A new film, “Compliance,” examines “the human desire to follow and obey authority.” Liberal institutions, such as the media, universities, federal courts, and human rights organizations, which have traditionally functioned as checks on the blind obedience to authority, have in our day gone over to power’s side. The subversion of these institutions has transformed them from checks on power into servants of power. The result is the transformation of culture from the rule of law to unaccountable authority resting on power maintained by propaganda.
Propaganda is important in the inculcation of trust in authority. The Pussy Riot case shows the power of Washington’s propaganda even inside Russia itself and reveals that Washington’s propaganda has suborned important human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Chatham House, and Amnesty International.
Pussy Riot is described in the Western media as a punk rock group, but seems in fact to be a group known as Voina (War) that performs lewd or scandalous unannounced public performances such as the one in the Russian cathedral, a sexual orgy in a museum, and events such as this and also this.
Three of the cathedral performers were apprehended, indicted, tried, convicted of breaking a statutory law, and given two-year prison sentences. The Voice of Russia recently broadcast a discussion of the case from its London studio. Representatives from Human Rights Watch and Chatham House argued that the case was really a free speech case and that the women were political prisoners for criticizing Russian President Putin.
This claim was disingenuous. In the blasphemous performance in the Russian cathedral, Putin was not mentioned. The references to Putin were added to the video posted on the Internet after the event in order to turn a crime into a political protest.
The human rights representatives also argued that the women’s conviction could only happen in Putin’s Russia. However, the program host pointed out that in fact most European countries have similar laws as Russia’s and that a number of European offenders have been arrested and punished even more severely. Indeed, I recently read a news report from Germany that a copycat group of women had staged a similar protest in support of Pussy Riot and had been arrested. An analysis of these issues is available here.
The human rights representatives seemed to believe that Putin had failed the democratic test by failing to stop the prosecution. But a country either has the rule of law or doesn’t have the rule of law. If Putin overrides the law, it means Putin is the law.
Whether Washington had a hand in the Pussy Riot event via the Russian protest groups it funds, Hitlery Clinton was quick to make propaganda. Free expression was threatened in Russia, she said.
Washington used the Pussy Riot case to pay Putin back for opposing Washington’s destruction of Syria. The overlooked legal issue is Washington’s interference in internal Russian affairs. The close alignment of human rights organizations with Washington’s propaganda hurts the credibility of human rights advocacy. If human rights groups are seen as auxiliaries of Washington’s propaganda, their moral authority evaporates.
The prevalence of the English language, due to the British domination of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries and American domination in the 20th and first decade of the 21st century, makes it easy for Washington to control the explanations. Other languages simply do not have the reach to compete.
Washington also has the advantage of having worn the White Hat in the Cold War. The peoples who were constituent parts of the Soviet empire and even many Russians themselves still see Washington as the wearer of the White Hat. Washington has used this advantage to finance “color revolutions” that have moved countries from the Russian sphere of influence into Washington’s sphere of influence.
Tony Cartalucci concludes that “Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda.” Cartalucci notes that Amnesty’s executive director is former State Department official Suzanne Nossel, who conflates ‘human rights advocacy’ with US global hegemony.”
Amnesty does seem like an amplifier for Washington’s propaganda. Amnesty’s latest email to members (August 27) is: “As if the recent trial and sentencing of three members of Pussy Riot wasn’t shameful enough, now Russian police are hunting down others in the band. Make no mistake about it: Russian authorities are relentless. Just how far are the Russian authorities willing to go to silence voices of dissent? Tell the Russian government to stop hunting Pussy Riot!”
Amnesty International’s August 23 email to its members, “Wake Up World,” is completely one-sided and puts all blame for violence on the Syrian government, not on al Qaeda and other outside groups that Washington has armed and unleashed on the Syrian people. Amnesty is only concerned with getting visual images damning to the Syrian government before the public: “We are working to get this damning footage into the hands of journalists around the world. Support our work and help ensure that our first-hand video is seen by influential members of the media.”
At least Pussy Riot got a trial. That’s more than US Marine, Brandon Raub, a veteran of two tours of combat duty, got. Raub posted on Facebook his opinion that he had been misused by Washington in behalf of an illegal agenda. Local police, FBI, and Secret Service descended upon his home, dragged him out, and on the authority of a social worker, committed him to a mental hospital for observation.
I did not see any protests from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or Chatham House. Instead, a Virginia circuit court judge, W. Allan Sharrett, demanded Raub’s immediate release, stating that there was no reason to detain and commit Raub except to punish him for exercising his free speech right.
Americans are increasingly punished for exercising free speech rights. A number of videos of police violence against the occupy movement are available on YouTube. They show the goon thug Gestapo cops beating women, pepper spraying protestors sitting with their heads bowed, truncheons flashing as American heads are broken and protestors beat senseless are dragged off in handcuffs for peacefully exercising a constitutionally protected right.
There has been more protest over Pussy Riot than over the illegal detention and torture of Bradley Manning or the UK government’s threat to invade the Embassy of Ecuador and to drag out WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.
When a Chinese dissident sought asylum in the US embassy in China, the Chinese government bowed to international law and permitted the dissident’s safe passage to the US. But “freedom and democracy” Great Britain refuses free passage to Assange who has been granted asylum, and there is no protest from Clinton at the State Department.
In “China’s Rise, America’s Fall,” Ron Unz makes a compelling argument that the Chinese government is more respectful of the rule of law and more responsive to the people it governs than is Washington. Today it is Russia and China, not the UK and Europe, that challenge Washington’s claim that the US government is above international law and has the right to overthrow governments of which it disapproves.
The lawlessness that now characterizes the US and UK governments is a large threat to humanity’s finest achievement—the rule of law—for which the British fought from the time of Alfred the Great in the ninth century to the Glorious Revolution of the 17th century.
Where are the protests over the Anglo-American destruction of the rule of law?
Why Aren’t Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Chatham House on the case?
Copyright © 2012 Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury during President Reagan’s first term. Associate Editor Wall Street Journal, Columnist for Business Week, Senior Research Fellow Hoover Institution Stanford University, and William E. Simon Chair of Political Economy in the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, D.C. His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. His home page is paulcraigroberts.org.