Stephen Zunes : Human Rights
One of the most tragically irresponsible decisions of the Bush administration in the critical hours following Hurricane Katrina was its refusal to accept offers by the government of Cuba to immediately dispatch more than 1500 medical doctors with 37 tons of medical supplies to the devastated areas along the Gulf coast….
The U.S. veto of a proposed UN Security Council resolution criticizing Israel’s March 22 assassination of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin has once again placed the United States both on the fringe of international public opinion and in opposition to international legal norms. Despite the proposed resolution condemning “all attacks against civilians,” the United States once again was the lone dissenting vote, marking the 28 th time since 1970 that the U.S. has blocked a Security Council resolution criticizing the actions of its most important Middle Eastern ally….
President Bush’s second inaugural address has received widespread praise for its recognition of the imperative of advancing human freedom worldwide, not just for its own sake, but for America’s own national interest….
The Bush administration, like its predecessors, has frequently taken advantage of the idealism and values of the U.S. citizenry to justify foreign policies that most Americans would otherwise find morally unacceptable. The recent emphasis on justifying Washington’s imperial goals in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East in the name of spreading liberty and democracy is a case in point. The fact that the United States is the world’s principal supporter of autocratic Middle Eastern regimes is conveniently overlooked, as the administration focuses solely on the human rights abuses of governments that challenge U.S. hegemony in the region, such as Iran and Syria. Similarly, repeated emphasis of the fact that Israel has established advanced democratic institutions (at least for its Jewish citizens) and an accountable government (relative to anything that currently exists in the Arab world) makes it possible for most Americans to ignore the pattern of gross and systematic Israeli human rights abuses in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Recent revelations that the United States successfully blocked a call by NATO for an international investigation of the May 13 massacre of hundreds of civilians by the government of the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan serves as yet another reminder of the insincerity of the Bush administration’s claims for supporting freedom and democracy in the Islamic world and the former Soviet Union.
In what appears to be a concerted effort to discredit independent human rights advocates, the Bush administration and its allies in the media have been engaging in a series of attacks against Amnesty International, the world’s largest human rights organization and winner of the 1977 Nobel Peace Prize.
U.S. Supports Repression in Uzbekistan (PDF)
The terrorist bombings that struck Saudi Arabia on May 12th have raised a number of serious questions regarding American security interests in the Middle East. First of all, the attacks underscore the concern expressed by many independent strategic analysts that the United States has been squandering its intelligence and military resources toward Iraq–which had nothing to do with al Qaeda and posed no direct danger to the United States–and not toward al Qaeda itself, which is the real threat….
There has been a real fear in recent months that the right-wing government of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon might take advantage of the international focus on the U.S. invasion of Iraq to increase its repression in the occupied Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Few people realized, however, that one of the first casualties would be a young American….
On Thursday, both the House of Representative and the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly passed resolutions defending the policies of right-wing Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon in the occupied territories. Human rights activists are alarmed, both at the strong Congressional support for a repressive military occupation as well as the fact that the resolutions are being widely interpreted as an attack on the credibility of Amnesty International and other human rights groups.