Who Is Bush to Lecture China?

By Matthew Rothschild

Who is Bush to lecture the Chinese–or anyone, for that matter–on human rights?

There he was in Thailand, pressing China to uphold human rights when he has done more than any other President to heap scorn on them.

After 9/11, he said, “I don’t care what the international lawyers say. We’re going to kick some ass.”

And Cheney said, it was time to go over to the “dark side.”

And that’s exactly what Bush and Cheney have done.

They’ve illegally kidnapped hundreds of people and disappeared them into black sites.

They’ve had some of these victims tortured with waterboarding and made many others hang by their arms for hours on end.

They’ve held hundreds of people without charge for years in Guantanamo and at Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan.

And they’ve held thousands of people without charge for years in Iraq, often caging them in brutal containers.

Time and time again, Bush and Cheney and their apologists in the Justice Department have asserted the right to flout international treaties on human rights essentially whenever they feel like it.

They are serial human rights abusers.

Here’s what Amnesty International says in its 2008 annual report.

“With breathtaking legal obfuscation, the US administration has continued its efforts to weaken the absolute prohibition against torture and other ill-treatment,” the report notes. It denounced “the hollowness of the US administration’s call for democracy and freedom abroad,” and said that the Bush Administration “has distinguished itself in recent years through its defiance of international law.”

Bush has no standing whatsoever to be lecturing China–even on labor rights, which he also did in Thailand.

The Bush Administration has fined only 6 percent of the companies that had been violating federal wage laws, according to its own Labor Department. The rest got off.

This is not to say that Bush’s human rights abuses are equal to China’s.

But it is to say that he has left an indelible black mark on our own reputation.

He has disgraced the values we’re supposed to hold dear, and he’s given an invitation to other countries to trample all over human rights with impunity.

That’s what China has done.

And Bush is in no position to scold them about it.

He should scold himself first.