Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

The Western Onslaught on International Law


A new film, “Compliance,” examines “the human desire to follow and obey authority.

Liberal institutions, such as the media, universities, federal courts, and human rights organizations, which have traditionally functioned as checks on the blind obedience to authority, have in our day gone over to power’s side. The subversion of these institutions has transformed them from checks on power into servants of power.  The result is the transformation of culture from the rule of law to unaccountable authority resting on power maintained by propaganda.

Propaganda is important in the inculcation of trust in authority.The Pussy Riot case shows the power of Washington’s propaganda even inside Russia itself and reveals that Washington’s propaganda has suborned important human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Chatham House, and Amnesty International.

Pussy Riot is described in the western media as a punk rock group, but seems in fact to be a group known as Voina (War) that performs lewd or scandalous unannounced public performances such as the one in the Russian cathedral, a sexual orgy in a museum, and events such as these:  and

Three of the cathedral performers were apprehended, indicted, tried, convicted of breaking a statutory law, and given two-year prison sentences. The Voice of Russia recently broadcast a discussion of the case from its London studio. Representatives from Human Rights Watch and Chatham House argued that the case was really a free speech case and that the women were political prisoners for criticizing Russian President Putin.

This claim was disingenuous. In the blasphemous performance in the Russian cathedral, Putin was not mentioned. The references to Putin were added to the video posted on the Internet after the event in order to turn a crime into a political protest.

The human rights representatives also argued that the women’s conviction could only happen in Putin’s Russia. However, the program host pointed out that in fact most European countries have similar laws as Russia’s and that a number of European offenders have been arrested and punished even more severely.  Indeed, I recently read a news report from Germany that a copycat group of women had staged a similar protest in support of Pussy Riot and had been arrested. An analysis of these issues is available here:

The human rights representatives seemed to believe that Putin had failed the democratic test by failing to stop the prosecution. But a country either has the rule of law or doesn’t have the rule of law. If Putin overrides the law, it means Putin is the law.

Whether Washington had a hand in the Pussy Riot event via the Russian protest groups it funds, Hitlery Clinton was quick to make propaganda.  Free expression was threatened in Russia, she said.

Washington used the Pussy Riot case to pay Putin back for opposing Washington’s destruction of Syria.  The overlooked legal issue is Washington’s interference in internal Russian affairs. The close alignment of human rights organizations with Washington’s propaganda hurts the credibility of human rights advocacy.  If human rights groups are seen as auxiliaries of Washington’s propaganda, their moral authority evaporates.

The prevalence of the English language, due to the British domination of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries and American domination in the 20th and first decade of the 21st century, makes it easy for Washington to control the explanations. Other languages simply do not have the reach to compete.

Washington also has the advantage of having worn the White Hat in the Cold War. The peoples who were constituent parts of the Soviet empire and even many Russians themselves still see Washington as the wearer of the White Hat. Washington has used this advantage to finance “color revolutions” that have moved countries from the Russian sphere of influence into Washington’s sphere of influence.

Tony Cartalucci concludes that “Amnesty International is US State Department Propaganda.”

Cartalucci notes that  Amnesty’s executive director is former State Department official Suzanne Nossel, who conflates “human rights advocacy” with US global hegemony.

Amnesty does seem like an amplifier for Washington’s propaganda. Amnesty’s latest email to members (August 27) is:  “As if the recent trial and sentencing of three members of Pussy Riot wasn’t shameful enough, now Russian police are hunting down others in the band. Make no mistake about it: Russian authorities are relentless. Just how far are the Russian authorities willing to go to silence voices of dissent? Tell the Russian government to stop hunting Pussy Riot!”

Amnesty International’s August 23 email to its members, “Wake Up World,” is completely one-sided and puts all blame for violence on the Syrian government, not on al Qaeda and other outside groups that Washington has armed and unleashed on the Syrian people. Amnesty is only concerned with getting visual images damning to the Syrian government before the public: “We are working to get this damning footage into the hands of journalists around the world. Support our work and help ensure that our first-hand video is seen by influential members of the media.”

At least Pussy Riot got a trial. That’s more than US Marine, Brandon Raub, a veteran of two tours of combat duty, got. Raub posted on Facebook his opinion that he had been misused by Washington in behalf of an illegal agenda. Local police, FBI, and Secret Service descended upon his home, dragged him out, and on the authority of a social worker, committed him to a mental hospital for observation.

I did not see any protests from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, or Chatham House.  Instead, a Virginia circuit court judge, W. Allan Sharrett, demanded Raub’s immediate release, stating that there was no reason to detain and commit Raub except to punish him for exercising his free speech right.

