Let there be no mistake: this is by no means a criticism of human rights as an ideal to work for. The complete title should be “Open letter to those who invoke human rights selectively in order to justify the Western Powers’ policy of intervention in the internal affairs of other countries.”
For decades, the principle on which international law is based, that is, equal sovereignty of States implying non-intervention of one State in the internal affairs of another, has been systematically violated, to the point of being practically forgotten, by champions of the ‘right of humanitarian intervention’. Recently, a number of such advocates of humanitarian intervention, self-identified as stalwart leftists, have joined the chorus of the Washington war party in reproaching the Obama administration for failure to intervene more in the military efforts to overthrow the government of Syria.
Indeed, just about everything that the United States is doing everywhere in the world violates the principle of non-intervention: not only ‘preventive’ invasions, but also influencing or buying elections, arming rebels, or unilateral sanctions and embargoes aimed at changing the target country’s policies.
Those who consider themselves on the left should take note of the historic basis of those principles. First, the lesson drawn from the Second World War. The origin of that war was Germany’s use of minorities in Czechoslovakia and Poland, extended later during the invasion of the Soviet Union. The war finally had catastrophic consequences for the very minorities that were used by the Germans.
The consequences of US interventionist policies are multiple and catastrophic. On the one hand, you have the millions of deaths due to American wars. Moreover it would be a mistake to imagine that the victims of interventions will not react to the threat of intervention by building alliances and trying to defend themselves by increasing internal repression.
Although defense of human rights is a liberal concept, today’s “human rights defenders” display fanaticism.
The “human rights defenders” also question whether it is still possible to talk with Putin ‘after Aleppo’. But the US ‘war on terror’, including the invasion of Iraq, with its hundreds of thousands of deaths, has never prevented anyone from talking to the Americans. Actually, after that 2003 war that France disapproved, France became more integrated into NATO and followed the US more faithfully than ever.
States can support other States by giving them weapons and money. But individuals, or social movements, like an antiwar movement, cannot do that. So, it makes no sense to say, when individuals express criticism of interventionist policies in our society, necessarily in a marginal way, that they ‘support’ this or that regime or leader.
The Noble Souls want to ‘save Aleppo’, ‘are ashamed of the inaction of the international community’ and want to ‘do something’. Yes, but do what? The only practical suggestion that was made was to create a ‘no fly zone’ that would prevent the Russian air force from helping the Syrian army. But that would be one more violation of international law, since Russia was invited to Syria by the legal and internationally recognized government of that country, in order to combat terrorism.
The Beautiful Souls, on the other hand, are against all wars, all violence. They ‘condemn’ Assad and Putin of course, but also Obama, the European Union, NATO, everybody! They denounce, they light candles and turn out lights. They ‘testify’, because ‘remaining silent’ means ‘being complicit’.
But what they do not realize is that, on the ground, in Syria, nobody, whether the government or the rebels, know that they exist and, if they knew, they couldn’t care less about their indignations, condemnations and lighting up of candles.
This article has been excerpted from: ‘Open Letter to ‘Human Rights Defenders’ on Aleppo’.