May 19, 2012

Rear Vision: 2011

ABC Radio National: Rear Vision

Rashid Khalidi:
[What we are seeing now in the Arab Spring is the] expression of sentiments and aspirations that seem to cut across different classes and groups and age groups within the Arab world.
[That transcend] divisions that everybody thought were hard and fast.

[Most] people in the Arab world … have a sense of what's going on the rest of the world.
They understand that other people benefit from some elements of democracy and constitutional rule and they want that for themselves. …
[People] in the Arab world actually are like everybody else.

In most other parts of the world [people] have similar aspirations towards freedom and some social justice.
[The] tides that have affected the rest of the world affect this part as well.
It is not … a place made up of crazy fundamentalists who if you allow them to have a free system, will turn towards extremism.

[What] we've seen in Tunisia so far, what we're seeing in Egypt so far, has been an expression of this exact thing kind of sentiments that we saw in Eastern Europe at the time of the fall of the Berlin Wall, we saw in South Korea, we saw in Brazil, we saw in other countries that have managed to overcome autocracy and move towards democracy.

Raymond Carver:
I am a cigarette with a life attached.

Simon Chapman [Director of Research, School of Public Health, University of Sydney]: [According to] internal tobacco industry documents [the price of cigarettes] is the single greatest determinant of smoking in the community. …

[They also] show that the main purpose of [cigarette additives] is to make smoking more palatable for young people.
[A] lot of work has gone [into reducing] 'throat grab' [‒ that initial coughing you get when you first start smoking.]
[Menthol] acts as a sort of a gentle local anaesthetic in the throat, which makes [smoking] easier, particularly for young women, who tend to favour menthol cigarettes …

Robert Proctor:
[Smoking] is not like drinking …
[It's] like being an alcoholic.
Only about three per cent of people who drink are addicted, whereas 80 to 90 per cent of people who smoke are addicted. …
[Smoking] is not a recreational drug …

[The] cigarette pack itself [is] the last bastion of advertising.
The cigarette pack [is] like a micro-ad …
[Cigarettes are an undifferentiated product, they're] basically all … the same.
[From a marketing viewpoint, the packaging is the] product. …

Simon Chapman:
[If you] open any tobacco industry trade magazine [there is] page after page of advertisements from packaging companies, talking about how packaging is front and centre of branding …
[The package] is the centre of the advertising effort.

There's been a lot of experimental evidence by people showing young people different versions of packs and asking them which ones that they would prefer.
[They] always say that they don't like the plain-packaged ones, they want the nice looking packs …
[It's] a no-brainer.
[The] next generation of kids will grow up never having seen a packet of carcinogenic products packaged in a beautiful box.

Contents


Saving Young Lives

The Tea Party Movement

Who are the asylum seekers?

Life after the GFC

Closing Guantanamo

The Arab World


REAR VISION


Annabelle Quince & Keri Phillips

  • Democracy in Iraq?  23 November 2011.
  • Stirring the Pot: the Tea Party Movement in US politics, 26 October 2011.
    Clare Corbould: Historian, Larkins Fellow, School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, Monash University.
    Geoffrey Dunn: Author, The Lies of Sarah Palin: the untold story behind her relentless quest for power.
    Corey Robin: Associate Professor of Politics, Brooklyn College, New York.

    Clare Corbould:
    Members of the Tea Party look back to an idealised revolution [in which all of the complexity of] the war for independence and the revolution and the founding of the nation [— of] thirteen colonies coming together who had less in common with each other than they had with the British [— has all been removed in what] historian Jill Lepore has called [a process of] 'historical fundamentalism'. …

    [There's] a kind of reverence [of the so-called founding fathers] and a sense that [the historical] documents [of this period] are sacred texts that can be read for what … their authors intended at the time, and [an assumption that they] should be relevant for us still today. …

    Corey Robin:
    [One of their claims is that the modern] welfare state is a tyrannical state akin to the tyranny of King George III, invading people's privileges [and] rights …
    [In] the case of the healthcare plan, the right to [choose] your own doctor …

