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Antiwar.com has a good article up today on PEN and the co-opting of the Human Rights industry by the US to attack and embarrass governments who oppose neoliberalism:
“Before working at State, (Susan) Nossel worked at Human Rights Watch, which has come under increasing criticism for its distorted accounts of the Chavez government in Venezuela and other official enemies of the US. And before that she worked at the UN under Richard Holbrooke as the Clintons masterminded the bombing of Yugoslavia and pushed NATO eastward in violation of assurances given by Reagan to Gorbachev.
Here we behold a revolving door between government and human rights NGOs, much like the one connecting the Pentagon and defense contractors or between regulatory agencies and the corporate entities they are to regulate. Nossel is clearly aware of the use that the U.S. government can make of organizations like PEN, writing in her 2004 “Smart Power” essay that “that the United States’ own hand is not always its best tool: U.S. interests are furthered by enlisting others on behalf of U.S. goals.” In what sense can PEN claim to be a “non-governmental organization” with Nossel in charge? In what sense can PEN claim to protect writers from the state with someone in charge who has been a frequent and unapologetic presence in the corridors of power?
Today a search on the PEN, America, web site readily yields entries for Pussy Riot, Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaobo, but nothing is to be found for “Bradley Manning “or “Julian Assange”! That in itself speaks volumes about Nossel’s PEN. As Chomsky and others have often pointed out, the primary duty of intellectuals is to critique their own ruling elite. After all, we can most affect our own rulers and it is their actions we are most responsible for. And that is what requires genuine courage. Criticizing elites in countries that are America’s official enemies is an easy and secure career path.”
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