The West’s Acquiescence to Autocracy

1 Feb, '08
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The US, EU and other democracies are accepting flawed and unfair elections out of political expediency, Human Rights Watch says in its annual report.

Allowing autocrats to pose as democrats without demanding they uphold civil and political rights risked undermining human rights worldwide, it warned.

HRW said Pakistan, Thailand, Bahrain, Jordan, Nigeria, Kenya and Russia had been falsely claiming to be democratic.
BBC News

Will this report wake them up?

Doubtful.

Have a wonderful, if very windy, Friday!

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Comments (17)

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  1. Craig says:

    HRW said Pakistan, Thailand, Bahrain, Jordan, Nigeria, Kenya and Russia had been falsely claiming to be democratic.

    I think the list of fake democracies is a lot longer than that!

    Seems like the same old story though, what does HRW think has changed?

  2. So let me get this straight: If Russia falsely poses as a democracy while violating its subjects civil, political, and human rights then America is to blame?

    Call me a crazy extremist, but it seems to me the actual perpetrator of such abuses is to blame for the abuses. America is not responsible for cleaning up your messes.

    Do you folks never tire of shifting the blame for anything wrong in the world to America? But it’s so much easier blaming Bush than actually taking responsibility and solving the problem in your own backyard, isn’t it? Gosh, I wonder why problems never get solved in the rest of the world.

  3. Ethan says:

    That’s not what they are saying at all, Steve. Take the blinders off and re-read the report.

    The report does not say that it is America’s fault that there is a large portion of the world beholden to ideologues, autocrats and tribalism.

    It says that when the West doesn’t stand up for the ideals of liberal western democracy and the rule of law, then those ideals are eroded.

    It’s the same thing INSIDE Western nations as well. If the chattering classes don’t take a stand against honor killings or cultish indoctrination of religious extremists or enforced sexual segregation, then we have not progressed – in fact, overtolerance of -BAD- ideas leads to societal regression into barbarism.

    Just ask the Jews of Mecca or the last Emperor of Persia, or the survivors of the Western Roman Empire, as examples.

  4. Aliandra says:

    What does HRW expect the US, EU and other democracies to do? Force honest elections on people?

    People living under bad governments and in dysfunctional societies have to fix their own self-created s**t. Bad regimes don’t reform just because an outsider demands it.

  5. mahmood says:

    What does HRW expect the US, EU and other democracies to do? Force honest elections on people?

    No. Just stick to their ideals/constitutions/human rights regardless of any other pressure.

    Take for instance Bush’s last visit to this region, did you hear him demand the respect of human rights in these countries, and if they don’t, because his country does then he will apply sanctions for instance?

    Okay, forget Bush, as history undoubtedly will very soon, did you hear any other Western leader stand by their ideals when talking about Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain or any other 3rd world country?

    This, my friend, is the problem being discussed here and highlighted in the report. No one is asking you of your government to “fix our own self-created shit.” Just to stand by your ideals rather than selectively applying them when it is convenient to do so.

    Now, do you want a nice looking polished sword to dance with too for the pictures?

  6. Loki says:

    Surely no one can be surprised at this report. (yes, and stop calling me Shirley….).

    I while back I watched an interesting report by John Pilger called “The War on Democracy”. John Pilger can be overly dramatic at times but the report shows the US’s blatant selectiveness when it comes to “Democracy”. Long story short, its about US policy in South America where the US has time and time again supported the overthrow of democratically elected governments by pro-US opposition. Recommend everyone watch it – There are torrents available for it.

  7. Craig says:

    Loki,


    Long story short, its about US policy in South America where the US has time and time again supported the overthrow of democratically elected governments by pro-US opposition.

    Sounds like John Pilger is pretty selective, himself. He’s probably calling communist systems “democracies” – the US did dispose of a lot of communists in Latin America, and did accept right wing dictators in their place. So what? We’ve all seen in Iraq how difficult it is to get people to embrace democracy when they really don’t have much interest in it. If we’d tried to do that in every country we got involved in during the Cold War, we’d have lost, and we’d all be communists today.

  8. Aliandra says:

    Mahmood

    Sanctions didn’t work for Iran, Cuba, Iraq, or North Korea. Sanctions made life more miserable in Iraq. Unfortunately, you are usually stuck having diplomatic relations with bad governments. Otherwise you wouldn’t be talking to half the world. Considering the global interconnection of trade and economies, sanctioning millions of people may not be realistic or even helpful. It’s not always about selective application.

    I’m a bad dancer but a decent fencer, so I may have a use for that sword.

  9. Ethan: “It says that when the West doesn’t stand up for the ideals of liberal western democracy and the rule of law, then those ideals are eroded.”

    You mean like overthrowing Saddam’s dictatorship and building a democrat regime in Iraq? Or kicking the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan and putting a democratic regime in its place? It cost us thousands of lives and billions of bucks to make that happen and the lefty weenies at the grandiosely-named Human Rights Watch and BBC say we are not standing up for democracy? Who’s wearing blinders here, Ethan?

