the ‘War on Terror’ on Human Rights Analytical Essay

Introduction

The very legacy of war of any kind is its disregard for human rights. The September 11 attacks on the United States’ commercial hubs in New York and Washington provoked America and allies to launch an international offensive to counter the growing threat by terror groups. However, the decision to launch a global war on terror has had its fair share of both negative and positive ramifications on international human rights (Ishay 2004, p. 364).

Combating political or religious extremist networks of any magnitude has had a series of restrictions, infringements, and violations of human rights in unprecedented scale. In the wake of war on terror, numerous countries have had to contend with arbitrary restriction on civil liberties in a nefarious effort to rid the world of extremist groups.

Human rights watch document these scenarios across all nations primarily considering the US Patriotic Act, Intelligence Cycle, and the rights of detainees as being complicit in the quest for human rights (Human Rights Watch 2015). War on terror brings forth a new global context that emboldens forces of repression to take drastic tall on international human rights. The language of war on terror evokes a strong passion to justify violation of human rights of even ordinary populations with no or concerted intent to cause mayhem.

Tracing the roots of terrorism: Jihad in Islam and other perspectives

Jihad is a widespread text authored by one of the most influential and highly celebrated Islamic scholars of the twentieth Century, Sayyid Maudoodi. Maudoodi was a man of various facets, doubling as a philosopher, journalist, theologian, and political activist. In 1941, for example, he claims credit for the establishment of the Jamaat-e-Islami in Pakistan and India an ideology that re-energised the spread of Islam.

This political movement was dedicated to advocating for the establishment of untainted Islamic states in the regions governed by Sharia law (Huzen 2008, p. 33). Rather than view Jihad from a personalised, parochial view of Islam, Maudoodi view of Jihad according to Sharia law entails at the top of its priority: Family relations, socio-economic and political administration, judicial systems of the Muslim world that guarantee the laws of peace and war in diplomatic relations as well as duties and rights of citizens.

Succinctly, Jihad under the Sharia law seeks to embrace all the confluences of life. Accordingly, Sharia law aims to achieve a comprehensive scheme of life by striving to embrace and restore social order defined by the abundance of life and richness of the people (Kelsay 2007, p. 57). To the rest of the population, Jihad evokes conflict and war and it is the defining factor for making Islam to have the least reception in the minds of such opponents.

The interpretations about Jihad in several traditional Islamic jurisdictions may have been correct for their own precise classical context, nevertheless today as the entire structure crumbles, the international relations continue to wallow, and global world have undergone great alterations, it seem difficult to understand the usefulness of Jihad in today’s context.

The Islamic extremists view Jihad as an Islamic holy war whose meaning is attributable to struggle as the foundation of its creed. Jihad as a popular Islamic practice emanates from the word Juhd meaning struggling in the way of Allah. Jihad therefore denotes striving to make the kingdom of Allah profound by bringing up Allah’s word of which all Muslims have an entitlement to protect Islam as a holly religion.

The confusion in the conceptualisation of Jihad is partly responsible for the continue rise of extremist groups that are currently terrorising the world. According to Kelsay (2007, p 36), Jihad, therefore, is reminiscent of a revolutionary act, a struggle to the utmost exertion, which the radicalised Islamic opinion brought into play in achieving their objectives.

With the already radicalised mind-set of the Muslim world, the Islamic extremists sought to destroy all governments and destabilise all states that were less receptive to or opposed to Islamic ideology and programmes.

The resolve of Islam was therefore, to set up states based on the ideology and programming of the Islamic opinion, regardless of which states become receptive of the Islamic ideologies (Huzen 2008, p. 42). The most indoctrinated feature of the Jihadist as a movement was to roll out a programme that ensures no state undermined Islam.

Tracing the roots of war on terror: Iraq’s inversion of Kuwait

The Iraq’s disastrous inversion of Kuwait on 2 August 1990 sent shockwaves to all corners of the world with America feeling the pinch technically. For America, this was not only an insult to regional tranquillity, but also pronounced domestically as bearing disastrous future to the region and the world. President George H. W. Bush particularly saw Iraq’s aggression as a proven determination to destabilise the international system and to cause a humanitarian crisis in unprecedented scale.