    [On the subprime] mortgage issue [they have] a kind of [economic] Darwinian view — and this is not at all in the American revolution [—] that there are winners and losers … people who are strong and [those] who are weak; they're smart, they're dumb; and that government should not be in the business of propping up those types of people …
    [To do so, they feel] reproduces the kind of Old Regime [entitlement culture] where the state gave people feudal privileges and titles, only now they think that the recipient of government largess is not feudal lords but losers. …

    [Conservatism originates in the] reaction to the French Revolution [—] to the really radical and modern claims of freedom, equality and fraternity …
    [Mounting] a defense against these radical revolutionary ideas [required the defenders of the Old Regime to] coopt the populist and dynamic and mobilizing dimensions of the revolution itself [i.e. to ferment a] populist defense of aristocracy. …

    [The] Tea Party [while] it seems like it has its own kind of [grassroots] democratic dimension [is in fact] trying to extract from democracy some kind of resource on behalf of anti-democratic movements. …

    Conservatism [is] a reaction against a movement of emancipation. …
    [For example, the] emancipation of black slaves was one of the largest forms of expropriation of private property in world history …
    Conservatism is a project of restoration …
    [A] dynamic, powerful force [that] appeals to this experience of loss.

    The Reagan revolution [was an attempt by employers and] the religious right, in the form of fathers, to reclaim privileges that had been lost under the New Deal, the Great Society, and the sexual revolution.
    And to some degree they were successful.
    American employers today are in a much, much more powerful position than they were … in the 1950s.

    [That's] in part what the Tea Party is about [though it's] a little bit more ambiguous what the losses are that they're trying to make [up.]
    [You] see this kind of rhetoric all the time … a desire to return to [a better] place and time …

    Richard Nixon [achieved his success by tapping] into the sense among many working [and] lower middle class white Americans … that they were losing out somehow; that social movements of the 1960s and '70s had served not just to bolster the claims of African Americans, of women, gays and lesbians … but had at the same time cost them their place in the American nation.

    [In] California in the late 1970s [there] was a movement, elite-driven but [with] tremendous grassroots support, for … Proposition 13, which puts severe limitations on how much [governments at all levels throughout that state] could tax its citizens …
    [The] Republican Party has lots of factions, but [the] strongest glue at the policy level [is the anti-tax dimension].
    Anybody who's a candidate for congress on the Republican ticket has to [sign the 'no-tax pledge'].
    [That] really has put a kind of a lock on American politics, because it really [limits] what you can do.
    If you can't raise taxes, you're in trouble. …

    Geoffrey Dunn:
    [Sarah Palin] taps into two historical flows in American politics.
    [The first is that] government has gotten much too large [and] invasive; [that] there are far too many layers of bureaucracy [and our national debt has] grown to exorbitant amounts. …
    [The second] has elements of racism attached to it, elements of disdain for foreigners, elements of violence, and [revolves around a sort of] militia-type mentality. …

    Corey Robin:
    [Part of] the Tea Party is an arm of the Republican Party and it's provided the shock troops for Republican victories in the House of Representatives in 2010, and somewhat in the senate as well.
    [This] dimension [is] very much an elite project…
    [Then there is the] more of a grassroots organization … that is against the bank bailouts (which was, after all, the program that George W. Bush pursued), that dislikes [Wall Street] and sees the state in collusion with it…
    [This] creates a lot of tension [and has caused tremendous amount of headache for the Republican Party]. …

    [The] Republican Party is a bifurcated party. …
    [In] the establishment wing of the party and you have figures like George Herbert Walker Bush, Nelson Rockefeller, more moderate Republicans, business-oriented Republicans …
    On the other side … you have what I'll call the cowboy wing of the party …
    … Ronald Reagan was that wing of the party [at one point; at other times it was] Barry Goldwater or [even] John McCain …
    [There's a fairly large chasm between the two.]

  • Plain packaging of cigarettes, 19 October 2011.
    Simon Chapman: Director of Research, Associate Dean Communications, School of Public Health, University of Sydney.
    Cynthia Callard: Executive Director, Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada.
    Robert N Proctor: Professor of the History of Science, Stanford University, California.

