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Voice of the Voter - This Week's Stories

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Was Immunity Ever Warranted for Security Contractors?

With the Iraqi government poised to enact legislation that would nullify the immunity provision put in place by L. Paul Bremer in 2004 to shield contractors from prosecution for their actions in the combat arena, the question arises if there ever should have been such a provision. Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, there are provisions for rules of engagement that are actionable when a soldier violates them. Why would it be necessary to exempt private contractors from that level of accountability unless the provisional government knew that the contractors would not be holding those standards of conduct for their employees? Is there a darker secret that the American people have yet to learn?

Some have speculated that the intention behind that provision by L. Paul Bremer was to cover the private security so that they could conduct questioning by torture that is forbidden under the Geneva Convention accords. While the public has been made aware of the abuses at Abu Ghraib Prison, many accounts coming out of Iraq have alleged that the private firms were used to conduct questioning of detainees under tortuous conditions with no oversight that make the abuses at Abu Ghraib pale by comparison. The known technique of “water-boarding” that simulates drowning has been disclosed but what else has been done that hasn’t been disclosed to the public? Are there nightmarish human rights abuses yet to be disclosed?

There is an old axiom that states; “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” When given total immunity from prosecution for their actions and empowered to conduct military operations in a combat theater, the private security firms have been essentially given absolute power to kill and maim combatants and civilians alike as they see fit. So is this type of immunity ever necessary or justified? If it allows our representatives to act in a manner that is inconsistent with our ideals as a nation, it cannot be in our best interests. To quote Jesus in Mark 8:36; “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” Wiser words were never spoken. We can win battles and wars but if we sacrifice what makes us proud to be Americans in the process what have we gained? Winning the “War on Terror” means nothing if we sacrifice our soul as a nation in the process. America is supposed to be about freedom and justice for all. When we help another nation to become a democracy, we cannot give them a foundation in our philosophy of freedom and justice by violating their freedoms and denying them justice when our people have wronged them. That is the height of hypocrisy.

We as a nation have to be vigilant against the poor representation of our people abroad. Our image as a nation is the thing that inspires others to be like us or to strike out against us. Things like giving our mercenaries free reign to commit atrocities is not good guardianship of our image abroad and should not be tolerated. We cannot win the fight against extremism by becoming international tyrants who rule by fear and abuse. As long as we engender fear in others and abuse those who cannot defend themselves, we will be the target of hatred and extremism.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america

Measuring Victory In The War On Terror

With casualty reports indicating a recent decline in losses for American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, how will we now move into determining the success or failure of the “War on Terror” for those two countries? Will we measure it by the number of surviving Al Qaeda forces that we know about? Will we measure it by the stability of the Iraqi government? How long will it take to see if there has been real success on either front?

The answer to the question of our success or failure may not be known for decades. Considering that there are scores of unknown ramifications that could result from our efforts in the Middle East it will be nearly impossible to tell if we have had a positive or negative impact on the expansion of extremism globally. Some could argue that we will be able to track the movements of known terrorists through our intelligence networks worldwide. The counter to that argument is that nobody is born a terrorist and there is no way to know which personal tragedies will inspire what children to decide that they must destroy America or any other nation or group of people when they grow up. When Yasser Arafat was born Mohammed Abdel-Raouf Arafat As Qudwa al-Hussaeini in Egypt in 1929, Palestine was still a nation and he was nothing more than a newborn baby with no hatred or resentment towards anyone. He came to his beliefs about the fight for Palestinian causes through his experiences growing up in and out of Palestine and observing the unfolding of the dismantling of his mother’s homeland. Who can say what he would have become if he had not witnessed British forces abusing his uncle in Palestine or if the United Nations had not decreed that the land once called Palestine would be turned over to Jewish forces to facilitate the birth of the state of Israel? He might have become something wholly different than what he became and the PLO might never have existed.

The long-term impacts of the “War on Terror” may not be known in my lifetime. Children born today who grow up without a father or mother because of an American bomb could grow up to be the world leader that ultimately destroys the U.S. out of sheer hatred for us. We could also have a stolen nuclear warhead go off in an American city tomorrow with a claim of responsibility coming from a wholly new terrorist group born out of our actions against a nation that harbors our current enemies. On the other side we could have some child of war in one of these countries turn out to be the leader who unites the people of the world under one banner of humanity.

The truth of the matter is that measuring success in something like a war against an invisible enemy with unknown reach is a futile attempt to quantify the unknowable. We can claim victory or admit defeat and be equally accurate in our assessment of the situation. Politicians ride wars on this or that to the polls because a war on this or that is a decisive act that conveys the idea of leadership. The “War on Drugs” has neither been won nor lost despite over two decades of rhetoric about it and billions of dollars being spent to fight it. There are still illegal drugs flowing on the streets of America and there are still people dying of addiction related illness every day. Sure, some major dealers and suppliers have been put away but there has always been someone there to take their place when we put them away. It is a symbolic war with no definitive outcome possible. There will always be those who want to take something to escape their reality and there will always be someone willing to find them that high. Likewise in the “War on Terror” there will always be those who feel that violent acts of large scale will be the only way to bring about the changes they seek. No military force can destroy an idea. No bullet can stop a philosophy in the larger sense.

In light of the knowledge that these wars cannot be won no matter how long they are fought, perhaps the wisest thing to do is to reexamine the idea of launching “wars on” anything so nondescript as drugs or terrorism. Perhaps we need to think of new ways not involving guns and bombs to address societal ills whether local or international in scope.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article. | Visit Troy's blog at http://reform-america.blogspot.com | Visit Troy's MySpace page at www.myspace.com/reform_america



Get Involved

Do you sit and yell at the TV when politicians come on? Do you shake your head sadly whenever you see a homeless veteran? Is that all you tend to do?

It's time to put up or shut up America. We all love to talk about how we could do things better or how we would do it if we were in charge. Well, it's time to put your money where your mouth is. If you can think of it, you can write it down. If you can write it down, you can type it. If you can type it, you can e-mail it and if you can e-mail it, you can send it here.

We at Reform America are committed to giving voice to anyone who wants to put their ideas out there to make our nation a better place. As the readership grows, we are able to take those views to a wider and wider audience. Grassroots campaigns begin with voices speaking out. You have opinions. Voice them. We aren't about conservative or liberal. We aren't about pro-this or anti-that. We're about Americans and the First Amendment. Reform America is about politics by, for and of the people. You are the people. You only need to speak up. America is listening. Send your article to: stories@reform-america.net



Have You Been Downsized Due to Outsourcing?

For several years now we have listened to some within the business community tell us that America can't compete on a global scale unless they send our jobs overseas where they can be done cheaper. The question becomes, if we don't have good paying jobs here, how can we sustain our own economy? We want to hear from you. Have you lost your job? Have you been forced into a lower wage job due to outsourcing? Has outsourcing been a success for you? Did you end up in a better job?

Tell us your story so we can make sure the politicians see how outsourcing really impacts the workers who are backbone of America. Send your story to stories@reform-america.net

 

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