In an editorial about the Council of Europe’s report about alleged secret detentions in Europe, the Financial Times wrote on Thursday: “Europe’s foremost guardian of human rights yesterday painted a chilling picture of how more than a dozen European countries became part of a global “spider’s web” spun by the US to kidnap and transport outside the reach of the law suspects in the “war on terror”. Such lawless practices, including the outsourcing of torture of friendly despots, are spreading like a lethal virus.”
The current US administration reacted as usual, dismissing the report out of hand. John Bellinger, the senior legal adviser to Condoleezza Rice told the BBC that the report is based on “rumor, innuendo and inaccuracy” and that “the tone of the report reads more like a supermarket journal than a serious report on human rights.” (Makes you wonder where he does his shopping.)
The US administration’s rhetoric reminds me of the lessons from the Turkish school I visited in the afternoons during my childhood in Germany. The teacher would tell us that we (“the Turks”) are surrounded everywhere by enemies and that nobody really understands our ways. Then, our teacher would explain that we have to be prepared to defend ourselves against the enemies at our borders and that every Turk is a soldier.
The US administration needs a more realistic approach to foreign policy. The first and most important goal should not be to make enemies with Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and Bagram and “black sites” run by the CIA around the world.
It is a frustrating feeling when I look around the table at the meetings of the European Parliament’s temporary committee on alleged CIA activities in Europe. A high number of my colleagues, including myself, have been active participants in transatlantic dialogue for years — and we have lived, studied and worked in the US and have worked on transatlantic issues in our political careers. It can’t be said that our work is anti-American or against American interests.
The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung wrote this week that the strength of the US World Cup soccer team is its “uramerikanische Siegeszuversicht” — its primal American confidence in victory. It is refreshing to be reminded of this classic American trait in the context of soccer — where sportsmanship and fair play are respected as much as victory.
Cem Özdemir is a Member of the European Parliament from Germany for the Greens/European Free Alliance parliamentary group and Vice President of the Temporary Committee on the alleged use of European countries by the CIA for the transport and illegal detention of prisoners.