World
Brian Cloughley
August 17, 2021
© Photo: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

When human rights are brought to the attention of the authorities in Washington and London it’s money and military “partnership” that matter. Not people.

Last month President Biden announced more sanctions against Cuba, saying they were “just the beginning” of action against the authorities responsible for cracking down on protests that were largely caused by dissatisfaction on the part of the Cuban people because their living standards have been reduced to the pitiable — largely by U.S. sanctions. Biden further declared “I unequivocally condemn the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing to prison those who dared to speak out in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people into silence.” This may indeed be a true picture, and the U.S. President may be genuine in his indignation. But it seems that Mr Biden is selective in lashing out sanctions against nations whose governments can be categorised as violators of human rights.

The 2021 World Report by Human Rights Watch states categorically and undeniably that Egyptians continue “to live under the harsh authoritarian grip of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government. Tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, remain imprisoned on politically motivated charges, many in lengthy pretrial detention.” Yet, as reported by CNN (for example), the Washington administration has agreed to sell missiles to Egypt at a cost of $197 million because, as the State Department related in a press release, the weapons and all the associated equipment and training “will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally country that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East.” (The dictator al-Sisi came to power as president following the military coup he organised when he was head of the armed forces in 2013.)

So the Egyptian regime coasts along, persecuting its citizens as an important strategic partner of the United States which itself records in the State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices that “Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents and terrorist groups; forced disappearance; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; political prisoners or detainees; politically motivated reprisal against individuals located outside the country; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet…”

We might think that such a litany of hideous abuse of its citizens would automatically incur the displeasure of the Washington administration to the extent of perhaps a tiny sanction or two, or even an official pronouncement that is mildly condemnatory of the poisonous regime of the dictator el-Sisi. But that is not happening. In fact, the Biden administration intends to give $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt in 2022, so that al-Sisi can buy more U.S. weaponry.

But the human rights hypocrisy of the Biden Administration doesn’t stop at the Cuba-Egypt dichotomy. There is also direct denial of human rights by Washington itself, ably assisted by its cross-Atlantic puppet, Boris Johnson, leader of an increasingly authoritarian Conservative government whose care and compassion are along the lines of Attila the Hun. Johnson is a vocal supporter of “the rules-based international system in which we believe and that we strive to protect”, just like Biden. In fact, as recently noted by Peter Beinart of the New York Times, “anyone who slogs through the diplomatic verbiage generated by President Biden’s inaugural overseas trip earlier this month [June 2021] will notice one phrase again and again: “rules-based.” It appears twice in Mr. Biden’s joint statement with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, four times each in the communiqués the United States issued with the governments of the Group of 7 and the European Union, and six times in the manifesto produced by NATO.”

But the phrase never appears in the context of the refugee citizens of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, ejected summarily by Britain, their colonial master, in accordance with the wishes of Washington, as recounted by Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post on August 8.

Two years ago in these columns I wrote that the Chagos Archipelago was “depopulated” in the 1960s because Britain had agreed with America that a U.S. military airfield should be built on the main island, Diego Garcia. The BBC reports that “Between 1968 and 1974, Britain forcibly removed thousands of Chagossians from their homelands and sent them more than 1,000 miles away to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they faced extreme poverty and discrimination.” As revealed in 2004, the head of Britain’s Colonial Office in 1966 wrote that “The object of the exercise is to get some rocks which will remain ours; there will be no indigenous population except seagulls who have not yet got a committee. Unfortunately along with the Birds go some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure, and who are being hopefully wished on to Mauritius etc.” This sort of racist sneering is part of a pattern, as Johnson himself is recorded as having written that “It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

To give him his due, at least Biden doesn’t talk about piccaninnies or, as Johnson has done, have a condescending snigger about then Prime Minister Blair’s “tribal warriors” in the Congo who “will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.” That is nauseating, and Biden would never plumb such racist depths. Nevertheless, he refuses to activate his much-repeated catchphrase “the rules-based international system” in the context of the natives of the Chagos Islands. Just like Johnson and the current British Raj he ignores the International Court of Justice opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965” that “the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence… the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible”.