    Ethan: “It’s the same thing INSIDE Western nations as well. If the chattering classes don’t take a stand against honor killings or cultish indoctrination of religious extremists or enforced sexual segregation, then we have not progressed – in fact, overtolerance of -BAD- ideas leads to societal regression into barbarism.”

    A point well taken, Ethan. This is a problem particularly in Germany where deluded judges turn a blind eye to Muslim wife-beating in deference to a crazed multi-culturalism which regards barbarism as just another colorful thread in the rich tapestry of civilizations. However, in America, honor killings are just another form of killing. The perpetrators receive no slack.

  10. Mahmood: “Take for instance Bush’s last visit to this region, did you hear him demand the respect of human rights in these countries, and if they don’t, because his country does then he will apply sanctions for instance?”

    You mean like the sanctions we imposed on Saddam’s regime? You know, the sanctions that won condemnation from the whole Arab Muslim world which falsely accused us of murdering Iraqi babies? In fact, Saddam & Co were selling the food and medicine meant for Iraqis on the black market and pocketing the profit left after the necessary bribes were paid to the UN and European kleptocrats. This is another heads you win, tails we lose game.

    We didn’t just talk about human rights in Iraq, we acted. We closed down Saddam’s archipelago of political prisons, the children’s prisons, the plastic shredder. When has any Arab country liberated another in the same manner?

    What about the US defense of Kuwait? Who stopped the rampant violence against the Kuwaitis during the brutal Iraqi occupation? If you recall, young Kuwaiti men were arrested at random, tortured, and then shot on their front steps by the Iraqi Mukhabarat in front of their horrified families to maintain Saddam’s reign of terror. Kuwaiti college kids were brought bound into their college auditorium with bags over their heads, listening to their peers being tortured on stage, waiting their own turn. America stopped all of that.

    What did the Arab world contribute to that? When the chips were down, when Kuwaitis and Iraqis were suffering en masse, there was not even a public complaint from the Arab Muslim world. That makes your complaint that Bush is not chatting up democracy enough ring hollow.

    Sanctions do not make a bad regime better. We can see in the case of North Korea that sanctions give a bad regime more despotic power over their subjects because they have greater control over the scarcer resources. Kim Jong Il uses the supply of food to punish and reward people. Sanctions increase their suffering and despair. Sanctions did not dislodge Saddam. He went on a palace-building spree.

    Mahmood: “Okay, forget Bush, as history undoubtedly will very soon, did you hear any other Western leader stand by their ideals when talking about Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Bahrain or any other 3rd world country?”

    Where is the popular support for democracy in Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, or Bahrain? The people support the adoption of Sharia law. To sell something you have to have a willing buyer. The Arab masses don’t buy democracy yet. Bush would have as much luck pitching democracy to Moroccans as he would have pitching algebra to shrimp.

    And I doubt that the Iraqi Kurds will forget Bush. Ever.

    If the West is acquiescing to autocracy, how come that autocracy never sets up shop here if we’re so acquiescent about it? You’re making your criticism of Western democracies from a kingdom, Mahmood. When were the elections for King Hamad? For his prime minister? For the governors? Whose being acquiescent about autocracy?

    Mahmood: “Now, do you want a nice looking polished sword to dance with too for the pictures?”

    Yes, that would be dandy. Could you please carry it to me on the plane when you come to Washington?

  11. Lee Ann says:

    Yes, that would be dandy. Could you please carry it to me on the plane when you come to Washington?…..

    now that was good chuckle for this cold windy morning stuck at work…thanks 😆

  12. Ali says:

    For what it is worth, when the Gaza ” Berlin Wall” came down what did the arab world do? Egypt showed it’s true colours and tried to put it back up again!!! So much for ” Arab Solidarity”

  13. mahmood says:

    Is that the only definition of “sanctions” you can come up with? I’m sure it isn’t, so maybe you just skewed my use of the word in that direction to serve your rhetorical needs. That’s fine with me, but it doesn’t progress the argument nor idea forward, does it?

  14. Loki says:

    Craig – No, he’s calling democratically elected governments democracies.

  15. Nine says:

    Mahmood,

    “This, my friend, is the problem being discussed here and highlighted in the report. No one is asking you of your government to “fix our own self-created shit.” Just to stand by your ideals rather than selectively applying them when it is convenient to do so.”

    Why not?

  16. Mahmood,

    What nature of sanctions are you thinking of?

  17. mahmood says:

    Distance would be one.

    Visiting countries which by all standards abuse human rights and clearly undemocratic, then calling them a vanguard of democracy with a straight face gives credibility not only to the country in question, but to those abuses as well.

    Applying diplomatic pressure to correct internal situations is another.

    I am sure one can think of several other examples.

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