On December 31 we finally and thankfully bid farewell to 2011. Or did we? The year that witnessed Arab political unrest and proved that there was something fundamentally wrong with the region's political system seems to be the tip of the iceberg. Despite some revolutions’ success in toppling detested regimes, people are rising up against political powers all over the globe. Battles have been won here and there, but one thing is certain: dissatisfaction is no longer limited to the Arab world.
September's Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement is living proof. The American people are protesting the greed of the wealthy under the slogan “We Are the 99%”. The movement, which mainly calls for economic equality and a world more respectful of human rights, shows that the American government, the self-proclaimed beacon of democracy, is failing quite miserably. But the surprising part wasn’t the awakening from apathy in yet another nation, rather it was how this “democratic” government responded to its raging turmoil. The response was simple: utter unexplainable silence.
On the eve of the first day of 2012, President Barack Obama was more concerned with signing the $662 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) than addressing his people’s economic concerns. The NDAA centers around the defense of the US and its interests abroad, but controversially, it allows the military to detain anyone suspected of being a terrorist indefinitely, without charge or trial on US soil. The law isn’t any different than Egypt’s emergency law, which gave the ousted President Hosni Mubarak and members of his regime full authority to bully the country’s activists, journalists and anyone who spoke against the system.
With President Obama officially ending the war in Iraq, is the US president bringing the troops back home only to terrorize his own people? Why now, why was this bill signed only three months after the OWS movement gained traction?
Maybe I’m over-analyzing here or maybe I’m too skeptical, but talking to American friends participating in OWS, it’s a point worth considering, to say the least. Did we ever think that peaceful protesters would be pepper sprayed and detained in a supposedly leading democracy like the US?
The Washington Post wrote on December 31 that Obama initially had threatened to veto the bill, which has been enacted for the last 49 years. Then what happened? Peer pressure? Or was he just trying to get civil liberties and human rights groups off his back for a while because he had no intention of vetoing the bill?
The funny thing is, Obama, after willingly signing the bill, stated, “I have signed this bill despite having serious reservations with certain provisions that regulate the detention, interrogation and prosecution of suspected terrorists,” a statement that I found a bit strange coming from a president. How does a leader make a decision he has “serious reservations” to? Is this any way to rule a country?
The NDAA arguably poses a threat to America’s civil liberties and contradicts the core values of freedom its constitution stands for. But the decision has been taken and it doesn’t seem that Obama’s administration is giving any attention to people strongly opposing a law effectually legalizing tyranny — what the Arab Spring rose against. et