Neo-Colonialism and Afghan Detainees

In Imagine Democracy (Stoddart, 2000), Judy Rebick argued that the West could be learning from the various societies in the developing world. “Instead we have brutally imposed our ideas about how society should work on them.”

The West’s supposed commitment to individual rights and our boasts about democracy are said to be little more than a cloak for our true objective, which is to maintain control of the economy in former colonies. We are “neo-colonists.” In Transforming Power (Penguin, 2009), Rebick takes a further step. What we in the West should be learning from the developing world are “new ways of achieving political goals by emphasizing co-operation and consensus.”

I don’t know what Rebick herself is saying about the Afghan detainees. But not a few of her colleagues on the political left are now demanding stricter adherence to Western laws and values. It is said that Afghans suspected of crimes or acts of terror, and Afghans held in prisons, are entitled to the guarantees for life, liberty and security of the person entrenched in the British common law, the American Bill of Rights, and the Canadian Charter.

Few are recommending “co-operation and consensus.” The Canadian Army cooperated with Afghan nationals. There was a consensus. The wisdom of cooperation and consensus is what is being called in question.


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