Revelations of UK covert propaganda operation to counter extremism reveals dangers of secretive state-sponsored 'civil society' initiatives. A healthy democracy depends on civil society groups staying independent of government and corporations, or otherwise open about their relationship.
United Nations human rights expert Ben Emmerson today urged governments across the world to ensure that the NGO sector be allowed to continue to play an indispensable role in co-ordinated efforts to counter the spread of terrorism.
Ben Hayes, Gavin Sullivan, Louise Boon-Kuo, Vicki Sentas
16 February 2015
For those interested in peace and the non-violent resolution of conflict the prognosis is not good. Not just because the war on terror keeps producing enemies with whom, it is said, there is no negotiating, but because the legal and political framework it has engendered has transformed the way in which political violence and armed conflict is understood and managed.
International counterterrorism guidelines are being used - and encouraging - authoritarian regimes to repress civil society worldwide. Countries with severe restrictions like Saudi Arabia receive stellar ratings under these guidelines, while much freer countries like Norway are considered non-compliant.
After the Vietnam War, the US repeated its pledge (the first time being after the Korean War) never to enter into a quagmire like that again. And yet it has. In Iraq and Afghanistan, the US has no clear enemy, no clear goals, no clear exit strategies and apparently no limit to the costs borne by citizens in the US and elsewhere. The current US “quagmires” will contribute to a global power shift away from the US, Gabriel Kolko argues.