By Caitlin Johnstone
America won’t back away from our commitment to
human rights and fundamental freedoms,” reads a
tweet from the presidential Twitter account. “No
responsible American president can remain silent
when basic human rights are violated.”
The tweet, an excerpt from the US president’s
prepared congressional address, was
retweeted on Saturday by Secretary of State Tony
Blinken with the caption, “We will always defend
human rights at home and abroad.”
Like all US secretaries of state, Blinken’s
public statements overwhelmingly focus on the claim
that other nations abuse human rights, and that it
is America’s duty to defend those rights. Which is
very silly, considering the fact that the US
government is the single worst human rights abuser
on planet Earth.
And it’s not even close.
There is no other government that is circling the
hundreds of military bases and working to
destroy any nation which disobeys it via invasion,
proxy wars, blockades, economic warfare, staged
coups, and covert operations. There is no other
government on earth whose violence has
killed millions of people and
displaced tens of millions just since the turn
of this century. There is no other government waging
nonstop wars around the world and
dropping scores of bombs per day on human beings
in foreign nations in order to perpetuate its
iron-fisted domination of our planet.
And it just says so much about who is controlling
the dominant narratives in our society that these
actions are not considered human rights violations.
Clearly we should all have a human right to not be
murdered by explosives dropped from the sky, and we
in nations where this does not commonly occur would
be very upset if it suddenly began happening to us.
Clearly it is an abuse of human rights to
deliberately starve children to death because
don’t approve of the people who run things in
their part of the world. Clearly it is an abuse of
human rights to turn a nation to rubble and chaos
for profit and geostrategic control.
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Not a day goes by when the US government is not
doing these things, both directly and through its
imperial member states. Yet the US secretary of
state spends all day tweeting that other governments
are guilty of human rights violations. Because, as
far as power is concerned,
narrative control is everything.
If mass murder is not an abuse of human rights,
then “human rights” is a meaningless concept. But
even if bombing campaigns and other acts of military
butchery do not transgress your personal definition
of human rights, the US still does not care about
As journalist Mark Ames
recently flagged, a few years ago the imperial
narrative managers were
very keen on informing us that Philippine
president Rodrigo Duterte was a despotic human
rights abuser, but we haven’t been hearing much
about what an evil brute he is of late.
So what happened? Did Duterte cease promoting the
extrajudicial killings of drug users and
spontaneously transform into a cuddly wuddly human
Of course not.
What happened, as Ames points out, is that
publicly toying with the notion of pivoting from
Washington to Beijing as he had been doing since
shifting to a hard line against China in support
of Manila’s longtime imperial overlord.
We saw the change in coverage because Washington
and its imperial spinmeisters only care about human
rights abuses insofar as they can be exploited
against the few remaining nations like China that
have insisted on their own sovereignty instead of
allowing themselves to be converted into member
states of the US-centralized empire. We know this
not only from naked eye observations of the empire’s
behavior from year to year, but also because they
have blatantly said so.
As I never tire of
reminding readers, a leaked 2017 State
Department memo spelled out in plain English how the
US only cares about human rights when they can be
weaponized against its enemies, and has a standing
policy of ignoring them when they are committed by
its allies/vassal states.
In December 2017 Politico published an
internal memo that
had been sent the previous May to then-Secretary of
State Rex Tillerson by virulent
neocon Brian Hook. The memo provided useful
insight into what it looks like when a toxic swamp
monster orients a political neophyte to the inner
mechanics of the empire, explaining the way “human
rights” are really just a tool to be cynically
leveraged to advance the goal of planetary hegemony.
It reads like an old veteran explaining the
backstory to the new guy in the pilot episode of a
new TV series.
“In the case of US allies such as Egypt, Saudi
Arabia, and the Philippines, the Administration is
fully justified in emphasizing good relations for a
variety of important reasons, including
counter-terrorism, and in honestly facing up to the
difficult tradeoffs with regard to human rights,”
Hook explained in the memo.
“One useful guideline for a realistic and
successful foreign policy is that allies should be
treated differently — and better — than
adversaries,” Hook wrote. “We do not look to bolster
America’s adversaries overseas; we look to pressure,
compete with, and outmaneuver them. For this reason,
we should consider human rights as an important
issue in regard to US relations with China, Russia,
North Korea, and Iran. And this is not only because
of moral concern for practices inside those
countries. It is also because pressing those regimes
on human rights is one way to impose costs, apply
counter-pressure, and regain the initiative from
In Imperialist Brain Worms World, “human rights”
is nothing other than a propaganda weapon to be used
for building antagonistic international coalitions,
manufacturing consent for invasions and regime
change ops, and spinning the dominant narrative in
support of starvation sanctions and
world-threatening cold war escalations. It’s just
mass-scale concern trolling of the most destructive
and malignant sort imaginable.
This is what you are feeding into, by the way,
when you parrot State Department lines about how
horrible and tyrannical US-targeted governments are.
You are helping to circulate the narratives our
rulers are spending billions of dollars circulating,
and you are doing it for free. You are making the
jobs of the imperialists that much easier, because
you are unwittingly operating as a pro bono Pentagon
Don’t be a Pentagon propagandist, pro bono or
otherwise. Don’t be an imperial concern troll. Don’t
let the worst human rights abuser on the face of our
planet get away with pretending to support human
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