Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shh! Somebody's Watching You

The US is hardly unique in its quest to silence dissension. When we lost our way, the rest of the world followed. All over the globe the hammer is coming down and if you don't like your government...tough catooties. Your choices are nil. You can either live under the thumb of an oppressive regime or you can spend time in jail. Or worse.

How did the world change so much in such a short span of time? There have always been authoritarian governments, but it has been a long time since most of the world was affected at once. You name the hemisphere, it's got problems.

Asia is a hotbed of repression. From the fingerprinting of tourists in Japan (as if you couldn't tell the tourists from the natives) to the sanitization of the media in Malaysia, freedom and democracy have left the building in search of Elvis.
Established in 1967 as a bulwark against communism, Asean was composed originally of the region's more developed and democratic states: Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. Since the end of the Cold War 15 years ago, it has carved out a new a role as a nonpartisan agent of economic development, admitting smaller neighbors with less democratic governments such as Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and, in 1997, Myanmar.

None of the group's members have a spotless record on human rights. Vietnam and Laos are notorious for their intolerance of dissent. Arroyo's own government faces criticism over extrajudicial killings.

Last week, the Malaysian police used fire hoses to quell political protests in the capital. And Singapore has rejected requests to stage an anti-Myanmar rally in keeping with its ban on public gatherings of more than four people without a police permit.
Does the Middle East even need to be mentioned? Is there anyone who thinks that region is peaceful and democratic? All the time, money, and wasted lives to bring democracy to a region that doesn't want it and the only thing we have to show for it is a lot of dead people, two countries with a destroyed infrastructure (that would be us and them) and the price of oil going through the roof. Nice.

Europe, South America, Africa, they all have their issues. Antarctica gets a pass, but just barely. Whatever isn't melting is being used as a staging ground for more than scifi novels. And all this time I thought it was a Dirk Pitt adventure.

North America has become spy country. The government does it, corporations do it, football teams have been caught doing it and now individuals can track their loved ones, either by phone or by chip. So they aren't using 666, but the results are the same.