In light of news that the president of Afghanistan has appointed a notorious torturer to head up that country’s national intelligence service, I recommend this powerful, insightful interview with Kathy Kelly. As a peace activist who has spent several months living in Kabul over the past few years, Kelly focused on Afghanistan in particular, but also spoke generally about why U.S. citizens stand passively by as their government bombs the world. And what do do about it.
CODEPINK Portland coordinator Pat Taub is a skilled interviewer who was able to frame questions eliciting an amazing amount of connected information in 28 minutes. One of the best Q & A exchanges concerned Hillary Clinton's and Amnesty International’s narratives that the U.S. military is in Afghanistan to protect women’s rights there.
Kelly responded that women from every ethnic group have personally told her they feel they are losing their minds from the stress of not being able to feed their children, and when told the U.S. State Department claims the military is there to protect women's rights, they are “mirthful.”
Later she offered a succinct analysis of the root problem:
If you can convince the U.S. public that there’s a humanitarian purpose…what you’ll win is a level of indifference, because people feel uncertain and they’ll be more cautious about opposing the war. Even though rationally they know there’s something fundamentally flawed about wars.Fomer FBI agent turned peace activist Coleen Rowley published a related article this week, "Are Human Rights Becoming a Tool of US "Smart Power"? She wrote:
Sadly, Amnesty is far from being the only human rights or peace and justice organization being misled in varying degrees by the U.S. State Department’s newly minted “Responsibility to Protect (R2P)” doctrine — otherwise known as “humanitarian intervention” — and its newly created “Atrocity Prevention Board,” chaired by Samantha Power, one of the main architects of U.S.-NATO’s bombing of Libya.She also noted the changes apparent in 21st century global geo-politics:
Human Rights Watch, Physicians for Human Rights, the Peace Alliance, Citizens for Global Solutions, Think Progress, and AVAAZ are just some of the groups that seem to have swallowed that particular Kool-Aid.
U.S. violations of ... international law of war, as well as violations of its own Constitution have, paradoxically, served to further erode whatever legitimate, pre-existing “Soft Power” it once possessed. America’s “moral authority,” its legitimate ability to educate, its leadership by example in pushing other countries to adhere to international law was quickly sacrificed by the deceitful means it used to launch the bombing of Iraq and Libya, as well as its institutionalizing an endless, ever-expansive “global war on terrorism.”...
Is there any hope for us?If war is a lie generally, if institutional wars have historically been instigated, ratcheted up, waged, and later falsely ennobled through pretext and propaganda, if “Smart Power,” “Responsibility to Protect” and “humanitarian intervention” serve as little but better rhetoric and therefore an effective guise to sell military force to American citizens as a “last resort,” after having checked off diplomatic efforts (set up to fail) and harsh economic sanctions that starve civilians and kill children, doesn’t it make sense for human rights and peace and justice groups to renounce instead of embrace attempts of powerful governments to use them as “tools” of such policies?
What would truly be smart and could reduce atrocities in the world would be for “nongovernmental” groups and organizations professing human rights and peace as their cause to regain their independence by disentangling themselves from U.S.-NATO governments’ national interest agendas and reliance on military force. Once that’s accomplished, it might be easier for civil society to reverse direction away from the use of war and might-makes-right to what is actually smarter: the power of ethical and legal norms.Because if Afghan mothers and their children don't have due process -- that is, are killed by drones in the absence of any recognizable legal proceeding -- ain't nobody got due process.