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Endless trail of flagrant US human rights violations

By Hannan R. Hussain | | Updated: 2022-08-11 15:41
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Refugee children gather around a fire at a camp in Idlib, Syria, during a harsh winter in January. Amid the bitter cold, many civilians were forced to burn their clothes in an effort to stay warm. MUHAMMED SAID/GETTY IMAGES

In a damning report published by the China Society for Human Rights Studies, the gravity of US war crimes, crimes against humanity, and blatant international law violations are clear as day. From over 174,000 direct deaths from the Afghan war to the forceful devastation of Iraq's state apparatus, a cycle of "frequent and repeated wars in the Middle East and other places" stands exposed in the detailed assessment. All this reinforces the fundamental truth about US war adventurism: that Washington has zero appetite for peace.

The two devastating wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are also key reference points in the report, bring to memory a consistent pattern of inflicting long-term harm on entire populations. It is a fact that over 47,000 civilians paid the costs of an unprovoked Afghan war in blood, and Washington continues to sidestep responsibility to stem the country's sustained refugee crisis. The report makes a valuable contribution by pointing to a pattern of unwarranted US interventions in major parts of the world, and how it is matched by equally reckless US military withdrawals to the peril of those invaded. Look no further than the 2011 Iraq pullout: it contributed to the sustained rise of the Islamic State, leading the group to consolidate its base of terrorist activities on the back of a US military vacuum. How does preparing the ground for militancy promote the cause of countering it?

On Washington's indiscriminate exercise of unilateral sanctions, and infringement of fundamental rights, it is difficult to locate an equivalent. The report's focus on US pursuits for absolute dominance in the Middle East and beyond is confirmed by the application of punitive sanctions against regimes with fiercely independent foreign policies, from Iran to Syria. Washington's cultivation of proxy groups and armed militias at the expense of sovereign state security finds a fitting illustration in Gulf wars, its role in a steadily intensifying hunger crisis in Yemen, and supply of arms to new umbrella militant groups and outlawed outfits.

That is a compromising look for a country that attempt to leverage the so-called "international rules-based order" to the benefit of military blocs and security groupings, all the while offering no course correction for its sustained history of forced occupation, regime change, proxy warfare, illegal sanctions, humanitarian catastrophes, arbitrary detention, torture and implausible deniability.

Further on regime change, US attempts to export its skewed notion of democracy – from Latin America to the Middle East – make it critical to identify the war crimes committed in tandem. Air strikes under the pretext of an inherently endless "war on terror" have accumulated civilian collateral on occupied soil by US security forces. The report's close attention to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry, and its observations on "indiscriminate" US military attacks against Syrian civilians, further illuminate America's deliberate refusal to answer for egregious war crimes across administrations.

It sends a powerful message on Washington's commitment to institutional independence given how it has leveraged institutions to advance Washington's geopolitical objectives. From unilaterally intervening in an International Monetary Fund loan to hamper Iran's quest for humanitarian relief, to Washington's theft of Afghanistan's assets by force, Washington has contributed to a culture of systemic, long-term suffering in regions where its own democratic credibility has taken a hit. Damning revelations from a Congress-sanctioned Afghanistan watchdog – The Special Inspector General for Afghanistan's Reconstruction – have also been largely ignored, because the Biden administration wants to sustain a victory narrative on US involvement in Afghanistan and answering for war crimes would defeat the purpose.

"The nature of American hegemony and the barbarity, cruelty and perniciousness of its power politics have been completely exposed, and the people of the world have a better understanding of the hypocrisy and deception of the American democracy and the American human rights," states the report.

Therefore, a hard look at Washington's trail of devastation, war crimes and facilitated invasions make it vital for the world to defend what matters: treasured principles of universal human rights that no hegemonic power, under any pretext, has the right to violate.

The author is a foreign affairs commentator and author.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the views of China Daily and China Daily website.

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