Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 20, 2012

Amnesty International Is Cheerleading For War

So called human rights organizations are increasingly used as propaganda tools against the enemy du jour of western imperialism.

When Georgia attacked Russia peacekeepers in South-Ossetia resulting in a short and lost war Human Rights Watch misidentified cluster ammunition used during that war as Russian when it was, according to its own mine identification charts, indeed Georgian ammunition which had been purchased from Israel. Human Rights Watch continued to push the false claim even weeks after it had been proven wrong

When the French wanted to attack Libya Amnesty International's French director falsly claimed that Gaddhafi was using black mercenaries. Such claims later resulted in violent atrocities by the Libyan rebels against all black people.

Human Rights Watch lamented about Syria putting mines on its borders against weapon smuggling. It claimed that such mines are internationally banned which they are not. But it did not say a word when Israel mined its border with Syria to prevent Syrian refugees from coming in.

The partisanship of these organizations has now reached a new level with Amnesty International openly calling for NATO to prolong the war on Afghanistan.

Amnesty International Advertisement for the NATO summit in Chicago


Amnesty's new slogan: "NATO: Keep the progress going!"

What progress?

Amnesty International is cheerleading the war ostensibly for "Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan". In that it is joining Laura Bush on the neo-conned Washington Post opinion pages.

But as Sonali Kolhatkar, founder of the Afghan Women's Mission (AWM) and Mariam Rawi of the Revolutionary Association of Women of Afghanistan (RAWA) wrote a while ago on AlterNet:

Under the Taliban, women were confined to their homes. They were not allowed to work or attend school. They were poor and without rights. They had no access to clean water or medical care, and they were forced into marriages, often as children.

Today, women in the vast majority of Afghanistan live in precisely the same conditions, with one notable difference: they are surrounded by war. The conflict outside their doorsteps endangers their lives and those of their families. It does not bring them rights in the household or in public, and it confines them even further to the prison of their own homes. Military escalation is just going to bring more tragedy to the women of Afghanistan.
Waging war does not lead to the liberation of women anywhere. Women always disproportionately suffer the effects of war, and to think that women's rights can be won with bullets and bloodshed is a position dangerous in its naïveté.

This Amnesty campaign should make clear to anyone that some prominent organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are now mostly tools of imperialism with no credibility for any real humanitarian concern. Fortunately there are still other organizations though which do real humanitarian work.

Posted by b on May 20, 2012 at 10:51 UTC | Permalink


"Waging war does not lead to the liberation of women anywhere. Women always disproportionately suffer the effects of war, and to think that women's rights can be won with bullets and bloodshed is a position dangerous in its naïveté."

Truer words have never been spoken b.

Seems to me, actually improving the people's lives, by building things like hospitals, school rooms, providing clean water etc. might be a better approach. But then, improving the lives of the people we attack isn't really the goal, is it?

Posted by: ben | May 20 2012 12:32 utc | 1

Some human rights activists are astonishing with their call for doing more of what clearly does not work, like some pathological compulsary disorder. I'v seen them in Norway too.

Posted by: Alexander | May 20 2012 12:46 utc | 2

oh man this is disheartening. Gah!

Posted by: Sharkbabe | May 20 2012 13:18 utc | 3

Speaking of Amnesty International's "cheerleading for war", here's a gem from Amnesty International's Secretary-General, Salil Shetty, dated 25 June 2011:

"The people of Syria are suffering and they are not seeing the same support that the people of Libya got and that is causing a lot of harm and a lot of unnecessary deaths."

Likewise here's from Amnesty International’s Deputy Director for Middle East and North Africa, Philip Luther, dated 6 Jul 2011:

"The willingness of the international community to take action on Libya in the name of human rights has highlighted its double standards on Syria. Despite President Bashar al-Assad’s talk of reform, there is little evidence so far that the Syrian authorities will respond to anything but concrete international measures." [meaning a foreign military conquest of Syria].

The Syrian government has not allowed people from Amnesty International to visit Syria because such people would not be objective in their observations and they would end up giving foreign credibility to Syria's flakey dissident liars. I support the government's policy.

Posted by: Parviziyi | May 20 2012 13:19 utc | 4

Damn straight. I see that now.

Posted by: Alexander | May 20 2012 13:26 utc | 5

and just thing..this all began because the US and afghan muslims were allied in hating communism! and got rid of the socialist state in the 1980s.

Thus the US has never been a force for good and its 'freedom and democracy' fraud slogan should never been allowed to go uncriticised

Posted by: brian | May 20 2012 14:49 utc | 6

Well....the US does have a Nobel Peace Prize winner as president who is leading the way to war and killings. Or following orders to do so....

