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View Full Version : কিছু কথা, যা আগে বলা হয়নি ---এডওয়ার্ড স্নোডেন



power
01-15-2016, 10:32 PM
কিছু কথা, যা আগে বলা হয়নি
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এটা ছিল না কোনো আনুষ্ঠানিক সাক্ষাত্কার, ছিল না চক্রান্তসদৃশ কোনো গোপন বৈঠক। (আমার কাছে এই সাক্ষাত্কার ইউএন সামিটের চেয়ে কোনো অংশে কম নয়)। কেননা এই সাক্ষাত্কারের ফলাফল ছিল জন কুসাক, ড্যানিয়েল এলসবার্গ এবং এডওয়ার্ড স্নোডেনকে একসঙ্গে পাওয়া। না, স্নোডেনের সঙ্গে দেখা করার জন্য আমাকে বাড়তি কোনো সতর্কতা বা কূটনৈতিক নিয়ম-কানুনের মধ্য দিয়ে যেতে হয়নি।

যেটা ফলাফল নয় সেটা হলো, সেই কক্ষ নম্বর ১০০১-এর আনন্দঘন হাস্যরসাত্মক উষ্ণ মেজাজের পরিবেশটা আর কখনোই পুনরায় সৃষ্টি করতে না পারা। যদিও এটা দাবি করে, তবুও আসলে এটা লিখে নিখুঁতভাবে কখনোই প্রকাশ করা যাবে না। কারণ একবার যা ঘটে যায়, তা আবার ঘটানো যায় না। এই পৃথিবীটা যেন একটি সহস্রপদ কেন্নো বিছের মতোই, যার প্রতিটি অংশে প্রতিটি মুহূর্তে কতই না সত্যিকারের কথোপকথন, আলাপন হচ্ছে এবং অবশ্যই এই কথোপকথন সেই সত্যিগুলোর একটি।

সেই কক্ষে আমাদের আলাপের বিষয়বস্তুর চেয়ে সম্ভবত বেশি গুরুত্বপূর্ণ ছিল ওই কক্ষে অবস্থানরত মানুষগুলোর উদ্দীপনা। সেখানে ছিল এডওয়ার্ড স্নোডেন! ৯/১১, বুশ, ইরাকযুদ্ধ আর স্নোডেনের ভূমিকা, এর পক্ষে-বিপক্ষে থাকা—এসব নিয়ে এই কথোপকথনের জন্য সময়টা একটু দেরিতেই হলো অবশ্য। কিন্তু তার পরেও ইরাক, যার সব কিছুই ধ্বংসপ্রাপ্ত হয়েছে। আর ‘মধ্যপ্রাচ্য’! যাকে এখনো আমরা প্রসন্নচিত্তে ‘মধ্যপ্রাচ্যই’ বলি, তার মানচিত্র আঁকা হয়েছে নতুন করে এবং এখনো হচ্ছে। আমরা একে অন্যের সঙ্গে আলাপ করছিলাম রাশিয়ার এক উদ্ভট হোটেলে। অবশ্যই এটা উদ্ভট ছিল।

আমরা নানা রকম পারচ, চেয়ার, টুল আর জনের (জন কুসাকের রুম) বিছানা ব্যবহার করছিলাম বসার জন্য। ড্যান আর এড খুবই খুশি ছিল একে অপরের সাহচর্য পেয়ে। একে অন্যকে বলার জন্য অনেক কথা জমা ছিল তাদের কাছে। নিজেকে খানিকটা অভব্য মনে হচ্ছিল তাদের মধ্যে অনধিকার প্রবেশে। এই মানুষ দুজন, যারা একসময় ভীষণ গোপনীয় কোড ল্যাংগুয়েজ ভাঙতে পেরেছিল। কে না জানে, সিআইএ আর এনএসএতে নিরাপত্তাজনিত কিসব কিম্ভূতকিমাকার কোড ব্যবহার করা হয়!

ড্যান ও এড মার্কিন নাগরিক হিসেবে পেন্টাগনে ও জাতীয় নিরাপত্তা এজেন্সিতে কাজ করার স্মৃতিচারণা করছিল। কিভাবে তারা প্রভাবিত হয়েছে মার্কিন ভুল নীতির বিপক্ষে। বিবেকের দংশনে তাদের গোপন নথি প্রকাশ করা এবং কিভাবেই বা তাদের জীবন পাল্টে গেল ইত্যাদি।

ড্যান একটু সময় নিয়ে বলতে শুরু করল—‘এটি সত্যি দুঃখের বিষয়, একজন আমেরিকান ও শিক্ষিত সচেতন মানুষ হিসেবে পেন্টাগন ও জাতীয় নিরাপত্তা এজেন্সিতে কাজ করেও আমেরিকার সিদ্ধান্তের বিরোধিতা করা।’ ওদের দুজনের বক্তব্য প্রায়ই মিলে যায় মানবিকতা ও বিবেকের প্রশ্নে। হঠাৎ করেই তাঁদের মধ্যে এসব বিষয়ে বোধোদয় হয়েছে তা কিন্তু না। এটি শুরু হয়েছে সেই সময় থেকেই, ড্যানিয়েল যখন যুক্তরাষ্ট্রকে সমাজতন্ত্র থেকে মুক্ত করার মিশনে লিপ্ত ছিল। আর স্নোডেনের ক্ষেত্রে হয়েছে মুসলিম সন্ত্রাসবাদ থেকে আমেরিকাকে রক্ষা করার কাজে যোগদানের সময় থেকে।

