Recent events surrounding the Syrian crisis have indicated that a geopolitical transition may be taking place that will have a profound impact on human rights across the world. For a great deal of time the human rights superpower, the world power that prided itself on an impeccable human rights record and respect for the rule of law was the United States of America. The statesmanlike approach of Russian leader Vladimir Putin over the Syria crisis, in contrast to the frantic warmongering of his American counterpart, has shown that the baton of human decency may now be passing to a new force for human rights – the Russian Federation. The assertion of the Russian monk Philotheus of Pskov in 1520 was the first one declaring that Russia was the heir of the ages:
“Two Romes have fallen…and the third stands, and a fourth there shall not be” (1)
It seems now that the Third Rome, with its roots in Ancient Greece and Rome, is remerging as a force for good in the world. As the West begins to sink into the despotism once associated with the East, a power with a geographic position predominantly in the east takes on the mantle of civilizational leader. Could it be that Russia is now filling the moral vacuum that has been left in the wake of the West’s retreat from the principles of human rights and human liberty?
The moral authority of the United States as a human rights leader was severely damaged by its intervention in Iraq. However the proposed intervention in Syria is much more sinister from a human rights perspective. It follows a pattern of behaviour in which Western nations have consistently backed the forces of jihad and the standard bearer of Islamism – the Muslim Brotherhood. Islamism is something that will never reconcile itself with human rights yet Western powers increasingly embrace it.
Western elites have effectively empowered Islamists in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, and seem intent on doing the same in Syria. This is mirrored by their championing of Islamist causes at home, with the development of speech codes and draconian sanctions applied against anyone who dares to contradict the Islamist narrative. Sacrificing the most cherished freedom of all, freedom of expression, is now been followed by the sacrifice of freedom of movement and freedom of association in the effort to bolster the power of Islamism in the West. Actions of the Western elites have made their countries tyrannies at home, and expansionists abroad! It is quite ridiculous for them be referred to as champions of human rights!
In countries like Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia Western scheming has led to the overthrow of secular governments and their replacement by governments influenced by the Muslim Brotherhood. The West is now backing Islamist rebels in Syria and is now on the point of intervening militarily on the side of these forces. We have seen in North Africa that Islamists do not respect the human rights of religious minorities such as Christians when they attain power, and religious persecution follows whenever they attain any influence. Western leaders are now in effect accessories to ethnic and religious genocide. If judged by the actions of its leaders, Western respect for human rights has now evaporated.
The recent attack by Syrian rebel forces on Maaloula village near Damascus illustrates the situation. The attack on the predominantly Christian village was carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra and the supposedly moderate Free Syrian Army. Why such “moderates” are fighting hand in glove with the forces of Al Queda remains to be explained. The backing of such forces by Western Governments, backing that is increasing moving in the direction of a military alliance, shows the modern West for what it is with regard to its increasingly appalling human rights record.
A recent article published by the UK’s Daily Telegraph (2) newspaper describes the situation with regard to Syria’s Christians as follows:
“Christians, who make up approximately 10 per cent of Syria’s population, have increasingly become targets in the conflict as sectarian-minded foreign jihadists gain influence in the opposition ranks. Almost a third of the Syriac Christian population has fled the rebel-held northern town of Hassakeh after Christians became targets for kidnappings and assassinations.”
The Telegraph article also quoted some eyewitnesses who spoke in the following terms:
“They entered the main square and smashed a statue of the Virgin Mary,”
“First they took a brick factory owned by a Christian guy, who is now missing”
“Some of the rebels entered a home near the checkpoint belonging to Yousef Haddad, a Christian. They tried to force him to convert to Islam.”
It is quite clear that rebel forces in Syria advocate extreme forms of Islam and that that many of their number are jumping at the opportunity to undertake ethnic cleansing. Nevertheless Western politicians continue to do the bidding of their Islamist “ally” Saudi Arabia by continuing to side with these rebels. The lives of religious minorities in places like Syria are completely ignored and Western elites refuse to acknowledge that if Assad was ousted from power he would be replaced by Islamists just as has happened in in other countries afflicted by the “Arab Spring”.
Western countries may claim to respect human rights on the grounds that they are democracies. However, increasingly that democracy is democracy in name only. Many traditional characteristics of democracy are disappearing in Western nations. Elections do not make democracy, the rule of law and equality before it makes democracy – this is something that Western leaders no longer recognise. Western elites have managed to control the democratic process via control of the media, the shutting down of dissenting voices, and a contributed system that gives limited choice at election time. This is why they want to “democratise” the world – they are experts at manipulating it to meet elite interests so its trappings can safely be used as instruments of tyranny and elite group imperialism. It is the sort of democracy that used to be “enjoyed” in the German Democratic Republic!
In the USA efforts to whittle away the Constitution that was developed by some of the most enlightened people who have ever lived illustrate this dangerous trend. The Founding Fathers have even been labelled “extremists” by the Department of Defence (3). In Europe it is indicated by the increasing power of the European Union. The anti-democratic nature of the European Union, ruled by a politburo of unelected officials in the European Commission demonstrates an obvious move away from traditional democratic norms. The Commission might well believe that it is legitimised by the existence of a European Parliament, but when that parliament is nothing more than a rubber stamping talking shop that belief is in error. Indeed the European Parliament resembles the Roman Senate after the Emperor Augustus had hollowed out its real meaning and power to make it nothing more than a gentleman’s club for the privileged families of Rome.
It remains to be seen whether the moral decline of the West will continue. If it continues appointing leaders of the current “calibre” the situation looks bleak. It may be that Western publics will increasingly look beyond their own leaders, to places like Russia, for moral leadership and global vision. May Russia continue to strive to be the human rights champion of the world; this is in all of our interests as the human rights vacuum urgently needs to be filled.
(1) The Triumph of the West, by J.M Roberts, 1985, p 166.
(3) Obama DOD: Mainstream Conservative Views “Extremist” (Judicial Watch)
SOURCE: The International Civil Liberties Alliance (ICLA) is a human rights organisation that aims to uphold democracy, freedom and individual liberties.
The Alliance does so through endorsing, coordinating and promoting education and campaigns conducted by its members, in the spirit of classical liberalism. ICLA and its members will educate the general public about the significance of the inalienable rights of individuals, and how these are subtly underlined or openly challenged by political and religious forces.