Circle the Wagons
One needs no further proof of how the post-WWII international institutions have veered from the intent of the victorious allies that created them than the possibility of a senior Russian intelligence officer being elected to the presidency of Interpol. I had read with surprise recently that the former president, Meng Hongwei, had resigned by sending a letter from China and had now disappeared into the Chinese security apparatus of which he had previously been Vice Minister.
Wait a minute, I thought. What are senior secret police officials of the Chinese communists and the Russian kleptocracy doing running an international police organization that is meant to reinforce the global rule of law?
A little research showed that Interpol is not a benign but ineffective international organization similar to many other institutional bureaucracies created to manage the global order. It was originally founded in 1923 to aid national criminal police departments in catching criminals that operate on an international basis. Given America’s isolationist bent after the First World War, the United States did not join that original Interpol. The headquarters of Interpol in Vienna were taken over by the German Anschluss in 1938 where it was essentially part of the Gestapo under the direction of the notorious Reinhard Heydrich.
After World War Two Interpol was reconstituted with its new headquarters in France. It now has 194 members representing almost every country on the planet. Its constitution defines Interpol’s role as providing mutual assistance between criminal police authorities in accordance to the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights (about which I have had much to say, see: Wonky on Civil Rights). Further it states:
“It is strictly forbidden for the Organization to undertake any intervention or activities of a political, military, religious or racial character.”
So, of course, this institution has been captured by groups equally as bad as the Gestapo in an attempt to use Interpol for the furtherance of vendettas against the political enemies of various authoritarian states. The Russians have already sent out Interpol Red Notices seeking the arrest and extradition of people opposed to Putin’s Russia such as Russian dissident Mikhail Khordorkhovsky and American Bill Browder who had pushed the US Congress to pass the Magnitsky Act in response to the murder of Sergei Magnitsky in a Russian prison.
This is the consequence of rampant inclusiveness. We have had inclusiveness pounded into our heads. Inclusiveness is good. Exclusiveness is bad. It’s discrimination. It’s racism. It’s cultural arrogance. It’s white privilege. Bad. Bad. Bad.
Progressives have been touting the notion that inclusiveness, diversity and multiculturalism are good and that America would be a better place if it were more inclusive, more diverse and more multicultural. But Scott E. Page explained in his book, The Difference how diversity works (about which I wrote On Diversity on June 16, 2016). And while thought diversity (as touted by Ray Dalio in his book Principles) is proven to provide superior results, diversity based on other concepts can be less effective and even counterproductive. The key to success is that there has to be agreement on the goal to be achieved. Diverse people working for different goals just create chaos.
And an inclusive organization such as Interpol that includes countries that do not agree with the Western values of the rule of law, liberty and democracy can easily be used as a weapon against the very people who do believe in the rule of law, liberty and democracy.
Major General Alexander Prokopchuk, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was being pushed to be the next president of Interpol and, backed by the votes of a slew of non-democratic, authoritarian and corrupt governments, could have won. Luckily, thanks to American pressure (and perhaps a dose of common sense), Interpol’s General Assembly chose Kim Jong-yang as it’s new president.
But that doesn’t mean that Russia and other bad actors will stop trying to use Interpol and other international institutions for their own nefarious schemes. Mr. Prokopchuk remains Vice President of Interpol and represents all of Europe on the executive committee. Interpol is only the most recent glaring example of the corrosion of international institutions. Aaron Rhodes noted this in his book, The Debasement of Human Rights. Instead of nurturing the expansion of world order and peaceful trade among many nations, these institutions, corrupted by inclusiveness, will only create world disorder.
In fairness to the post-WWII leaders that set about to create the current world order by forming these inclusive global institutions, they probably thought that once other countries saw how wonderfully global cooperation worked they would all adopt, in one form or another, many of the principles on which current Western civilization is based. Unfortunately, that has not been the case as those opposed to our Western values gain strength (and not just globally but also domestically).
The United States and its Western aligned allies need to rethink and perhaps reinvent the global institutions that maintain world order. Circling the wagons may be the opposite of inclusiveness, but our pioneer forefathers had to circle the wagons occasionally so that they would not be slaughtered along the trail. The US and its allies need to create a circle of trust to represent our interests and preserve the essence of the world order that is beginning to collapse all around us.
And while we’re at it:
I always read the Wall Street Journal editorials written by Mary Anastasia O’Grady. She focuses many of her editorials on Latin America and having lived in that area for twelve years I like to understand her take on things. She’s a bit of a neo-con but she has good sources throughout the hemisphere and can shed some light on some murky situations.
For example, she did a good job of exposing the Cuban influence on the one-sided peace agreement between the Colombian government of Juan Manuel Santos and the FARC (Fuerza Armada Revolucionario de Colombia) that the Colombian people refused to ratify but that Santos adopted anyway. That agreement exonerated rebels from war crimes and guaranteed them 5 seats in the House (out of 166) and five seats in the Senate (out of 102) in spite of the fact that they are so unpopular they got only 52,542 votes (0.36%) in the last election – a result that would have netted them zero seats.
But when she went against the United Nations’ International Commission Against Impunity in Guatemala (commonly known as CICIG) I thought she had gone too far. Impunity is a major problem in corrupt Latin American countries. Corrupt politicians, their families and their hangers-on routinely escape any penalty for horrendous crimes or are given a slap on the wrist.
CICIG has gone after former Guatemalan government officials for corruption such as former presidents Alfonso Portillo, Alvaro Colom and Otto Perez Molina as well as former vice president Roxana Baldetti. None of these arrests and convictions would have been possible without CICIG. CICIG has been strongly supported by the US Embassy in Guatemala City.
So when Ms. O’Grady came out against CICIG I was taken aback. I consulted with some of my Latin American friends with experience in Guatemala and they also felt that Ms. O’Grady had gone too far and that CICIG was doing important work there.
The case that roused Ms. O’Grady’s ire was that of the Bitkov family who had fled for their lives from Putin’s Russia. Mr. Bitkov had somehow interfered with the larcenous plans of one of Putin’s pals who was now out to get vengeance. The Bitkovs fled to Turkey and then, in response to an Internet ad, flew to Guatemala and paid $150,000 at the Guatemalan office of migration to receive their Guatemalan documents (a common and supposedly legal activity).
A Russian state-owned bank involved in the scandal back in Russia found out about the Bitkov’s flight and tried to get the Guatemalans to extradite the family back to Russia based on fraud and money laundering charges and for using fraudulent documents to evade the law. I haven’t been able to confirm that Interpol issued a Red Notice on this case but that would have been the normal way to ask a foreign government to enforce an arrest warrant. The Guatemalan Attorney General and CICIG had the entire Bitkov family arrested in 2015 (except for their Guatemalan born son) and on January 5, 2018 sentenced Mr. Bitkov to 19 years in jail and his wife and daughter to 14 years each.
Ms. O’Grady wrote several times about this case and I wondered about why it was getting so much coverage. But now I can see the link between CICIG’s actions and the possible involvement of Interpol. This revelation shows clearly how international institutions are being captured by criminal or non-democratic forces and used to undermine Western values for their own devious reasons. The prosecution of the Bitkovs clearly shows indifference to the rule of law and equality before the law no matter their guilt or innocence. This case illustrates what can happen when an international institution whose mandate is to support the world order is captured by interests inimical to that order.