The ‘global revolution of dignity' hurts human dignity
Published: Jul 05, 2022 08:46 PM
Unmasking the superpower: Where the Ukraine crisis started Illustration: Xu Zihe/GT

Unmasking the superpower: Where the Ukraine crisis started Illustration: Xu Zihe/GT

"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." 

This is Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But in a recent speech by Administrator Samantha Power of USAID, she seemed to assume that people's yearning for dignity needs to be awakened by the United States. If she cares to revisit history, she would find that the so-called revolution of dignity is nothing new. It was chanted by the US before it found its way into Ukraine, Afghanistan and Latin America.

"Revolution of dignity" was used to describe the street protests incited by the US in Ukraine in 2014 that ousted the then president. Regrettably, what ensued was not dignity, but instability and poverty. Eight years later, in the same country, human tragedies repeat themselves. UN Women recently noted that "women and minorities are facing immense hardship in health, safety and access to food as a result of the Ukraine crisis." Up to 5,000 children have already been unaccounted for according to the Ukrainian authorities. Vulnerability plus the urgent need for money has created a breeding ground for sexual exploitation. UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that "for predators and human traffickers," women and children are the targets, especially when they cannot speak neighboring countries' languages or don't have people they trust to protect their safety. 

Human dignity in Ukraine is in dire strait. Yet, America's first lady's visit to Ukraine was nothing more than a photo op, and US humanitarian assistance to Ukraine seems so modest comparing to billions in military aid. Even worse, when the smoke of war is yet to clear in Ukraine, the US is having second thoughts about how much more it should continue to assist. There is no doubt that the US will eventually leave behind a mess the same as it was created, if not worse; and innocent civilians will continue to live in plight with no human dignity. 

Afghanistan is another place where human dignity is degraded. In 2021, the US withdrew all its troops from Afghanistan, in a manner as arbitrary as how it went uninvited 20 years ago. Back then, president Bush claimed that "Our coalition has liberated Afghanistan and restored fundamental human rights and freedoms... to all the people of Afghanistan." Even when the US was pulling out, President Biden still pledged to "continue to support the Afghan people."

But it is the US who shattered the dignity of Afghan people, when it bombed homes into shambles and tore families apart. The two-decade war left over 70,000 Afghan civilians killed, more than 60,000 injured and 11 million displaced. Nearly 33,000 children died, and 3.5 million lost access to education. Ten civilians including two toddlers aged only two were directly killed by US drones. In a most horrific video, two Afghans who were deluded about a better life in America fell from a US aircraft when it hastily took off from Kabul airport. In neither case was any US personnel held accountable. 

When human lives hardly matter to the US, there is no human dignity to speak of. The war has cost Afghanistan $60 million on a daily average, destroying almost all its industries. About 72 percent of the Afghan people are living below the poverty line. Only 5 percent of the population have enough food to eat. But the US chose to freeze the Afghan central bank's assets of $7 billion, pushing Afghanistan's financial system to the verge of collapse and leaving more Afghans unemployed. This is how the US defends human dignity: to create turmoil and poverty with a war, and then worsen humanitarian situation with illegal sanctions.

"Love thy neighbor." But that's not the motto of the US when it so casually hurts the interests of Latin American countries to maximize its own profits. On Cuba, the US has imposed the harshest sanctions for more than 60 years, costing Cuba hundreds of billions of dollars. Those wooed by the ideals of freedom and dignity who rushed to the US border would only find the doors shut and their dreams crushed. In early June, tens of thousands of Central American migrants were violently expelled and inhumanely treated at the US southern border. In 2021, a US border guard on horseback whipped a migrant on his head. In just nine days, the US expelled nearly 4,000 Haitian migrants, including hundreds of families with children. Latin America is "so far from God, so close to the US."

The US keeps talking about dignity, but what it does is just the opposite. Maybe its true purpose is to sustain its dominance and supremacy by depriving others of dignity. Administrator Power said that "we should extend a broader revolution of dignity to people seeking to be free." But true dignity can only be realized when the world is free of US hegemony and hypocrisy.

The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for CGTN, Global Times, Xinhua News Agency, etc. He can be reached at xinping604@gmail.com