Bush in his official capacity as president condemned the inversion and spoke of it in bitter tones, often comparing Saddam Hussain, the Iraqi leader, to Adolf Hitler of Germany (Hinnebusch 2007, p. 10). The Bush’s administration saw a need to find a solution to this unnecessary aggression and in time became certain that the best answer to Iraq was a military action. War, according to President Bush, was the only language that Saddam would understand best.

As a result, the Bush Administration went ahead to build international coalition for a popular Iraq subduction. Not only was international inversion necessary in totality. The Bush administration saw the character of Bagdad as an opportunity to reinforce the international community. As the events unfolded, the international community knew Iraq’s intention; Bush in countenance to Iraq’s defiance mobbed a popular vendetta to quash Iraq at a most opportune moment.

Coming shortly after the United States’ opposition to Iraq’s interference in Kuwait, the United Nations Security Council stated their condemnation in the assault for its proclivity to human rights violations (Hinnebusch 2007, p. 22). However, in just a span of a week, the UN, and the international community slapped Iraq with a widespread sanction. The unanimous actions directed to Iraq by the international community passed out as the strongest show of unity against repression.

The Just-War Concept

Whether it was by design or default, the Gulf war was, and still perceived as a moral victory for the American people and the world in general. In this war, supremacy loomed large and the forces of deceit led by Saddam Hussein were just about to subdue world peace. The Gulf conflict as Hinnebusch (2007, p. 24) notes was a war, designed, orchestrated, and executed by the very forces who have never wanted the good for humanity, forces that are itched by peace and commonality of purpose.

The United States’-led coalition against Iraq’s forces not only proved Saddam’s actions as inhumane, but also as a mark of contempt and imprudent disregard for truce as has always been fronted by the United Nations. Perhaps Saddam’s rejection to commit to popular practices that mitigate the chances of war is what majority of the people cling to as a defence for their submission of justness in the subjugation of Iraq in the Gulf conflict.

For some time now, the just-war concept has been instrumental in dictating the efficacy of going to war or not, and once consented, the demeanour of the combatants are unquestionable hence the collapse of human rights in wars against terror. It is conceivable that after the defeat of Saddam Hussein, the undercurrents of the Gulf war regrouped to form a formidable terror group for yet another onslaught (Ludvig 2014, p. 384).

In the context of the 21st century, war on terror has had some positive human rights consequences though. For example, Afghanistan has been able to shrug off from the Taliban regime. Apart from that, the on-going conflict resolution processes in Sri Lanka continues to strengthen humanitarian perspectives in the region. War on terror has greatly constrained Pakistani’s support for Kashmiri terrorists groups. Most often, though, considered on a balanced scale, the global war on terror has had negative impacts on human rights.

Patriot Act and Federal Powers

The USA Patriot Act, came into force in 2001 as the most sweeping enactment following the 9/11 attack. At the behest, the presumption of the act rested on its uniting and strengthening ability to provide among other things, appropriate tools necessary to intercept and thwart terrorism. As an effective homeland security commitment to ensure the safety of the American people, the Patriot Act aimed to restore order through surveillance and rapid tracking response including seizures and detention of suspected terrorist agents.

In the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, President Bush together with the Attorney General John Ashcroft effectively rallied the Congress to increase the federal powers of search, seizures, surveillance, as well as detention of suspects (Etzioni 2004, p. 175). In the meantime, the concerns of domestic liberties were put away deliberately as the act unanimously got support from both the Democratic and Republican divide.

Among the key features of the Patriot Act included the Roving Wiretaps, which allowed the federal agency to wiretap any telephone conversations that terror suspects and agents might use to penetrate the security systems. In the course of all these developments, the federal agency became more consistent in the use of internet tracking as a means of fast tracking internet communication.

The law enforcement authorities therefore had the capacity to interfere directly in the personal accounts of individuals using the internet without necessarily having to obtain warrants for such impersonations.

The Patriot Act also guaranteed the federal authorities the right to order for business records for private and public companies for litigation scrutiny and auditing by the federal authorities. In so doing, federal investigators were able to access information and communications from consumer purchases, bank records, credit cards, libraries as well as schools, and colleges.

