'US dishes it out but just can't take it'
Sun Dec 11, 2011 9:3AM
Interview with Chris Bambery, political analyst
The United States is well known for criticizing other countries when they fail to follow international law, but brushes the others' criticisms about the US hypocrisy aside.
Press TV talks with Chris Bambery, a political analyst in London about the inconsistency and hypocrisy of US policies on human rights when it comes to the Occupy protesters. The discussion is expanded to include the US exempting itself from recognizing international law and legal bodies while it lectures other countries on international law it has not signed up to.
Following is an approximate transcript of the interview.
Press TV: Protesters are being treated harshly; they're being arrested and as you saw earlier their camps in Boston are also being cleared out. What does this tell us about the scope of free speech in America?
Bambery: Firstly I think it is a tribute to the Occupy wall Street movement that it has made the American establishment so scared that their response, which is a typical response in the US, is to move toward repression.
I think that shows the ruling circles in the US are scared of what you call the awakening of America, which has created a discourse across the country about an alternative to a system that lavishes the success of Wall Street and lavishes success on the corporations - that looks up to them.
Secondly, I think it speaks volumes about democracy in the US and people across the world must be looking at what is happening in Boston today; what's happened in Auckland, what's happened in Manhattan where similar scenes have been reenacted and saying, 'What is democracy in the land of the free?'.
I think we should be aware that when we talk about America being the land of the free, this was a country that was established from the very beginning, held up as a democracy, but established by an elite - Jefferson and Washington were slave owners. It was a country where racism was clearly institutionalized from the very outset; where genocide was unleashed against the indigenous population; and these are solutions, which marred democracy in America from the beginning and racism still exists as we know.
But also there has always been severe repression. If you look at the history of the labor movement, the trade unions of the US; they've had to fight against attacks on free speech from the very beginning and there is a requiem of people that have been executed and killed.
Names like Joe Hill (Joseph Hillstrom, executed Labor organizer), Sacco and Vanzetti who were from Boston - two anarchists who were set up and murdered in the 1920s and this was continued all through the civil rights movements in 1960s to the anti-Vietnam war; we saw the American state attempt to eradicate the Black Panther movement through legal killings by the police.
Bringing it right up to date where we see this response and this is just the immediate response by the American state to any move, which challenges it, which is trying to deny free speech and trying to crush those movements. So in a sense we are seeing history being reenacted again.
But I think as I say it's a tribute to the Occupy Wall Street movement that they started to debate. Up until the Occupy Wall Street movement happened the debate was dominated by the Tea Party and the right wing. Now we've got an alternative debate going on, which is saying we should not just be celebrating corporate America; we should not just be celebrating the bankers; we should be looking at this crisis and seeing what caused the crisis - it was the corporations; it was the bankers and why should ordinary people in the US and elsewhere in the world pay for it. It's a tribute to the Occupy Wall Street movement.
Finally, I also think it's an irony that these protesters in Boston have been evicted from the Square called Dewey Square named after one of the great Liberals of America; one of the great philosophers of America and I wonder what he would say - he was a critical voice of his time in the 1920s and 1930s about America and I wonder from beyond the grave what he would be saying about these scenes we're witnessing on our televisions screen today.
Press TV: There is also the issue of the international community, not decisively at least, speaking out against the US for the crackdown on the peaceful protests - Is the US any different in the eyes of international human rights bodies?
Bambery: The US exempts itself from a whole raft of international laws including as we know in Guantanamo Bay it stands up as a symbol of that. Who are we expecting in the West to criticize the US? Do we expect the British government for instance to criticize the US?
The British government is essentially the slave boy of the US. The US doesn't do anything for Britain it just expects Britain to go to war every time America does. And the British government and British ruling establishment jump to attention whenever the US goes to war - they're not going to criticize the US. France, Germany…No…we're not going to hear criticism of that.
They're very quick to hear criticism from the US to people around the world - they lecture Iran for instance on nuclear power; except they have of course a huge arsenal of nuclear weapons the greatest in the world, which could destroy the world many times over.
They exempt themselves from things like the test ban treaty, which is one of the most recent ones; they exempt themselves from international inspections, but expect other countries to follow these international laws, which they don't sign up to, so no I'm not surprised.
In Britain we're seeing not quite the push as quickly as this, but we're seeing attempts to evict the Occupy London movement from its camp outside St. Pauls and elsewhere in the city. The British government is following the example of the Americans at a slower pace, but they are following the example, so they're not going to criticize what the Americans are doing.
There is of course rank hypocrisy here - Washington, London and other capitals of the Western world lecture other parts of the world on what they think should be done, but ignore their own recommendations on the home front. They don't actually come through on the home front on what they expect other countries of the world to deliver.