Weaponizing Human Rights

This is one of these dreamy, naive to the point of absurdity, articles we come across so often in the Western press these days. Of course, like your bank’s “errors” always seem to be in their favour so the naivety always seems to coincide with the interests of the imperialists. Still, in many cases, it probably is simply extreme naivety. These children who went to school, enjoyed their “circle time” (a programming system used in schools to infantilize and control young students by getting them to “share their feelings”), believed every last word the teachers said and then went on to “Uni” (probably on their horsey) where their parents accompanied them to the interview and their lecturers were careful to avoid “trigger words” in lectures. Maybe they go on to take a Masters in “War Studies” at King’s College, London. Then they came out and got a job as a “journalist” writing down every word that the US State Department and MI6 tells them to.

This is an article about how those poor “White Helmets” were pulled out of Syria. Of course their actual sponsors – the UK for example [1] – were not going to pull them out directly. That would have looked to obvious. So ally Israel was used.

In the article the White Helmets are described as a “rescue organisation” and “rescue volunteers” and “civil defence group”. We are told that “The group is particularly reviled by Damascus and Moscow because they documented war crimes perpetrated by both”. To back this up there is a link alongside the article to one titled “How the White Helmets became victims of an online propaganda machine”. Of course, everyone wants to be a victim these days.

The basis of the article seems to be about how poor conditions are in the refugee camp in Jordan where Israel transferred them and how the White Helmets are having to wait a while before being settled (presumably at public expense) in Canada. It is the kind of article that one writes for one’s mates.

The main false narrative here is the one about the White Helmets being some kind of legitimate civil defence organisation who were simply “documenting human right violations” as volunteers. At the start of the Syrian civil war the then UK Foreign Secretary William Hague set out Britain’s policy. It was to avoid military involvement (a policy since abandoned [2]) and instead to fund civilian NGOs to produce evidence which could be used to prosecute Assad for war crimes. The strategic aim was to undermine Assad. The goal was regime change. It just appears that Hague realised that direct military involvement would have been (and is) illegal and, likely, he wanted to avoid possible war crimes charges himself. The strategic aim was regime change in another country – that is interference in the sovereign affairs of another country. To back the White Helmets rather than send in the SAS was a matter of tactics. No doubt Assad’s forces have done things which could be seen as war crimes. Certainly the forces opposing him have done. Middle Eastern wars do not usually play out following Marquis of Queensbury rules. However the aim of the British government was not to reduce war crimes and the suffering they bring – it was to use war crimes charges and the threat of international prosecution to put one side in the war under pressure. Had the British government been moved by a humanitarian concern to reduce war crimes in this conflict they would have been sure to support a neutral and objective project of war crimes monitoring run say by the UN. But they only cared about Assad’s war crimes. They were using his war crimes as a lever to unseat him. This is weaponizing war crimes. The White Helmets then were not a “civil defence group”. They were a tool of war and regime change.

Furthermore it takes naivety to an absurd level to believe that the members of this group would have been impartial. Firstly, they all seem to have been members of the Syrian opposition – politically opposed to Assad. Secondly like any group receiving UK government funding they would have known what their paymasters wanted – and they would have produced it. Certainly they may have documented actual war crimes. But we can be pretty sure that in the absence of actual crimes they would have been sorely tempted to make up a few.

This kind of fairy-telling is what passes for journalism these days.


1. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/foi-release-how-white-helmets-spend-funds

2. https://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mark-curtis/britains-seven-covert-war_b_12332368.html

Author: justinwyllie

EFL Teacher and Photographer