Moreover, the Act instituted a special Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court with the capacity to issue search certifications at the request of an investigator to launch terrorist investigation on foreign visitation to America (Panetta 2014, par. 3). In addition, the Aliens Reporting and Detention Act authorises the Federal authorities to require reportage by foreign persons vising America and those found to be in America illegally risked detention and arrest without warrant.

Within the tenets of keeping with the traditions of the Patriotic Act, the federal authorities could seize the property or obstruct such logistics of suspected terrorists. Individuals whose property fall victim of the rule bear the duty of proof that the property in question was not for the purpose of terrorism and the provision also guaranteed no claim.

The detention laws allowed the federal authorities to detain suspected terrorists and agents for lengthy periods during which interrogation and effective investigation for such persons will take place. The federal authorities became effective in fast tracking the indigenous American citizens from terrorist connections.

Patriot Act instituted prohibition against harbouring terrorists as a duty to thwart the emergent terrorist networks in America and other parts of the world. Harbouring individuals who have committed a felony amounting to terror and or are about to commit such acts of terrorism therefore became highly constrainable by the federal authorities.

In retrospect, the Patriot Act unleashed a tall order for the various institutions charged with the security of the American populations. In achieving the objectives of the Patriot Act, the American citizens became more involved in ensuring the smooth passage of the Act by showing a commitment to thwart terrorism (Panetta 2014, par. 5). Terror suspects and agents by contrast carry the greatest responsibility for their crimes as provided for by the Patriot Act.

Intelligence Cycle

Intelligence cycle denotes all the activities that are within the intelligent cycle niche. Usually, these include processes that guarantee useful decision-making for a given information. As the name suggests, Intelligence Cycle is a set of processes that includes planning, data analysis and evaluation, as well as integration and information dissemination.

The war against terrorism, therefore, passes out as a moral victory not only for the American people but also for all the populations of the world. It is a proof of America’s decency to the use of power proportionately. It is a demonstration that with America as the world’s military power and intelligence might, all nations get protection against aggressors and transgressors such as Osama Bin Laden whose extremism ideologies were increasingly making the world more insecure.

Ethics entailed in war on terror

Ethical and moral intelligence seeks to nurture principles of just intelligence by creating theories capable of answering many ethical concerns while emphasising on the classical metaphysical laws developed over the years. No clear theory seem to conjoin community intelligence studies to the just war theory as provided for in the military ethics.

The main forms of ethics within the study of wars on terror consist of fundamental freedoms, rights, and utilitarianism. Utilitarianism, as Moyn, Andrew, and Elizabeth (2010, p. 37) note, defines the priorities of principles and explore whether such principles conflict with those of others in practice or not.

Utilitarianism, rights, and freedoms ideologies are applicable as a single comprehensive concept of justice that assents to fairness and equal treatment for all without seeking to put individual interest above all others in any way (Cohen 1997, p. 5). These ethical principles are applicable in a broad spectrum and significance in ensuring that the least the law does not apply by default to certain individuals.

These ethics, therefore, presents the image of justice and equity concept that aims to political liberalism among individuals and within their societies without necessarily infringing on others’ freedoms or liberties. As Arneson (2000) notes, intelligence’s concept of justice as fairness envisages a society of free citizens with equal rights whose main desire is to work in harmony within a democratic and free economic systems.

Intelligence account of fair and equal treatment for all is a version of political liberalism that concerns the legitimate application of political power in an egalitarian (Arneson 2000). As noted herein, intelligence’s pedagogy of fair and equal treatment for all is a demonstration of how enduring unity is achievable even under the multifaceted worldviews that democratic institutions are capable of offering (Blake & Smith 2013).

Intelligence seeks to strengthen the laws of principles that embody the foundations of fair and equal treatment for all. As Cohen (1997, p. 15) notes, the principle to open-minded foreign policy that it seeks to mould aims at explaining how a peaceful and tolerant societal order could be productive in developing individuals regardless of their religious creeds or political affiliations.

War on terror distorts the concept of security

The security of any people at any given moment is not subject to bargain. Whenever a group compromises the security of a society, individuals live in peril and fear of victimisation. Security brings forth life, happiness, and abundance that makes the society complete. Since everything depends on it, a society will always pursue security for its people to thrive.

