Monsters Under the Bed, Part I
George W. Bush’s enemies and detractors may not realize it, but they all share a common view of the American president. For them, he is the global Monster Under the Bed — the dark, hidden, lurking force responsible for horrors that are constantly imagined, but never experienced or seen.
Consider the case of William Schulz, executive director of Amnesty International USA. Schulz lately has cited with approval the assertion by Amnesty Secretary General Irene Khan’s that the U.S. Naval Detention Center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba is “the gulag of our times, entrenching the notion that people can be detained without any recourse to the law.”
Khan and Schulz claim the president has created an “archipelago” of “secret” prisons around the world, where sadistic guards — some American, some not — torture unprotected jihadists with relish. As a result, they argue, otherwise unprovoked Muslims around the world are taking up arms.
This narrative portrays the United States the instigator of global hostilities, resisted only by a rag-tag bunch of “freedom fighters.” The United States, by holding and interrogating prisoners of war, stands responsible for such disparate acts as the bombing of a mosque in Iraq and the torching of a Pakistani McDonald’s, while the bombers and arsonists who conducted the carnage get to walk free.
Using the moral algebra of Khan and Schulz, George W. Bush has become a one-man wrecking crew. He casts off typhoons of rage and destruction, ravaging the hopes and rights of the world’s wretched refuse while annihilating America’s global prestige and moral authority.
So what evidence has Amnesty International to back the charges? Chris Wallace pressed Schulz on the matter during this week’s edition of Fox News Sunday:
WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, the Soviet gulag was a system of slave labor camps that went on for more than 30 years. More than 1.6 million deaths were documented. Whatever has happened at Guantanamo, do you stand by the comparison to the Soviet gulag?
SCHULZ: Well, Chris, clearly this is not an exact or a literal analogy. And the secretary general has acknowledged that.
There's no question. But what in size and in duration, there are not similarities between U.S. detention facilities and the gulag. People are not being starved in those facilities. They're not being subjected to forced labor.
WALLACE: Mr. Schulz, do you have any evidence whatsoever that he ever approved beating of prisoners, ever approved starving of prisoners, the kinds of things we normally think of as torture?
SCHULZ: It would be fascinating to find out. I have no idea...
WALLACE: If I may repeat, sir, do you have any evidence that he ever approved beating any prisoners or starving any prisoners, the kinds of things we think of as torture?
SCHULZ: Amnesty International has never accused him of approving starving of prisoners. We have never suggested that prisoners are starving, Chris. You're bringing something in completely out of the blue that we have never suggested.
WALLACE: Question: Where is the systematic torture at Guantanamo Bay?
SCHULZ: Well, it's quite interesting. You just said according to the Pentagon. And the Pentagon and the U.S. government have systematically precluded independent human rights groups from getting that answered...So we don't know for sure what all is happening at Guantanamo, and our whole point is that the United States ought to allow independent human rights organizations to investigate just as Sudan, Pakistan, and many other environments around the world...
You get the idea. The interview seemed cruel, but only because Schulz insisted on dashing himself against the rocks. He conceded that the International Red Cross has dispatched observers to Guantanamo. He confessed regularly that he knew nothing of the internal workings of the place. And then, he suggested an “independent human rights” inquiry of the sort conducted in “Sudan, Pakistan, and many other environments around the world.”
This would be the same Sudan where the United Nations failed for months to detect an ongoing, government-sponsored campaign of genocide, and Pakistan, now regarded as one of the most dangerous places on the face of the earth.
This ought to put to rest any doubts that the so-called human rights community has become an effete joke. The United Nations now provides sanctuary for despotic governments — including Sudan, Syria and Cuba — while whinging constantly about the United States. Amnesty International is retailing accounts that liken a cushy (by global standards) prison at Guantanamo to some of the deadliest labor camps in history.
Think of this as the ultimate fall-out of the Cold War’s end. Today’s “human rights” community teems with men and women who once claimed totalitarian governments could “liberate” the world’s workers from want, hardship, disease and unhappiness. When that dream came a cropper, the activists didn’t blame communism. They blamed the Monster Under the Bed — the United States — which so insolently had refused to acknowledge the genius of central planning.
This also explains why the human-rights establishment doesn’t believe in the actual rights or inalienable dignity of persons, but only in institutional perks. Its votaries coo about the vital importance of the United Nations and the necessity of an International Criminal Court. They snarl at efforts to replace medieval monarchies with modern democracies, and insist on hobbling poor countries with aid packages that line the pockets of the governing classes, while ensuring further poverty on the part of everyone else.
Human-rights lobbyists don’t hold the United States in contempt because George W. Bush refuses to give multilateral institutions their due; they hate us because we caught them in the act. We have exposed their folly not once, but at least twice — before and after the Cold War — and have refused to accept such things as the Oil-For-Food scandal as an ancillary cost of doing business with the developing world.
The world’s dreamers still look to us for inspiration and aid — which they receive in huge, heaping portions. We have maintained our moral clarity. We have remained vigilant about such things as actual human rights. We have tried to hold the doddering diplomatic establishment to the principles it once embraced, but now mocks. And that’s why we have become their worst nightmare: The Monster Under the Bed.
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