Terrorism, cause or effect?

Silhouette of soldier with rifle

With the attack on the airport and subway system of Brussels, Europe has once again, in a short span of time, become the target of terrorism. By all means, this is a egregious act and not acceptable in any way or form. However, I find that there is a surprising lack of awareness in the general public, and in the media coverage, regarding the REASON for these attacks.

It seems to be a weakness in the human intellect. When we are faced with trauma and difficulties, our tendency is to look at the symptom. When we get sick, we look at and attempt to suppress the immediate effect. When there is a fight or conflict, we look at the drama – and this single dimension – the consequence that is here right now – becomes the entirety of our focus. However, as with all aspects of life, there is always, ALWAYS, an underlying cause. When it comes to human beings, that cause can never be simplified to the idea that some people are ‘just evil’ – or that they ‘just belong to the wrong religion’ – or that ‘they are immigrants’. Human beings are without a doubt more complex creatures than this – and hence – to understand terrorism – we must understand the human mind.

Terrorism, as explained by Chris Hedges, is born on the outskirts of the system. It is born in places where our western media seldom go, and even more rarely, report from. The reality of terrorism is that it is a social construct, in-fact, it is a part of our current system – it is a inescapable consequence of the inequality on which all of our collective designs are built. Terrorism is a SYMPTOM – not a cause – and seen in the eyes of forgiveness and clarity – it is an obvious call for help from the undeveloped and forgotten parts of this world.

In the western world, we tend to become arrogant and look at terrorism with an air of elitism. We condemn the attacks, yet we make no effort to understand them. We look down on the extremists and their religious doctrines, yet we make no effort to prevent such people from ever becoming extremists to begin with. We believe ourselves to be better than, though fact is that we, the western civilization, is as corrupted, as violent, as brutal and indifferent as the suicide bombers of ISIS. However, we are able to hide our real nature behind a facade of prestige, intellect, money and skillful rhetoric’s – though in being honest with ourselves – we cannot deny – we are just the same.

We call our terror attacks humanitarian interventions or peace keeping missions. We say that we fight for peace and democracy when we bomb cities of foreign countries. We lie that our intentions are benevolent, while fact is that there are always ulterior motives; geopolitics, profit, desire and greed. It is impossible to create peace or stability in a country through armed intervention, and it is easy to see that the warmongers are also those that benefit from building and selling the war machines. There has never, and will never be such a thing as a war fought for good reasons. War is in its very nature despicable – a crime against all of humanity.

Hence, when we look at terrorism, we must make the effort to understand it – and the only way to understand terrorism is through letting go of our elitist mindset and instead asking ourselves; what is it that can drive someone to commit suicide with a bomb, with the intention of killing and harming as many people as possible? What must someone go through, experience, think, see, to be able to make that decision? It is such an extreme act of violence, that the precursory events that creates a suicide bomber, must in themselves be violent, destructive and harmful. How are we collectively responsible for creating suicide bombers? Would anyone take their own life if they had everything to life for?

What we must understand is that, in this world, the majority of people are suffering. The majority of people are compromised, diminished, and placed into a state of lack where they do not have access to the very basic necessities of life. They are unable to create a life for themselves, and hence have NOTHING to lose – and THAT is the conditions that proceeds a terrorist attack – conditions of deprivation and pauperism – this creates people with no hope, no fear, and no morals. We in the western world are responsible for creating such situations of scarcity – as we in various ways impact the world negatively with our continuous drive for profit and expansion.

Terrorism will not go away until we decide to take responsibility for this world, and understand, that violence begets violence, and that the only way to come to a REAL solution, is through giving all a life of dignity.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed – and stand up for a world where all have enough.

Does a Contract That Violates Human Rights Have Any Legal Standing?

Poverty in Athens

The situation that has developed in Greece is a fascinating example of how commercial contracts, and within that MONEY, oftentimes (EVERY TIME?) takes precedence over Human Rights, even though international laws dictates that it should be the other way around. In this article I will expand on the possibilities that exist within international law to repudiate and cancel debt contracts when these makes it difficult for the debtor to fulfill its Human Rights obligations.

For starters, lets recap on the situation in Greece. What has happened is that the country, for various reasons, has accumulated a substantial amount of debt. Greece was close to defaulting on its outstanding debt and many private creditors were exposed to great risk. That is when the European Central Bank, the IMF and the European Union, otherwise known as the Troika, decided to step in. The Greece government apparently received bailout funds to handle their debts, however, these monies were only used to bailout the private creditors and transfer the risk of the debt to the Troika. As such, what happened was that the bonds switched owners – and much private debt was transformed into public debt; the winners being the private creditors, aka banks, and the losers being, the public.