Individuals with a utilitarian mind-set naturally agree that all that is good is by virtue of utility, which in turn points to an individual’ welfare and societal wellbeing (Blake & Smith 2013).

The concept of security delves much on basic common good and hold that the wellbeing of individuals consists of preference while specifying right action when it comes to satisfying and justifying such preferences. Notably, fair and equal treatment for all suffices as the best alternative in building strong institutions. Usually, individuals’ welfare consists of community, happiness, wealth, self-development, and self-worth (Moyn et al. 2010, p. 45).

Accordingly, each of these elements is either a means to, or concomitant to preference and this linkage with preference make individuals to account as part of the society. Given the absurd nature of the difficulty in gauging individuals, Kymlicka (2002, p. 45) opines that this association with preference makes utilitarian account for fair and equal treatment of all a most formidable choice in building stronger communities. Intelligence’s concept in these presumptions presupposes a hypothetical action where all individuals have the capacity to explore their lifelong sought after dreams, since by its very nature of equal opportunities individuals are limitless in their lives.

The just war theorists hold that resorting to war is not necessarily to counter aggression, but simply as a last resort. While critics of the just war theory hold that the concept of war as a last resort would not recognise any type of war as just. Ideally, there can never be factual attempts to avoid war especially in the face of such extreme aggression.

Under these schemes of things Hinnebusch (2007, p. 26) notes that after all reasonable attempts have been made to reach out to the warring forces it would be reasonable to employ the rival force capable of ending the conflict. The only problem perhaps is to decide who is entrusted with the making of such a decision.

However, once this decision is reached, questions abound whether all the possibilities to avoid war might have been met or not will always suffice. The war on terrorism in particular raised such concerns. It is because of such considerations that Washington attempted to reach out to the Arab world severally (Lieberfeld 2005, p. 13).

Given the prospects of a terror network such as Al-Qaeda, it would be a waste of time extending diplomatic ties to resolve the conflict diplomatically hence the inclination to apply force in pursuing its perpetrates. Under the just war theory, acts of vengeance cannot be committed to humanity while the rest of the world watch.

For example, in the case of Iraq’s aggression in Kuwait, someone had to come and assist, and naturally the just war theory holds that an ally of a country under attack is justified to intervene and even join forces whereas should conditions file past the morally and ethically inexcusable baseline. The basis of US’s joining the war was therefore in the spirit of redeeming the plight of humanity, which readily qualifies the intervening state as just in its action (Gause 2001, p. 245).

While opponents of the just war theory hold views that are contrary especially in light of the humanitarian crisis it may pose. However, the final determinant of war depends on who argues his points best under the very theory of the just war. Considerable accusations directed to America and allies as its hypocrisy in fighting terrorism could be real or vague depending on their capacity to wage war on terror while upholding human rights.

Human right violations: North Korean crisis in context

The human rights situation in North Korea under President Kim Jong-Un remains dire due to the government’s unwillingness to yield to the recommendations by the United Nations (Council on Foreign Relations 2014, par. 2). Just like in the former Taliban regime in Kabul Afghanistan, the oligarchy that characterises the rule in the war-ravaged country has systematically denied the citizens their right to fundamental freedoms.

The government does not tolerate pluralism and divergent opinions, which are the hallmark of any society. As Human Rights Watch (2015) observes, tight border surveillance on the country’s perimeter with China continues to impede the number of ordinary citizens fleeing the country to seek refuge elsewhere.

Today, the world fears that if this situation persists, then North Korean will continue to sink under humanitarian crisis, which might spill over to other parts of the world. The international community can only burry these fears if there is a concerted efforts to make the government of Kim Jong-Un to yield to pressure.

A commission of inquiry chaired by retired Australian judge Michael Kirby, deliberated on the North Korean crises, and found that the government is responsible for systematic human right violations at a scale unprecedented in history of human conflicts. Among the atrocities committed against humanity includes mass execution, forced evictions, sectarian violence, enslavement, torture, forced labour, and rape of both women and children.

