Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

May 14, 2001

Lessons of the UN 'rights' vote

America-haters the world over were ecstatic that the US was not reelected to the UN "Human Rights Commission." That great champion of human rights, Communist China, gleefully pontificated in their state-controlled media that "the U.S. election loss shows that America's long-standing pursuit of confrontation and hegemonism in international relations has aroused widespread anger. Its double standard on human rights issues has made it unqualified to critique the human rights situation in the world and among other nations." Whoever writes this stuff – some chained-to-his-desk Chinese bureaucrat, whose skill at conveying double-meanings can only be called Clintonian – is really a pro, because technically you can't argue with it. After all, China, whose gulag imprisons millions, doesn't employ a double-standard: they consistently defend a government's sovereign "right" to enslave its own subjects. In the morally inverted world we are living in – an era in which human stupidity and hypocrisy have been globalized, along with the economy – the Chinese are quite naturally qualified to be members of this phony "human rights commission," along with Vietnam, Libya, Sierra Leone, and the Sudan.


Now everyone, left and right, is outraged that this last – a bastion of the traffic in human slavery – was elected to the UN commission, but naturally no one is talking about how the increasingly repressive South African regime, also a commission member – which is moving to muzzle the independent media and cracking down on the opposition – is also less than deserving. To say so would be a "hate crime." As for mentioning that none of the African countries serving on the commission – Algeria, Burundi, Cameroon, Kenya, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Uganda, Zambia – could be described in terms of human rights as anything other than Third World hellholes: well, you can just forget it. To even imply such a thing – never mind putting it so bluntly and truthfully – would be to risk the threat of worldwide condemnation and sanctions. But the really big scandal is not that the island prison of Cuba retains its seat in this august UN body – surely we are inured to such idiocies in the UN – but that the very countries that maneuvered us off the commission – and I'm talking about the Europeans – are moving rapidly toward establishing a totalitarian socialist dictatorship on a continental scale.


The US, which has been a member of the UN human rights commission since its creation by Eleanor Roosevelt in 1947, was basically stabbed in the back by the European ingrates we've been defending, subsidizing, and mollycoddling for the past fifty years. The "West" is allowed three seats, and our European allies thoughtfully ran three candidates: Sweden, France, and Austria won seats. We lost, in spite of the 43 nations who committed themselves to vote for the US: it was, after all, a secret ballot, and so US retaliation (say, a cutoff in aid) was not a factor. And it wasn't a factor in any case, because what could the US do about it? What did the US want to do about it? Answer: exactly nothing.


While the loss of our seat was indeed "an outrage," said George W. Bush, we have to pay our UN dues and we oughtn't to take any action. Congress wasn't listening, and the Republican-controlled House voted to withhold part of our UN dues: but the Senate is unlikely to go along with this, and so this was really just blowing off steam. In any case, the Democratic leader of the House joined with the People's Daily and assorted socialist Euro-trash in blaming America first. Rep. Richard Gephardt brayed that "Unfortunately, today's action demonstrates that US unilateralism in foreign policy has consequences." Was it our bombing of Iraq, of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, or the destruction of the former Yugoslavia – was it any of these blatant violations of human rights that justified our unseating? No, of course not: "According to diplomatic sources," burbled Gephardt, "the Bush Administration's recent withdrawal from the Kyoto Treaty and its willingness to shatter the international arms control framework in pursuit of unproven missile defenses influenced the vote by other nations against our nomination to the Commission." Unless we shackle ourselves to our shiftless "allies," who are only too glad for the opportunity to stick it to us, saddle ourselves with a Luddite sovereignty-destroying treaty, and make decisions about our national security by taking an international poll, we have only ourselves to blame – this is what a national Democratic party leader and a potential presidential candidate is telling us.


In taking this line, Gephardt is acting as the EU's amen corner in Washington, tut-tutting and finger-wagging that "This Administration's failure to follow these basic diplomatic precepts on critical global matters has undermined our government's ability to sustain its leadership role in the human rights arena." Following right behind him was "Human Rights Watch," whose "UN representative" – Joanna Weschler – piously declared that it "wasn't surprising" that we were kicked off: what did we expect after being "on the wrong side of several human rights issues in the last few years," including opposing an International Criminal Court? But even she had to admit that "to punish the United States and reward Sudan, which was elected, is clearly absurd." That is putting it mildly, but in the topsy-turvy world of the United Nations, the absurd is the norm.


Hey, so how come "Human Rights Watch" gets its own United Nations representative, anyway? Do you have to be funded by George Soros, or can any "nongovernmental organization" apply? Gee, I hope this means that is qualified to make an application: I'd love to send Pat Buchanan to UN headquarters as our rep! Wouldn't you? Unfortunately, I don't think we'll ever get the chance to see Pat in action, because I doubt whether we can measure up to the UN"s standards: you can be a nongovernmental organization, but obviously you can't be an anti-governmental organization, which is what we are. For the United Nations is nothing but an alliance of governments, and its "human rights commission" is, by definition, nothing but an extension of their power and interests. Asking the UN to judge "human rights" is like asking a consortium of criminals to sit in judgment of their own crimes.