The State Department told the Washington Post that “The United States unequivocally supports UK sovereignty” over the islands. “The specific arrangement involving the facilities on Diego Garcia is grounded in the uniquely close and active defence and security partnership between the United States and the UK. It cannot be replicated.” Neither Washington nor London is going to even try to abide by the guidance of the International Court of Justice or the United Nations General Assembly that in 2019 voted overwhelmingly (121 to 6) for a resolution requiring that Britain should withdraw its “colonial administration” from the Chagos Islands.

So forget the international rules-based system.

And forget your human rights, surviving Chagos Islanders and the families of those displaced Chagos citizens who have been taken to the great Island in the Sky. You’ll never be allowed to return home while U.S. nuclear bombers zoom in and out of the airfield in Diego Garcia.

The people of Cuba will continue to be sanctioned and kept in poverty by the powerful United States and the people of Egypt will continue to be subjected to “unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents… forced disappearance; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government.” After all, their governing dictator is buying weapons from Raytheon worth $187 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money.

When human rights are brought to the attention of the authorities in Washington and London it’s money and military “partnership” that matter. Not people.

The U.S. and the UK Support Human Rights for Some but Not for Others

When human rights are brought to the attention of the authorities in Washington and London it’s money and military “partnership” that matter. Not people.

Last month President Biden announced more sanctions against Cuba, saying they were “just the beginning” of action against the authorities responsible for cracking down on protests that were largely caused by dissatisfaction on the part of the Cuban people because their living standards have been reduced to the pitiable — largely by U.S. sanctions. Biden further declared “I unequivocally condemn the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing to prison those who dared to speak out in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people into silence.” This may indeed be a true picture, and the U.S. President may be genuine in his indignation. But it seems that Mr Biden is selective in lashing out sanctions against nations whose governments can be categorised as violators of human rights.

The 2021 World Report by Human Rights Watch states categorically and undeniably that Egyptians continue “to live under the harsh authoritarian grip of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government. Tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, remain imprisoned on politically motivated charges, many in lengthy pretrial detention.” Yet, as reported by CNN (for example), the Washington administration has agreed to sell missiles to Egypt at a cost of $197 million because, as the State Department related in a press release, the weapons and all the associated equipment and training “will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally country that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East.” (The dictator al-Sisi came to power as president following the military coup he organised when he was head of the armed forces in 2013.)

So the Egyptian regime coasts along, persecuting its citizens as an important strategic partner of the United States which itself records in the State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices that “Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents and terrorist groups; forced disappearance; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; political prisoners or detainees; politically motivated reprisal against individuals located outside the country; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet…”

We might think that such a litany of hideous abuse of its citizens would automatically incur the displeasure of the Washington administration to the extent of perhaps a tiny sanction or two, or even an official pronouncement that is mildly condemnatory of the poisonous regime of the dictator el-Sisi. But that is not happening. In fact, the Biden administration intends to give $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt in 2022, so that al-Sisi can buy more U.S. weaponry.

But the human rights hypocrisy of the Biden Administration doesn’t stop at the Cuba-Egypt dichotomy. There is also direct denial of human rights by Washington itself, ably assisted by its cross-Atlantic puppet, Boris Johnson, leader of an increasingly authoritarian Conservative government whose care and compassion are along the lines of Attila the Hun. Johnson is a vocal supporter of “the rules-based international system in which we believe and that we strive to protect”, just like Biden. In fact, as recently noted by Peter Beinart of the New York Times, “anyone who slogs through the diplomatic verbiage generated by President Biden’s inaugural overseas trip earlier this month [June 2021] will notice one phrase again and again: “rules-based.” It appears twice in Mr. Biden’s joint statement with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, four times each in the communiqués the United States issued with the governments of the Group of 7 and the European Union, and six times in the manifesto produced by NATO.”

But the phrase never appears in the context of the refugee citizens of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, ejected summarily by Britain, their colonial master, in accordance with the wishes of Washington, as recounted by Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post on August 8.

