Former Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jimmy Carter took to the op-ed page of the New York Times to blast violations of human rights caused by policies continued, ramped up or introduced by fellow former Nobel Peace Prize laureate Barack Obama.
The former president managed to do so without referring to Barack Obama by name at all, and referring to the president’s roles only tangentially (e.g. “Recent legislation has made legal the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely on suspicion of affiliation with terrorist organizations or ‘associated forces,’ a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress”)
The thrust of Jimmy Carter’s argument is that anti-terror policies pursued by the U.S. over the last decade have eroded America’s legitimacy as an advocate for human rights on the international arena. From his Times op-ed:
Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.
These policies clearly affect American foreign policy. Top intelligence and military officials, as well as rights defenders in targeted areas, affirm that the great escalation in drone attacks has turned aggrieved families toward terrorist organizations, aroused civilian populations against us and permitted repressive governments to cite such actions to justify their own despotic behavior.
Meanwhile, the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, now houses 169 prisoners. About half have been cleared for release, yet have little prospect of ever obtaining their freedom. American authorities have revealed that, in order to obtain confessions, some of the few being tried (only in military courts) have been tortured by waterboarding more than 100 times or intimidated with semiautomatic weapons, power drills or threats to sexually assault their mothers. Astoundingly, these facts cannot be used as a defense by the accused, because the government claims they occurred under the cover of “national security.” Most of the other prisoners have no prospect of ever being charged or tried either.
At a time when popular revolutions are sweeping the globe, the United States should be strengthening, not weakening, basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.
As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to reverse course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years.
Carter managed not to mention George W. Bush by name or his role in all this either, but replace the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with the Constitution, ignore the “making the world safe" clap-trap, and there’s a decent point there.
H/T Lord Humungus via the A.M. Links