এডের কাছে জানতে চেয়েছিলাম, ওয়াশিংটনের অন্য রাষ্ট্র ধ্বংস করার ক্ষমতা আর যুদ্ধ জয়ের অক্ষমতা সম্পর্কে। ‘প্রশ্নটা হয়তো একটু রূঢ় হয়েই গেল’, সে সময় এমনই মনে হচ্ছিল আমার, ‘মার্কিনরা শেষ কবে যুদ্ধে জয়লাভ করেছে’? আরো জানতে চেয়েছিলাম, ইরাকের ওপর অর্থনৈতিক নিষেধাজ্ঞা ও গণহত্যার বিষয়ে। কিভাবে সিআইএ জেনেছিল যে ‘বিশ্বে একটি রাষ্ট্র অন্য রাষ্ট্রের সঙ্গে শুধু যুদ্ধই করবে না, বরং রাষ্ট্রের ভেতরেও যুদ্ধ করতে হবে, যার জন্য গণনজরদারি প্রয়োজন। আর প্রশিক্ষিত ও দক্ষ হওয়া সত্ত্বেও একটি দেশের সেনাবাহিনী প্রশাসক হিসেবে পুলিশ বাহিনীর বিকল্প ভূমিকা পালন করে ইত্যাদি সম্পর্কে। স্নোডেন তার উত্তর শুরু করল একটি রাষ্ট্রের নাগরিকদের ওপর গোয়েন্দা নজরদারির বিষয় থেকে। ‘আমরা যদি কিছু না করেও, একটি সম্পূর্ণ নজরদারির রাষ্ট্রের মধ্যে বাস করি, যেখানে রাষ্ট্রটির মানুষের ওপর শক্তি প্রয়োগ ও সব কিছু জানার অতিমাত্রায় ক্ষমতা হাতে থাকে—তাহলে বিষয়টি হবে ভয়াবহ। এটি হলো অন্ধকার ভবিষ্যৎ। এখানে সত্য হলো, একদল লোক আমাদের সব কিছুর খবর রাখবে অথচ তাদের সম্পর্কে আমরা কিছুই জানব না। এর কারণ তারা গোপনীয় ও সুবিধাভোগী, তারা একটি আলাদা শ্রেণি... অনেকটা সমাজের ধনিক শ্রেণি ও রাজনীতিবিদদের মতো উঁচু স্তরের সম্পদশালী—তারা কোথায় থাকে, কী করে, তাদের বন্ধু কারা কিছুই আমরা জানি না। অথচ আমাদের সম্পর্কে সব কিছু জানার সক্ষমতা রয়েছে তাদের। আর এটিই হলো ভবিষ্যতের নির্দেশনা; কিন্তু আমি মনে করি, এ থেকে পরিবর্তনের সম্ভাবনা রয়েছে।’

আমি আশ্চর্য হয়েছি, যদিও স্নোডেনকে জিজ্ঞাসা করিনি—যদি তিনি সাদা না হয়ে কালোদের একজন হতেন, তাহলে তাঁর ভাগ্যে কী ঘটত?

অন্যদিকে ড্যান বলছিল ৯/১১-এর পরের অবস্থা নিয়ে। ‘আসলে ৯/১১-এর পর দৃশ্যপটের ব্যাপক পরিবর্তন হয়েছে। আমেরিকা হয়তো এখনো পুরোপুরি পুলিশি রাষ্ট্রে পরিণত হয়নি। তবে আরেকটি নাইন ইলেভেন হলে নিশ্চিত পুলিশি রাষ্ট্রে পরিণত হবে। এখনকার সাদা মানুষরা হয়তো পুলিশি রাষ্ট্রে বাস করছে না, কিন্তু যারা কালো, মিশ্র, মধ্য-পূর্ব ভাগের মানুষ, তারা কিন্তু ঠিকই এর মধ্য দিয়ে যাচ্ছে। তিনি ভবিষ্যতের দিকে ইঙ্গিত দিয়ে বলেন, পরবর্তী সময় নাইন ইলেভেনের মতো কোনো দুর্ঘটনা হলে তার ফলাফল ভয়াবহ হবে। দ্বিতীয় বিশ্বযুদ্ধের মতোই তখন শত শত ও হাজার ডিটেনশন ক্যাম্প হবে, অজস্র মানুষ গ্রেপ্তার হবে, মুসলিমদের ধরে ধরে ক্যাম্পে ঢোকানো হবে। আর এটি করা হবে কিন্তু বর্তমানে জনগণের ওপর নজরদারি থেকে প্রাপ্ত তথ্যের ওপর ভিত্তি করেই। তারা জানে কাকে দূরে রাখতে হবে—কারণ তথ্য তাদের হাতেই আছে।’

প্রসঙ্গক্রমে আমাদের কথা হয়েছে—যুদ্ধ, লোভ, সন্ত্রাসবাদ, রাষ্ট্র, দেশপ্রেম, পতাকা, জনমত, নৈতিকতা, উদ্বাস্তু সমস্যা ইত্যাদি নিয়ে। স্নোডেনের ভাগ্যে কী আছে? সে কি কখনো আমেরিকায় ফিরতে পারবে? তার সম্ভাবনা খুবই ক্ষীণ। আমেরিকান সরকার, রাজনৈতিক দল ও প্রতিষ্ঠানগুলো তাদের নিরাপত্তা প্রতিষ্ঠার ক্ষেত্রে অপূরণীয় ক্ষতি করার জন্য যেকোনো মূল্যে স্নোডেনকে শাস্তি দিতে চায়। তারা তাকে জেলহাজতে নিতে বা হত্যা করতে না পারলেও সে যেন আরো বেশি তথ্য দিতে না পারে বা যতটুকু ক্ষতি করেছে তা পূরণ করা যায়, তার জন্য আমেরিকা কোনো চেষ্টাই বাদ রাখবে না।

পশ্চিমা মিডিয়ায় আমেরিকাকে ভালোবাসার প্রতীক হিসেবে জননিরাপত্তা বনাম গণনজরদারি নিয়ে বিতর্ক এখনো চলছে। এটি কি নৈতিক বা অনৈতিক? এটি ভুল না শুদ্ধ, তথ্য ফাঁসকারীরা দেশপ্রেমিক না দেশদ্রোহী? নৈতিকতার এ সংকীর্ণতা মাপার জন্য অন্য দেশ, সংস্কৃতি আবির্ভূত হচ্ছে—এমনকি তারা মার্কিন আগ্রাসনের শিকার হয়েও।

