Travesty International to the Kremlin's Rescue
Russia is losing its barbaric war in Ukraine. The only thing working in Moscow's favor these days is the abundance of useful idiots in the West.
From my visit to Irpin about a month ago. For anyone having witnessed Russia’s war crimes against the Ukrainian people firsthand, the Amnesty International campaign of victim-blaming is distasteful in the extreme.
There’s a scene in Conspiracy where one of the participants at the Wannsee Conference wants to know how many of those present are lawyers. Every single one raises a hand. “My God”, the Nazi official concludes, “It’s even worse than I thought.”
Being a lawyer myself, I should perhaps not enjoy such dark half-jokes at the expense of my own kind. But I suppose self-hatred is just the most intense form of common Schadenfreude.
Now, there are of course different kinds of lawyers. Most of the men at Wannsee were like me: having finished their legal studies, they never worked a day in the profession. Their minds, however, were still shaped by the training – for some, into submission towards all formal authority; for others yet, into arrogant rebellion. A young man having been taught for years that he is soon to become part of society’s absolute elite (in a modern bureaucracy, lawyers are the highest of high priests) will have to conform to this belief, or revolt.
At the Nuremberg trials, a set of jurists – judges and prosecutors alike – took it upon themselves to overturn the entire world order. They took a long, hard look at the Westphalian Peace of 1648, the treaty of which established the notion of absolute state sovereignty, and found it appallingly lacking. After the horrors of Nazi wars of aggression and the Holocaust, something new was needed, something which put at its core the values of human dignity and liberty. This is the most beautiful example in history of lawyers rebelling against the establishment.
And the ugliest? Well, that could very well be the already infamous Amnesty International finding on Russia’s war in Ukraine. Only about day old, it is guaranteed to go down in history as a triumph – a triumph, that is, of Russian-sponsored whataboutism, Kremlin-fueled nihilism, and legal minds letting go of all moral responsibility.
Just to sort this out, once and for all: the IV Geneva Convention (and Protocol I) in both letter and spirit is constructed to protect civilians against the actions of an enemy nation. In this case, the rules are there to protect Ukrainian civilians against the Russian aggressor enemy. That’s really all that needs to be said on the matter, from a legal perspective. Case closed – so closed it’s ridiculous.
Only, Amnesty’s “finding” or “analysis” or whatever you want to call it is not a legal finding, even though the organization does it damndest to frame it in a language to give that impression. In fact, it’s more like a product of journalism. More precisely, it’s a product of the lowest kind of journalism: propaganda.
Just look at the very first sentence, which starts like this: “Ukrainian forces have put civilians …” Here, everyone reading it gets a picture in their head where the Ukrainian military is moving civilians around. The sentence goes on, “in harms way by …” But the damage is already done, especially since the headline reads, “Ukrainian fighting tactics endanger civilians”.
And the witnesses used? People in Russian captivity. I could go on and on, but others already have. The backlash against Amnesty has been furious. As I write this, the former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, is publicly accusing the organization of running a “nice little info op”, and of having been “in a rush to slime an invaded country”.
But why did Amnesty do this? How could something like this even happen? There are degrees of suspicion here.
Firstly, with the publication of its report, Amnesty is the latest of all institutions to fall prey to the great poison of our age: letting the views of “both sides to a conflict” get equal attention. We all know how this has affected the media landscape, with insane flat-earthers and various conspiracy peddlers being constantly allowed to harass serious scientific experts; to destroy, as it were, facts and reason as the basis for political discourse. The spreading of this poison has been the work of the Putin regime for decades. Its effects can be observed most acutely in the United States, where QAnon maniacs and Trumpian neo-fascists threaten to overthrow the democratic government.
Secondly, any organization can be directly infested with useful idiots (just look at the British, Swedish and German “peace movements” over the decades). They do not need to be paid private money by the Kremlin. They are stupid and reckless and arrogant; for them, being allowed to vent their bottomless hatred of the West is often reward enough.
Thirdly and most seriously, there are of course direct agents of Moscow at some important positions throughout the West. There doesn’t need to be that many of them in any given organization. I can easily imagine the internal debate over at Amnesty HQ in preparation of releasing their finding. Some of those present voice their concern, or even disgust, at publishing a report that morally equates the victims with the aggressors. But one individual – it only takes one – immediately and strenuously counters that “it’s imperative for our credibility that we apply the same standards to both sides”, and that “we’ve published a lot of criticism of the Russians already, what about our members in third world countries, they’re very alarmed by the fact that we never criticize Ukraine” …
The next day – today – those who were opposed to publishing the report probably feel vindicated; that is, vindicated by the likes of me and others who have attacked the publication. For such is the reality of office politics: the pleasure of being able to say “I told you so” goes a very long way. What they don’t realize is the extent of the damage done. Russia’s Foreign Ministry is already pushing the report like it’s the best thing that ever happened to them.
And it is. From now on, journalists and pundits around the globe will take to referring to the report in all kinds of circumstances, just like they do with the Russian lies about the Azov Battalion. Can you hear it? I can. “At the same time, Ukraine has been harshly criticized for …” If you don’t hear it now, believe me: you will.
FROM KYIV WITH HATE is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, please consider becoming a free or paid subscriber. Thanks!