    Simon Chapman:
    [The first] health warning on the bottom of packs [was introduced in 1973:]
    Warning: Smoking is a health hazard.
    We've had four generations of pack warnings since then, each introduced with major protests from the tobacco companies …

    [In 1976] it became illegal to smoke on buses and trains. …
    [We then] saw it go into workplaces and [later] hospitality venues, which actually should have been the first place it was introduced, because that's where the exposures are greatest. …

    Tobacco advertising was first restricted from September 1976.
    It was legislation which was introduced into the parliament by the Whitlam Government and then … implemented by the Fraser …
    That [banned] smoking advertising [on] radio and television …

    [In 1992 the] Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act [put an end to] the Winfield Cup [rugby] … the football competitions and the motor racing sponsorships …

    {John Elliott [President, Carlton Football Club]:
    Every other minority group's gone to court.
    I've now had hundreds of people ring me already saying we ought to take the MCC to court.
    The community's basically 70/30 smoking and non-smoking and Australia has the only airports in the world that are non-smoking and it's the very insular society that won't look after minority groups like us.}

    Simon Chapman:
    [Smoking] advertising inside shops … has gone.
    [Finally,] displaying cigarettes has started to happen …
    [There is] only one jurisdiction in Australia which hasn't yet implemented that yet. …

    [Cigarettes are now] behind the counter, as prescription drugs are in the dispensary, and you have to ask for them. …

    Cynthia Callard:
    Tobacco companies had framed the issue as being government versus smokers, not government versus tobacco industry.
    [It] took a long time to overcome that framing and for … political parties … to see that they could in fact introduce these measures with the support of smokers and not be perceived as being [hostile to many] of their constituents. …

    It wasn't really until 2003 that we got an effective curtailment of tobacco promotion in Canada. …
    The generation of kids that are now in our first wave of surveys of 14- to 15-year-olds—those are kids that were born in 1995, that would have grown up, gone to school after these advertisements had been removed — have half the smoking rates of the cohort ten years older than them. …

    Mark Colvin [Radio National]:
    From midnight tonight the excise on tobacco will go up by 25 per cent — $2.16 for a pack of 30 cigarettes. …

    Kevin Rudd:
    We estimate that 80 or 90,000 Australians will [give up cigarettes] based on the increase in the cost that we have announced. …

    Simon Chapman:
    [Australia now has] some of the most expensive cigarettes in the world …
    [In] Norway and the United Kingdom they're even more expensive …
    [This] has been driving consumption down dramatically [which is] why the tobacco industry fight tooth and nail against all price rises. …

    Robert Proctor:
    [Even] though smokers are addicted, they do respond to pricing.
    [There's] a price elasticity of around 0.4, which means that for every ten per cent you increase the price of cigarettes, smokers will smoke about half of that increase less. …

    Keri Phillips:
    [60 chemicals] that are known to cause cancer, have been found in tobacco and tobacco smoke.

    Robert Proctor:
    There are … simple measures that a regulatory state could implement that would radically reduce the number of people smoking.
    • [Dropping] the nicotine significantly below about 1 mg per cigarette, then the cigarette itself can no longer create or sustain addiction. …
    • [Making] cigarette smoke … alkaline, the way it used to be with Native American tobacco [so] there'd be no inhalation.
    • [Taking] out the [flavourings] that are put into cigarettes to make them more attractive …

    Keri Phillips:
    Why haven't governments gone down that path?

    Robert Proctor:
    [Because the Tobacco industry] is one of the most powerful … in the world.

    [In] the 1960s when the Surgeon General first issued a report saying that tobacco was causing mass death, President Johnson [refused to] endorse the report …
    [He feared] the Democrats would lose the presidency, because of the power of tobacco growers and the tobacco industry in the south. …

    [So] policies have been centred around altering the information environment. …
    [It's] a very different approach [to that taken with, say,] lead paint or asbestos.
    [Everyone is] free to smoke as much as they want, but they [are] well informed while they do it. …

    Simon Chapman:
    The main things which cause ill health in smokers are inhaling smoke.
    It would be the same if you were inhaling combusted smoke from any source.
    If you burnt straw and inhaled it, it wouldn't be good for you either.
    The question as to whether the … additives — flavouring agents, chemicals, preservatives, temperature regulation chemicals [cause further harm is] an open question.
    Certainly nobody's arguing that they [are] good for you …

    [In] New South Wales … we had a ban on smoking in cars for children, [a] ban on displays of tobacco products in shops, and … significant increases [in] the budget of the Cancer Institute to run big campaigns. …
    [The] tobacco industry [responded by] saying:
    [Show] us the evidence of the precise effect [of each specific intervention.]
    [As] if society was a kind of a rat laboratory where you could partition people off who are only exposed to certain variables and not others.
    [You] just can't do that. …

    [But based on mathematical modelling: tax increases,] restrictions on smoking [and] large-budget hard-hitting education campaigns are probably the top three [most effective interventions.]

