When Plato interpreted ‘justice’ as a power tool of mighty in his famous work ‘The Republic’, I thought it to be only an interesting read and imagined a barbaric world of long forgotten times where the theory would apply. Perhaps, a king sitting on his marble throne ordering people to be butchered if they deserve death in his opinion. Little did I think that a country or an intellectual school of thought could still hold on to that principle today and even publicize it without being criticized.
Last week, President Obama agreed to consider sharing confidential documents with congressional committees or public, which give him the authority to order a drone strike and eliminate a suspected terrorist without any court proceedings. This was due to pressure from civil society on the killing of Anwar Al Awlaki, an American citizen who was considered to be a vital member of A Qaeeda. The civil society went a step further. They want the President to form a special tribunal in case of American citizens, which can quickly decide if the suspected American terrorist is indeed guilty before eliminating him. The events have been captured in the liberal democratic NY times highlighting people surprise that how can the President order the killing of an American citizen without giving him a fair trial.
The suspected terrorist has suddenly become a human, or to put it more correctly an American.
Now the President has been ordering the strikes on the territory of Pakistan for the more than five years, which have killed an estimated 198 civilians from 2008-13 as per the New America Foundation, a non profit organization. Pakistani journalists put the figure as high as 800 including children and women. These were not even suspected terrorist and were killed without the right to fair trial or any trial. It’s ironical that blood of an innocent civilian involves less remorse and instigates less action than the killing of a suspected American terrorist.
Lives have become relative.
Surely, it bleeds my heart to see my countryman getting killed but are we not led to believe that terrorists have no country. Or suddenly it matters to which country a terrorist belongs. In the last week, the message I got from the civil society of United States is that ‘terrorists do have a country’.
While the wave of globalization was clouding the world, we were led to believe that opening up borders is the best thing and conservative patriotism is a thing for cavemen. US surely took the advantage of that economically as Joseph Stiglitz – the Nobel prize winning economist mentions in his work. US bent the rules in World Trade Order pact to fit its own definition of a just economic world. Then, it started a three trillion dollar war in Iraq to define the term precautionary war as a just act. And now, it may well define the definition of a ‘terrorist’… a person who has no nationality … except if he is from America.
What amazes me is that our premier still hangs on to the teachings taught from Washington and no significant notice has been taken of this ideological shift, which just happened last week. When I mentioned this to one of my Arab friends that everything wrong in our countries is the result of foreign interference, he quietly replied … “They don’t do anything to our countries, we let them do it”. And surely, we have let them define and practice their ‘justice’ in Pakistan.