coleen rowley

Coleen Rowley (


FBI Whistleblower, Coleen Rowley, recently gave an interview in which she described how a number of government actions have resulted in an increase in acts of terrorism.

She said:

‘One of the main problems since 9/11 is this neo-conservative ideology that intervention and especially military – hard military – force intervention will somehow help and solve terrorism. In fact, the graph is just the opposite.’

Which makes sense. Just look at the last 15 years of military action. It has been a series of trying the same thing over and over again, and then wondering why it’s not working.

The only thing I can compare it to is when Grandpa Simpson tries to get Jasper’s beard out of the pencil sharpener (for our purposes, the American flag in the background is a nice touch!). Consider Jasper to be the Middle East and each of Grandpa Simpson’s turns is another military intervention. Even the ‘your on your own!’ is perfectly representative of how we feel – take refugees? Pfffffft. They’re not our problem.

Rowley’s point leads us to an upsetting reality:

‘Worldwide terrorism has increased by, some accounts, 6,000%. I read on the news today that authorities believe that there are several hundred ISIS operatives that could attack in the immediate future. Now, this was not the case on 9/11. They exaggerated the number but it was not even close to what it is now. And this is actual proof that this intervention in foreign countries is increasing the hatred.

I mean, we can feel the affects of this. The western world is constantly suffering from the effects of terrorist attacks. We’re not used to our subways and airports and stadiums and streets being blown up. It hurts; it’s confusing. The sad reality is that the results of western intervention in the middle east are spilling out into our streets. Why? Well, Rowley says:

‘The US is now seen in polls as the number one threat to world peace. This level of radicalisation is automatically going to increase if the US continues these policies and unfortunately, there’s always this tendency to double-down on what is already proven not only ineffective but completely counter-productive. It is increasing the level of terrorism.’

Again; this is the reality of the world we live in. We are becoming increasingly desensitised to the fact that our civil liberties are being trampled for the sake of of ‘security’, for the sake of our ‘safety’. Have we stopped to ask whether we’re actually feeling safer? Are we actually feeling more protected?

It goes without saying – no one would say yes.

What’s the solution? Well, Rowley makes a great point:

‘We need to get back to adhering to the rule of law and these old time-tested principles of what works. You know? Our old laws of interrogation – which did not include torture. And the reason it didn’t include torture was not because of ethics. It was because torture is unreliable and gives you false information… So you go back to the rule of law. All of our laws that have evolved over hundreds of years…go back to those laws.’

There’s something to be said about not becoming everything that you hate about your enemy. So often we hear racists complaining that they have to adhere to X horrible law in X hated country. Or they’ll ask why we should take refugees if X hate country doesn’t. Or why ethnics aren’t happy with X thing if it’s just as bad in X hated country.

Why would we compare ourselves to countries with human rights records that we despise? Sure, we might decide that we’re ‘winning’ – but what’s the price that we’re paying? What’s the price we’re willing to pay in the longer run?

We see it in the actions of hate groups like Reclaim Australia – or the Australian Patriots or whatever they’re calling themselves these days. They spew the same, divisive, hateful, violent speech and can’t see the parallels to the groups they purport to hate. The sad thing is that we are also seeing an increase in acts of violence by these bigoted groups also.

That’s not the only place we see it. As Rowley puts it:

‘Terrorists are just fighting back because we have such violence going on. Even in the US, we’re seeing the same in active shooters as a result – the same result of so much violent culture.’

We need better domestic and foreign policies – policies that are well considered and based in evidence and reality. We can no longer accept policies driven by political motives.

The world has hurt enough. Wider society chose to ignore the horrific impacts of these bad policies when they only effected the brown people who lived far away. We didn’t care when blood was shed in Iraq and Palestine, and Libya and Egypt and Pakistan and Afghanistan and Turkey. In fact, we still really don’t. But the impacts of terrible policies are slapping us in the face directly now. The deaths are far too close to home.

We need to go back to behaving ethically and respecting the rights and privileges that thousands of years of human existence afforded us. We have no other choice.

‘What we need to do is really go back to a time where we solved things through diplomacy; by leadership, by example.’

Amen to that.

See Rowley’s full interview below:


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