One of the largely unforeseen results of the great democratic and capitalist victory in the Cold War is the success the discredited Left has enjoyed as it scattered to fallback trenches after the rout it suffered at the front lines. The Stiglitz-Krugman economic Left, heavy-laden with Nobel prizes as are their political champions Jimmy Carter, Al Gore, and President Obama, have danced themselves into exhaustion on what they took to be the graves of Thatcherism and Reaganomics.
The Green movement, which had been an informal bucolic confederation of Sierra lovers of the wilderness, Greenpeace opponents of nuclear testing, and amiable eccentrics in hiking boots and pith helmets, brandishing butterfly nets and festooned with binoculars, became a rampart of the Left. Like the rural Communist guerrillas of the Colombian FARC, overwhelmed by the influx of massively armed and armored drug lords, the old agitators for cleaner air and water and pretty lepidoptera were inundated by the advocates of deindustrialization, abandonment of the automobile, and Churchillian resolution in the face of untrammeled cow flatulence. The genuine environmentalists were a perfect front for the beaten army of malcontents, radicals, and dull foot-soldiers who crowded like the grim wreckage of Napoleon’s Grande Armée at Smolensk in 1812 into this incongruous political ecosystem.
Now that it has been established that Al Gore’s infamous “settled science” is really such pungent intellectual ordure that it, too, could damage the ozone layer, and that the water levels and world temperature are not rising, the glaciers are not melting, and much of the alarmist data is false, the Left is scrambling for more reliable places to exercise its imperishable purchase on events.
Utterly debunked though their strategic and economic notions were, the social-market Left had learned rigorously the art of the chameleon. Of course the USSR was not really a threat, and the victory in an unnecessary Cold War was hollow, Pyrrhic, illusory, whatever. Academe welcomed and sheltered its defeated and bedraggled warriors and stirring requiems were thundered out in the usual vaulted cathedrals of the liberal media.
But perhaps the most stentorian Te Deum has come from the human-rights organizations. Human Rights Watch was founded by distinguished rights champion and publisher Robert Bernstein, who is still active but long gone from HRW. As the leftist infantry was put to flight, HRW became a clinic for the shell-shocked, who, assisted by the balm of the inevitable George Soros funding, have transformed it into yet another Israel-bashing operation.
Human Rights Watch was set up to rival the British Amnesty International, with a distinctly American flavor. Where Amnesty drew upon a wide membership-contributor base, HRW was and is sustained by large contributors. Where Amnesty had modest offices and made low-key representations to human-rights offenders, HRW produces scores of glossy reports and hundreds of newsletters annually, and operates very conspicuously from luxurious Manhattan offices.
Amnesty International was always suspect, and was led for many years by avowed Sinn Fein terrorist and Lenin (as well, of course, as Nobel) Prize–winner Seán MacBride. Its views were historically clouded by its underlying premise that apparently unjust measures could be taken to promote the defeat of institutionalized injustice, which can be true, but is also the traditional matrix for totalitarian and terrorist conduct.