For Greece to be eligible to the alleged ‘rescue packages’ it had to agree to implement structural adjustment programs, and within that enforce measures of austerity. In a less refined language, we would call that, forcibly living in dirt poor conditions to save up money, to pay of the pissed of creditor, otherwise he will hurt you. And these agreements were signed in 2010 and 2011 respectively, and in 2013, the Human Rights Council evaluated the conditions of Greece and how the adjustment programs had affected the people of Greece [1]. And then in 2015, we have a report submitted by the Truth Committee on Public Debt, a committee created by the Greece Hellenic Parliament with the purpose of investigating the debt of Greece [2]. Both these papers tell a similar story, that Greece is in the midst of a humanitarian crisis – and the reason – paying back debt. Does this make any sense?

It is no exaggeration to say that the situation in Greece has gotten completely out of hands, literally speaking, and that there has been substantial damages made to the economical and social fabric of the nation. Peoples access to housing, health, nutrition, education, freedom of expression and assembly, judicial services, and primarily WORK have diminished significantly. Greece’s GDP have lessened with 20%, and there is no bright future ahead, rather the GDP is expected to continue its downward spiral – because in trying to pay back the debt Greece have been forced to cut back on A LOT of public spending. 150 000 public sector jobs have been cut, pensions have been cut, wages have been cut, benefits have been cut, and as the economic freedom dwindles, so does the ability for the average Greece citizen to consume, which in turn affects the entrepreneurs negatively. In summary, Greece is going downhill, and with that, Greece’s ability to fulfill its international commitments on ensuring Human Rights for its citizens [3]. And here comes the interesting question: Can a contract, and more specifically a debt, be suspended or cancelled, because that very contract directly, or indirectly makes it impossible for the creditor to fulfill its obligations under international law to respect Human Rights?

According the International Law, Yes it is in-fact possible to suspend or cancel a debt with reference to Human Rights. The Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, Cephas Lumina, expressed himself this way:

It is increasingly accepted that non-State actors including international financial institutions, have obligations to ensure that their policies and activities respect international human rights standards. This obligation implies a duty to refrain from formulating, adopting, funding, promoting or implementing policies and programmes that directly or indirectly impede the enjoyment of Human Rights.

If you look at the point, it is common sense, that in order for Human Rights to be realized, commercial agreements must be subservient to Human Rights. If commercial agreements, and within that, debt contracts, are allowed to take precedence, then we will end up with situations as the one in Greece, where fundamental Human Rights are violated in the name of money. To have your debt repaid is obviously NOT a human right, and one can in-fact argue, that the creditor should always stand the risk that the debtor cannot or refuse to repay the loan, as that way, credit will not be awarded carelessly and without thorough research on the potential debtor.

Looking at Greece’s current creditors, the European Union, and the European Central Bank, we can conclude that both of these non-State actors are bound the European Charter of Fundamental Rights. And in the charter we find the Right to Work, the Right to Fair and Just Working Conditions, a Right to Health Care, which involves a high level of human health protection and that shall be pursued in all the Unions policies and activities – and as was mentioned previously – all of these rights have been severely compromised through the austerity measures imposed on Greece. Hence, it is possible to argue that the European Union and the European Central bank in-fact are obligated under EU-law to forgive the debt, or at least, stop all imposed measures of austerity.

The Human Rights are clear, however, as per usual, the fault is not with the legal instruments, but rather with those that interpret and apply them. We can write a ton of Human Rights Laws, that sound super cool on paper, yet if we do not make an effort to live by and realize these words, they are useless. Thus, for Human Rights to become a reality, they must be actively considered in all political decisions, and not just looked at as an ideal to hopefully be realized sometime in the future. In-fact, Human Rights should be the very foundational elements of our political system, the principles that determine each action and each decision – because we ALL know – that when Human Rights are compromised – People will Suffer.

And this brings me to the last point, our responsibility as ordinary citizens. Because it is interesting to notice that surveys done on Germans, as to whether Germany should forgive Greece’s debt, indicates that the general opinion is that there should be no forgiveness of the debt [4]. Many Germans, which are part of the nation that have the highest amount of outstanding debt to Greece, and thus stand to loose the most if Greece’s debt would be forgiven, feel that they have a right to their money – and that the austerity measures are just because Greece deserve it. However, what is not understood is that Human suffering can NEVER be justified on the basis of commercial principles, regardless of the amount of outstanding debt. The fact of the matter is that the moment we accept and allow ourselves to stand for what is apparently fair, and just, we disregard what is BEST for all – which might not be that which is just or fair. Look at it like this, the children born in today’s Greece, do they bear any guilt in the debt of Greece? Is it just and fair, and is it BEST, that they grow up in horrendous living conditions, only to repay a debt connected to money they have never benefited from?