    The rest [are] about de-normalising cigarettes.
    [Ten years after] banning tobacco advertising we have the lowest rates of youth smoking in Australia tha[t] we've ever seen …
    [A] person who is 19 has never seen a [domestic] tobacco advertisement …

    Would you like to know more?

  • Who are the asylum seekers?  20 July 2011.
    Paul Power: Chief Executive Officer, Refugee Council of Australia.
    Stephen Castles: Research Chair in Sociology at the University of Sydney.

    Paul Power:
    A refugee, according to the Refugee Convention definition, is a person who has left their country of origin because of a well founded fear of persecution, and the persecution must be based on one of five grounds:
    • race,
    • religion,
    • nationality,
    • political opinion or
    • membership of a particular social group.

    Stephen Castles:
    [The] next really big refugee flow was the people fleeing Nazi Germany, either Jews or of course political refugees …
    [The] world was not very ready to accept refugees, and Australia too has really a responsibility there because Australia was not very open to Jewish or anti-Nazi refugees. …

    Paul Power:
    From 1947 there was a very strong focus on the resettlement of refugees.
    It came out of the attempts at the end of the war to assist the millions of displaced people who were in Central Europe, people who had been displaced by the conflict but also people who were crossing from the new Soviet bloc, from Eastern Europe into Central Europe to escape persecution or to escape fears of what life would be like under newly communist governments …
    [In] the three years from 1949;
    Australia was taking in an average of around 50,000 to 55,000 refugees a year. …

    Stephen Castles:
    … From about the mid-1950s onwards the former colonies of European powers like Britain, France, Netherlands, Belgium and so on began to obtain their independence, often after very difficult struggles [which] led to quite large refugee flows in Africa and in Asia.
    [It] wasn't until 1967 that the so-called protocol to the '51 Convention was passed, that the system was extended [and] anyone who was displaced according to the criteria established by the Convention could be seen as a refugee, it wasn't only Europeans anymore.

    Paul Power:
    … Up to this point, if you look at the 770,000 refugees who have come to Australia since 1901, only around 47,500 actually came to Australia as asylum seekers, so the remaining 720,000 were resettled from elsewhere.

    The first … so-called boat people who came directly from Vietnam from 1976 through until about 1979 or 1981.
    [Only] around 2,000 Vietnamese … actually made it directly to Australia and sought asylum within our country.
    The remaining 150,000 or so … who left Vietnam by boat … were resettled from countries in Southeast Asia …

    Malcolm Fraser:
    [Upwards] of 250,000 people came here from Vietnam, not all boat people, you know, came in to family reunion and other things at a later point.
    America took I think nearly 1.25 [to] 1.5 million, and Canada, there were 250,000.
    France … also had a very large influx of refugees, I think about 80,000.

    Stephen Castles:
    It is one of the best examples of international cooperation in this area.
    In 1975 there was the comprehensive plan of action in which all the states involved agreed to find a common solution to the refugee crisis in Southeast Asia …

    Paul Power:
    [The] UNHCR recently released its statistics for the year ending December 2010, and so their estimate at the moment is that there are 43.7 million people displaced.
    27.5 million of them are displaced within their own countries, so they are officially referred to as internally displaced persons or IDPs …

    [So] in terms of those officially regarded by the United Nations as refugees, the current estimate is 15.4 million.
    4.8 million of them are Palestinians who come under the mandate of the UN Relief and Works Agency in the Middle East …
    [At] the end of last year there were around 840,000 asylum seekers … people who believe they are refugees but are going through the process of attempting to have that substantiated …

    [Of the] 10.6 million refugees under UNHCRs mandate, there are six countries that are the countries of origin of the bulk of them, so they are
    • Afghanistan,
    • Iraq,
    • Somalia,
    • the Democratic Republic of Congo,
    • Burma and
    • Columbia.

