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A world without habeas corpus

By Nancy Salvato
web posted June 18, 2007

"Sure, we want to go home. We want this war over with. The quickest way to get it over with is to go get the bastards who started it. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we can go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler. Just like I'd shoot a snake!" -- General George S. Patton addressing to his troops before Operation Overlord on 5th June 1944

I woke from a very disturbing dream the other night. Five women and I were involved in some business undertaking in the Middle East. Heading toward a building where we were to be meeting, the two women I had been following took a wrong turn and we ended up at a beach with high rises behind us. Many people were sunbathing and swimming. I was in business attire so I could not enjoy the beach but I remember thinking how clean and clear the water looked. The scene was very inviting.

Suddenly there was a disturbance in the water, and a soldier patrolling the beach walked over to us. This man had been collecting pink papers off the tables lining the beach, each with names on them, when it occurred to me that these papers held the names of anyone who was at the beach at that moment. As he picked up a paper, he turned to me. My heart pounding rapidly, I read the name and said it was not me but the woman standing near me. Very gruffly, he told her to come with him. She was being arrested for complicity in the disturbance because someone had to be blamed for what appeared to be a shark attack. Worried about what would happen next, I woke up, thinking about writ of habeas corpus and due process. These are rights of which many people living under extremist regimes do not have access. These are rights that people in our country take for granted, rights which would never allow the above situation to occur.

When questioned about why our soldiers are in Iraq, many people express concern about whether Hussein was indeed a threat to the United States, not giving consideration to the human rights abuses gone unchecked during his reign of terror. Aside from any threat his regime held for our country is a much bigger injustice, disregarding the sovereignty of a people and holding it in check by fear, as said in President Bush in his speech before the United Nations. Listening to those in our country who declare it unnecessary for us to be in Iraq, I have to question if they grasp what our Founders did for us all those years ago when they fought for our freedom from England and then created a constitutional government by the people, for the people. The basic rights to which we've been afforded all of our lives have made many in this country impervious to the possibility that they could be lost. That these rights do not necessarily extend anywhere in the world is not fully understood. When human rights abuses occur half way around the world, they are too far away to seem real or to fully comprehend.

The world over, the US is known for its wealth and decadence when the reality is that our greatest wealth is the system of government under which we've been living for over 200 years. The reason there is an abundance of food, medicine, and all of the conveniences to which we've grown accustomed is due to our people having the freedom to learn, invent, and create without fear that their property (intellectual or otherwise) will be taken from them. Of those who emigrate because they have not been allowed such consideration, many choose our country as their destination. In 2006, a total of 1,266,264 persons became LPRs of the United States (US Legal Permanent Residents). On the other hand, those leaving the US add up to about 48,000 U.S. native born emigrants per year (Estimation of the Annual Emigration of U.S. Born Persons). If we're so awful and decadent, why is it that so many people want to live here?

As a teacher, I was a huge fan of using historical fiction to teach reading and history. There are many historical fiction books in which a character lives in a different country or in a different period of history. Imagine being Jewish and waking up in Germany during Kristallknacht. In The Breadwinner, Parvana, a pre-teen girl living in Afghanistan when the Taliban comes into power watches her father taken away and must pretend to be a boy in order to feed her family. I believe that for a large percentage of people, it's easier to first identify with a fictional character and the problems faced during a real period of history, before that person can begin to understand the reality of what people in other countries truly face as reported by the media. Too often, what is portrayed in the media doesn't sink in. This is because there is no connection to what is portrayed; it seems as unreal as the sitcom that comes on after the news report. This is why movies such as Black Hawk Down, Amistad, The Last King of Scotland, and documentaries such as Black September and Obsession are so important to helping us understand the world around us. They allow us to make a connection to those affected and to take an interest and become involved in their plight.

Countless countries could benefit from the presence of US soldiers. Unfortunately, there are not enough of them to go around. As a child, I was introduced to military strategy and armies playing RISK with my brother. First, offensive armies and defensive armies are very different animals. Next, having friendly armies in bordering countries is a major deterrent from advancing armies. Currently, besides US soldiers stationed in Iraq and the lone country of Israel, there isn't much from preventing the Middle East from being overrun by the Taliban or other extremist groups which have access to nuclear weapons and are willing to use them. We should not be considering an exit strategy. We should be bringing in reinforcements and maintaining a presence the same way we did in Europe throughout the Cold War. We should be creating friendly armies in bordering countries to help deter invading armies.

Reading directions and actually putting something together makes the difference in truly understanding how something works. There is a stark difference between listening to sound bites delivered by the mainstream media and establishing a connection to real people who have lived under tyranny. This understanding allows us to comprehend historical implications for what faces our society. Sure, playing a military strategy game isn't the same as facing battle, but it has given me a better understanding about how to deter aggression.

"We should seek by all means in our power to avoid war, by analysing possible causes, by trying to remove them, by discussion in a spirit of collaboration and good will. I cannot believe that such a programme would be rejected by the people of this country, even if it does mean the establishment of personal contact with the dictators." -- Neville Chamberlain, British Prime Minister

Through their actions and their statements, it is apparent that Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid are the Neville Chamberlains of our time.

"Over 425,000 Allied and German troops were killed, wounded or went missing during the Battle of Normandy. This figure includes over 209,000 Allied casualties, with nearly 37,000 dead amongst the ground forces and a further 16,714 deaths amongst the Allied air forces." (D Day and the Battle of Normandy) Imagine all the lives that would have been saved had we not committed to negotiating appeasement with fascists who were disingenuous in their negotiations.

Maintaining a military presence is the only way to deter invading armies. If we cut and run, allowing countries like Iran to influence the success or failure of the new Iraqi government or the destruction of Israel as predicted by Ahmadinejad, and I quote, the "Zionist regime should be wiped off the map," it is only a matter of time before we face an invasion on our own soil and the freedom that we take for granted and the degree of comfort we have grown accustomed may disappear for hundreds of years before we achieve the same level of prosperity and freedom ever again. ESR

Nancy Salvato is the President of The Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan 501 (C) (3) research and educational project whose mission is to promote the education of the American public on the basic elements of relevant political, legal and social issues important to our country. She is also a Staff Writer, for the New Media Alliance, Inc., a non-profit (501c3) coalition of writers and grass-roots media outlets, where she contributes on matters of education policy. Copyright © Nancy Salvato 2007


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