While the North Korea government previously consented to key international human rights treaties, Green, Cha, and Johnson (2013, par. 2) note that the government of President Kim Jong-Un is yet ratify these treaties in rights protections pact. However, as things stand now, the government of North Korea leads in the league of the repressing nations in the world. Today, political and civil rights activism is non-existent in North Korea since the government strictly prohibits any form of political and social activities in the region.

According to Council on Foreign Relations (2014, par. 4), the civil society organisations and even trade unions died long time ago owing to the regimes high handedness on public participation. The independent media and religious freedoms particularly have systematically put out their existence, as these are viewed proponents of change.

The citizens, as observed by Green et al. (2013, par. 4), are withdrawn as they face severe consequences for being in possession of uncensored literature material from foreign media and other media platforms within and outside North Korea.

The government views the citizens who seek to assert their rights as being defiant to the supreme leader Kim Jong-Un and his ruling elite (Council on Foreign Relations 2014, par. 5). Individuals who hold contrary opinion to the established rule face arbitrary arrest, torture, and detention without trial.

As the BBC Asia (2014, par. 3) reports, President Kim Jong-Un regime is a terror squad that effectively enslaves the citizens, including women and children in concentrated camps and other detention facilities with deplorable conditions that end their lives indiscriminately. According to Ji (2011, p. 54) the right to freedom of life in North Korea is a choice that rests with the ruling elite. There is total collapse of social order and the rule of law is a preserve of the ruling elite.

Responding to these increased human rights violation concerns in North Korea, the United Nation’s Human Rights Council presented their findings to the Secretary General to consider many options that would otherwise limit the need to wage war that would in effect cause more sufferings. The options seek to hasten human rights and include:

  1. Reaching out to the current regime to reform the justice system and to consider abolishing the vaguely worded dictum “anti-state” to those holding divergent opinion, this will enhance a judicious trial procedure for suspects to strengthen human rights
  2. There should be a rigorous reform agenda: Such reforms as Council on Foreign Relations (2014, par. 5) notes should outsource the contributions of an independent and impartial judiciary to overhaul the country’s judicial structure. There is need to forge ties with the Korean government to make the regime see the sense of introducing multiparty political system that would usher-in elected representatives of the people in a free and fair democratic elections.
  3. There is urgent need to reform the security structure of North Korea by instituting a rigorous vetting process within the military and police forces.
  4. The nation should adopt an independent boundaries, election, and constitutional reform team assisted by expatriates to guide the process of constitutionalism
  5. There is a need to consider sanctions for non-commitment on the above recommendations (Vyas, Chen, and Roy 2015, p. 84).

The present briefings advance both the advantages and the disadvantages of the options and recommendations regarding the on-going Human Rights violations in North Korea

Options for consideration

  1. Declare and implement effective process that would ensure cessation hostilities in North Korea. There is need to renounce the orders of shoot to kill, arbitrary detention, execution, imprisonment and torture in cases of individuals perceived to be enemies of state
  2. Abolish the arbitrary prohibition on foreign travel imposed on ordinary citizens that seek political asylum in other countries. There is urgent need introduce border regulations that conform to the international standards to decriminalise illegal border crossings by ordinary citizens
  3. Institute a prosecution mechanism against persons who bear the greatest blame for crimes against humanity in North Korea. There is a need to appoint a special tribunal to bring to justice all the perpetrators of crimes against humanity in North Korea to sound a warning to bad governance in North Korea and elsewhere. There is need to effectively give reparation and remedies to families and populations subdued by the unjust systems.
  4. There is urgent need to take immediate steps to terminate all other human rights violations in North Korea to give hope to the populations living in the region (Bennett 2013, p. 18). Address the human rights concerns that the commission raised in the present report including the capacity to revisit those mentioned in the successive resolutions of the General Assembly. Where possible, the Chair should seek international guidance and support from the Security Council to stem provisional justice procedures in the region.
  5. Refer the matter to the ICC and declare sanctions whenever all or key options fails. The Security Council has within its mandate to refer the situation in the region to the International Criminal Court (ICC) as per the Rome Statute. The Security Council has a mandate to adopt sanctions against the government of North Korea to deprive it of international community’s rapport until it yields to the commission’s recommendations.