    Stephen Castles:
    [The] reason we had a lot of boat people from Afghanistan and Sri Lanka recently is that the conditions in Afghanistan, especially for ethnic minorities like the Hazaras, are … really dangerous.
    The one spike of Hazara refugees coming to Australia was caused when the Taliban beheaded large numbers of Hazaras publicity …

    The spike in Sri Lankans is simply because of the appalling violence at the end of the civil war …
    The very large number of people trying to get out of Iraq is because of the invasion and the chaos that followed it.
    [People] like former Minister Ruddock [tried] to create a deterrent policy, [but] we can't make conditions in Australia as bad as they are in the countries of origin …
    [People] say, all right, we may face bad conditions in Australia but we are not going to get killed.

    Paul Power:
    [The] countries which are hosting the largest number of refugees are a collection of Islamic countries in south-west Asia and the Middle East, so Pakistan, Iran, Syria and Jordan …
    [The] human rights situation in each of those countries other than Jordan [is] pretty dire …
    [In] Africa, Kenya and Chad are the two leading host countries are refugees. …
    [Nothing] that Australia has experienced or is currently experiencing compares with the sort of pressure that countries such as Pakistan or Jordan, which is quite a small country, or Chad, which is a deeply impoverished country, is currently experiencing.

    Stephen Castles:
    [The] UN says there are over 7 million people in what they call protracted refugee situations, which means they've been in exile for at least five years. …
    [They] have really poor living conditions [but] that's not the worst thing, the worst thing is that people have absolutely no hope, they have no [prospect] for a better [life.]
    Reporter [archival]:
    In Malaysia the big worry is how the asylum seekers from Australia will feed themselves.
    They live in the community rather than detention, but by law they cannot work.
    Paul Power:
    There is a view … that refugees live in camps, but … increasingly … the bulk of the world's refugees are actually now living [in urban slums] or in quite difficult situations in rural towns and villages …
    [According to the UNHCR,] it's only around a quarter of them are actually living in camps.

    Stephen Castles:
    When someone flees his or her country because of one of the reasons listed in the Convention … they have to prove individual persecution.
    You have to show your scars of torture or women have to … how does a woman provide evidence that she's been raped in the Congo? …
    There are some countries where the state refuses to recognise refugees at all.
    Malaysia is one of those … it treats all refugees as illegal immigrants.

    Paul Power:
    Bangladesh has what's estimated as around 200,000 people who aren't recognised as refugees but are regarded even by the UN as refugees …
    [Refugees] in these situations are even more vulnerable and they're basically regarded by the host governments as illegal immigrants and face all sorts of discrimination …
    Martin Ferguson [archival]:
    We are not going to have people coming into Australia, jumping the queue and undermining the rights of genuine refugees …
    Stephen Castles:
    There are seven million people [who need] resettlement, and … the world as a whole resettles 80,000 people a year.
    [It] would take 90 years to resettle the people who today have already been in exile for five years or more [even] if no new refugees were added to that population …
    So the idea of a queue is a total illusion.

  • Life after the GFC, 18 May 2011.
    Wolfgang Buehler: Professor, [Australian School of Business, University of New South Wales.
    John Quiggin: Professor and Australian Research Council Federation Fellow, School of Economics and School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Queensland.
    Edwin M Truman: Senior Fellow, Peterson Institute for International Economics, Washington, DC.
    Ársæll Valfells: Faculty of Business Administration, University of Iceland.

    Wolfgang Buehler:
    [In Germany] we don't fire people, they are still on the job, they get about 50% of their nett wages, they get from a state agency, so it was possible for the companies not to fire these people and when the [global economy improves they are able to] produce the products on the spot.
    That was a big advantage of Germany in the last two years. …

    John Quiggin:
    [One] of the striking features of the crisis has been that … things in the financial sector look very much similar to what they were in 2007.
    [You'd] be hard pressed to tell there ever had been a crisis, and yet in the real economy, in terms of things like unemployment rates, the impacts are well and truly still present. …

    [One] element is that governments have … moved at the behest of the financial sector to follow policies of austerity which have essentially placed the burden of the crisis squarely on the real economy, public sector workers in particular but more generally we've seen that high rates of unemployment have been accepted as part of the price of the crisis, whereas no adverse consequences really have been felt by the financial sector.

