Human Rights and Human Wrongs

I must introduce all of you out there in Internetland to the life and works of one Suzanne Nossel. She is a professional “human rights” bureaucrat: presently head of US PEN, she was earlier head of the US branch of Amnesty International and before that of Human Rights Watch.

But, before all that, she was an employee of the US State Department.

She boasts that she coined the expression “smart power” in 2004.

Washington, the theory goes, should thus offer assertive leadership — diplomatic, economic, and not least, military — to advance a broad array of goals: self-determination, human rights, free trade, the rule of law, economic development, and the quarantine and elimination of dictators and weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Unlike conservatives, who rely on military power as the main tool of statecraft, liberal internationalists see trade, diplomacy, foreign aid, and the spread of American values as equally important.

In short, Republicans just bomb you. Democrats bomb you too, but first they lecture you about your moral deficiencies.

And here is the latest example. Human Rights Watch (one of her former fiefdoms) invites us to sign a petition protesting Russia’s “increasingly repressive domestic policies”. Why those awful Russians have – not that the petition tells us so – imitated the US Foreign Agent Registration Act of 1938 which requires “persons acting as agents of foreign principals in a political or quasi-political capacity to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities.”

FARA is, of course, a Good Democratic Law while the exact Russian equivalent is an Evil Repressive Law. Hypocrisy is evidently no impairment to ”smart power”.

Oh, and incidentally, as anyone with a knowledge of the difference between Russian and Ukrainian orthography knows, the sinister helmeted riot cops in the accompanying picture are actually Ukrainian riot police. Stupidity is no impairment to “smart power” either.