Monday, April 14, 2003


A lot of reporting of the atrocities discovered to have been committed in Iraq during the past three decades are not news. Yet, where was the outrage from groups who are in the business of expressing outrage? Groups like Amnesty International, in particular. They have plenty of funds to protest every instance when a prisoner found guilty of multiple torture murders is executed in the US, but what about the torture and murder of people in other countries for reasons no more serious than trying to exercise free speech?

A lot of reporters are now asking the question, where were they (the "human rights" groups)? and why are they "warning" the US and UK to respect rule of law, the Geneva Convention, etc, etc, in Iraq when they have never seemed to have been too concerned about Iraqi citizens in the past?

I think the answer is pretty simple.

These organizations function in a very opportunistic fashion. First, they tend to be funded by foundations and private donations from those who are well meaning, but who are basically guilty that they have a lot of money. So they are susceptible to groups who prey on that guilt by talking about abuse of "innocent" people by governments. But what do you get for your money?

Generally, they spend the biggest chunk of what they take in on efforts to raise money, so you might argue they are primarily a fund-raising organization. Secondly, they spend a lot of money on advertising and promotion. Not just print advertising and PR efforts to get their story heard in the media, but a lot of money spent on highly-paid consultants who treat these issues like they treat a new product. A story is crafted which will have the maximum effect on people who feel the guiltiest and to some degree feel like their contribution might actually make a difference.

OK, so if you were a wealthy person who was in that position, would you give money to an organization who spent all their time pointing out atrocities in countries ruled by savage, totalitarian dictators -- who could give a rat's ass about you and your opinion? Or would you give your money to an organization that went after "atrocities" being committed in or by governments in industrialized, democratic countries? You know, countries where the people in power are actually elected to office and are sensitive to "public opinion."


Amnesty International is not about to waste a quarter of its benefactors' money carping about Saddam Hussein. To what end? They knew that it would've resulted in them spending a ton of money and getting no "results." Because Saddam (or any other despotic ruler) didn't lie awake at night worrying about what a few western dilettantes say about him. And no one outside Iraq would've done anything about it. either. And these groups knew that. So they stayed quiet. And they went after "softer" targets, while thousands in Iraq perished.

Shame on them.


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