Human rights and the impending crisis

Vladimir Putin in Western eyes.

The USA in Russian eyes

The U.S. government depicts its current clashes with Russia and China as a struggle of freedom vs. despotism.  

This is a half-truth.  

Russia and China do not accept historic Western ideals of human rights and limited government.  

In Russia, President Vladimir Putin lives in a billion-dollar palace built with embezzled funds.  The man who revealed this was poisoned and then imprisoned.

In China, President Xi Jinping is introducing a new “social credit” system that is intended to monitor the actions of every Chinese and reward or punish them for what they do.  It is a model for authoritarian governments all over the world.

But the USA cannot claim to be a defender of human rights.  It prosecutes Julian Assange and other truth-tellers for revealing war crimes, occupies Iraq against the expressed will of its government, uses economic sanctions to starve opposing nations into submission, etc. 

Instead the U.S. government has adopted a new concept of human rights based on racial and sexual identity and the sexual revolution.

I of course believe that everyone is entitled to equal justice under law, and no-one should be persecuted or prosecuted for being what they are, so long as they don’t harm third parties and so long as they recognize my right to be what I am.

But reasonable people can differ questions of kindergarten sex education, eligibility for men’s and women’s sports teams, male and female bathrooms, etc.  These are not human rights issues.

Leaders of many nations, not just Russia and China, reject U.S. cultural influence, and with reason.  They think U.S. influence means more pornography, consumerism (the idea that increase of material possessions means happiness) and an undermining of the traditional family.

Again, reasonable people can differ about these things.  But it behooves us Americans to have some sensitivity to other cultures, and accept the fact that we’re not in charge of the world.

The best way for us Americans to champion human rights is to set a good example.


We Americans and others in the Western tradition have long been aware of the dangers of giving unaccountable power to a single individual, and expecting that individual to use it wisely.

Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping have freedom of action in diplomacy and military power, and neither one is subject to term limits.  They both have coherent ideas of the national interests of their countries and have the authority to carry these ideas out.  Maybe their successors will be less wise, but that is a matter for the future.

Divided power in the U.S. government has not produced a reality check, nor a policy that is good for the American people.  Instead we have different agencies, different branches of government and different political factions in an ever-shifting internal balance of power.


During the period of the first Cold War, we had a bi-polar world.  Every country was either a U.S. ally or puppet, a Soviet ally or puppet, or a neutral.  After the collapse of Communism, the USA was the only great power standing, and it seemed as if we had a uni-polar world.

Now we have what could be a multi-polar world, with a number of strong countries but none of them able to dominate.  Our US American leaders insist on trying to maintain the uni-polar world, and instead we’re creating another bi-polar world.

Russia, China and Iran are countries with different cultures and values, as well as different interests.  But U.S. hostility has driven them together into a unified bloc.  This was not inevitable.

The chief source of U.S. power is the almighty dollar.  The fact that the world’s business is done in dollars and has to go through certain bottlenecks controlled by the USA gives the U.S. government the power to impose sanctions on any individual or government that displeases it.

The power of the dollar gives the U.S. the power to not only prevent U.S. companies from doing business with sanctioned targets, but foreign companies as well.

This power came from a time when the USA was the world’s main manufacturing nation.  This is no longer the case.  If the U.S. government abuses the power of the dollar, the rebellion against the dollar will happen sooner rather than later.


One last point:  For years now, anonymous sources in the U.S. government have claimed to have secret information that Russia is planning an attack on Taiwan and China is planning an attack on Taiwan, and those attacks never materialize.

If someday, as in the fable of the boy who cried wolf, Russia or China may actually intend an attack, those who warn of it will not be believed.


Russia as the “Great Satan” in the Liberal Imagination by Richard Hanania for the Hanania Newsletter. Important.

Navigating Russia / USA Disinformation by Yves Smith for Naked Capitalism.

Ukraine and U.S. War Propaganda by Margaret Kimberley for Black Agenda Report.

How the Russian Media Portray the U.S. Military by Major Ray Finch, U.S. Army (ret.), for Military Review.

Images via BAR,  MR.

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