It's the New Big Thing. Very popular among certain "progressives."

(Even writing this as satire gets my insula reaction going. I think the use of "Gah" tries to convey that feeling.

Consider an animal (including a human) that has started eating some rotten, fetid, disgusting food. As a result, neurons in an area of the brain called the insula will activate. Gustatory disgust. Smell the same awful food, and the insula activates as well. Think about what might count as a disgusting food (say, taking a bite out of a struggling cockroach). Same thing.

Now read in the newspaper about a saintly old widow who had her home foreclosed by a sleazy mortgage company, her medical insurance canceled on flimsy grounds, and got a lousy, exploitative offer at the pawn shop where she tried to hock her kidney dialysis machine. You sit there thinking, those bastards, those people are scum, they’re worse than maggots, they make me want to puke … and your insula activates. Think about something shameful and rotten that you once did … same thing. Not only does the insula “do” sensory disgust; it does moral disgust as well. Because the two are so viscerally similar. When we evolved the capacity to be disgusted by moral failures, we didn’t evolve a new brain region to handle it. Instead, the insula expanded its portfolio.)

Posted by: jawbone | May 20 2012 14:52 utc | 7

first african american nobelpeaceprize president to wage war on africa..thats anovel way to make history

Posted by: brian | May 20 2012 14:57 utc | 8

Human Rights for Women and Girls in Afghanistan

Yeah and under the Russkies women comprised 30 - 50% of functionaries and cadres, in medecine, education, social services, and like 70%, for lower-paid, on the ground, e.g. primary school teachers, and a huge number of U teachers.

Doctors were ...women!

In Gvmt they had some strong presence, don’t remember. They also were present in ‘masculine’ professions such as building, architects, plumbing, and so on. They drove taxis.

They were also often heads of families, accepted, and managed farms, shops, service industry, local biz. They could study anything they liked, no barriers at all. Many studied law and went into Gvmt or private where they did well.

They wore veils or miniskirts or both and nobody cared.

Education for girls was compulsory and marriage before 16 was prohibited as was bride price. (1978, I had to look that up.)

Afghanistan was a poster child for women’s lib. It was an example many wanted to follow, it was quoted and held up...

Posted by: Noirette | May 20 2012 15:43 utc | 9

Makes you wonder, why the US consistently prop up groups that are con what we see as western democratic values. Probably to make the world compare worse to the USA. There's some strange fundamentalist powers working from the states. No wonder their best friend are a supposedly lone democratic country that practice apartheid and ethnic cleansing.

Posted by: Alexander | May 20 2012 15:55 utc | 10

Isn't this the crux of the issue?Murder of those who actually respect their religious precepts,and those who hate religion and God are noble victims of those religious precepts?
Killing their husbands,brothers and children are going to bring freedom for these alleged victims of alleged outdated myths?No way in heaven,but maybe in the unbelieving hell of Zion.
Nihilists alarm me one hundred fold over religious people who actually believe in God,and those who hide behind their alleged nobility and goodness while killing innocents disgust me. And who run these orgs anyway,Zionist moles?I guess their funding levels go up when they do the monsters bidding.
Or is that a given,as they run everything that is killing US and our world as we race back to premodern feudalism of these divine monsters who would mess up a wet dream.

Posted by: dahoit | May 20 2012 16:16 utc | 11

Thanks for the link regarding Gino Strada's work. Strada is a well-known and well-respected figure in Italy.

Thanks also for pointing out the disheartening apologetics for war being proffered by organizations from whom one would like to expect something better.
This is yet another case in which the antiwar conservatives like Ron Paul and Justin Raimondo are much more coherent and convincing than self-styled progressives. It would be interesting to have detailed accounts of just how the "infiltration" and co-optation of an organization like Amnesty International takes place. One also wonders if such operations ever produce the opposite of the desired effect: do infiltrators occasionally "go native" and adopt the view points of their targets?

Presumably, many follow these "official stimulared views" of "progressive" organizations in good faith, which is another reason why b's critique is so useful. The underlying ideology for these "humanitarian interventions" has been around for a long time, albeit with minor reworkings of the underlying theme: "white man's burden", "mission civiliatrice", and "manifest destiny" are all slogans from the past whose promulgation facilitated a realpolitk too brutal to be presented on its merits, yet which undoubtedly found numerous true believers among the footsoldiers and on the homefront. Here is a particularly egregious example (also from Italy, but almost 80 years ago) of a blatantly racist and explicitly imperialist policy so well set to music with "liberationist lyrics" (see here for an English translation) that it achieved wide popularity. One hopes that the popularity was due to its (debatable) musical qualities rather than its odious political message, but one must concede that such nationalism and chauvinism are by no means unusual traits of character in modern states. Today the range of "officially approved" propaganda outlets is much wider, although the means available for opposing them are also more powerful. We can only hope that the appeals to reason and decency to be found here at MOA and in other venues will be heard over the din of such apologies for war crimes as offered by the likes of "Jack Bauer".

