Stephen Zunes : Human Rights
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.
Republican Right and congressional liberals join together to show support for Sharon government despite reports by Amnesty and Human Rights Watch detailing gross human rights abuses.
Last Tuesday, Israeli forces murdered Isaac Saada outside of his home in Bethlehem. He was the father of ten and a beloved teacher at Terra Sancta, a RomanCatholic school in that West Bank city. Saada was actively involved with the peace education program of the Israeli-Palestinian Center for Research and Information. The day he was buried, he had been scheduled to take part in a joint seminar with Israeli teachers on improving understanding and cooperation between the two peoples.
The decision by the U.S. Congress to withhold $244 million in dues owed to the United Nations only builds upon the growing global perception of U.S. arrogance. In recent days, both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill have placed themselves to the right of even the Bush administration in their sharp anti-UN rhetoric….