In Michel Houellebecq's novel Platform the world weary narrator Michel Renault says that when considering the bombing by NATO of Kosovo, as part of a campaign for human rights, that he thinks the term human rights is based on irony. It is not difficult to see why many are becoming cynical every time the word is used
The idea that human rights can be enshrined in a 'fast track' manner through war and 'liberal intervention' is seen as idealistic. A selfless moral crusade that seamlessly binds a truly enlightened domestic policy with a foreign policy agenda no less.
The bland deputy PM of Britain, "Nick" Clegg, has had an article in The Guardian published that may even well have been actually written by him, that neverthesless asserts this,
'Libya stands on the brink of a new future, one that holds out the promise of democracy and freedom after 40 years of oppression. One of the most important tasks facing the interim government is the prevention of reprisals.
That is why David Cameron and I have urged the National Transitional Council to exercise restraint and respect for human rights.
...something strange has happened in recent years: while governments have continued the call for greater rights abroad, they have belittled the relevance of rights at home'.
Something strange has indeed occurred.
The harsh truth is that the invasion and intervention in lands valued for their potential in supplying oil and gas tends to conflict with the notion that the human right to infinitely consume the world's resources is easily reconciliable with the promotion of liberal democracy.
The curtailment of civil liberties under New Labour was bound together with Anti-Terrorist legislation and absurdities such as the bill to introduce 'incitement to religious hatred' as a form of criminal activity in fear of some supposed monolithic 'the Muslim Community' feeling victimised.
This followed increased tensions over the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the groundswell of opinion, hardly restricted to British Muslims, that these wars for resources that had as their aim the control of ever scarcer supplies of oil and gas.
These resources are essential to underpin the infinite growth utopia that liberal progressives consider the way to integrate citizens living in a "globalised world", benefitting the consumers of lands as Britain no less than those lands from which thousands of displaced migrants are intent on claiming asylum in. As compensation.
Western Europe is dominated by hubristic politicians and a substantial public opinion that is motivated by a combination of the continued greed for increased comfort and material luxury and the guilt that comes from governments intervening in resource rich lands to acheive this. This indicates a civilisation heading for disintegration and decline..
European nations as part of the EU are considered a power bloc based on a liberal vision different to that of the global hegemon across the Atlantic that in reality provides most of the finance and military hardware to fight the resource wars that the USA considers necessary for its national interests.
The difference between the EU and the USA is that the latter happens to be across the Atlantic and not the Mediterranean. So the conflict and potential for chaos in Libya will affect the EU far more than the USA. But the intervention in Libya is connected inherently to Iraq and Afghanistan-control of fossil fuels.
This means that investment in alternatives to petrol fuelled consumerism is more important to maintain world peace than sententious hypocritical grandstanding upon human rights that would be far better promoted by the committment to a civilisation not based on profligate oil based consumption.
Else the coming future is going to resemble something akin to the dystopia portrayed in the film Children of Men. Where relations between and within states are pared down to pathological hatreds over who retains what in material terms and human rights become 'our right' to survive against the 'barbarians at the gate'.