    We're also seeing [the re-emergence of] of the kind of risk-taking that led to the crisis.
    [The] attempt by Goldman Sachs to launch effectively a shadow sharemarket for shares in Facebook is a typical example of [that type of] financial innovation [and of] people willing to take those risks being very richly rewarded. …

    Edwin M Truman:
    [It] is going to be a long slog before the unemployment rate [in] the United States gets back to being something like 5% [—] at least another decade. …

    Keri Phillips:
    What lessons have been learned from the Global Financial Crisis and what has happened since to ensure that it can't happen again?

    Ársæll Valfells:
    Firstly, is do not let the banking system grow too large. …
    So what Benjamin Franklin said — banks are more dangerous than standing armies — that still holds today …
    The second issue is that mistakes that the politicians make is that they allowed the former retail banks to evolve into a mix of investment and retail banks, and this should be kept totally separate. …
    Would you like to know more?]

    John Quiggin:
    [The] Basle 3 international agreements [in Europe] do to some extent tighten up some of the worst slack features of the previous system.
    In the US the Dodd-Frank Bill was a response [—] a very limited and inadequate response …
    [We're] already seeing the Republican majority in the House of Representatives attempting to repeal and unwind most of that …
    I expect to see those regulations eroded over time, essentially until we have another crisis.

  • Closing Guantanamo, 2 March 2011.
    Jonathan Hafetz: Professor of Law, Seton Hall University, New Jersey.
    Benjamin Wittes: Senior Fellow and Research Director in Public Law, The Brookings Institution, Washington DC.

    Jonathan Hafetz:
    The decision to choose Guantanamo after 9/11 was [principally to deny] the prisoners … access to the US courts.
    Reporter [archival]:
    The detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are, according to the Pentagon, some of the most dangerous men on earth …
    [They] were chained, hooded and not allowed to move once they got on board for the 20-hour flight from Afghanistan [because] the US military [believed] they would use their teeth to gnaw through the hydraulics to bring down the transport planes which deposited them in Cuba.
    Jonathan Hafetz:
    [Starting] in January of 2002 … prisoners from more than 40 different countries … were brought to Guantanamo …
    [People were] flown from Bosnia …
    [People were] taken from Zambia and Africa, to the Middle East …
    [They] were picked up from all over the world as part of what the Bush Administration called the global battlefield [and brought] to Guantanamo …
    George W. Bush [archival]:
    They will not be treated as prisoners-of-war. …
    Jonathan Hafetz:
    The prisoners were deemed to be 'enemy combatants'[, a] new legal category [created] in order to authorise indefinite arbitrary detention, and … to allow for the use of the enhanced interrogation [techniques] that … constituted cruel and unusual treatment [and,] in some instances … torture …

    Keri Phillips:
    The detainees were denied access to a lawyer, the right to a trial, or even knowledge of the charges against them. …

    Jonathan Hafetz:
    [In 2004] the Supreme Court ruled by a 6 to 3 vote the detainees had a right to habeas corpus under … the Federal Habeas Corpus Statute. …

    Keri Phillips:
    The US Congress responded by passing the Detainee Treatment Act in 2005, which stripped the courts of the power to hear the Guantanamo cases by amending the Federal Habeas Corpus Statute.

    Back in November 2001, President Bush had issued a military order [Detention, Treatment and Trial of Certain Non-Citizens in the War Against Terrorism] that some detainees could be tried in Military Commissions where their rights would be more limited than in either the civilian or military justice systems .

    Jonathan Hafetz:
    [In 2006] the Supreme Court [ruled] that the Detainee Treatment Act did not apply to … cases that had already been filed with the courts [therefore] the habeas corpus challenges could continue.

    [Congress then passed a further statut] called the Military Commissions Act of 2006 which deprived the courts of habeas corpus jurisdiction …
    [This] time Congress made very clear this was intended to cover all cases, past, present, future, so that the courts would not have authority under Federal law to hear the Guantanamo petitions.
    [The Supreme] court ruled in June of 2008 … that this statute violated a provision of the constitution called the habeas corpus Suspension Clause which limits Congress' ability to take away the habeas right … that the government had not put in any kind of fair procedures, and as a consequence the detainees were entitled to judicial hearings to challenge their detention.