অদ্ভুতভাবে হলেও, আমি যখন মস্কোর রিত্জ কার্লটনে আমাদের সেই আলাপচারিতার কথা চিন্তা করি, আমার মনে ড্যানিয়েল এলসবার্গের ছবিটিই প্রথম ভেসে ওঠে। আমাদের মধ্যে যে কয় ঘণ্টা আলাপ হয়েছে, সে কয় ঘণ্টা ড্যান বিছানায় চিৎ হয়েই শুয়ে ছিল। খ্রিস্টের মতো তার দুটি হাত দুদিকে প্রসারিত ছিল। আনমনে বলছিল আমেরিকার পরিবর্তনের কথা, ‘শ্রেষ্ঠ মানুষদের’ হয় অবশ্যই জেলে যেতে হবে, নয় নির্বাসনে যাও। তার অশ্রু আমাকে ভীষণভাবে নাড়া দিচ্ছিল। এই অশ্রু সেই মানুষের, যার জীবন এখন সায়াহ্নে। যে একদা প্রথম শ্রেণির নাগরিক হিসেবে বিবেচিত হতো সেসব মানুষের সঙ্গে, যাদের হাতে নিয়ন্ত্রণ ক্ষমতা ছিল। যে ঠাণ্ডা মাথায় পৃথিবীর জীবন প্রধ্বংসী সব পরিকল্পনা করত, ধারণা দিত। সে-ই সব কিছুর ঝুঁকি নিয়ে শেষ পর্যন্ত মানুষের জন্যই তথ্য ফাঁস করল। ড্যানের কাছে তার বিরুদ্ধে আসা সব যুক্তির বিপরীতে পাল্টা যুক্তিও ছিল। সে আমেরিকার ইতিহাস ও পররাষ্ট্রনীতি সম্পর্কে বর্ণনা করতে গিয়ে প্রায়ই ‘সাম্রাজ্যবাদ’ শব্দটি বেছে নিচ্ছিল। পেন্টাগন পেপার জনসম্মুখে নিয়ে আসার ৪০ বছর পরও, সে সময়কার বিশেষ বিশেষ অনেক ব্যক্তিরই মৃত্যু ঘটেছে, কিন্তু তার জীবনযন্ত্র এখনো সচল রয়েছে, এটা সে উপলব্ধি করে। ড্যানিয়েল ও স্নোডেনের মতো সাহসী মানুষ আছে বলেই এখনো মানুষের মঙ্গল হয়। কি অপরাধ তারা করেছে? কেন তারা রাষ্ট্রদ্রোহী? তারা নিজের দেশের ও পৃথিবীর লোকদের কল্যাণের জন্য আত্মত্যাগ করেছে বলে?

ড্যানিয়েলের কান্না আমাকে ভাবিয়েছিল, আমাদের ভালোবাসা, পরাজয়, স্বপ্ন ও সবচেয়ে বেশি আমাদের ব্যর্থতা নিয়ে। দেশের জন্য আমাদের ভালোবাসাটা আসলে কী ধরনের ভালোবাসা? কেমন দেশের স্বপ্ন আমরা সব সময় দেখে এসেছি? কী রকমের স্বপ্ন আমরা দেখেছিলাম যে স্বপ্ন ভেঙে গেছে? সর্বোত্তম মহৎ জাতিটির মানবিকতার সক্ষমতা কি ঠিক ততখানি, যতখানি সক্ষমতা তার নিষ্ঠুরতা আর গণহত্যার? একটি দেশের সফলতার উচ্চতা কি এটাই নির্দেশ করে না যে ঠিক ততটুকুই তার নৈতিকতার পতনের গভীরতা? এবং কি আমাদের ব্যর্থতা? লেখক, শিল্পী, মৌলবাদী, বিশ্ব নাগরিক, বাউন্ডুলে, অসন্তুষ্ট বিদ্রোহীরা আমাদের স্বপ্ন আমাদের কল্পনা ব্যর্থতা কি? আমাদের ব্যর্থতায় কী ছিল যে শুধু দেশ ও পতাকার ধারণার সঙ্গে ভালোবাসার মতো নিষ্পাপ ধারণাকে এক করতে পারিনি? সব কিছু দেখেশুনে মনে হচ্ছে, মানুষ যুদ্ধ ছাড়া টিকে থাকতে অক্ষম, আবার তারাই ভালোবাসা ছাড়াও বেঁচে থাকতে অক্ষম? সুতরাং প্রশ্ন হচ্ছে—‘কী আমাদের ভালোবাসা উচিত?’

এই লেখাটি যখন লিখছি, তখন হাজার হাজার রিফিউজি ইউরোপজুড়ে বন্যার মতো প্লাবিত হচ্ছে। যার জন্য দায়ী দশকেরও বেশি সময় ধরে চলে আসা মধ্যপ্রাচ্য, আমেরিকা ও ইউরোপের বিদেশনীতি। তাহলে স্নোডেনও কি রিফিউজি, হ্যাঁ, অবশ্যই তিনি একজন রিফিউজি। কারণ তিনি যা করেছেন তার জন্য মাতৃভূমিতে ফিরতে পারছেন না। বর্তমানে যুদ্ধবিধ্বস্ত দেশগুলো আফগানিস্তান, ইরাক ও সিরিয়া থেকে লাখো কোটি মানুষ তার মাতৃভূমি ছাড়তে বাধ্য হয়েছে। জীবনযাত্রা পরিবর্তনের এক অবর্ণনীয় কষ্টের মধ্যে দিন কাটাচ্ছে। আরেকজন রিফিউজির কথা মনে পড়ে যাচ্ছে, জানামতে বর্তমান পৃথিবীর সবচেয়ে বড় রিফিউজি! জুলিয়ান অ্যাসেঞ্জ! যে চতুর্থ বছরের মতো লন্ডনের ইকুয়েডরিয়ান এমবাসিতে পলাতক অতিথি হিসেবে জীবন যাপন করছে। এখন পর্যন্ত যার দরজার ঠিক সামনে ছোট্ট লবিতে অস্ত্র হাতে পুলিশ মোতায়েন করা আছে, ছাদে আছে স্নাইপার। তাকে গ্রেপ্তারি পরোয়ানা নিয়ে, তাকে গুলি করার অর্ডার নিয়ে। টেনেহিঁচড়ে তাকে বের করে নিয়ে আসা হবে, যদি সে পায়ের বুড়ো আঙুলটাও বাইরে বের করে। হ্যাঁ, এটাই আমাদের আন্তর্জাতিক সীমান্তের প্রচলিত বৈধ আইন!

