Rights and chaos | Sunday Observer

Rights and chaos

Turning a war into a humanitarian operation
Turning a war into a humanitarian operation

Various discourses on varied rights, such as human rights, children’s rights, women’ rights and animal rights have been in currency for a considerable period. It is good if people are aware of all these multifarious rights and live accordingly, enhancing human well being as expected.

Isn’t there a far better modus vivendi to facilitate social coexistence and human well being than the logomachical (argumentative on words) rights campaign? The doctrine of rights seems to be divisive from political, social, economic and even person-to-person level as the concept is prone to disregard ground realities, offering leeway for those who advocate the course of rights to have an edge over the others due to the moral high ground they gain from quasi ethical soundings. The most explicit and talked-about examples come from the global political scene although the fallout in other domains is hidden from the public scrutiny.

Sri Lanka is one of those countries which have been treated unfairly on the human rights front. The armed forces had to wage a war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) which caused destruction throughout the island by cold-bloodedly massacring people and damaging public and private properties for almost three decades.

The LTTE’s objective was to divide the island nation on ethical lines.

The armed forces militarily defeated the LTTE in 2009 through a humanitarian operation with minimum damage to civilians. Subsequent to the defeat of the LTTE, its ideological supporters in the country and abroad launched a worldwide campaign to discredit the Government that gave the leadership to rout the LTTE and round up key members of the Government and the military with whose guidance and efforts the crushing of the separatist terrorist group was possible.

Noticing that human rights was an obscure concept frequently used for political scheming, LTTE proxies hung onto the human rights rope and started to use the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to discredit the Government and criminalise the armed forces.

For the purpose, they had to lobby the governments of powerful countries, especially in the west, even funding election campaigns of those countries.

In the country, LTTE proxies deemed to infiltrate political parties. They seemed to have aligned with constituent parties of the Yahapalanaya coalition, and, perhaps, they might have got into the main coalition partner of the Yahapalanaya rule without the knowledge of the credible party members.

However, with or without the backing of LTTE sympathisers, in 2015, the Yahapalanaya government decided to co-sponsor a resolution on Sri Lanka to look into so called human rights issues and alleged excesses during the war against LTTE terrorism.

The ominous sign was that they followed a pernicious path shown to them by the so called international actors, pressured by LTTE proxies, disregarding ground realities that Sri Lankan security forces acted in a manner to make a war, which is nothing but a memento mori to anyone cognizant of such an ambience, a humanitarian operation. They eschewed forthright efforts of people, such as Lord Naseby, to present the facts contained in diplomatic dispatches and effect a course correction.

Considering all these treacherous political man oeuvres centering on the rights discourse, discerning people can note that the rights platform is one of the most seemingly sophisticated, but intellectually hollow exercises framed to fulfill sinister agendas of those who could muster enough clout. What is more, even the American government withdrew its membership from the UNHRC citing that it is not impartial.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley in a joint statement in June 2018 said, “We take this step because our commitment does not allow us to remain a part of a hypocritical and self-serving organisation that makes a mockery of human rights.”

The downside of the rights platform is that it is an argumentative and logomachical movement which dissembles its aim as uplifting human well being while often having countervailing effects in societies in which the discourse is propagated.

For instance, the Arab Spring which was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Islamic world in the early 2010s, beginning in Tunisia, was a consequence of the deliberation of the human rights discourse. It bequeathed nothing but dystopia and anarchy to the Arab world.

Human well being is predicated upon the people’s ability to understand the environment and improving life accordingly, not on various rights which hinge on logomachy. People need to get down to facts about human well being and then derive value from facts, even to start pondering on human well being, without passively accepting various discourses on rights. And in the modern world, this facts-and-value business delves deep into looking at the possibility of lessening the suffering of conscious creatures, not only of human beings, by understanding the conditions of all beings holistically, without limiting the discourse to human beings.

For the purpose, people need to assess all the conditions of all beings which are fundamentally limited by the laws of nature as Harvard University’s Professor of Evolutionary Psychology Steven Pinker said, “Overcoming naive impressions to figure out how things really work is one of humanity’s highest callings.”

The ridiculous scenario is that some tend to acquire the knowledge of various discourses or ideologies as if they were axiomatic statements and resort to the logomachical approach, like Greek philosophers to asses the validity of acquired concepts. Bertrand Russell said in his book,

The Scientific Outlook

“Aristotle has been one of the great misfortunes in human race. To this day, the teaching of logic in most universities has been full of nonsense, for which he is responsible,” to demonstrate the hollowness of logomachy practiced in ancient Greece, which is equally applied in some branches in modern times, such as the rights discourse. The discourse on rights seems to be used mainly as a political tool in the international arena for strategic reasons as it can be camouflaged to appear as an honest approach to improving human well being.

Hegemonic countries are so ready to preserve the rights of the people of strategically important countries that they have invented auxiliary concepts, such as ‘Right to Protect’ to intervene in the affairs of legitimate governments in countries they wish to install puppet governments, creating chaos in such societies.

Astronaut Edgar D. Mitchell pithily expressed the narrow-minded political approach in the international scene, reminiscing about his walk on the moon, “You develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it.

“From out there on the moon, international politics looks so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, ‘Look at that, ...”