    [Individual] habeas corpus challenges by the detainees [have since been] working their way through the [District Courts, and] in about 65% of the cases, the … government has not been able to justify the detention.

    Keri Phillips:
    [Ahmed Ghailani] was sentenced in a Federal court in New York in January to life without parole, for his involvement in the 1998 bombings of two American Embassies in East Africa where thousands were wounded and 224 died.
    [He was the only] detainee from Guantanamo Bay [to be] tried in a civilian court on US soil. …

    The vast bulk of the Guantanamo detainees have been transferred to some 50 different countries, most of them without ever being tried in a US court.

    Benjamin Wittes:
    Of the 800 people who passed through Guantanamo, more than 500 of them were released or transferred by the Bush Administration. …
    [Those that remain are the hard cases]
    • where it was very hard to find countries that were willing to take them;
    • … people you might not be able to bring to trial but you really thought were really dangerous, and
    • … people who you would really like to make a criminal case against, but there were real problems with the evidence.

    [Obama's taskforce] looked at every single case [and] identified
    • 48 detainees who '[we] can't try and we can't release',
    • 58 or 60 [Yemenis 'who] we could conceivably release either immediately or in the medium-term, depending on conditions in Yemen' [and]
    • 36 people whom they would like to bring to trial
    [This is the] group of people whom they have not been able to transfer out of Guantanamo, and Congress is not letting them bring them to the United States for detention or trial here.
    Reporter [archival]:
    One idea is to transfer them to the US Army base at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas …

    Shay Baker [archival]:
    If this relocation occurs, the entire Kansas City metropolitan area may face an increased risk of terrorism from sympathetic allies of the detainees.
    Benjamin Wittes:
    Barak Obama [has] always reserved the possibility of continuing to detain certain people. …
    [They] wanted to use a facility in Thompson, Illinois [however Congress] has forbidden the expenditure of money to bring people to the United States …

    Keri Phillips:
    172 prisoners now remain at the base, 48 of whom the Obama Administration has decided to keep holding indefinitely without trial.
    One of this last group died recently.

    Jonathan Hafetz:
    [The] problem now is simply the indefinite detention … of individuals without being charged with a crime, convicted and assigned a sentence.

    Benjamin Wittes:
    [The] question of where you engage in detention, is much less important than the question of what the rules of that detention are going to be. …

    There have clearly been detainees mistreated at Guantanamo. …
    [However] over the years, Guantanamo has turned into a model detention facility [due to] relatively open to public scrutiny …

    [The] even harder question is what to do the next time the US military captures a large number of people who are very hard to tell civilians from combatants, [and] who may [or may not] be really dangerous people ….

  • The Arab World, 23 February 2011.
    Youssef Choueiri: Director-General, Centre for Arab Unity Studies, Beirut.
    Robert Fisk: Middle East correspondent, The Independent.
    Adeed Dawisha: Professor of Political Science, Miami University, Ohio.
    Rashid Khalidi: Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies, Columbia University, New York.

    Annabelle Quince:
    The Arab world consists of 22 Arabic-speaking countries stretching from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea, taking in much of the Middle East and North Africa. …

    Youssef Choueiri:
    [There] are about 300 million Arabs or Arabic-speaking peoples.
    It's not an ethnic identity …
    [It] is a cultural identity, in the sense that they all speak Arabic.
    Not all Arabs are Muslims …
    [There] are quite substantial Christian minorities. …

    Annabelle Quince:
    Arab speakers have had a pride in Arab culture for centuries [but] it wasn't until the end of the 19th century that some Arab speakers began to articulate the idea of an Arab political identity. …

    Robert Fisk:
    [At the end of World War I the] Americans wanted … one democratic Arab state, stretching from the Atlantic on the shores of Morocco, to the Persian-Mesopotamian border, which today we call the Iran and Iraq border. …
    They thought they could have a modern Arab State, not as big as the British Empire perhaps, but certainly large enough to be a balance against other empires further east.

