American Herald Tribune | MOHSEN ABDELMOUMEN: Mohsen Abdelmoumen: You wrote the book “Achieving Human Rights”. Don’t you think that the many interventions of American imperialism, under the pretext of spreading human rights and democracy, have emptied the concept of human rights from its substance?
Prof. Richard Falk: I would place the stress on the discrediting effects of the disastrous American imperial intervention, and subsequent occupation, of Iraq starting in 2003. Especially when the allegation of hiding stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction proved false, the United States justified the intervention as a textbook liberation of the Iraqi people, an exercise in what was called ‘democracy promotion.’ Even earlier, the U.S. Government attempted to justify its regime-changing intervention in Afghanistan as beneficial for women, as an undertaking that was described under such headings as ‘women empowerment.’ As with Iraq, the intervention in Afghanistan has brought massive suffering to the people of the country, and discredited all claims that human rights and democracy could be achieved by military intervention.
Other factors in this period have also been responsible for the declining relevance of international human rights, above all the rising global tide of right wing populism and the control of governments by democratically elected autocratic leaders. Such leaders, led by Trump in the United States, are dismissive of human rights in their own country, and invoke human rights in an opportunistic and discrediting way to attack their geopolitical adversaries. Among the explanations of this trend is as a nationalist backlash against neoliberal globalization and in reaction to the pressures exerted on Europe and elsewhere by the failed interventions in the Middle East.