In blaming America for this conspiracy of our "allies," Gephardt stupidly declared that "this means our government will no longer have a voice on the principal international body that evaluates human rights in countries like China, Cuba, Iran, Libya and Sudan. This is very unfortunate." Is it? Do we really need the US government to tell us that the government of Libya is not exactly a friend of human rights? What's "unfortunate" is not our expulsion, but the legitimacy a body like the UN "human rights commission" has in the eyes of our own elite.


The obvious hypocrisy of Sudan's elevation and our own ignominious expulsion from this fountainhead of "human rights" is a point made by numerous commentators, and I won't belabor it here. But it isn't just the Third World members of this esteemed panel whose bona fides need to be challenged. Our "Western" allies – who abandoned us when it came down to a vote, and took the seats for themselves – don't stand up to any objective examination of their "human rights" records, either. Austria, France, and Sweden were elected, while Belgium, Canada, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom retained their seats. I won't say a word against Austria, which deserves to be elevated if only as compensation for the disgraceful treatment accorded it by the EU when Brussels intervened against the admission of the politically incorrect Austrian Freedom Party into the Vienna government. But practically all of the others are on some very dubious grounds in terms of civil liberties. . . .


Germany regularly bans rightist parties that show any popular appeal and would arrest Tom Cruise if he tried to practice his religion (Scientology, along with "hate speech" is verboten). France has similarly repressive "hate speech" laws, which basically outlaw the political views of a good 30 percent of the electorate: and Belgium, of course, is the epicenter of the infection, where the bureaucrats of Brussels are readying a European "federalism" that will make the old Soviet federalism look like the Articles of Confederation. Let's not forget Canada, which has enacted extensive "hate speech" legislation: censorship extends to everything from discussions of race to dissenting opinions on the nature and value of homosexuality. Dr. Laura was silenced there, shipments of books are regularly opened, inspected, and confiscated at the US-Canadian border, and a censorship board regularly monitors all media for evidence of criminal incorrectness. Violators are subject to fines, suspension of licenses, and even jail time. In the UK, too, this trend is taking on frightening dimensions, with casual conversations in pubs subject to surveillance (for evidence of "racism") and a generally Orwellian atmosphere of fear is constantly generated to keep a lid on the ever-shrinking limits of free expression. This is who sits in judgment of the US: a gaggle of half-free Western "democracies," where the defense of culture is criminal and speaking truth to power can land you in the hoosegaw.


What we are seeing in Europe, with the rise of the EU, is the reemergence of a totalitarian form of socialism, and, moreover, one with international ambitions. Britain is about to be absorbed into the maw of this continental Borg, with only token opposition from the Tories – and none from the US. The Germans are revving up to impose a European "constitution" on the rest of the continent, which has already been divvied up between various corporate and political interests, and the united socialist states of Europe is about to become a reality. This is what the UN vote was really all about: the emerging European superpower is throwing its weight around even before it is formally born.


What Hitler failed to achieve – German hegemony in Europe – Herr Schroeder and his Social Democrats have (so far) managed to pull off without a shot being fired. Everyone in Europe, including the Germans, realizes this, but the taboo against actually saying it is strictly enforced. When Sir Peter Tapsell, a senior Conservative party leader, dared to publicly identify the Nazi origins of the pan-European idea, the [London] Times was simply horrified: "[Tory leader] William Hague faced embarrassment last night," the Times moaned, "when one of his most senior party members compared the European vision of Gerhard Schroeder, the German Chancellor, to Hitler's personal manifesto and said Labor's tactics on Europe were reminiscent of the Nazis." Speaking truth to power is considered impolite by these sophisticates: it makes them blush rather than cheer. But what red-blooded Englishman (or Scotsman, or Irishman) would not cheer Sir Peter's wonderfully intemperate outburst of honesty?: "We may not have studied Hitler's Mein Kampf in time but, by heaven, there is no excuse for us not studying the Schroeder Plan now," thundered Sir Peter. "You may be sure that the currency section of Dr Goebbels' Guide to Falsehood is already well thumbed by the Labour spin-doctors." Hear, hear!


Perhaps Tapsell has read up on the history of the European "vision," which – if one consults John Laughland's excellent book, The Tainted Source – can indeed be traced back to Herr Hitler and his pan-European minions. But in the pro-Blair British media, poor Sir Peter is being typed as a dotty old Tory, hopelessly out of step, screaming his defiance at the inevitable. Tapsell hopes that the British people will rise up against the elites in "an explosion of rage": if and when it happens, it will be no thanks to his fellow Tories. The party leaders responded in no uncertain terms: "Sir Peter has been saying that to anyone who will listen for more than 20 years but his views are not shared by the leadership of the Conservative Party."