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | May 20 2012 16:22 utc | 12

A good commentary, but let me clarify a detail:

When the French wanted to attack Libya Amnesty International's French director falsly claimed that Gaddhafi was using black mercenaries. Such claims later resulted in violent atrocities by the Libyan rebels against all black people.

Those claims provided a false rationale and a cover for the said violent atrocities. The atrocities as such resulted out of otehr reasons, like a recalcitrant Arab racism; perhaps also brain damage among members of the then anti-government groups: former tortured prisoners, criminals, et al.

Posted by: Levantine | May 20 2012 18:50 utc | 13

AmnestyUSA did explain on their website that the poster was a call 'directed at NATO, not to praise it' but even this still a call for war. It can even be interpreted as NATO not doing enough. Because after all, NATO can only do war, nothing else, and that's the meaning of the call.

Posted by: Sophia | May 20 2012 19:36 utc | 14

Indeed, Amnesty of all, should know not to mix military and humanitarianism, that's a fundamental principle. Thanks for the link.

Posted by: Alexander | May 20 2012 20:19 utc | 15

we must stop looking for Zionist moles and instead look into our own history; what makes Zionism so hateful is precisely where it copies our worse ideologies and instincts; a very insightful link from a thinker many of you will know, Shahid Alam: Racism Across Civilizations: Greece, Western Europe, Islam and China

Posted by: claudio | May 20 2012 22:47 utc | 16

@Noirette - thanks for the info - we are still waiting for a balanced assessment of the historic role of the Ussr and of Marxism; also, remember women's role in Baathist Iraq, and in Gaddafi's Libya, and even in Islamic Iran, compared to that in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other "friends" of ours

Posted by: claudio | May 20 2012 23:09 utc | 17

huge anti nato protest in chicago today, police started violently attacking the protestors ot break it up. soldiers throwing their medals..recommend this guys tweets!/johnknefel

Posted by: annie | May 21 2012 0:15 utc | 18

Excellent work. You do more to document the banalities of these times than anyone else I have come across.

Posted by: DM | May 21 2012 13:04 utc | 19

@9 - that may be so, but then it contradicts what sonali kolhatkar and mariam rawi say about war and women's rights and freedom. the ussr took afghanistan by force, at gunpoint, and imposed its will on it. it was always a tenuous liberation for women under those circumstances. and regardless of who the occupier is today, what does it say about the people of afghanistan and their beliefs that women there are treated worse than livestock?

Posted by: wenis | May 21 2012 15:54 utc | 20

The day the Amnestys, HRWs openly call the USA and Apartheid Israel, as the worst violators of human rights and remind "the international community"of R2P, will be the we will take the seriously. So Amnestys, HRWs of the world - put up or shut up!!!

Posted by: Amnesties for Empire | May 21 2012 18:23 utc | 21

Dear all,

I'm writing from Amnesty to clarify what we now realize was a poor word choice on our NATO Chicago posters. We're actually calling on NATO not to stand in the way of progress made by Afghan women -- "keep the progress going" ie don't stand in the way of progress. We held a "NATO Shadow Summit" with Afghan women leaders to bring attention to this. You can learn more here:
If you have further questions let us know!
All the best,

Posted by: Taylor | May 21 2012 19:38 utc | 22

Amnesty International and other 'humanitarian' NGO's have been playgrounds for intelligences services for sometime, I'm not surprised. I follow Amnesty postings when it's internal anti-death penalty moves, but it's foreign policy street cred is a little thin.

Posted by: sophist | May 22 2012 18:18 utc | 23

Amnesty and other humanitarian GNOs should keep a very pricipally founded distance to politically motivated stances towards or against institutions/governments, like NATO or Syria, and never mix military and humanitarian agendas, like red cross/crescent mostly does, actually RC is a good role-model for others in that respect, as far as I know.

Posted by: Alexander | May 23 2012 12:52 utc | 24

Amnesty are calling for UNSC veto-rights to be ended.. In their new report, they are putting forth Syria as an example of when the veto stood in the way for human rights. Yeah right.

Posted by: Alexander | May 24 2012 2:25 utc | 25

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