According to Rousseau and John Locke, the negative aspects of the US's "war on terrorism"

Freshman (College 1st year) ・Philosophy ・MLA ・6 Sources

Donald Trump, the newly elected president of the United States of America, has expressed his intention to mobilize and approve immigration restrictions recently. Even if the restrictions are not authorized, they continue to be widely criticized. Residents of Arab countries in the Middle East with a majority Muslim population were subjected to the restrictions. In general, Donald Trump's plan to exclude such people from entering the United States continued a trend of Muslim groups being discriminated against that began after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2011. Jean-Jacques Rousseau's and John Locke's liberal philosophy will be discussed in the following paper to criticize the restrictions and prove that the tendency of discrimination alongside with the restrictions based on race, ethnicity, and national backgrounds are a negative feature of modern world’s politics. Illegal surveillance applied by CIA and the attempt to implement unequal restrictions go at odds with the democratic principles of the US government because it violates the concepts of natural human rights and social contract.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated that “a man is born free but lives in chains” (Rousseau 32). He referred to the way the majority of the population was treated by the nobility and clergy, criticizing the discriminations people with power do against those "under control." Same thing can be applied to the restrictions aimed exclusively against people of certain national backgrounds. President Donald Trump’s goal was to ban people from the Middle East states from coming to the United States. This put people who did not commit any illegal activities in a position of criminals (Fabbrini 45). It can be seen as an obstruction of justice and act against the juridical presumption of innocence. Such things do not work for the national security as Donald Trump thought it would, but only enrage and offend people (Altheide 25). Considering Rousseau’s statement, Trump deals with the citizens of other states as if they were peasants who deserve less than others for the reason they are unable to understand. Therefore, it is not surprising that Trump’s desire to implement the restrictions was met with heavy criticism.
Both Jean-Jacques Rousseau and John Locke are considered to be the inventors of modern liberal democracy. Their political philosophy has helped to shift world politics from monarchy to constitutionalism. Therefore, it is improper when the nation that is widely considered (and considers itself) as a guard of democracy attacks the principles of equality and disrupts unity between the countries, cultures, and nations (Altheide 50). The case over Trump’s decision was criticized because it was viewed as an act against democracy, freedom of will, and equal opportunities. Muslims in the United States of America were heavily discriminated after the 9/11 attacks with many people being forcefully deported, including a lot of those who had their hands clean in a matter (Maira 89). While being under the Barack Obama’s administration, the intensity of discriminations was decreased, but such
policy was not approved by the President Donald Trump’s administration and by him personally.
American military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan can help to understand how Trump violated the natural rights of people and disrupted international unity. Under the flag of global war on terrorism, a lot of things similar to the discriminations of Arab communities occurred in America (Maira 33). Moreover, not only Muslims and people with Arab national backgrounds suffered the nation in whole as well. For instance, Edward Snowden’s case has proved that American intelligence services (CIA) were using illegal surveillance to spy on the citizens to prevent and foresee possible terrorist attack (Fabbrini 71). The conflict was ethical because the government thought that the end justifies the means. However, people were outraged because of the violation of their privacy. Therefore, it is clear that good intentions are not enough to justify the means used to implement the so-called “improvements."
John Lock came up with a theory of natural rights that include the rights to have private property, privacy, religious freedom, personal freedom, freedom of the speech, and equal possibilities. Natural rights are inalienable which means that they cannot be taken away disregarding the circumstances (Locke 112). With the illegal surveillance, two of the rights mentioned above were being violated – the right to private property and the right to privacy. CIA using illegal surveillance, they violated the boundaries of privacy and gathered intelligence in an ethically incorrect way. Shielding with good intentions, American government undermined the principles of democracy proposed by the founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence and the American Constitution. Immigration restrictions that excluded some people from the international community proved that the US violated its own principles on which its political machine is based.
Violation of private space can be compared to “breaking and entering” and it shows that people who were the owners of their households were forcefully deprived of their right to privacy (Maira 30). No matter how successful the American government is in its fight against domestic and global terrorism, it has violated the basic principles of gathering the evidence by depriving people of their natural rights – the right to privacy and the right of ownership. Keeping in mind Rousseau’s words concerning freedom, it becomes clear that government that organizes and approves the actions of a kind fools people and deceives them while its first and the most important task is to work for people and guarantee that their natural rights would not be violated in any way. If these rights are facing violence, it is a citizen’s duty to stand against the oppression to confront injustice. Under such circumstances, national safety, the main concern of the government, is disrupted due to the inability of people to believe in politicians.
