Samantha Power was a human rights activist. You won’t believe what happened next!

(Warning, rant ahead.) Today’s datapoint in a continuing series:

Human Rights Watch gets a letter from Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Clausewitz said “War is the continuation of Politik by other means.” MaxSpeak says human rights politics are the prelude to war. Human rights activists who go to work for the U.S. government become apologists for the war of the month, or of next month.

Nations, the U.S. no less than others, invariably cloak their military aggression in moral terms. I suggest moral motives are never the central factors in so-called humanitarian interventions. After all, there are human rights calamities all over the globe, happening all the time. What determines the focus of U.S. concerns? Why Syria and the Ukraine and not Rwanda or the Congo? Of course you can never fix everything. Usually you can’t fix anything. But still, to where are the government’s energies directed? Why do U.S. officials complain about Venezuela’s democratic election results but indulge brutal, absolute monarchies elsewhere? Who are they kidding?

Poor George W. Bush got too much blame for Iraq. We forget the years of economic sanctions, courtesy of the Clinton Administration. These sanctions greased the political skids for the ensuing Bushist invasion. Does anybody remember the reasons for them? Was it because Saddam Hussein did some beastly things before and after, but mostly after he was no longer our friend? To these measures have been attributed the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, in response to which Clinton’s Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said, “[W]e think the price is worth it.” Then she gets to dine out on the foreign policy blunders of George Bush. Isn’t that Dick Cheney awful?

The best human rights policy is to confine interventions to instances where the U.S. has zero material national interest. (“But then they would never happen.” Well, there you go.) The latter always perverts the motivation and execution of policy. Go ahead and rescue the kidnapped girls in Nigeria. Go ahead and take out Joseph Kony. Material interests always entail entanglements, and you know what the founders said about that.

More datapoints . . .

A problem from Samantha Power

Anne-Marie Slaughter was a human rights campaigner. You won’t believe what happened next.

P.S. Chase Madar was on the case.

P.P.S. So was Bob Dreyfuss.




Samantha Power was a human rights activist. You won’t believe what happened next! — 3 Comments

  1. A friend commented: “I’m going with ‘One crazy trick that can cure human rights activism!'”

  2. Yeah Jon Schwartz is right. That was totally awful for Power to want to do something about the suffering in Bosnia (which is near/in Europe), just like it is immoral for teenagers to want do something about KONY instead of playing video games.

    Of course the critics of the Iraq war are right and I wonder what Power will say once she retires. Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney etc. lied and said it would be easy and cheap and Iraq would be a functional democracy in no time, out-exporting the U.S. like Germany and Japan.

    Sanctions are seen as alternative to war but I don’t think they work. They destroyed Iraq as you point out. They’re wrecking Iran.

    The solution as the Noble Prize winners argue lies in the legitimacy of international organizations, like the I.C.C. But our Republicans won’t go for it. Even Hillary would expand the IMF to give China more votes but the Republicans won’t go for it.

  3. Hi Peter. Nice to see you again, so to speak. One of the problems is killing innocent people to save innocent people.

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