নিজের দেশ থাকা সত্ত্বেও বিশ্বের কাছে এই মানুষগুলোর পরিচয় হয়েছে ‘রিফিউজি’ হিসেবে। এটি আমাদের জন্য লজ্জার।

http://www.kalerkantho.com/print-edition/doshdik/2016/01/15/313371

power
01-15-2016, 10:34 PM
The Moscow Un-Summit wasn’t a formal interview. Nor was it a cloak-and-dagger underground rendezvous. The upshot is that John Cusack, Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war) and I didn’t get the cautious, diplomatic, regulation Edward Snowden. The downshot (that isn’t a word, I know) is that the jokes, the humour and repartee that took place in Room 1001 cannot be reproduced. The Un-Summit cannot be written about in the detail that it deserves. Yet it definitely cannot not be written about. Because it did happen. And because the world is a millipede that inches forward on millions of real conversations. And this, certainly, was a real one.

What mattered, perhaps even more than what was said, was the spirit in the room. There was Edward Snowden who, after 9/11, was in his own words “straight up singing highly of Bush” and signing up for the Iraq war. And there were those of us who, after 9/11, had been straight up doing exactly the opposite. It was a little late for this conversation, of course. Iraq has been all but destroyed. And now the map of what is so condescendingly called the “Middle East” is being brutally redrawn (yet again). But still, there we were, all of us, talking to each other in a bizarre hotel in Russia. Bizarre it certainly was.


We settled down on various perches, stools, chairs and John’s bed. Dan and Ed were so pleased to meet each other, and had so much to say to each other, that it felt a little impolite to intrude on them. At times they broke into some kind of arcane code language: “I jumped from nobody on the street, straight to TSSCI.” “No, because, again, this isn’t DS at all, this is NSA. At CIA, it’s called COMO.” “It’s kind of a similar role, but is it under support?” “PRISEC or PRIVAC?” “They start out with the TALENT KEYHOLE thing. Everyone then gets read into TS, SI, TK, and GAMMA-G clearance... Nobody knows what it is…”

We spoke about whether the economic sanctions and subsequent invasion of Iraq could be accurately called genocide

It took a while before I felt it was all right to interrupt them. Snowden’s disarming answer to my question about being photographed cradling the American flag was to roll his eyes and say: “Oh, man. I don’t know. Somebody handed me a flag, they took a picture.” And when I asked him why he signed up for the Iraq war, when millions of people all over the world were marching against it, he replied, equally disarmingly: “I fell for the propaganda.”

Dan talked at some length about how it would be unusual for US citizens who joined the Pentagon and the National Security Agency to have read much literature on US exceptionalism and its history of warfare. (And once they joined, it was unlikely to be a subject that interested them.) He and Ed had watched it play out live, in real time, and were horrified enough to stake their lives and their freedom when they decided to be whistleblowers. What the two of them clearly had in common was a strong, almost corporeal sense of moral righteousness – of right and wrong.

A sense of righteousness that was obviously at work not just when they decided to blow the whistle on what they thought to be morally unacceptable, but also when they signed up for their jobs – Dan to save his country from communism, Ed to save it from Islamist terrorism. What they did when they grew disillusioned was so electrifying, so dramatic, that they have come to be identified by that single act of moral courage.

I asked Ed Snowden what he thought about Washington’s ability to destroy countries and its inability to win a war (despite mass surveillance). I think the question was phrased quite rudely – something like, “When was the last time the United States won a war?” We spoke about whether the economic sanctions and subsequent invasion of Iraq could be accurately called genocide. We talked about how the CIA knew – and was preparing for the fact – that the world was heading to a place of not just inter-country war but of intra-country war, in which mass surveillance would be necessary to control populations. And about how armies were being turned into police forces to administer countries they have invaded and occupied, while the police – even in places such as India and Pakistan and Ferguson, Missouri, in the United States – were being trained to behave like armies to quell internal insurrections.

Ed spoke at some length about surveillance. And here I quote him, because he’s said this often before: “If we do nothing, we sort of sleepwalk into a total surveillance state where we have both a super-state that has unlimited capacity to apply force with an unlimited ability to know (about the people it is targeting) – and that’s a very dangerous combination. That’s the dark future. The fact that they know everything about us and we know nothing about them – because they are secret, they are privileged, and they are a separate class… the elite class, the political class, the resource class – we don’t know where they live, we don’t know what they do, we don’t know who their friends are. They have the ability to know all that about us. This is the direction of the future, but I think there are changing possibilities in this.”

I wondered, though I did not ask – how different would things have been if Edward Snowden had not been white?

I asked Ed whether the NSA was just feigning annoyance at his revelations, but might actually be secretly pleased at being known as the All Seeing, All Knowing Agency – because that would help to keep people fearful, off-balance, always looking over their shoulders and easy to manage. Dan spoke about how even in the US, a police state was only another 9/11 away: “We are not in a police state now, not yet. I’m talking about what may come. I realise I shouldn’t put it that way… White, middle-class, educated people like myself are not living in a police state… Black, poor people are living in a police state. The repression starts with the semi-white, the Middle Easterners, including anybody who is allied with them, and goes on from there… One more 9/11, and then I believe we will have hundreds of thousands of detentions. Middle Easterners and Muslims will be put in detention camps or deported. After 9/11, we had thousands of people arrested without charges… But I’m talking about the future. I’m talking the level of the Japanese in the second world war… I’m talking of hundreds of thousands in camps or deported. I think the surveillance is very relevant to that. They will know who to put away – the data is already collected.” (When he said this, I did wonder, though I did not ask – how different would things have been if Snowden had not been white?)