Two years ago in these columns I wrote that the Chagos Archipelago was “depopulated” in the 1960s because Britain had agreed with America that a U.S. military airfield should be built on the main island, Diego Garcia. The BBC reports that “Between 1968 and 1974, Britain forcibly removed thousands of Chagossians from their homelands and sent them more than 1,000 miles away to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they faced extreme poverty and discrimination.” As revealed in 2004, the head of Britain’s Colonial Office in 1966 wrote that “The object of the exercise is to get some rocks which will remain ours; there will be no indigenous population except seagulls who have not yet got a committee. Unfortunately along with the Birds go some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure, and who are being hopefully wished on to Mauritius etc.” This sort of racist sneering is part of a pattern, as Johnson himself is recorded as having written that “It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

To give him his due, at least Biden doesn’t talk about piccaninnies or, as Johnson has done, have a condescending snigger about then Prime Minister Blair’s “tribal warriors” in the Congo who “will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.” That is nauseating, and Biden would never plumb such racist depths. Nevertheless, he refuses to activate his much-repeated catchphrase “the rules-based international system” in the context of the natives of the Chagos Islands. Just like Johnson and the current British Raj he ignores the International Court of Justice opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965” that “the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence… the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible”.

The State Department told the Washington Post that “The United States unequivocally supports UK sovereignty” over the islands. “The specific arrangement involving the facilities on Diego Garcia is grounded in the uniquely close and active defence and security partnership between the United States and the UK. It cannot be replicated.” Neither Washington nor London is going to even try to abide by the guidance of the International Court of Justice or the United Nations General Assembly that in 2019 voted overwhelmingly (121 to 6) for a resolution requiring that Britain should withdraw its “colonial administration” from the Chagos Islands.

So forget the international rules-based system.

And forget your human rights, surviving Chagos Islanders and the families of those displaced Chagos citizens who have been taken to the great Island in the Sky. You’ll never be allowed to return home while U.S. nuclear bombers zoom in and out of the airfield in Diego Garcia.

The people of Cuba will continue to be sanctioned and kept in poverty by the powerful United States and the people of Egypt will continue to be subjected to “unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents… forced disappearance; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government.” After all, their governing dictator is buying weapons from Raytheon worth $187 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money.

When human rights are brought to the attention of the authorities in Washington and London it’s money and military “partnership” that matter. Not people.

When human rights are brought to the attention of the authorities in Washington and London it’s money and military “partnership” that matter. Not people.

Last month President Biden announced more sanctions against Cuba, saying they were “just the beginning” of action against the authorities responsible for cracking down on protests that were largely caused by dissatisfaction on the part of the Cuban people because their living standards have been reduced to the pitiable — largely by U.S. sanctions. Biden further declared “I unequivocally condemn the mass detentions and sham trials that are unjustly sentencing to prison those who dared to speak out in an effort to intimidate and threaten the Cuban people into silence.” This may indeed be a true picture, and the U.S. President may be genuine in his indignation. But it seems that Mr Biden is selective in lashing out sanctions against nations whose governments can be categorised as violators of human rights.

The 2021 World Report by Human Rights Watch states categorically and undeniably that Egyptians continue “to live under the harsh authoritarian grip of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government. Tens of thousands of government critics, including journalists and human rights defenders, remain imprisoned on politically motivated charges, many in lengthy pretrial detention.” Yet, as reported by CNN (for example), the Washington administration has agreed to sell missiles to Egypt at a cost of $197 million because, as the State Department related in a press release, the weapons and all the associated equipment and training “will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a Major Non-NATO Ally country that continues to be an important strategic partner in the Middle East.” (The dictator al-Sisi came to power as president following the military coup he organised when he was head of the armed forces in 2013.)

So the Egyptian regime coasts along, persecuting its citizens as an important strategic partner of the United States which itself records in the State Department’s Report on Human Rights Practices that “Significant human rights issues included: unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents and terrorist groups; forced disappearance; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison conditions; arbitrary detention; political prisoners or detainees; politically motivated reprisal against individuals located outside the country; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet…”

We might think that such a litany of hideous abuse of its citizens would automatically incur the displeasure of the Washington administration to the extent of perhaps a tiny sanction or two, or even an official pronouncement that is mildly condemnatory of the poisonous regime of the dictator el-Sisi. But that is not happening. In fact, the Biden administration intends to give $1.3 billion in military aid to Egypt in 2022, so that al-Sisi can buy more U.S. weaponry.

