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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/20/21

Fascism's new rise, NATO's war escalations, & human rights abuses

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In 2019, UN special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston predicted a "climate apartheid" scenario. He said that "democracy and the rule of law, as well as a wide range of civil and political rights, are every bit at risk. The risk of community discontent, of growing inequality, and of even greater levels of deprivation among some groups, will likely stimulate nationalist, xenophobic, racist and other responses." His conclusion was that "human rights might not survive the coming upheaval." Just two years later, with the pandemic and the correlating intensification of geopolitical tensions, this assessment about crises producing horrors throughout the 21st century has been proven right.

Was Alston being hyperbolic when he said that human rights, as a blanket concept and not in a limited sense, will be totally annihilated by the political reactions to global warming? From a literal perspective, he was; bastions of humane policies have and will continue to exist in the places that have been freed from imperial control. Particularly in socialist countries like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, which honest north Korean defectors have described as having the best human rights in the world. But he was right in that throughout the capitalist world, especially the parts of the capitalist world that the imperialists control, structural violence is going to be massively exacerbated by the century's cataclysms.

The pandemic alone has given Washington and its aligned regimes ample opportunities to commit atrocities. Colombia's state-backed paramilitaries have been taking advantage of the pandemic lockdowns to kill activists. The abuses of Indian law enforcement during the pandemic have exposed the human rights threat that the country's police pose, especially under the genocidal Hindu nationalist BJP regime. A probe has recommended that Bolsonaro be charged with genocide for his deliberate worsening of the pandemic, which has disproportionately harmed Brazil's colonized people. In the notoriously unsanitary U.S. migrant-detention centers, deaths have surged since the pandemic's start, a dynamic that's also applied to the migrant-detention facilities of other colonial powers like Australia. Through its bombings of civilian centers and arbitrary bans on medical equipment, Israel has been destroying Gaza's means for fighting Covid-19. Colonialism and imperialism are exploiting this crisis to kill off the undesirables.

The part of the U.S. empire's recent atrocity escalations that bodes worst for the coming decades is its warfare tactics along the periphery of Europe. To counter Russia, the imperialists have been engineering a series of humanitarian crises throughout the region, then exploiting these crises for propaganda purposes. This has centered around the creation of conflicts and economic conditions that have forced record amounts of people to flee their homes.

The European Union has been complicit in Washington's wars to destabilize Africa, southwest Asia, and eastern Europe. It's backed not just the NATO interventions of the last two decades, but the U.S.-engineered proxy war in Ukraine--which began after Washington carried out a 2014 coup in Ukraine that installed a belligerently anti-Russian regime. This regime, put in place by an ultra-nationalist faction called Euromaidan, has fed off of and fed into the country's crises. Its acceleration of post-Soviet neoliberalism has further eroded the country's social services, and its attempts to suppress the pro-Russian separatists who want liberation from a new Ukrainian fascism have further destroyed the country's capacity to handle Covid-19. The locals in eastern Ukraine, who are living through a pandemic mega-surge, aren't fooled by the propaganda telling them to blame Russia for their misery; they blame the government NATO imposed upon them.

The signs of a catastrophe like this were here from the start of the new cold war. The initial human costs of the maidan's rise were described this year by journalist Russel Bentley in response to the recent discovery of mass graves from the war:

In the summer of 2014, the Ukrainian Army launched a major offensive to isolate the cities of Eastern Ukraine and seal the border with Russia. The people of Lugansk and Donetsk had voted in a referendum to secede, as they regarded the newly imposed Ukrainian government as illegitimate and had close economic and cultural ties to Russia. During this attack, the city of Lugansk (pop. 400K) was surrounded and under siege for several months. Water and electricity were cut, no people or supplies were allowed in or out, and the city was subjected to constant shelling by heavy artillery.

Hundreds were killed, and the infrastructure was overwhelmed. The Lugansk city officials were forced to make a mass grave in which more than 200 people, mostly civilians but also some militia members, were buried. The victims were killed primarily by the Ukrainian Army including by shellings--not by the Russians. War crimes were also committed in neighboring villages, including some occupied by right-wing militias that Kyiv had to rely on because many Ukrainians did not want to join the army to fight their own people.

This is how far the NATO-backed fascist regimes will go should war grant them the opportunity to massacre people with impunity. Through their anti-Russian military buildup, Ukraine's parallel ultra-nationalist governments in the region are pushing to attain this opportunity, and they're already effectively waging war against migrants and internal undesirables. Ukraine has so far gone the furthest in this wave of anti-migrant abuses, with Ukrainian soldiers having been revealed this month to be shooting Belarus border fleers. Poland isn't far behind, with the brutal border policies of the country's ruling far-right Law and Justice Party having recently prompted a Polish soldier to defect to Belarus out of moral objection towards his country's treatment of migrants. Lithuania's fascist regime has been committing human rights violations against migrants, which keep growing in their acknowledged numbers.

All three of these regimes have been carrying out assaults against their marginalized populations for many years. Since 2008, Lithuania has banned Soviet and communist symbols, which in 2009 prompted European Parliament member Georgios Toussas to comment that "History has demonstrated that anti-Communism and the persecution of Communists are invariably the precursors of a general assault on working people, democratic rights and popular freedoms."

Since then, Ukraine and Poland have also progressively worked to outlaw communist symbolism, organizing, and speech. Which has naturally precipitated human rights abuses not just within NATO's cold war battles, but within internal legislation. Ukraine's regime has enabled the paramilitary targetings of Jews, Romas, and the LGBT community, as well as directly carried out torture against alleged traitors. Poland has implemented "LGBT free zones" that are designed to encourage hate crimes by enshrining religious bigotry into local laws, and was named the world's "most autocratizing country" this year by the Democracy Index.

The Index measures this by a country's levels of free and fair elections, civil society-organization repression, freedom of academic and cultural expression, government-censorship efforts, government dissemination of domestic false information, and respect for counterarguments against the regime's policies. It's no coincidence that the pandemic, which has enabled U.S.-backed repressive regimes worldwide to erode liberties, began just prior to when Poland reached this point of unsurpassed speed in descent towards dictatorship.

Such is the context behind NATO's "humanitarian" effort at subduing Russia and Belarus: the countries that are being used as the foremost military buildup tools against Putin and Lukashenko have grown into some of the most despotic, brutal regimes on the planet, all under the model of liberal "democracy" that Washington champions.

If this is how far the imperialists have taken their atrocities throughout the last decade or so of neoliberal economic collapse, geopolitical escalations, and pandemic waves, it's hard to imagine the levels the abuses will reach by mid-century or onward. In their intensifying wars, nuclear tensions, anti-immigrant policies, and internal repression, provoked by capital's contractions and the decline of U.S. hegemony, the imperialists have created a feedback loop of violence. One that will be made exponentially faster with each year of unprecedented climatic catastrophes.

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Rainer Shea is writing articles that counter the propaganda of the capitalist/imperialist power establishment, and that help move us towards a socialist revolution. Donate to me on Patreon here:

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