R. A. Hettinga on Sun, 17 Mar 2002 10:40:59 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime> Human rights not a foreign policy concern


Don Feder (back to story)

March 11, 2002

Human rights not a foreign policy concern

The State Department's 26th annual country report on human rights should
have come with a caveat: The purpose of U.S. foreign policy is protecting
the security of Americans, not crusading for goodness abroad. Harsh?

But it's a cold world out there, filled with wolves snapping at our heels.
To thwart them, at times we have to ally ourselves with unsavory
characters. (Think of Stalin in World War II or Central American juntas in
the '80s.) The way they treat their people should be the concern of
ministers and moralists, not diplomats.

The State Department spent thousands of pages analyzing human rights in
almost 190 countries. The net result of all this breast-beating will be
zilch. America's foreign policy will continue to be guided by military
necessity, trade or other considerations unrelated to secret police and
torture cells.

On those occasions when human rights played a major role in shaping our
foreign policy, the results were catastrophic.

In the '70s, President Jimmy Carter (whose administration could have
doubled as a revival meeting) decided the Shah of Iran was being beastly to
dissident Shiite clerics. The U.S. hedged on its support for a loyal ally.
Iran ended up in the arms of lunatic theocrats who've destabilized the
region and spread terror abroad. Give me a pro-American autocrat any time.

Under ex-president and human-rights poser Bill Clinton, we twice intervened
in Yugoslavia, creating a nation in Bosnia and a Western protectorate in
Kosovo, reportedly to end ethnic cleansing. Bosnia has been infected with
Moslem fanaticism. Kosovo's Albanians engaged in ethnic cleansing
themselves. Both have harbored terrorists.

Somalia, Haiti -- these are not high points in U.S. diplomacy.

Efforts like the State Department survey distract us from what should be
the sole focus of our foreign policy -- protecting the human rights of
Americans by guaranteeing their security.

The report devotes 103 pages to the People's Republic of China. But the
problem with the PRC isn't its brutal suppression of dissent or toxic
treatment of the Falun Gong meditators.

China is an aggressive power, hostile to the West, that's developing a
deep-water navy and helping Third World thugs acquire weapons of mass
destruction. It could end up starting World War III over its obsession with
Taiwan. Beijing's human-rights abuses concern us as individuals. Its
military/foreign policy concerns us as a nation.

The Foggy Bottom boys approvingly note improvements in Afghanistan
following the end of Taliban rule. Again, the challenge Afghanistan posed
for the civilized world was the fact that it had become bin Laden's boot
camp -- a raging infection pumping its poison into the international
bloodstream -- not its Neanderthal attitude toward women.

In its section on "Israel and the Occupied Territories," the report reads
like a parody. The only democracy in the Middle East, a nation that has
always respected minority rights, is condemned for not conducting its fight
for survival strictly according to the Marquess of Queensberry's rules.

The reports cites "credible anecdotal evidence" that as many as several
thousand Palestinians have encountered abusive treatment at Israeli

Well, excuse me while I brush away the tears. Every few days, one of these
blokes blows himself up on a busy street, slaughtering civilians in the
process, or sprays bullets into a crowded restaurant.

When news of Sept.11 reached Ramallah, Palestinians did an end-zone victory
dance in the streets -- thereby condoning the ultimate human rights abuse
inflicted on 3,000 innocents.

The State Department's solicitude for a people that revels in mass murder
makes as much sense as European whining because the Guantanamo vermin don't
have POW status. Exterminators don't read roaches their rights before they
start spraying.

As individuals, we can and should protest human-rights abuses wherever they
occur. Washington should try to effect change in governments susceptible to
our influence. But like our special forces fighting in Afghanistan, the
first order of business is to assure our nation's survival. Human rights
will not improve if America fails.

R. A. Hettinga <mailto: rah@ibuc.com>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <http://www.ibuc.com/>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'

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