Around 1970 – brain does not remember exact dates at this stage of the game – I happened to be in Amman, Jordan where my cousin had picked me up and, while she drove, I was looking out of the car window and saw a three-story modest house where the first floor windows and verandah had been fitted with iron bars. I commented to my cousin that the neighborhood must be experiencing criminal activity and had put up the iron bars to deter thieves from entering the home. She laughed! That, she explained, is an Interrogation and Torture location rented by the Jordanian Secret Service. I was horrified! It turns out that it was not the only location for conducting these intimidating and cruel methods. Apparently, such premises existed – and still do! – in Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, throughout the Gulf States, Morocco, as well as in a host of other countries!
When the US illegitimately invaded and occupied Afghanistan and then Iraq we had the infamous Abu Ghraib prison where we conducted our own Interrogation and Torture procedures, followed by our prison in Guantanamo, Cuba where the same cruel systems continued, and, we also exported some humans for Renditions (Per Google: the practice of sending a foreign criminal or terrorist suspect covertly to be interrogated in a country with less rigorous regulations for the humane treatment of prisoners) to other parts of the world where our allies would continue with these inhumane methods. Over the years, nothing has changed and some Autocratic Regimes continue to silence demonstrators and dissidents with draconian measures knowing that fear creates silence and, therefore, they can continue ruling with impunity! Pretty dismal!
Today, while witnessing the ongoing tragedy in Ukraine I recall how much wickedness we human beings and nations are capable of, and that whether it was Colonialism, or Slavery, or regime changes, fomented revolutions and many other meddling, inequalities and injustices, our methodology for these inhumane practices continue unabated. Politicians and many Humans of Western Nations in this Twenty-first Century might gasp, feign indignation and condemn all these “undemocratic” systems when they themselves are Not above reproach no matter how much, and how often, they seek to justify matters. There are No clean hands in politics! None! Simply remember how so-called democratic nations are slowly and surely torturing and murdering Julian Assange, as one example. There are more!
The ongoing tragedy in Ukraine has opened up a myriad of debates as those same old hawkish pundits, cold-war generals and other “experts” are being trotted out to nauseatingly opine about our terrific values and righteousness, and the immoral practices of our adversaries not realizing, or admitting that we have also been immoral, specifically because our ideology of “freedom and democracy” has cost the world many Calamities! Our perspectives about all such issues, after all, are built on our personal experiences and factual history, not on the Hollywood/State Department scripted and choreographed version of events.
Moreover, it seems that every Worldwide Calamity needs a “Cause Célèbre” (Reminder: During the invasion of Iraq it was Jessica Lynch and the Hollywood propaganda scripted to depict US valor! (Link Below)** And today it is Zelensky basking in the limelight and almost goading NATO and the US to jump unnecessarily into this quagmire! Many are wondering what will President Putin do? Will NATO and the US do this, that, or the other? What will the New World Order and geo-political landscape look like after all this is said and done? After all, Dubya Bush and his criminal cohorts had heralded a New World Order after their invasion and occupation of Iraq and we have been witnessing the Calamity that his World Order has produced and its repercussions across the region and the world. Will we be experiencing another newer catastrophe if/when the tragedy in Ukraine ends? Will Russia and China form an Alliance to counter US/Western hegemony? Will there be a new Cold War? It’s all up in the precarious and ominous air at the moment!
Hence, I find myself caught between a rock and a hard place once again! Over the many years, and as I have been witnessing the worldwide ongoing Colonialism – it never ended for all those many centuries! – of the US and NATO, I have been slowly and surely losing a lot of my trust and confidence in the so-called democracy and freedom that the West has been extolling and exporting, while wreaking havoc and creating enemies and extremists everywhere! This is a huge dilemma for me, as well as for many knowledgeable immigrants and exiles, because we are still so angry at the wreckage that was done to our countries by those same Western Democracies. Nevertheless, here we are enjoying the democratic freedoms and lifestyles of those Western Nations we are living in, while at the same time not being able to defend, or justify many of their foreign policies, or even some of their domestic policies! Thus, we are caught in between that rock and that hard place! The fact that there are non-immigrant citizens of Western Nations who also criticize their governments and policies does not make us feel any better, the main reason being that “natives” seem to have certain rights within their nations, while our bitching is looked upon with suspicion and disdain encouraging some to say: go back home, or, how impertinent of you to be griping while enjoying our freedoms and lifestyles! So, I’m Torn Again, and I often ask myself if this American Democracy, with all its shortcomings, inequalities and failures – especially those pertaining to Black and Brown citizens and other minorities – is better, or worse, than living under an Authoritarian regime where Intimidation, Disappearances, Murder, Torture and Interrogations are a fact of life? At the end of the day, and despite all my reservations regarding the Western Political System, the answer has got to be: not since I have the choice (and so many do not), and not while I truly admire and enjoy many of the democratic ways of life and freedoms. It’s quite a conundrum, really!
However, and shelving my own Torn Again dilemmas and anger for a moment, I also ask myself that After, After, After all is said and done with the Ukraine Calamity will all of us be asking: Who Won? And the answer has got to be: We All Lost! We all lost another big chunk of our Humanity, Wisdom and Civility! So very tragic!
2 thoughts on “Torn Again!”
Your last statement says it all. Who won— we all lost. Will we never learn from history on how to live together peacefully.
On Tue, Mar 29, 2022 at 22:36 My Seventy Year Old Eyes wrote:
> mikehaberle posted: ” Around 1970 – brain does not remember exact dates at > this stage of the game – I happened to be in Amman, Jordan where my cousin > had picked me up and, while she drove, I was looking out of the car window > and saw a three-story modest house where the first ” >
Another thoughtful and insightful post, Hala. It is the dilemma of all democracies, I think. How can we preach freedom, democracy, human rights when our own shortcomings are so glaringly abhorrent? I keep reminding myself that we have the freedom to dissent; the freedom to criticize our system, our leaders; to trumpet our shortcomings and failures. We have many many faults as a country … and we all have the right, the duty actually, to call it out. I also like to remind people that we here in the US are almost all immigrants. Keep up your good work, Hala.