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Amnesty International's War on America By: Christopher Archangelli
FrontPageMagazine.com | Thursday, June 05, 2003

On May 28, 2003, Amnesty International, the supposedly apolitical human rights organization, turned forty years old. On that day it released its annual report on human rights abuses across the globe during the year 2002.  For 311 gruesome pages, Amnesty documented the horrors of execution, torture, abduction, rape, starvation, repression, and mass murder that darken many corners of the world.  In one sad country after another, Amnesty found that mankind was suffering greater abuses in 2002 than they had in 2001, and Amnesty found a culprit to blame for the ever-declining state of human rights in the world: the United States of America.  For an organization that proclaimed itself an ideologically unbiased human rights advocate, suddenly they seemed unapologetic in their obviously political and hypocritical stance opposing the conservative government of the U.S. and President Bush’s war on terror.

The Amnesty report thundered: “The ‘war on terror,’ far from making the world a safer place, has made it more dangerous by curtailing human rights, undermining the rule of international law and shielding governments from scrutiny. It has deepened divisions among people of different faiths and origins, sowing the seeds for more conflict. The overwhelming impact of all this is genuine fear -- among the affluent as well as the poor. 

More subtly, they conclude that “at a time of heightened insecurity governments chose to ignore and undermine the collective system of security which the rule of international law represents.”  The report further whined, “While claiming to bring justice to victims in Iraq, the United States has actively sought to undermine the International Criminal Court, the mechanism for universal justice”! But how was the world more secure when the United Nations Security Council did not enforce its own resolutions? Organization as toothless (and hypocritically corrupt – see below) as the UN and the ICC deter no one, much less do they constitute a “collective system of security” or provide “universal justice.”

The Amnesty report asserts that the United States and the war on terror have had a “deleterious” effect on the world.  But surely they must also concede that the war against the Taliban and the war against Saddam had some positive effects on the human rights conditions in both Afghanistan and Iraq, right?  Sadly, that isn’t the case.  Amnesty instead condemns the U.S. because “more than eighteen months after the war in Afghanistan ended, millions of Afghans, including returning refugees, face an uncertain and insecure future.” And also, in the words of Irene Khan, Secretary General of Amnesty International, There is a very real risk that Iraq will go the way of Afghanistan if no genuine effort is made to heed the call of the Iraqi people for law and order and full respect of human rights.”  No mention of the end of torture and rape and political disappearances in either country.  Rather Khan spends her time sniping that the recent Iraq war “was fought in Iraq because of the suspected presence of weapons of mass destruction” (emphasis mine).  Of course even that statement is hypocritical and contradictory, considering that before the war Amnesty claimed that Saddam had killed Kurds en mass with chemical weapons, which would presume the presence of “weapons of mass destruction.” 

Obviously Amnesty has taken a position on what it believes to be the cause of much of the world’s ills.  In and of itself this wouldn’t be unusual; but for an organization that claims that it doesn’t make judgment calls, it’s monumental. Taken in the context of the human rights abuses perpetuated by Saddam’s Ba’athist government, it represents a sea change from neutrality to politically motivated bias.  After all, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Amnesty had sympathetic words for Saddam’s government and criticism of the coalition’s efforts to effect a regime change.  They went to great length moreover to remind the world that they did not take sides and that their only concern was for the suffering masses – although, as I pointed out in a previous article, this was far from the case.  However, now Amnesty does not even attempt to hide its contempt for the United States.

Amnesty undoubtedly has a vendetta against the Bush Administration. But perhaps Amnesty has spread this newfound blame around and indicts other governments for the degenerative state of the world, too?  Not even close.  Rather than blame, say, the United Nations for its complicity in human rights deteriorations, Amnesty actually excuses the UN in its report of any wrongdoing - because of the U.S. war on terror.  It seems that “new resources are being directed to security police and ‘counter-terrorism’ agencies… where is the new money, however, to strengthen the UN's human rights machinery which has been grossly under-funded for years?”  Or more explicitly, “The UN Human Rights Commission became ensnared in US-Iraq relations, failing to condemn Cuba's mass arrests of peaceful government critics who received patently unfair, rushed trials and harsh sentences; US military action in Iraq was used by several nations as an excuse for the commission's failure to take action.”  Which means that the U.S. is to blame for anything that happened around the world during Operation Iraqi Freedom and any atrocity the UN fails to prevent anywhere.