But the human rights hypocrisy of the Biden Administration doesn’t stop at the Cuba-Egypt dichotomy. There is also direct denial of human rights by Washington itself, ably assisted by its cross-Atlantic puppet, Boris Johnson, leader of an increasingly authoritarian Conservative government whose care and compassion are along the lines of Attila the Hun. Johnson is a vocal supporter of “the rules-based international system in which we believe and that we strive to protect”, just like Biden. In fact, as recently noted by Peter Beinart of the New York Times, “anyone who slogs through the diplomatic verbiage generated by President Biden’s inaugural overseas trip earlier this month [June 2021] will notice one phrase again and again: “rules-based.” It appears twice in Mr. Biden’s joint statement with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of Britain, four times each in the communiqués the United States issued with the governments of the Group of 7 and the European Union, and six times in the manifesto produced by NATO.”

But the phrase never appears in the context of the refugee citizens of the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean, ejected summarily by Britain, their colonial master, in accordance with the wishes of Washington, as recounted by Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post on August 8.

Two years ago in these columns I wrote that the Chagos Archipelago was “depopulated” in the 1960s because Britain had agreed with America that a U.S. military airfield should be built on the main island, Diego Garcia. The BBC reports that “Between 1968 and 1974, Britain forcibly removed thousands of Chagossians from their homelands and sent them more than 1,000 miles away to Mauritius and the Seychelles, where they faced extreme poverty and discrimination.” As revealed in 2004, the head of Britain’s Colonial Office in 1966 wrote that “The object of the exercise is to get some rocks which will remain ours; there will be no indigenous population except seagulls who have not yet got a committee. Unfortunately along with the Birds go some few Tarzans or Men Fridays whose origins are obscure, and who are being hopefully wished on to Mauritius etc.” This sort of racist sneering is part of a pattern, as Johnson himself is recorded as having written that “It is said that the Queen has come to love the Commonwealth, partly because it supplies her with regular cheering crowds of flag-waving piccaninnies.”

To give him his due, at least Biden doesn’t talk about piccaninnies or, as Johnson has done, have a condescending snigger about then Prime Minister Blair’s “tribal warriors” in the Congo who “will all break out in watermelon smiles to see the big white chief touch down in his big white British taxpayer-funded bird.” That is nauseating, and Biden would never plumb such racist depths. Nevertheless, he refuses to activate his much-repeated catchphrase “the rules-based international system” in the context of the natives of the Chagos Islands. Just like Johnson and the current British Raj he ignores the International Court of Justice opinion on the “Legal Consequences of the Separation of the Chagos Archipelago from Mauritius in 1965” that “the process of decolonization of Mauritius was not lawfully completed when that country acceded to independence… the United Kingdom is under an obligation to bring to an end its administration of the Chagos Archipelago as rapidly as possible”.

The State Department told the Washington Post that “The United States unequivocally supports UK sovereignty” over the islands. “The specific arrangement involving the facilities on Diego Garcia is grounded in the uniquely close and active defence and security partnership between the United States and the UK. It cannot be replicated.” Neither Washington nor London is going to even try to abide by the guidance of the International Court of Justice or the United Nations General Assembly that in 2019 voted overwhelmingly (121 to 6) for a resolution requiring that Britain should withdraw its “colonial administration” from the Chagos Islands.

So forget the international rules-based system.

And forget your human rights, surviving Chagos Islanders and the families of those displaced Chagos citizens who have been taken to the great Island in the Sky. You’ll never be allowed to return home while U.S. nuclear bombers zoom in and out of the airfield in Diego Garcia.

The people of Cuba will continue to be sanctioned and kept in poverty by the powerful United States and the people of Egypt will continue to be subjected to “unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents… forced disappearance; torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by the government.” After all, their governing dictator is buying weapons from Raytheon worth $187 million of U.S. taxpayers’ money.

When human rights are brought to the attention of the authorities in Washington and London it’s money and military “partnership” that matter. Not people.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

See also

July 21, 2021

See also

July 21, 2021
The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.