We talked about war and greed, about terrorism, and what an accurate definition of it would be. We spoke about countries, flags and the meaning of patriotism. We talked about public opinion and the concept of public morality and how fickle it could be, and how easily manipulated. It wasn’t a Q&A type of conversation. We were an incongruous gathering. Ole von Uexküll from the Right Livelihood Foundation in Sweden, myself and three troublesome Americans. John Cusack, who thought up and organised this whole disruptive enterprise, comes from a fine tradition, too – of musicians, writers, actors, athletes who have refused to buy the bullshit, however beautifully it was packaged.

What will become of Edward Snowden? Will he ever be able to return to the US? His chances don’t look good. The US government – the Deep State, as well as both the major political parties – wants to punish him for the enormous damage he has inflicted, in their perception, on the security establishment. (It’s got Chelsea Manning and the other whistleblowers where it wants them.) If it does not manage to kill or jail Snowden, it must use everything in its power to limit the damage he’s done and continues to do. One of those ways is to try to contain, co-opt and usher the debate around whistleblowing in a direction that suits it. And it has, to some extent, managed to do that.

In the Public Security v Mass Surveillance debate that is taking place in the establishment western media, the Object of Love is America. America and her actions. Are they moral or immoral? Are they right or wrong? Are the whistleblowers American patriots or American traitors? Within this constricted matrix of morality, other countries, other cultures, other conversations – even if they are the victims of US wars – usually appear only as witnesses in the main trial. They bolster either the outrage of the prosecution or the indignation of the defence.

The trial, when it is conducted on these terms, serves to reinforce the idea that there can be a moderate, moral superpower. Are we not witnessing it in action? Its heartache? Its guilt? Its self-correcting mechanisms? Its watchdog media? Its activists who will not stand for ordinary (innocent) American citizens being spied on by their own government? In these debates that appear to be fierce and intelligent, words such as public and security and terrorism are thrown around, but they remain, as always, loosely defined and are used more often than not in the way the US state would like them to be used.

It is shocking that Barack Obama approved a “kill list” with 20 names on it. Or is it? What sort of list do the millions of people who have been killed in all the US wars belong on, if not a “kill list”? In all of this, Snowden, in exile, has to remain strategic and tactical. He’s in the impossible position of having to negotiate the terms of his amnesty/trial with the very institutions in the US that feel betrayed by him, and the terms of his domicile in Russia with that Great Humanitarian, Vladimir Putin. So the superpowers have the Truth-teller in a position where he now has to be extremely careful about how he uses the spotlight he has earned and what he says publicly.

Isn’t the greatness of great nations directly proportionate to their ability to be ruthless, genocidal?

Even so, leaving aside what cannot be said, the conversation around whistleblowing is a thrilling one – it’s Realpolitik – busy, important and full of legalese. It has spies and spy-hunters, escapades, secrets and secret-leakers. It’s a very adult and absorbing universe of its own. However, if it becomes, as it sometimes threatens to, a substitute for broader, more radical political thinking, then the conversation that Daniel Berrigan, Jesuit priest, poet and war resister (contemporary of Daniel Ellsberg), wanted to have when he said, “Every nation-state tends towards the imperial – that is the point” becomes a little inconvenient.

I was glad to see that when Snowden made his debut on Twitter (and chalked up half a million followers in half a second), he said, “I used to work for the government. Now I work for the public.” Implicit in that sentence is the belief that the government does not work for the public. That’s the beginning of a subversive and inconvenient conversation. By “the government”, of course, he means the US government, his former employer. But who does he mean by “the public”? The US public? Which part of the US public? He’ll have to decide as he goes along. In democracies, the line between an elected government and “the public” is never all that clear. The elite is usually fused with the government pretty seamlessly. Viewed from an international perspective, if there really is such a thing as “the US public”, it’s a very privileged public indeed. The only “public” I know is a maddeningly tricky labyrinth.

Oddly, when I think back on the meeting in the Moscow Ritz-Carlton, the memory that flashes up first in my mind is an image of Daniel Ellsberg. Dan, after all those hours of talking, lying back on the bed, Christlike, with his arms flung open, weeping for what the United States has turned into – a country whose “best people” must either go to prison or into exile. I was moved by his tears but troubled, too – because they were the tears of a man who has seen the machine up close. A man who was once on a first-name basis with the people who controlled it and who coldly contemplated the idea of annihilating life on Earth. A man who risked everything to blow the whistle on them. Dan knows all the arguments, For as well as Against. He often uses the word imperialism to describe US history and foreign policy. He knows now, 40 years after he made the Pentagon Papers public, that even though those particular individuals have gone, the machine keeps on turning.

Daniel Ellsberg’s tears made me think about love, about loss, about dreams – and, most of all, about failure. What sort of love is this love that we have for countries? What sort of country is it that will ever live up to our dreams? What sort of dreams were these that have been broken? Isn’t the greatness of great nations directly proportionate to their ability to be ruthless, genocidal? Doesn’t the height of a country’s “success” usually also mark the depths of its moral failure? And what about our failure? Writers, artists, radicals, anti-nationals, mavericks, malcontents – what of the failure of our imaginations? What of our failure to replace the idea of flags and countries with a less lethal Object of Love? Human beings seem unable to live without war, but they are also unable to live without love. So the question is, what shall we love?

