Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have urged the Canadian government to arrest George W. Bush when he visits next week. This has hurt the feelings of Elliot Abrams:
What does one make of organizations that wish to see George W. Bush behind bars—but have never expressed similar sentiments about Fidel Castro, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, or Hassan Nasrallah?
…Amnesty and HRW are outspoken only with respect to certain officials. Bashar al-Assad visited Paris in 2008 and 2009: silence. Putin hit Brussels this year: silence. When in good health Fidel was a world traveler: silence. No calls for prosecution for the many killings such people have ordered. When it comes to enemies of the United States (recall Yasser Arafat as well) there may be an appeal to release a certain prisoner or a demand for more political rights, but there is no call to bar travel or to advance criminal charges. I am aware that heads of state have sovereign immunity, but why do these organizations not call for indictments by the International Criminal Court or at least demand that they be refused entry into decent countries altogether?
Remarkably, Abrams embarks on this impulsive tirade without realizing that he is engaging in exactly what he accuses Amnesty and HRW for engaging in. He is upset because he thinks they only criticize people like George Bush, Dick Cheney, Hosni Mubarak, King Hamad Khalifa, and others of his ideological ilk. Yet nowhere in his moaning complaint does he exercise the objectivity he urges of Amnesty and HRW. He doesn’t even address – or deny! – the horrible, deadly, torturous crimes the Bush administration implemented. He merely suggests they criticize others for crimes, instead of Bush. He is pathetically blind to the fact that he is engaging in precisely the logical fallacy he blames them for.
Even if it were true, which it is not, that Amnesty and HRW were withholding criticism of those Abrams mentions, it wouldn’t erase the fact that their criticisms of Bush for his massive crimes are entirely valid. Apparently, Abrams is at least smart enough to recognize that, which is why he doesn’t even dare claim that they’re invalid. He cleverly chooses to ignore the criticisms of Bush’s crimes, because he knows he cannot deny them. These are the argumentation tactics of a seven year old.