American standards of evaluation.
The American government has only one method of evaluation human rights violations: is the government in question pro or anti-American? The United States, for the most part, engaged in opportunistic criticism of human rights.
If the regime is submissive and friendly, its human rights record is neither of concern nor ever subject to lengthy State Department reports. But if the regime is, for whatever reason, hostile to American goals in a specific region, all of a sudden America waxes poetically about how intolerable such abuses are and how the regime needs to start respecting human rights. And, if the regime is lucky, it will be singled out for “liberation” all in the ostensible name of human rights.
And the U.S. media does not exercise and independent judgement in this realm, but takes its cues from its government. So Saddam during the ’80s is a “moderate” and a “pro-Western” leader, but then overnight he is “Hitler revisited”. Ditto with Qadafia. Neither of these men behaved any differently toward their people, but their posture toward American empire changed and thus the change in perceptions which negates or amplifies human rights abuses for political convenience.
That is why, say, Syria is roundly criticized for its abuses. Admittedly Syria is a dictator ship, but the New York Times recently opined that Syria “may be the most restrictive of all”.
This is so patently false. The Committee for the Protection of Journalists reports that the U.S. client Tunisia is the worst Arab offender which has imprisoned more journalists since 2001 than any other Arab country and has “prompted more alerts and reports and letters to its president than any other Arab ruler from international groups committed to freedom of expression.”
And the other American client, Saudi Arabia, is one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, and certainly in the region. With horrific Medieval punishments, religious intolerance and misogynist policies which make diverse, culturally open and socially liberal Syria a bastion of freedom in comparison.
A swimming pool in Syria. In sexually segregated and veil-enforcing Saudi Arabia such an act would get the two lynched by bearded fanatics and imprisoned.
But, alas, such are the arbitrary standards of evaluation.