Writing this at a time when refugees are flooding into Europe – the result of decades of US and European foreign policy in the “Middle East” – makes me wonder: who is a refugee? Is Edward Snowden a refugee? Surely, he is. Because of what he did, he cannot return to the place he thinks of as his country (although he can continue to live where he is most comfortable – inside the internet). The refugees fleeing from wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria to Europe are refugees of the Lifestyle Wars. But the thousands of people in countries such as India who are being jailed and killed by those same Lifestyle Wars, the millions who are being driven off their lands and farms, exiled from everything they have ever known – their language, their history, the landscape that formed them – are not. As long as their misery is contained within the arbitrarily drawn borders of their “own” country, they are not considered refugees. But they are refugees. And certainly, in terms of numbers, such people are the great majority in the world today. Unfortunately, in imaginations that are locked down into a grid of countries and borders, in minds that are shrink-wrapped in flags, they don’t make the cut.

Perhaps the best-known refugee of the Lifestyle Wars is Julian Assange, the founder and editor of WikiLeaks, who is currently serving his fourth year as a fugitive-guest in a room in the Ecuadorian embassy in London. Until recently, the police were stationed in a small lobby just outside the front door. There were snipers on the roof, with orders to arrest him, shoot him, drag him out if he so much as put a toe out of the door, which for all legal purposes is an international border. The Ecuadorian embassy is located across the street from Harrods, the world’s most famous department store.

The day we met Julian, Harrods was sucking in and spewing out frenzied Christmas shoppers in their hundreds, or perhaps even thousands. In the middle of that tony London high street, the smell of opulence and excess met the smell of incarceration and the Free World’s fear of free speech. (They shook hands and agreed never to be friends.) On the day (actually the night) we met Julian, we were not allowed by security to take phones, cameras or any recording devices into the room. So that conversation also remains off the record.

Despite the odds stacked against its founder-editor, WikiLeaks continues its work, as cool and insouciant as ever. Most recently it has offered an award of $100,000 for anybody who can provide “smoking gun” documents about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a free trade agreement between Europe and the United States that aims to give multinational corporations the power to sue sovereign governments that do things that adversely impact corporate profits. Criminal acts could include governments increasing workers’ minimum wages, not seen to be cracking down on “terrorist” villagers who impede the work of mining companies, or, say, having the temerity to turn down Monsanto’s offer of genetically modified corporate-patented seeds. TTIP is just another weapon like intrusive surveillance or depleted uranium, to be used in the Lifestyle Wars.

Looking at Julian Assange sitting across the table from me, pale and worn, without having had five minutes of sunshine on his skin for 900 days, but still refusing to disappear or capitulate the way his enemies would like him to, I smiled at the idea that nobody thinks of him as an Australian hero or an Australian traitor. To his enemies, Assange has betrayed much more than a country. He has betrayed the ideology of the ruling powers. For this, they hate him even more than they hate Edward Snowden. And that’s saying a lot.

We’re told, often enough, that as a species we are poised on the edge of the abyss. It’s possible that our puffed-up, prideful intelligence has outstripped our instinct for survival and the road back to safety has already been washed away. In which case there’s nothing much to be done. If there is something to be done, then one thing is for sure: those who created the problem will not be the ones who come up with a solution. Encrypting our emails will help, but not very much. Recalibrating our understanding of what love means, what happiness means – and, yes, what countries mean – might. Recalibrating our priorities might.

An old-growth forest, a mountain range or a river valley is more important and certainly more lovable than any country will ever be. I could weep for a river valley, and I have. But for a country? Oh, man, I don’t know…


This is the concluding part of Things That Can And Cannot Be Said, a series by John Cusack and Arundhati Roy.
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/28/conversation-edward-snowden-arundhati-roy-john-cusack-interview

power
01-15-2016, 10:42 PM
Every nation-state tends towards the imperial—that is the point. Through banks, armies, secret police, propaganda, courts and jails, treaties, taxes, laws and orders, myths of civil obedience, assumptions of civic virtue at the top. Still it should be said of the political left, we expect something better. And correctly. We put more trust in those who show a measure of compassion, who denou*nce the hideous social arrangements that make war inevitable and human desire omnipresent; which fosters corporate selfishness, panders to appetites and disorder, waste the earth.
—Daniel Berrigan
poet, Jesuit priest


One morning as I scanned the news—horror in the Middle East, Russia and America facing off in the Ukraine, I thought of Edward Snowden and wondered how he was holding up in Moscow. I began to imagine a conversation between him and Daniel Ellsberg (who leaked the Pentagon Papers during the Vietnam war). And then, interestingly, in my imagination a third person made her way into the room—the writer Arundhati Roy. It occurred to me that trying to get the three of them together would be a fine thing to do.

I had heard Roy speak in Chicago, and had met her several times. One gets the feeling very quickly with her and comes to the rapid conclusion that there are no pre-formatted assumptions or givens. Through our conversations I became very aware that what gets lost, or goes unsaid, in most of the debates around surveillance and whistleblowing is a perspective and context from outside the United States and Europe. The debates around them have gradually centred around corporate overreach and the rights of privacy of US citizens.

The philosopher/theosophist Rudolf Steiner says that any perception or truth that is isolated and removed from its larger context ceases to be true.



Democracy’s been taken to the workshop and fixed to be market-friendly. Once, the US waged wars to topple democracies, now it’s fighting to instal them.



“When any single thought emerges in consciousness, I cannot rest until this is brought into harmony with the rest of my thinking. Such an isolated concept, apart from the rest of my mental world, is entirely unendurable...there exists an inwardly sustained harmony among thoughts...when our thought world bears the character of inner harmony, we can feel we are in possession of the truth.... All elements are related one to the other...every such isolation is an abnormality, an untruth.” In other words, every isolated idea that doesn’t relate to others yet is taken as true (as a kind of niche truth) is not just bad politics, it is somehow also fundamentally untrue.... To me, Arundhati Roy’s writing and thinking strives for such unity of thought. And for her, like for Steiner, reason comes from the heart.




The United States cannot understand how irrelevant it is. And how wicked. Your short-term gains are the rest of the world’s long-term disasters.