One wonders why the newly opinionated Amnesty International fail to condemn those governments who make up the UN’s Human Rights Commission instead of exclusively blaming the U.S.?  Even a casual perusal of the list of HRC member countries will reveal the blind eye that Amnesty International has turned towards such thorny issues as Libya chairing the Commission.  In Amnesty’s own words Libya is a country so corrupt that “a climate of fear continued to prevail where victims of human rights violations or their relatives, in or outside the country, risk measures of retaliation when they communicate information to human rights organizations.”  Yet Amnesty remains silent on Libya much as they do about the rest of the Human Rights Commission.  Cuba, which recently held mass arrests and summary executions is also a member.  So are Saudi Arabia, Russia and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

As to the last country on the HRC, their presence and Amnesty’s reaction to their position are instructive.  It seems that in addition to everything else, the United States is complicit in the horrors taking place in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  According to Amnesty’s report, “Away from the glare of publicity (on the war against terror), conflict, insecurity and violence continue to affect millions of people in Africa.  In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the human rights situation remains bleak, with continuing fighting and attacks on civilians.”  It does not occur to Amnesty that perhaps the world thinks little of international human rights violations because the very body that is expected to improve human rights across the globe – the HRC– is staffed with countries that perpetrate the worst abuses.  Instead, according to William Schulz, the problems the world has with the HRC are the fault of the U.S. because “US military action in Iraq was used by several nations as an excuse for the commission's failure to take action.”

Upon more careful scrutiny it is obvious Amnesty’s report is nothing but a lengthy attack on the United States and the Administration’s war on terror.  While countries such as Cuba and Libya are mentioned only in the context of their respective reports on human rights abuses, the United States is mentioned countless times across the entire report for alleged complicity in many abuses across the globe.  The U.S. is soundly criticized in numerous reports for its stance on the death penalty (part of the “axis of executioners,” with China and Iran), for its supposedly ill treatment of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and its opposition to the International Criminal Court.  And each time Amnesty mentions one of the above points they also quickly conclude that the behavior of the United States actually caused the rest of the world to behave abusively.  Other countries it seemed, according to William Schulz, were wont to “use the excuse (that) the United States itself does not respect international law."  And Irene Khan had something to say about the leadership of the U.S. as it supposedly “undermined its own moral authority to speak out against human rights violations in other parts of the world” because “while claiming to bring justice to victims in Iraq, the United States has actively sought to undermine the International Criminal Court, the mechanism for universal justice.”  To the politically motivated leaders of Amnesty International, current U.S. policy can have no justification and in fact will only lead the rest of the world to gross misbehavior.

One can’t but help wonder if all of this vitriol aimed at the United States doesn’t have something to do with a profound sense of failure on the part of Amnesty International.  After all, for years Amnesty International attempted with words, reports, monitors, and “official state visits” to end suffering in places such as Afghanistan and Iraq, but they were completely ineffectual.  Indeed, the situation deteriorated year after year.  Then the U.S. and its “cowboy” president come along and ended the torture, rape, and mass executions in a matter of months.  Along the way the U.S. even made the world more secure from future terrorism.  According to the State Department incidents of terror decreased from 355 in 2001 to 199 in 2002.  Again, Amnesty had nothing to do with it.  All they could claim was that “security” was now the cause of more suffering.  Or as the sage Irene Khan reminded us, “It is vital that we resist the manipulation of fear and challenge the narrow focus of the security agenda.”

Amnesty tips its hand, though, when it notes that “governments around the world have spent billions in an effort to beef up national security and the ‘war on terror,’ but for millions of people the real sources of insecurity were corrupt and inept systems of policing and justice; brutal repression of political dissent; severe discrimination and social inequities; extreme poverty and the spread of preventable diseases” (emphasis added). Toppling Saddam diminished precisely “corrupt and inept systems of policing and justice; brutal repression of political dissent” and – by lifting sanctions – “extreme poverty and the spread of preventable diseases.” Yet Amnesty considers it counterproductive.  Why?  Because despite the significant nation-building efforts undertaken in Afghanistan and Iraq, the United States has not moved to a UN-imposed socialist model, for itself or others.  For Amnesty, apparently only a socialist world government in which the United States is neutered will satisfy their criteria of a “just world”; anything short creates a human rights crisis. 

Amnesty International is a Fifth Column organization that has presently discarded any pretense to impartiality and fully embraced an obvious and pernicious bias against the United States.  This current report, while honestly detailing many of the crimes being committed against mankind, is in toto nothing more than an ideological diatribe against U.S. policy and the war on terror.  So much more the pity that Amnesty International has turned an opportunity to shine a needed spotlight on human suffering across the globe into just another liberal attack on the conservative Bush Administration.   

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