Americans are increasingly punished for exercising free speech rights.  A number of videos of police violence against the occupy movement are available on youtube. They show the goon thug gestapo cops beating women, pepper spraying protestors sitting with their heads bowed, truncheons flashing as American heads are broken and protestors beat senseless are dragged off in handcuffs for peacefully exercising a constitutionally protected right.

There has been more protest over Pussy Riot than over the illegal detention and torture of Bradley Manning or the UK government’s threat to invade the Embassy of Ecuador and to drag out WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange.

When a Chinese dissident sought asylum in the US embassy in China, the Chinese government bowed to international law and permitted the dissident’s safe passage to the US. But “freedom and democracy” Great Britain refuses free passage to Assange who has been granted asylum, and there is no protest from Clinton at the State Department.

In “China’s Rise, America’s Fall,” Ron Unz makes a compelling argument that the Chinese government is more respectful of the rule of law and more responsive to the people it governs than is Washington.  Today it is Russia and China, not the UK and Europe, that challenge Washington’s claim that the US government is above international law and has the right to overthrow governments of which it disapproves.

The lawlessness that now characterizes the US and UK governments is a large threat to humanity’s finest achievement–the rule of law–for which the British fought from the time of Alfred the Great in the ninth century to the Glorious Revolution of the 17th century.

Where are the protests over the Anglo-American destruction of the rule of law?

Why Aren’t Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Chatham House on the case?

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal.  His latest book,  Wirtschaft am Abgrund (Economies In Collapse) has just been published.


A Special Memorial Issue of CounterPunch

Featuring recollections of Alexander Cockburn from Jeffrey St. Clair, Peter Linebaugh, Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Mike Whitney, Doug Peacock, Perry Anderson, Becky Grant, Dennis Kucinich, Michael Neumann, Susannah Hecht, P. Sainath, Ben Tripp, Alison Weir, James Ridgeway, JoAnn Wypijewski, John Strausbaugh, Pierre Sprey, Carolyn Cooke, Conn Hallinan, James Wolcott, Laura Flanders, Ken Silverstein, Tariq Ali and many others …

Subscribe to CounterPunch Today to Reserve Your Copy



Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 26, 2016
John W. Whitehead
A Deep State of Mind: America’s Shadow Government and Its Silent Coup
Eric Draitser
Dear Liberals: Trump is Right
Anthony Tarrant
On the Unbearable Lightness of Whiteness
Mark Weisbrot
The Most Dangerous Place in the World: US Pours in Money, as Blood Flows in Honduras
Chris Welzenbach
The Establishment and the Chattering Hack: a Response to Nicholas Lemann
Luke O'Brien
The Churchill Thing: Some Big Words About Trump and Some Other Chap
Sabia Rigby
In the “Jungle:” Report from the Refugee Camp in Calais, France
Linn Washington Jr.
Pot Decriminalization Yields $9-million in Savings for Philadelphia
Pepe Escobar
“America has lost” in the Philippines
Pauline Murphy
Political Feminism: the Legacy of Victoria Woodhull
Lizzie Maldonado
The Burdens of World War III
David Swanson
Slavery Was Abolished
Thomas Mountain
Preventing Cultural Genocide with the Mother Tongue Policy in Eritrea
Colin Todhunter
Agrochemicals And The Cesspool Of Corruption: Dr. Mason Writes To The US EPA
October 25, 2016
David Swanson
Halloween Is Coming, Vladimir Putin Isn’t
Hiroyuki Hamada
Fear Laundering: an Elaborate Psychological Diversion and Bid for Power
Priti Gulati Cox
President Obama: Before the Empire Falls, Free Leonard Peltier and Mumia Abu-Jamal
Kathy Deacon
Plus ça Change: Regime Change 1917-1920
Robin Goodman
Appetite for Destruction: America’s War Against Itself
Richard Moser
On Power, Privilege, and Passage: a Letter to My Nephew
Rev. William Alberts
The Epicenter of the Moral Universe is Our Common Humanity, Not Religion
Dan Bacher
Inspector General says Reclamation Wasted $32.2 Million on Klamath irrigators
David Mattson
A Recipe for Killing: the “Trust Us” Argument of State Grizzly Bear Managers
Derek Royden
The Tragedy in Yemen
Ralph Nader
Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think
Norman Pollack
Centrist Fascism: Lurching Forward
Guillermo R. Gil
Cell to Cell Communication: On How to Become Governor of Puerto Rico
Mateo Pimentel
You, Me, and the Trolley Make Three
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future