One of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's main achievements in political philosophy is his theory of social contract. According to the social contract, citizens in a state "sign" a contract with the government agreeing to follow and obey it as long as the government builds its authority on a promise to keep citizens safe and secure their prosperity (Rousseau 56). In the case of illegal surveillance and the restrictions aimed exclusively at immigrants, it can be seen that the American government worked against its promises. The American government showed that it has double standards. Therefore, governmental rules are important for the US as long as they serve its interests (domestic and international), but when the government needs to overcome and avoid these rules, it is capable of doing so. Fortunately, rules stay the same for everybody, and people react on the documents revealed by Edward Snowden naturally – they were enraged and afraid that their government fools them. Therefore, the American government neglected the principles of peaceful cooperation, partnership, and transparency endangering democracy in the United States of America.
Illegal surveillance or unfair immigrant restrictions show how Donald Trump along with the US government is able to violate the principles of honesty and transparency. In this international fight against terrorism, people and government should work together so their cooperation could be fruitful. Fortunately or unfortunately, people no longer have solid faith in American government and are not willing to give it credit (Fabbrini 35). Same can be applied to politicians worldwide with people having less and less faith in the government because of the constant political machinations that the ones with a power commit against the ones without it. The Internet and the power of social media alongside with technological breakthroughs put in motion a lot of interesting discussions regarding freedom of the speech on the internet and the mechanisms behind information systems. Freedom of speech is one of the basic tools against tyranny. When a citizen cannot express his dissatisfaction with the government, there is no freedom of the speech which is an unalienable natural right. So, the government does not have the authority to decide whom to speak and what to say.
Freedom of speech is oppressed in many countries around the world. In Saudi Arabia, Russia, North Korea, and Turkey liberal democracy are absent, and politicians build their authority on force, restrictions, and machinations. For example, the Internet services, such as Facebook and Twitter have been banned in Turkey recently to suppress opposition and give the president more power. In Saudi Arabia, one can get killed for expressing the opinion about the Internet which contradicts the official position. In Russia, all media is owned by the government, and people who protest against the regime are being persecuted in numerous different ways (Altheide 78). All these things violate the principles constructed by John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The US government, which constantly criticizes countries, such as Russia or Iran, makes the same mistakes on a smaller scale. However, if such tendency continues, it would be impossible to keep democratic ideals intact and safeguard constitutionalism.
All in all, it is now clear how by using illegal surveillance and persecuting people of certain national backgrounds American government exceeded its authority. By doing so, the American government undermined its own democratic principles. Donald Trump's decision to put the restrictions on the citizens of the Middle East countries has violated natural rights of these people. The illegal surveillance used by CIA in their war with terrorism has violated the natural rights of ownership and privacy. Applying the restrictions that are unfair in their nature and spying on its citizens show how American government violated the terms of the social contract. All these violations appear in even worse light considering that the United States of America was built on the principles constructed by John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. As a result, the US government lost credibility and faith of people, endangering world order and international transparency. The US government has acted against ethical principles by using illegal methods of gathering information and by ruining the borders of personal freedom of its citizens unfairly judging the citizens of certain nationalities without an undeniable presence of their guilt.

Works Cited

Altheide, David L. Terrorism and the Politics of Fear. Lanham, Rowman & Littlefield Publishing, 2017.
Fabbrini, Federico, and Vicki C. Jackson. Constitutionalism across Borders in the sTRUGGLE against Terrorism. Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016.
Locke, John, et al. Second Treatise of Government; and a Letter Concerning Toleration. Oxford, United Kingdom, Oxford University Press, 2016.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques. Discourse on Inequality. Place of Publication not Identified, Aziloth Books, 2013.
Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, and Donald A. Cress. Basic Political Writings. Indianapolis, IN, Hackett, 2012.
Maira, Sunaina. The 9/11 Generation: Youth, Rights, and Solidarity in the War on Terror. New York, New York University Press, 2016.

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