Forgiveness is the way forward – forgiveness and honoring our Human Rights. That way we can create a world that is safe, were we all can feel secure in facing and waking up to a new tomorrow, as we know that regardless of what might happen, our basic needs are respected.

[1] Human Rights Council, Report of the Independent Export on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights, Cephas Lumina, 2014 (http://cadtm.org/IMG/pdf/A_HRC_25_50_Add1_AEV.pdf)

[2] Truth Committee on Public Debt, Preliminary report, 2015 (http://cadtm.org/IMG/pdf/Report.pdf)

[3] Politaki, Alex, The Guardian, Greece is facing a humanitarian crisis, 2013 (http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/feb/11/greece-humanitarian-crisis-eu)

[4] McHugh, Jess, International Business Times, Greek Crisis: Young Germans React With Solidarity, Anger to Greece Debt Problem, 2015 (http://www.ibtimes.com/greek-crisis-young-germans-react-solidarity-anger-greece-debt-problem-2001511)

What is really going on with the Refugees – and what is the SOLUTION?

People protesting against refugees being seen as the problemEuropa is now facing a big influx of refugees, not only from impoverished African nations, but also more prominently, from the war torn nation of Syria. In mainstream media, the conflict in Syria is portrayed as a struggle between the ‘good’ rebel faction ‘Free Syrian Army’ and the ‘bad’ regime troops with their leader Bashar al-Assad.

The mainstream media story is that Bashar al-Assad for a long time abused his people, that became angry, revolted, and that these rebels have a legitimate claim to the government. What is not shared however is how USA, France and Britain is supplying the rebel groups in Syria with both arms, and training. The other side, the governmental forces receive political and military support from Iran and Russia. Thus – this conflict is really a heaven for war profiteers – and at the end of the day – that is what it is all about.

We can fool ourselves into believing that the Syrian is a civil war fueled by political and ideological motives – but the truth is that the Syrian war exists due to geopolitical power struggles and because the military industrial complex continuously requires more war on this earth to profit. When we talk about the Syrian civil war it is not possible to look at it from a normal country vs. country, bad vs. good mindset – because this war is a product of the structural inefficiency of our current monetary system.

What do I mean with structural inefficiency? The fact that companies are allowed to exist and profit on the designing and manufacturing of weapons is a grave structural misalignment bound to create wars – and whether these are civil wars or bilateral, or multilateral conflicts, it does not really make a difference. Fact is that when weapons are created, the open up the opportunity for people to use force to get things their way. If we ban weapons on a global level – would there be wars as we know them today – and – would there be refugees, as we know them today?

War is one of the primary reasons people are forced to leave their homes, their possessions, their friends, and the life that they created for themselves – and to wage a war you NEED to have weapons. Without weapons it would not be possible to dislocate people on a large scale, or use force to drive entire nations into a state of chaos. Weapons is the one tool that makes it possible for people to commit atrocities on a industrial scale – and both the first- and second world war are perfect examples of how mass murder will be the result of weapons combined with a unstable human mind.

Hence, the solution to the world’s refugee crisis is to ban weapons. The act of selling and distributing weapons is in-fact a crime against the human rights – the right to life – because the design and creation of a weapon implies the intention of taking a human life by force – and that is unacceptable. There is not excuse that can validate weapon production – national security is not a reason – because obviously the safest national security measure would be to ban all weapons world wide through conventions and international agreements. Further, economic welfare is not a reason – because war does NOT produce economic growth. War increase debts, which in turn creates the illusion that the economy is growing – but the real economy which exists of the flesh and blood human beings and their daily living – is completely compromised.

War is hell – and war needs weapons to exist – and if we want to really make a significant impact in this world that will change things for the better – banning weapons on a global scale would be the decision to make. And even though there will be tremendous fear in people of seizing there arms production – it must be done and someone must begin the disarmament. One country must take the first steps, and dare to stand in this world and bring through a new way of doing things. All revolutions must begin somewhere, and at sometime – and if we want to have a world free from violence and refugees – we must take that stand of not accepting and allowing weapons to be manufactured and sold.

Investigate the Living Income Guaranteed for a solution on how to restructure our financial system to stop survival and fear from being the primary driving force in the human life experience. And investigate Democracy Against War Now – and join a movement that is set on producing a world free from violence where we as human beings can truly enjoy life – and let go of the constant uncertainty and worry that our current world situation provides for.