Questioned last week in Pacifica Free Radio by journalism students of the University of Berkeley, German political scientist Jacob Singer, a former advisor to Chancellor Schmidt, gave his impressions of Condoleezza Rice’s recent visit to Europe. “[An allied country kidnaps one of your nationals (Khaled El Masri) during his vacations, makes him disappear, deprives him of all his legal rights, tortures him during a whole year in a secret prison and finally releases him in a parking lot in Albania saying: ‘we are sorry, we made a mistake, go back home and shut your mouth if you don’t want any trouble’. And all that happens with Mr. Masri’s government - the one that is supposed to protect its nationals and the rights that their own constitution is supposed to guarantee – doing nothing. And, when the allied country acknowledges (after having lied) that it is true, won’t you make any questions? Will you be satisfied with a vague excuse and the promise that it will not happen again? And when the allied country denies Mr. Masri entrance in its territory, thus preventing him from having access to the court’s justice; or when the media reveals that it was your own secret services that put Mr. Masri in the hands of the arbitrariness of torture; what should you do? Well, we just close our eyes not to get upset with the Big Brother. And this is happening in Europe – from where we are always willing and ready to give lessons of civilization and human rights.]” The author concluded that, today, the United States is mocking human rights but that Europe is only adopting a comfortable opposition stance to satisfy its public opinion, part of which is not submissive. “[Although in 2003 we could believe in an axis of justice and human rights in Europe, today we have realized that it is not that way anymore. We are dwarfs and we know it, but we do not want to admit it].”

Conservative editorialist Paul Gigot, of the Wall Street Journal, offers a perfect example of US arrogance with respect to torture by severely criticizing the European “hypocritical and childish” attitude. In his opinion, Europe pretends to believe the “eccentric stories” invented by the media, mainly anti-American media (however, let us recall that the scandal broke after the publication of an article in the Washington Post) about the treatment given to terrorists by the United States. Without setting any differences, the Wall Street Journal again brings debate on the September 11 issue affirming that those suffering maltreatment are just a bunch of super-terrorists and their being torture is justified to avoid new attacks. In addition, the methods used are not only “relatively benevolent” but also known by the European governments. Any criticism of the US actions in their war on terror is only the expression of a demagogical anti-Americanism. The United States does not need Europe but the latter may be taking the risk of being in trouble if it ever needs to, as usual, ask for the “Yankees’” assistance to get rid of a new Fascist. We are again faced with the original myth of the US foreign policy (the United States is the champion of the free world) that allows to eliminate any criticism and to minimize any abuse.
And it continues to work! During her visit to Germany, Condoleezza Rice only received a few reprimands from the new German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Not a single reference or word was said in favor of the cause of German citizen Khaled El-Mesri, an innocent person who was kidnapped and tortured for ‘the crime of having an obscene surname” and who can not even enter US territory to demand justice in a US court. Nazim Makit, a German representative of Kurdish origin, told her impressions to the radio station Berliner Kanal: “[Did they take Mesri’s affair as a lost cause not to upset our big brother of America? Or maybe because his Arab surname does not make him a true German citizen? In any case, we often are more active if the German hostages have surnames that sound “more” German, for example in Iraq.” But the rest of the German Left remains silent, confused by the revelation that former Chancellor Schröder (re-elected in 2003 for his opposition to the war in Iraq) and his Foreign Affairs Minister, Joschka Fischer, a former militant of the extreme left, had been aware for the past two years of the CIA secret flights. They not only did not oppose them but also encouraged the German services to participate in the interrogations. As to the meeting of the Foreign Affairs Ministers of NATO, which could have become a court to judge the CIA activities, Condoleezza Rice obtained there an impressive diplomatic victory. Avoiding any debate (France remained remarkably silent), NATO declared itself “satisfied with the explanations given.” If Condoleezza Rice says that the United States does not torture, respects international law and in the future its soldiers will abstain from using “brutal” methods, then there is no use in going farther. The facts that contradict these statements matter little, “we do not want them to think that we are primary anti-Americans”, explains German Foreign Affairs Minister Walter Steinmeier.
Unfortunately, this attitude seems to confirm the words of extreme leftist Sabine Meinhoff who notes that in regards to the relation between Germany and the United States: “[It is not worth having a dialogue with the monkeys, it is necessary to talk to the owner of the beasts]”.

However, the ex Secretary of State of the Foreign Office and member of the Labour Party, Chris Mullin, told the The Independent that, at least, since the anti-insurrectional” struggle in Vietnam (and even before if we study the history of Latin America) there is nothing new with respect to the CIA participation in tortures and unexplained disappearances. The new element is that, after September 11, a secret network of prisons has been built, an American gulag, in which prisoners disappear so that they can not have access to the guarantees of US justice or international law. It is evident that Western governments see these prisons as “disgraceful” because these secret prisoners were transferred to other more “understanding” countries after the uproar caused in Europe.

This issue is analyzed by the Middle East or Arab press, not only as additional evidence of the US double standard in human rights affairs (since the editorialists of these media do not hope for anything else from Washington) but also as a sad demonstration of European submissiveness.

Iranian editorialist Mohammed Ali Saki stirs up the controversy recalling in the Tehran Times that there is plenty of evidence of violation of human rights that has been recorded by prestigious international organizations. Europe’s silence in this respect puts into question the condition of champion of human rights and democracy of which the European Union used to boast. Of course, the Iranian response also includes strategic reserves due to the European campaign in relation to the nuclear issue in Iran that often resorts to the arguments of human rights and democracy to put pressure on Tehran. Thus, the Iranians are pleased to give the ball back to them by noting the inconsistencies of those who like to give lessons.
In general, the European duplicity and even their cowardice, is seen with disappointment. In the face of the arrogance and the abuses committed by the United States over the past years – in particular, as Jacob Singer recalls, due to the huge demonstrations against the war in Iraq – a myth was created: that Europe serves as “counterweight” to the neoconservatives’ imperial wishes. The absence of a true reaction to the case of human rights violations in its own territory seriously undermines this myth. In Al Watan, Kuwaiti intellectual and Parliament member Ahmed Yussef Al Daiij notes that this is a clear example of the double speech used by politicians. While, on the one hand, the West continues to make calls to respect human rights and takes to court those countries considered to be violating them, on the other hand, it submits itself without any resistance to a US administration that institutionalizes torture and disdain for human rights. Not only has the credibility of the United States but also that of the West, which likes to give lessons, been seriously put into question. Lebanese writer Hazem Saghieh, who had supported the United States during the two wars in Iraq, says nothing different in the Pan-Arab newspaper Dar Al-Hayat. He regrets that Europe and the United States, in other times champions of human rights, are every day seeing how this image is destroyed due to the new scandals that break after the abuses committed by the United States with European complicity.
We should hope that this disappointment serves to accelerate the destruction of the myth of the “virtuous” Europe and the “civilized” West – two main ingredients of the war of civilizations and the moral justifications of colonial adventures.
In a slightly pathetic way, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Louise Arbour, who aspires to replace Kofi Annad as UN Secretary General, recalls in the International Herald Tribune that the complete prohibition of torture is the cornerstone of the international building of human rights. The struggle against terror can not become an excuse to undermine that prohibition. Thus, she urges all governments to adopt measures not only to condemn torture but also to prohibit the transfer of prisoners to countries where torture is practiced and to prohibit the use of information obtained through torture. In addition to the weakness of this appeal in the face of the seriousness of the situation, we wonder about the chances of success of this organization that is led by a Security Council with only five permanent members that, as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch recall, practice torture in different degrees.