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6 - Human Rights

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 February 2023

Salar Mohandesi
Affiliation:
Bowdoin College, Maine
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Summary

If the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia helped to shatter an already ailing anti-imperialist internationalism, a concomitant refugee crisis offered the rival vision of human rights internationalism a remarkable opportunity to fill the void. What remained of the anti-imperialist left contributed little to resolving the issue, yet the human rights internationalists stepped into the breach. Former French radicals turned humanitarians worked with Vietnamese refugees, Eastern European dissidents, and human rights groups such as Doctors Without Borders to organize a campaign against human rights violations in Vietnam. They chartered a hospital ship to rescue the refugees, which amounted to interfering in the internal affairs of a sovereign nation-state, showcasing a new kind of humanitarian interventionism. At the same time, they internationalized the campaign, even winning the support of the US government, which was only too happy to use the crisis to rewrite the history of the war, rebrand itself as a virtuous nation, and shine a harsh spotlight on the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Despite efforts to deflect charges of rights violations, the SRV could do little to explain itself in the face of undeniable evidence of repression. If anti-imperialism helped secure their international victory in the 1960s, human rights sealed their defeat a decade later. The remaining radicals in the North Atlantic fought back but had little to offer as an alternative. With the core notions of the Leninist problematic in question, the radical left’s vision of internationalism lost its appeal, particularly among a new generation of activists looking for a way to do good in the world. And with anti-imperialism’s influence over the wider progressive milieu slipping, human rights internationalism made a giant leap in consolidating its hegemony, so much so that even some committed anti-imperialists ended up accepting its terms as the least bad option.

Type
Chapter
Information
Red Internationalism
Anti-Imperialism and Human Rights in the Global Sixties and Seventies
, pp. 228 - 257
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • Human Rights
  • Salar Mohandesi, Bowdoin College, Maine
  • Book: Red Internationalism
  • Online publication: 05 February 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009076128.008
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  • Human Rights
  • Salar Mohandesi, Bowdoin College, Maine
  • Book: Red Internationalism
  • Online publication: 05 February 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009076128.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Human Rights
  • Salar Mohandesi, Bowdoin College, Maine
  • Book: Red Internationalism
  • Online publication: 05 February 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009076128.008
Available formats
×