Human Rights Watch vs. The US

Human Rights Watch have criticized the US’ handling of the war on terror and human rights violations by US allies. While there’s the usual condemnation of things like Gitmo (in which prisoners live in better conditions than they ever did in Afghanistn), there are also some substantive points that are worth consideration.

One is the issue of human rights abuses by our allies, in particular Musharraf. I’m somewhat sympathetic towards Musharraf as I believe he wants to be the Pakistani version of Kemal Ataturk. However, HRW is correct that we should not give him a free ride either. He cannot survive politically if he continues to repress democratic opposition along with the undemocratic opposition. Pakistan is not ready for full democracy quite yet, and as long as the Islamists remain entrenched in Pakistani society they will not. However, for that to change, groups need to be allowed to start creating increased civil society else the undemocratic forces in Pakistan will only gather steam. The United States should use diplomatic pressure to ensure that Musharraf has a clear set of conditions for democratic transition in Pakistan.

Another aspect of the report mentioned by The Washington Post is a recommendation not to allow "victors justice" in Iraq.

If armed conflict breaks out in Iraq, U.S. forces should make a special effort to establish the rule of law and to prevent score-settling by aggrieved Kurds and Shiites who have suffered under Hussein’s tyrannical regime, Human Rights Watch said in its annual report on global human rights practices.

The group noted that, during a 1991 uprising, Hussein’s opponents attacked and killed government workers and members of the ruling Baath Party. "Unless restrained during a possible new war," the organization said, "there is every reason to believe that they will pick up where they left off, but this time as possible U.S. proxies."

In other words, we may be having a peacekeeping operation in Iraq similar to that in Kosovo. (Which is actually a relative success story in terms of US peacekeeping operations.) Certainly we can ill afford to have Iraq fall into chaos in the inevitable post-Saddam power vacuum. Ensuring that the country stays together will be of critical importance in the immediate aftermath of an Iraqi invasion.

All in all, HRW’s report, while critical of the US, was not dedicated entirely to bashing the US and Israel while giving other nations a free pass. Perhaps there is at least one NGO out there that isn’t willing to serve as apologists for terrorism and repression in order to score political points with anti-American donors.

One thought on “Human Rights Watch vs. The US

  1. I don’t want to seem overly sensitive, but you wrote:

    Pakistan is not ready for full democracy quite yet, and as long as the Islamists remain entrenched in Pakistani society they will not.

    Pakistan is a predominantly Muslim nation (The religion is Islam the followers are Muslims). As such, your statement infers that most of the country would have to leave before it was safe for democracy. If you meant to refer to them as “Extremists”, yes there are extremists in Pakistan, but they are still a small minority of the population. Most of the population wants peace..unfortunately, these people are somewhat boring and receive little attention from the Western media.

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