Gillian Caldwell is the Executive Director of WITNESS, an international human rights organization that provides training and support to local groups to use video in their human rights advocacy capaigns.[…]
Not following up on good will.
Well you know again, I think on September 11, 2001, we had a lot of good will internationally. You know a lot of people who really understood the enormity of that tragedy, and who were prepared to stand by us, and stand with us, and do what they could to support . . . you know to support us as a country and the people of New York City who were so devastated by that event. I myself was literally underneath the World Trade Centers in the first plane hit. So you know, it hit close to home for me as well. But the reality is that we did not take that opportunity – and I do see it as an opportunity – to ask ourselves why there were other people around the world cheering. And that was a golden opportunity because the reality is that what will ultimately win the so-called war on terror is our foreign policy and our diplomacy. What will ultimately stop breeding so called terrorists is an economic policy and a foreign policy which invests in communities, which diminishes the gap between rich and poor, which gives people possibility, and opportunity, and access. And you know the approach that we have taken which is, first of all, so clearly in violation of any international human rights standards; and second of all so clearly, extremely detrimental to our national security is just absolutely unfathomable to me. I do not understand . . . I do not understand how this . . . the Republican administration has managed to make it a winning issue in an electoral cycle when it seems so patently obvious to me and to many people analyzing the issue that we’ve never been at greater risk than we are as a result of the activities that our government has been pursuing in the wake of the September 11th bombings and the war on terror. So I mean it’s no secret that we’ve lost enormous amounts of respect all over the world. We were previously seen – at least by some countries, and understandably not always by others – as a beacon for rights and responsibility, and as a land of opportunity and freedom. And while that . . . even that history is complex when you look at our activities, for example, in Latin America during the dirty wars and so forth. Whatever credibility we did have, whatever currency we did have is now absolutely expended.
Recorded on: 8/13/07