As Western support for Ukraine intensifies, can we really claim to uphold universal rights for all?
The West is focusing huge attention on the Ukrainian issue these days- not because they care about the people, not because of the major human rights violations being carried out, the shelling of civilian areas or torture of civilians. But just because we want Ukraine to join "our club". We want to see the expansion of our territory and values, even if our "values" are being violated at present in an attempt to bring Ukraine closer to us. We are glossing over what we do not want to see (such as torture and the shelling of civilian areas) whilst dealing with the bigger issue- defeating Russia in this new and dangerous game where each side is playing for the extension of their sphere of influence. And it is the people of Ukraine who are stuck in the middle. Russia, of course, is playing the same game, and has equal responsibility, however we claim to hold the moral high ground in the EU. Is this really the case?
Last December, Aassistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, told the National Press Club that the US has “invested” $5 billion in organizing a network (including the far right wing party Svoboda) to achieve US goals in Ukraine in order to give “Ukraine the future it deserves.” Of course, there are a large number of genuine protesters, who see the EU as a vision of the future they desire. However, it would appear that protesters on both sides are failing to see how both Russia and the EU are manipulating them. It is believed that this undercover Western involvement dates from 1999, when the GUUAMagreement was signed with Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova. This was a military cooperation agreement, with the long term goal of bringing the GUUAM countries into NATO and thus extending NATO bases in the Caspian Sea basin and the Black Sea, thus directly provoking and challenging Russia whilst using the GUUAM countries as pawns.As the Centre for Research on Globalization notes, "in reality, according to the West, protests are only good so long as they serve their interests".They further note the hypocrisy of the West's denouncement of on-going Thai protests against the US-backed regime ofregime of Thaksin Shinawatraand his sister, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra. The Guardian calls these protesters a "violent, undemocratic rabble". Why are these protesters viewed so differently to those in Ukraine? Simple- it is a matter of interests, not a regard for human rights. Following 9/11 the US and Thailand established the Counterterrorism Intelligence Center (CTIC) in order to work together more closely to combat terrorism, and in 2004 Shinawatra tried to push a US-Thailand FTA without Parliament's approval. T.Shinawatra committed Thai troops to the US invasion of Iraq, and allowed the US to use its country for its rendition programme. According to the Asia Times, the CIA prison " was, and perhaps still is, situated at a military base in the northeastern province of Udon Thani from where the US launched its bombers during the Vietnam War and is currently believed to monitor regional radio communications, including inside China". Again, this shows another facet of Western hypocrisy- such rendition centres are a violation of the Geneva Convention, which Western governments often cite when condemning other nations for their breaches. Shouldn't we ensure we have our own house in order if we are to expect decent human rights standards from others? Who are we to dictate to others when we have no standards ourselves apparently?
We all know what happened in Guantanamo, in Abu Graib- sleep deprivation, forced nudity, stress positions, extreme noise torture, the threat of dogs being released on the detainees, waterboarding. According to Human Rights Watch, similar tactics are currently being used by Thai Security officials on Muslim detainees. Why are we not speaking out? Is it any wonder that groups such as IS have sprung up? Is it any wonder that there is such anger and hatred towards the West?
From Ukraine to Syria, as different as they may be, do we really know who we are supporting, what we are getting into or what we have created? Are we fully aware of the consequences of our actions? Last week the US announced a plan to arm and train "moderate" Syrian rebels. However, today's IS were yesterday's FSA. How can we possibly predict what could come next in such a volatile environment? Is introducing more arms to such a conflict zone wise, or moral? How will this help to end the conflict? It can only serve to prolong hostilities, and in turn create more extremists of the youngsters growing up hardened by war.
The West needs to get its own house in order if it ever wants its "values" to be seen as a genuine expression of what we claim to stand for. In today's world dominated by social media and round-the-clock news, nothing can be hidden. Others know what we are playing at. They are playing the same game. What results is an endless and complex web of lies, interests and money. Look where it has got us. Shall we continue?