Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Letter to Board of Directors, Amnesty International-USA

to: Board of Directors, Amnesty International USA

We, the undersigned, protest Amnesty International USA's decision to portray NATO as defending women’s rights in Afghanistan. Amnesty and its members are in no way served by supporting U.S. foreign policy or NATO ambitions at the expense of the truth about how Afghan women and girls are faring after more than a decade of violent occupation.

Bus shelter ads with the slogan "NATO: Keep The Progress Going!", a letter to the same effect signed by, among others, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, and the remarks of panelists at the Shadow Summit in Chicago seem to dovetail nicely with US State Department's “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” doctrine – otherwise known as “humanitarian intervention” – as well as its newly created “Atrocity Prevention Board."

It seems quite likely that the advent of Suzanne Nossel as Amnesty's Executive Director influenced Amnesty's change of direction. Nossel, credited with coining the term “Smart Power,” published a 2004 Foreign Affairs article in which she outlined the concept of the U.S. using military power as well as other forms of “soft power,” an approach which Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced at her confirmation as the new basis of State Department policy.

Could influencing the direction of a prestigious international human rights organization such as Amnesty to legitimize invading and occupying Afghanistan be an example of soft power?

We call on Amnesty board members to call for Suzanne Nossel’s resignation; her loyalty to powerful government players can only be a hindrance to the true work and mission of Amnesty.

If this is not accomplished by July 31, 2012, we will be forced to publicly withdraw our future support from Amnesty's programs and campaigns until Amnesty USA removes Ms. Nossel from her position and retracts its laudatory statements concerning the U.S. and NATO presence benefiting women and human rights, and to urge others to do the same.

Medea Benjamin
Ann Wright
Coleen Rowley
Jodie Evans
Kathy Kelley
Lisa Savage
David Swanson
Ralph Lopez
Mary Beaudoin
Sara Flounders
Leah Bolger
Samantha Deer
Mark D. Stansbery
Patrick Kennelly
Jess Sundin

Executive Committee, Veterans for Peace
Women Against Military Madness, MI
International Action Center
Columbus, Ohio Campaign for Arms Control
Marquette University Center for Peacemaking
Middle East Crisis Committee (CT)
Anti-War Committee
Pittsburgh Thomas Merton Center Antiwar Committee



chrisrushlau said...

I just heard the head of UNESCO, a Bulgarian, refer to the era of the fall of the Berlin Wall as the end of "totalitarianism" in eastern Europe. The word perfectly fits the Israel movement in the US, in two respects: regimentation, and ideological vacuum. When we think of "party line" we like to think it is a scenario, a plan, an unwritten constitution, an ideology, a list of FAQ for the faithful. Instead, what you find is a dirth of reasonable questions much less reasonable answers, and instead a blob of caricatures and cliches of no determinate and settled meaning, a whole lot of suck-up-ism, and most prominently, a whole lot of really unimaginative people. Stupid in the sense of being in a stupor. Dumb in the sense of not having anything to say.
So those of us who are in the thrall of the Israel movement turn out to be remoras (to borrow from a Jimmy Buffet song) to some very blobby beachball inflatable sharks. The fable of the emperoro's new clothes makes that point among others: when the sovereign is determined to not notice what's going on, the highly placed administration officials must anticipate what cannot be noticed in order to ensure that they do not stumble over and thus accidentally notice it and thereby embarass the sovereign.
When George Mitchell said on MPBN last year that the Israel lobby has never been stronger in Congress, I think he was endorsing the Walt-Mearsheimer thesis that the Israel movement (my term for the lobby plus its grass-roots) directs US foreign policy.
If you imagine the Israel movement as an occupation army (just what is Israel's occupation, anyways? something to do with getting rid of Palestinians) grafted on to homely (those whose hearts are directed here and not somewhere over the rainbow) forces, the numbers dictate that the "advisor" to a battalion of, say, school teachers might be a corporal, a janitor, say, and the "advisor" to a brigade of college professors might be a buck sergeant, perhaps a copier repairperson. Dumb down? This is dumb on purpose, via a process which itself is dumb. Perhaps that ensures its effectiveness. If we had occupation (or totalitarian) college professors as "advisors" to our brigades of college professors, they might inadvertently spark some intellectual life among those they serve and protect (can you imagine being a US police officer sent to Afghanistan to teach people how to police? a Peace Corps Volunteer with a gun--which sounds like Kennedy's Special Forces; their motto: de oppresso liber, "to liberate the oppressed")("Hello, I'm from the US Government; I'm here to help you, and you can trust me.").
I've determined that the heart of the law is the idea that people are not stupid. When those in the buildings forget this, those on the streets assume government. For you cannot live if you do not pay attention. "The judgment of history on error is death," quipped Oliver Wendell Holmes (called "Junior" until his father died, but always "Wendell" to his friends), who must have learned something from getting shot up in the Civil War. He couldn't have learned it anywhere else he dwelt.

Truthster said...

The "human rights' lens is the only way that many "progressives" view the world. Gaddafi's Libya had the highest Human Development Index in all of Africa and an army that was measly to say the least; but that did not prevent the likes of Juan Cole and Amy Goodman from cheering on the massive bombing of Libya (30, 000 bombs I believe). The lens of human rights has big blind spots and these are maintained in the MSM. It is now hard to give any credibility to what AI says. It may - or may not - be telling the truth. But it sure is selecting what truths to tell and a half-truth is a full lie.
And some of these organizations such as Physicians for Human Rights have supported sanctions against Syria, which they know will fall on the population and cause more suffering and disease, the idea being to make the population suffer to the point that they will overthrow the regime - or failing that simply to reduce the country to a basket case as Clinton did to Iraq.

Anonymous said...


A good reply.

All of the so-called human rights organization such as AI, HRW, the ICC, etc, are now nothing but tools of US foreign policy who spend lots of time pointing fingers at "regimes" who don't kow-tow to western interests. For example, they've made a big ruckus over the punk band "Pussy Riot" (who DID commit a public act of hooliginism in a Russian church) in Russia but they've not had much to say about Bradley Manning or Julian Assange. If AI can label Pussy Riot "Prisoners of Conscience" then most certainly Assange and Manning deserve this title as well - espeically when you consider their acts, unlike Pussy Riot, did more than amount to a cheap publicity stunt, but really shook the halls of power globally.

Anonymous said...

AI is a grassroot's organization. Its members are fighting to keet AI's impartiallity.

Anonymous said...

Hiya - More on Suzanne Nossel here:

Unknown said...

Very helpful post! I really enjoyed reading it.

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