    [Of] course the British and the French opposed this and chopped up the region and kept it for themselves … drawing lines in the sand, which in many cases did not represent reality. …

    [Britain] carved out … the State of Iraq [and then] occupied it totally in 1922.
    The Iraqis, enraged at the fact that the promises of independence had been broken to them, rose up in an insurgency against the British in Iraq [in 1920.]
    Palestine in uproar …
    [And there was] constant rebellion against French rule by the Sunni Muslims of Syria …

    Rashid Khalidi:
    [The] outcomes that resulted from these partitions between Britain and France were certainly not to the liking of the Arabs but they had determined … the nation-states in which the Arab world has grown up in.
    Elites begin to develop around each capital. …
    [Each country faces] different circumstances for its struggle for independence …
    [The] Syrians had to struggle against the French …
    [The] Iraqis against the British …
    [So] at the very end of World War II … when the League of Arab States [later called the Arab League] is formed … one of the principles is [the maintenance of] these nation-states.
    So in fact, these national elites in a very short period of time coalesce around these new entities.
    And this is a countervailing force to [pan-Arab] nationalism …
    [Nation-state nationalism forms around entities — such as Tunisia, Jordan and Kuwait — some of which] didn't even exist before World War I.

    Annabelle Quince:
    It wasn't until well after World War II that many of these Arab nations gained their independence.
    And while there were experiments with democracy, they didn't last.
    And in the 1950s and '60s, most Arab states moved towards authoritarian regimes.

    Adeed Dawisha:
    The nationalism that the Arabs propagated was a cultural nationalism that was borrowed from the Germans of the 19th century.
    The German cultural nationalists of the 19th century were not democrats, they were more corporate.
    They believed in the strength of the German people, and when they talked about freedom, they talked about freedom from the outsider, and that struggle to achieve this freedom, superseded anything else.
    Unlike for example, the Anglo-French theorists who when they talked about freedom, they talked about individual rights, the freedom of the individual.
    And so the nationalism that the Arabs propagated was not a democratic nationalism.
    When they talked about freedom, they talked about freedom from the colonialists.
    When they talked about Arab nationalism, they talked about the political unity of the Arabs. …
    And if that goal [required an] authoritarian figure, then so be it.

    [Also, when] you're struggling … to free your countries out of the clutch of these colonialists, you're not just against the foreign policy of that State, you become against all the symbols that these countries stand for and indeed all the institutions.
    And so because Britain and France were democratic, an Arab would say
    I really have absolutely no intention of adopting their system of government.

    Rashid Khalidi:
    The inter-war period and the early post-war period witnessed democracies that had been sabotaged by colonial rule …
    [For example,] you had a parliamentary democracy in Egypt for 30 years.
    The problem was the British were always there … preventing the Egyptian people from exercising a self-determination.
    [So democracy was, in part, discredited as a result.]

    Annabelle Quince:
    The other event that impact[ed] on the Arab world was the creation of the State of Israel. …

    Adeed Dawisha:
    [The] lesson that was learnt from '48-'49 [war, was:]
    We were weak, we were divided, we had all these strange ideas, we were led by a corrupt government therefore we needed strong authoritative leaders who will basically order us and make us advance and be like the Western countries and eventually beat Israel. …
    In 1967 it was a different lesson …
    [The] idea was give us time, give us a decade or two, and then we will get to a point where our achievements would be such that we would then be able to compete with the West and more importantly would be strong enough to defeat the Israelis and regain the rights of our Arab Palestinian brothers.
    Well in 1967, after 20 years of the socialist, nationalist authoritarian experiment, what happens?
    The Arabs … lose in one of the most humiliating defeats that they had ever experienced.
    [It] became the death warrant for nationalism. …
    So many of these radical guys [—] whether they were nationalists or [Marxists — became radical Islamists] within six months to a year …

    Rashid Khalidi:
    There are many sources for this.
    One of them is the failure of secular alternatives whether they secular democracy, whether it's socialism, whether it's communism, or whether it's Arab nationalism.
    [Another is that the authoritarian] regimes drove the left and the secular and liberal alternatives out of the public sphere with police state repression, but could not do the same … with religious movements.
    [In other] cases, religious movements were … employed by the regime, as for example in Egypt under Sadat who used the religious right as a tool to defeat his domestic opponents. …

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