Is the consolidation of a European socialist super-state inevitable? The project has gone far down the road to completion, speeded by the active cooperation of the US, but any number of obstacles remain in its path: the reluctance of the little countries (Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, etc.) to surrender their sovereignty, the growing anti-Euro movement in the United Kingdom that could ultimately rally opposition on the continent, the ongoing financial scandals that have made the EU bureaucracy symbolic of endemic corruption, the increasingly grim prospect of living under the threat of the Prussian whip – all these roadblocks, as well as increasing instability in the Balkans and political shakeups in places like Italy could well prove insuperable. But the opposition, as Maggie Thatcher has rightfully pointed out, hasn't got its act together. And, worst of all, the US government, far from opposing this dangerous trend, doesn't even recognize it. . . .


The Europeans are now telling us that they didn't really mean to do it, it was just an "accident," and, after all, Sweden didn't sulk when it was voted off the human rights commission, it simply got itself reelected next time around. Yeah, well Sweden doesn't pay for over 25 percent of the UN's operations, and Sweden doesn't have to host this nest of spies and ingrates in its very bosom, now does it? A representative of the EU promised that we could "consult" with them if we wanted a "voice" on the commission: how nice of them. The US answer, however, should be "thanks, but no thanks." The Euros aver that "There was no European Union vote. There was no ganging up." Hogwash. We had supposedly solid commitments from the Europeans, in light of the Third World bloc that always votes itself in, but they didn't come through. Blatant lying, of course, is an entrenched feature of the European political scene, where Clinton is considered a piker and verbal obfuscation long ago achieved the level of a high art: in this case, however, such an obvious untruth can only be taken in one way, and that is the way it was intended: as a mortal insult.


Three times we have pulled them out of the abyss: those ceaselessly quarreling states of Europe, who dragged us into two world wars and huddled under our nuclear shield in lieu of a third world conflagration. Twice we saved them from the Germans, and once from a Soviet-style socialism that would have "liberated" them against their wishes – now a German socialist movement, combining both the Prussian and the Soviet aspects of this undead monster, is rising up from the grave to threaten what is left of their liberty and their sovereignty. This time, I say, we ought to leave them to their fate – while ceasing to subsidize and support their slide into socialism. It is way past time to bring our troops home from Europe – to get them not only out of Kosovo and Bosnia, but out of Germany as well. Get them out of Macedonia, and out of Spain, and let the Europeans do what they do best – and that is fight among themselves.


While Donald Rumsfeld is busy constructing a "defense doctrine" that is focused on Asia, a Frankenstein monster is rising out of the European mists, rearing up and feeling its power, roaring its defiance of the American "hyperpower." And what is our response? We offer them subsidies, foreign aid, and full access to our military assets. Don't worry about those "rogue nations," we burble, as we offer to extend our projected missile defense system to include them. The only problem is that the EU is the biggest and potentially the most dangerous rogue state of all. We can handle our declared enemies, none of whom is very powerful: it's our "friends" and "allies" in Europe that are turning out to be the real problem, and one that will only loom larger as time goes on.


Why do they hate us? For all the wrong reasons. Since their own foreign policy is just as rapacious as our own, if not more so – Germany, for example, was even more fanatical than the US and England when it came to waging the Kosovo war – they have very little ground to stand on when it comes to our propensity to bomb those countries that displease us. The European critique, if any, has always been that we don't bomb often enough, soon enough, or hard enough, not that we are too aggressive: certainly that was (and is) their role in the Balkans. Instead, they attack us for not signing on to the globalist project to which they are so committed: the Kyoto treaty, unratified by most countries in the world, and the International Criminal Court, not to mention the myriad treaties and international covenants by which they and their American amen-corner seek to transcend and abolish the US Constitution. As much as I believe that Bob Kerrey is a war criminal, I would sooner see the US bomb The Hague than have him delivered to the International Criminal Court.


Yeah, but that doesn't answer the question: why do they hate us? It isn't "blowback" from our aggressive and murderous foreign policy – not from the Europeans, at any rate, since they haven't been victimized by it. What they hate is our wealth, even as they drain us of it: what they hate is our constitutional republican system, which (in theory, if not always in practice) is a standing reproach to the rule of bureaucrats and censors; and what they especially hate is the economic system that makes our liberty possible, and that is free-market capitalism, which, however imperfectly and inconsistently practiced in this country, has nonetheless unleashed the productive power of a free people to such an extent that it is literally the envy of the world. That is what we have to endure – the envy of the world – because envy is the motivating factor in all socialist ideologies. The idea that some people are better off than others, and that this is a just outcome – this is what the Euro-socialists, the heirs of Marx and Engels (and Lenin), find insufferable. That is why the "ex"-Communist and Social Democratic rulers of a united Europe are training their rhetorical guns on the US.


One of the great ironies – and very real dangers – of our foreign policy of global intervention is that it not only creates a lot of unnecessary enemies, but also leads us to ignore our real enemies. If I were Donald Rumsfeld, I would forget about China, and start looking across the Atlantic: for how long will it be before the guns of Europe aimed in our direction are loaded with ammunition more deadly than mere rhetoric? It's only a matter of time.

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