Metin Basoglu's blog on war, torture, and natural disasters

About this blog

Mass trauma events, such as wars, political violence, torture, and natural disasters, raise important mental health, human rights, and political issues.  The so-called war on terror in the aftermath of 9/11, invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan by the US and its allies, extraordinary renditions, “black sites,” “enhanced interrogation” of detainees, and health professionals’ involvement in torture are among the many issues that generated considerable controversy and concern in the last decade. More recently, the morality and legality of drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen are increasingly being questioned by scholars of human rights and international law. We are witnessing civil liberties being curtailed in the US under the pretext of an obscure “war on terror” and many other countries following suit. The debate on what constitutes torture continues unabated to date. We are also witnessing absurd arguments about waterboarding (among other so-called enhanced interrogation techniques) not being torture and therefore being justifiable in certain circumstances – arguments that one could not have even imagined hearing only a little more than a decade ago. Even more alarmingly, more and more people appear to endorse such views, signalling an erosion of moral values against one of the most appalling forms of human rights violations.

Another much debated issue, particularly among mental health professionals, concerns effective psychological care of mass trauma survivors. There are millions of people around the world who are suffering from debilitating psychological effects of wars, armed conflicts, torture, and natural disasters. Yet, efforts in addressing the mental healthcare needs of such people have been far from adequate.

I have argued time and again in my scientific articles, as well as in the world media, that any debate on such important issues needs to be informed by science and not by subjective personal opinions or political considerations. Unfortunately, the latter has been the case so far. This has always been a source of frustration for me, considering that, together with my co-workers, I have spent 25 years conducting logistically and methodologically difficult research into these issues and accumulated substantial knowledge that can inform moral, legal, and political judgments and policy decisions on these issues. [More information on this research can be found in our website.] Although much of this knowledge has been published in scientific journals and scholarly books (see publications page), so far only a relatively small part of it has been made available to the public in an easily understandable non-technical language. At some point I came to the realization that such knowledge stands a chance of having some impact only when it is shared with the public as widely as possible. This is indeed why this blog came into existence.

In this blog I provide evidence-based opinions on these issues in as much lay language as possible. So, regardless of your professional or educational background, if you are searching for informed opinion on these issues, you are at the right address!

As noted above, the mission of this blog is to make the public aware of scientific findings pertaining to human rights issues that concern millions of people around the world. If you read my articles, you will see that I present fairly critical reviews of various human rights and political issues. If you think  you have learned something useful from this blog, you can contribute to this mission by alerting others about it or by linking it to your own blog or website, if you have one.

I should also note that I do not post articles as often as some people do in their blogs. This is because writing good scholarly articles is a time-consuming task and I cannot always find the time to write such articles. So if you are interested in following my blog in the long-term, I’d suggest that you subscribe to it so that you can receive my articles by email whenever I post them.  You can also suggest relevant topics of interest to you. I will try to write or at least comment on them.

Needless to say, your comments or questions are welcome. Please bear in mind, however, that I will post them and provide a reply only if they relate to article content. If you have general comments / suggestions about blog style or content or if you would like to express your likes or dislikes about particular articles, please email them to me using the Contact page. I will do my best to reply to your emails. [For some reason I have not yet been able to figure out, I cannot reply by email to questions left in comment boxes (they come back undelivered), so make sure you email your questions instead if you want me to reply.]

Last but not least, writing in this blog in the hope that it may have some impact – however small – on the sad state of affairs in the world has so far been a very rewarding experience for me. I hope you will enjoy reading my articles as much as I enjoy writing them.

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