Packaging vs. Motive: Greewald examines recent human rights “successes”

Glen Greewald has an insightful piece on Salon today. He examines the pruported human rights motives behind military action, against actual improvements in the lives of civilians impacted by the violence. Specifically, he cites human rights violations of officials in post-Gaddaffi Libya. Doctors without Borders recently stopped work there in protest of ongoing, and apparantly santioned abuse, lawless detentions, torture, and medical neglect.  A doctor with the french Medecins Sans Frontieres explains:

“Patients were brought to us for medical care between interrogation sessions, so that they would be fit for further interrogation. This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions.”

Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations have expressed similar concerns. Greenwald compares this to our human rights “victory” following the fall of Saddam Hussein. He notes:

Obviously, the Gadaffi and Saddam regimes were horrible human rights abusers. But[…]one cannot celebrate a human rights success based merely on the invasion and overthrow of a bad regime; it is necessary to know what one has replaced them with.

Ironically, those who are the loudest advocates for these wars and then prematurely celebrate the outcome (and themselves) bear significant responsibility for these subsequent abuses: by telling the world that the invasion was a success, it causes the aftermath — the most important part — to be neglected. There is nothing noble about invading and bombing a country into regime change if what one ushers in is mass instability along with tyranny and abuse by a different regime. [Em. mine. Links, Greenwald]

He notes that although human rights abuses are often the loudly-tauted reasons for entering into military conflict, they are rarely the actual motive for doing so. He concludes:

The fact that it is not the goal means more than just another war sold deceitfully based on pretexts: it means that human rights concerns will not drive what happens after the invasion is completed. The material interests of the invaders are highly likely to be served, but not the human rights of the people of the invaded country.

[…] those who supported the war in Libya — which (like the war in Iraq) included numerous people who did so out of a genuine, well-intentioned desire to see a vile tyrant vanquished — have a particular responsibility to ensure that the same tyranny is not replicated by the forces supported by the invading armies. [Em. mine]

Well worth the read.

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