Why The 'War On Terror' Is The Perfect Excuse For A Tyrant

The welfare of the people in particular has always been the alibi of tyrants.

- Albert Camus

The war on terror was launched over a decade ago, and since then there have been trillions of dollars spent and many lives have been lost (mostly innocent). Regardless of the resources that have been contributed to this endeavor, whether real or manufactured, terror seems today more prevalent than ever. One unfortunate symptom of the war on terror has been that personal liberties of millions of citizens around the world have been seemingly eroded, as their overzealous leaders perpetually introduce and approve legislation that threatens to erode the rule of law for the citizenry. 


The United States passed its Patriot Act, Canada passed its own Anti-Terrorism Act, and many other countries have followed suit with their own anti-terrorism legislation. While the intentions behind these acts may be innocent and naive, in that they are established to offer some increased level of security and to enhance the efficiency of defensive operations, what we see instead is that they offer violations to the liberty of citizens. With the Canadian Anti-Terrorism Act for example, many legal and security experts in the country insisted that this legislation wasn't necessary, they asserted that the authorities within the nation already had the resources and tools available that would allow them to do their job effectively. Not only that, but citizens overwhelmingly took to the streets across the country to also voice their concerns in demonstrating that they wanted to reject fear, rather than sacrifice their liberty because of some elusive potential terror threat. Legal scholars warned authorities and citizens that this legislation would erode the practice of due process within the country, among other worries and concerns. Canadian representatives decided to push through the legislation anyways, in the face of overwhelming scrutiny from the public; along with a variety of reputable private and academic institutions. 


Has all of the effort been worth it? If this war was launched over a decade ago and we have already invested so much into it, and yet still we are still supposed to live in fear and sacrifice our personal liberty, and the threat is apparently worse than ever, then has it been worth it? Could they ever truly achieve their goal of effectively and permanently eradicating a tactic (terrorism)? According to world leaders themselves, even they don't believe it can be achieved. President Obama himself admitted back in 2013, that the United States should not perpetuate a “boundless Global war on terror,” and that instead their efforts should be placed on targeting “specific networks of violent extremists that threaten America.” 


It has long been the case that the citizens will willingly suspend the rules of democracy and sacrifice their rights, when they are facing and living in fear of some threat to their lives. Many believe that they will be afforded more protection by suspending their rights, but most often it turns out to be quite the opposite. Many innocent citizens have their rights violated on a massive scale, all because of this never-ending excuse of “terrorism.” 


This doesn't mean that there aren't really violent people in the world; there surely are. And authorities should be using their resources to find these people and criminalize them when they commit violent actions against others or their property. But do we have to violate the rights of millions of innocent people in the process? There are legal scholars who would argue that we do not, and they would insist (and have) that the common practice of investigation according to due process, is still sufficient enough for authorities to find and punish any wrongdoers. 


Despite many legal experts, well versed on human rights and civil liberties, staunchly warning against these overbearing pieces of legislation, we still see elected representatives try to sell us on the idea of these laws and the belief that we need them because of a very fearful threat. Statistically, we don't need to live in fear of terrorism, and therefore the threat itself isn't justification to suspend our rights, is it? The Constitutionally guaranteed 4th amendment right, which is also set-out in section 8 of the Canadian Charter) declares that citizens are to be secure in one’s person against unreasonable searches and seizures. This should ensure then that the people are protected against phishing expeditions by the government, should it not? When it comes to the war on terror, officials themselves have admitted that they don't see any end in sight. It goes then that we can expect to see this excuse come up again in the future, along with some potential violations to our rights; as we have seen already in the past.

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