I knew Dan and Ed because we all worked together on the Freedom of Press Foundation. And I knew Roy admired both of them greatly, but she was disconcerted by the photograph of Ed cradling the American flag in his arms that had appeared on the cover of Wired. On the other hand, she was impressed by what he had said in the interview—in particular that one of the factors that pushed him into doing what he did was the NSA’s (National Security Agency) sharing real-time data of Palestinians in the United States with the Israeli government.

She thought what Dan and Ed had done were tremendous acts of courage, though as far as I could tell, her own politics were more in sync with Julian Assange’s. “Snowden is the thoughtful, courageous saint of liberal reform,” she once said to me. “And Julian Assange is a sort of radical, feral prophet who has been prowling this wilderness since he was 16 years old.”

I had recorded many of our conversations, Roy’s and mine—for no reason other than that they were so intense that I felt I needed to listen to them several times over to understand what we were really saying to each other. She didn’t seem to notice, or if she did, she didn’t seem to mind. When I asked her if I could use some of the transcripts, she said, “OK, but make sure you edit out the idiocy. At least mine.”

I’ll roll the tapes:

AR: All I’m saying is: what does that American flag mean to people outside of America? What does it mean in Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, Pakistan—even in India, your new natural ally?

JC: In his (Ed’s) situation, he’s got very little margin for error when it comes to controlling his image, his messaging, and he’s done an incredible job up to this point. But you’re troubled by that isolated iconography?

AR: Forget the genocide of American Indians, forget slavery, forget Hiroshima, forget Cambodia, forget Vietnam, you know....

JC: Why do we have to forget?

(Laughter)

AR: I’m just saying that, at one level, I am happy—awed—that there are people of such intelligence, such compassion, that have defected from the State. They are heroic. Absolutely. They’ve risked their lives, their freedom...but then there’s that part of me that thinks...how could you ever have believed in it? What do you feel betrayed by? Is it possible to have a moral State? A moral superpower? I can’t understand those people who believe that the excesses are just aberrations.... Of course, I understand it intellectually, but...part of me wants to retain that incomprehension.... Sometimes my anger gets in the way of their pain.

JC: Fair enough, but don’t you think you’re being a little harsh?

AR: Maybe (laughs). But then, having ranted as I have, I always say that the grand thing in the United States is that there has been real resistance from within. There have been soldiers who’ve refused to fight, who’ve burned their medals, who’ve been conscientious objectors. I don’t think we have ever had a conscientious objector in the Indian Army. Not one. In the United States, you have this proud history, you know? And Snowden is part of that.

JC: My gut tells me Snowden is more radical than he lets on. He has to be so tactical....

AR: Just since 9/11...we’re supposed to forget whatever happened in the past because 9/11 is where history begins. Okay, since 2001, how many wars have been started, how many countries have been destroyed? So now ISIS is the new evil—but how did that evil begin? Is it more evil to do what ISIS is doing, which is to go around massacring people—mainly, but not only, Shi’a—slitting throats? By the way, the US-backed militias are doing similar things, except they don’t show beheadings of white folks on TV. Or is it more evil to contaminate the water supply, to bomb a place with depleted uranium, to cut off the supply of medicines, to say that half a million children dying from economic sanctions is a “hard price”, but “worth it”?

JC: Madeleine Albright said so—about Iraq.

AR: Yes. Iraq. Is it alright to force a country to disarm, and then bomb it? To continue to create mayhem in the area? To pretend that you are fighting radical Islamism, when you’re actually toppling all the regimes that are not radical Islamist regimes? Whatever else their faults may be, they were not radical Islamist states—Iraq was not, Syria is not, Libya was not. The most radical fundamentalist Islamist state is, of course, your ally Saudi Arabia. In Syria, you’re on the side of those who want to depose Assad, right? And then suddenly, you’re with Assad, wanting to fight ISIS. It’s like some crazed, bewildered, rich giant bumbling around in a poor area with his pockets stuffed with money, and lots of weapons—just throwing stuff around. You don’t even really know who you’re giving it to—which murderous faction you are arming against which—feeling very relevant when actually.... All this destruction that has come in the wake of 9/11, all the countries that have been bombed...it ignites and magnifies these ancient antagonisms. They don’t necessarily have to do with the United States; they pre-date the existence of the United States by centuries. But the United States is unable to understand how irrelevant it is, actually. And how wicked.... Your short-term gains are the rest of the world’s long-term disasters—for everybody, including yourselves. And, I’m sorry, I’ve been saying you and the United States or America, when I actually mean the US government. There’s a difference. Big one.

JC: Yeah.

AR: Conflating the two the way I just did is stupid...walking into a trap—it makes it easy for people to say, “Oh, she’s anti-American, he’s anti-American”, when we’re not. Of course not. There are things I love about America. Anyway, what is a country? When people say, “Tell me about India”, I say, “Which India?.... The land of poetry and mad rebellion? The one that produces haunting music and exquisite textiles? The one that invented the caste system and celebrates the genocide of Muslims and Sikhs and the lynching of Dalits? The country of dollar billionaires? Or the one in which 800 million live on less than half-a-dollar a day? Which India?” When people say “America”, which one? Bob Dylan’s or Barack Obama’s? New Orleans or New York? Just a few years ago India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were one country. Actually, we were many countries if you count the princely states.... Then the British drew a line, and now we’re three countries, two of them pointing nukes at each other—the radical Hindu bomb and the radical Muslim bomb.

JC: Radical Islam and US exceptionalism are in bed with each other. They’re like lovers, methinks....

AR: It’s a revolving bed in a cheap motel.... Radical Hinduism is snuggled up somewhere in there, too. It’s hard to keep track of the partners, they change so fast. Each new baby they make is the latest progeny of the means to wage eternal war.

JC: If you help manufacture an enemy that’s really evil, you can point to the fact that it’s really evil, and say, “Hey, it’s really evil.”

AR: Your enemies are always manufactured to suit your purpose, right? How can you have a good enemy? You have to have an utterly evil enemy—and then the evilness has to progress.