Recommendation(s)

  1. In the light of the anticipated social-economic consequences to the civil community, the commission must not support sanctions. The effects of imposing sanctions would trickle down to the general populations already deprived of their livelihood in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
  2. United Nations General Assembly has within its mandate to step-up North Korea’s human rights monitoring watch and reporting mechanisms to focus on ensuring accountability in the concept of governance, especially in areas that concerns crimes against humanity. Moreover, the reports arrived at should be effective on the implementation to bring about rapid normalcy in the region.

Economic bargain: War on terror inflicts economic interference

Wars of any kind inflict substantial costs on the economies of the regions that experience them thereby depriving the populations of their nourishment and human rights. These wars, as Alao (2007, p. 25) observes, are destructive to the economy in that they interfere with the human life and the general infrastructure both of which are the basis of domestic economy. The onset of war duration for example marks the beginning of an end to any economic activity.

Normally regions under conflict experience low or no duration of any economic activity such as business and labour. Wars undermine the legitimacy of governments and authorities, damaging the operations of their institutions (Collier 1999, p. 170). Whenever war is taking place, the security of a region as well as the property rights and the rule of law becomes a mockery of these institutions making it hard for organisations, industries, and institutions to do their business effectively.

Sporadic and perpetual wars induce terrific uncertainty on the economic make up of a region making investment to be risky, hard, and ineffective. While it is apparent that war on terror has the capacity of bringing hope to a region, Clark (2014, p. 399) posits that war ushers in a new chapter in the economic progression of a region given that it embodies a period of great uncertainty.

There is a lot to predict on the economic degradation of a region ravaged by war and conflict, war unleash terror on investors making even prospecting companies to own up in their business operations (Ad Hoc Committee on the Economy and the War 1970, p. 15). According to Alao (2007, p. 35), war inflicts fear, hence driving away the very individuals that would otherwise make investment possible.

Disruptive nature of wars cause humanitarian crisis

War on terror continues to influence the economic make up of regions across space and time. These wars have been able to shape the economic landscapes while determining the trade patterns in these regions affected. At worst, recurring wars have been able to derail the economic make up, distort wealth making, business, healthcare operations, and education. Wars disrupt markets, dispersing the economic fabric of the regions at war.

In their infinite nature, wars are expensive to fund thus demanding both money and material resources. Moreover, wars are destructive in the sense that it demeans both the human and the regional capital (Ad Hoc Committee on the Economy and the War 1970, p. 17). The disruptive nature of wars comes about when they interfere with the normal business in the regions. In their nature wars cripple trade, trifle resources availability, and impedes labour management.

Prolonged conflicts inflict severe shock to the economic fabric of the regions experiencing war (Selvanathan 2007, p. 36). Notwithstanding, the aspects of durational stimulation, physical destruction, and virtually the rebuilding process might be positive in their own right, war in its barest nature impedes the economic growth and undermines the socio-political and economic prosperity of the regions. Many remarkable economic effects of armed confrontations recur across time, space, and locales.

Conclusion

Virtually nearly all regions of the world have been able to experience durations of wars. Wars on terror particularly have had an occasion to check on aggression by terror groups while at the same time demeaning human rights. In the concept of waging wars against terror groups, militaries plague the economic landscapes and trade patterns of the regions experiencing wars. Wars generally destabilise the economy by inhibiting the free operation of businesses and distorting the economic make-up of the regions under attack.

The disruptive nature of armed conflicts is their propensity to interfere with the normal lives while violating human rights. In their nature, these disturbances cripple trade, impedes resources viability, and distort labour management.

While studies hold that the war duration brings both the negative and positive impacts especially to the economies, it is prudent to say that the negative impacts of the war on terror outweigh the positive impacts and as such, there is need to avoid wars and seek better alternatives to end the violation of human rights.

Wars on terror brings forth a spell of unprecedented human suffering that cause deaths, hunger, as well as many other ills that wars perpetuate on humanity. Periods of wars makes economies to stagnate as both human and regional capital becomes under. For wars on terror to be meaningful, there is need to reach out to extremist groups on mediations to avoid conflicts that threaten the well-being of humanity.

References

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