JC: It has to metastasise, right?

AR: Yes. And then...how often are we going to keep on saying the same things?

JC: Yeah, you get worn out by it.

AR: Truly, there’s no alternative to stupidity. Cretinism is the mother of fascism. I have no defence against it, really....

JC: It’s a real problem.

(Both laugh)

AR: It isn’t the lies they tell, it’s the quality of the lies that becomes so humiliating. They’ve stopped caring about even that. It’s all a play. Hiroshima and Nagasaki happen, there are hundreds of thousands of dead, and the curtain comes down, and that’s the end of that. Then Korea happens. Vietnam happens, all that happened in Latin America happens. And every now and then, this curtain comes down and history begins anew. New moralities and new indignations are manufactured...in a disappeared history.

JC: And a disappeared context.

AR: Yes, without any context or memory. But the people of the world have memories. There was a time when the women of Afghanistan—at least in Kabul—were out there. They were allowed to study, they were doctors and surgeons, walking free, wearing what they wanted. That was when it was under Soviet occupation. Then the United States starts funding the mujahideen. Reagan called them Afghanistan’s “founding fathers”. It reincarnates the idea of “jehad”, virtually creates the Taliban. And what happens to the women? In Iraq, until before the war, the women were scientists, museum directors, doctors. I’m not valourising Saddam Hussein or the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which was brutal and killed hundreds of thousands of people—it was the Soviet Union’s Vietnam. I’m just saying that now, in these new wars, whole countries have slipped into mayhem—the women have just been pushed back into their burqas—and not by choice. I mean, to me, one thing is a culture in which women have not broken out of their subservience, but the horror of tomorrow, somebody turning around and telling me: “Arundhati, just go back into your veil, and sit in your kitchen and don’t come out”. Can you imagine the violence of that? That’s what has happened to these women. In 2001, we were told that the war in Afghanistan was a feminist mission. The marines were liberating Afghan women from the Taliban. Can you really bomb feminism into a country? And now, after 25 years of brutal war—10 years against the Soviet occupation, 15 years of US occupation—the Taliban is riding back to Kabul and will soon be back to doing business with the United States. I don’t live in the United States but when I’m here, I begin to feel like my head is in a grinder—my brains are being scrambled by this language that they’re using. Outside it’s not so hard to understand because people know the score. But here, so many seem to swallow the propaganda so obediently.

So that was one exchange. Here’s another:

JC: So, what do you think? What do we think are the things we can’t talk about in a civilised society, if you’re a good, domesticated house pet?

AR: (Laughs) The occasional immorality of preaching nonviolence?

(This was a reference to Walking with the Comrades, Roy’s account of her time spent with armed guerrillas in the forests of central India who were fighting paramilitary forces and vigilante militias trying to clear indigenous people off their land, which had been handed over to mining companies.)

JC: In the United States, we can talk about ISIS, but we can’t talk about Palestine.

AR: Oh, in India, we can talk about Palestine but we can’t talk about Kashmir. Nowadays, we can’t talk about the daylight massacre of thousands of Muslims in Gujarat, because Narendra Modi might become prime minister. (As he did, subsequently in May 2014.) They like to say, “Let bygones be bygones”. Bygones. Nice word...old-fashioned.

JC: Sounds like a sweet goodbye.

AR: And we can decide the most convenient place on which to airdrop history’s markers. History is really a study of the future, not the past.

JC: I just want to know what I can’t talk about, so I’ll avoid it in social settings.

AR: You can say, for example, that it’s wrong to behead people physically, like with a knife, which implies that it’s alright to blow their heads off with a drone...isn’t it?

JC: Well a drone is so surgical...and it’s like, a quick thing. They don’t suffer, right?

AR: But some muzzlims, as you call them, are also good, professional butchers. They do it quick.

JC: What else can and cannot be said?

AR: This is a lovely theme.... About Vietnam, you can say, “These Asians, they don’t value their life, and so they force us to bear the burden of genocide.” This is more or less a direct quote.

JC: From Robert McNamara, who then went on to “serve the poor”.

AR: Who, before he supervised the destruction at Vietnam, planned the bombing of Tokyo in which 80,000 people were killed in a single night. Then he became the president of the World Bank, where he took great care of the world’s poor. At the end of his life, he was tormented by one question—“How much evil do you have to do in order to do good?” That’s a quote, too.

http://www.outlookindia.com/article/things-that-can-and-cannot-be-said/295796

কাল পতাকা
01-16-2016, 04:36 AM
ভবিষ্যতের দিকে ইঙ্গিত দিয়ে বলেন, পরবর্তী সময় নাইন ইলেভেনের মতো কোনো দুর্ঘটনা হলে তার ফলাফল ভয়াবহ হবে। দ্বিতীয় বিশ্বযুদ্ধের মতোই তখন শত শত ও হাজার ডিটেনশন ক্যাম্প হবে, অজস্র মানুষ গ্রেপ্তার হবে, মুসলিমদের ধরে ধরে ক্যাম্পে ঢোকানো হবে। আর এটি করা হবে কিন্তু বর্তমানে জনগণের ওপর নজরদারি থেকে প্রাপ্ত তথ্যের ওপর ভিত্তি করেই। তারা জানে কাকে দূরে রাখতে হবে—কারণ তথ্য তাদের হাতেই আছে।’

আমাদেরকেও এখনি সাবধান হতে হবে। না হয় যদি এই চিন্তা করে নিরাপত্তার নিয়ম ভাঙ্গতে থাকি যে কিছুই হচ্ছে না তাহলে পরে পস্তাতে হবে।

ibnmasud2016
02-13-2016, 09:24 PM
আলহামদুল্লিাহ। ভালো একটি লেখা পড়লাম। লেখাটি অনুবাদ করার জন্য যঝাকাল্লাহ

murabit
03-20-2016, 02:53 PM
والفتة اشد من القتل
কাফেরদের দাপট হত্যার চেয়ে মারাত্নক।