Mokhtari’s book examines the changes in the human rights discourse in the United States and the Middle East after the maltreatment and torture of the U.S. captives in the Abu Ghraib and other prisons became public. Through the text analysis of speeches and news reports, as well as in-depth interviews with human rights NGO officials, she makes a thorough assessment that both credits and criticizes the NGOs. Mokhtari shows that human rights advocacy has been successful in pushing the U.S. courts and Congress to recognize the relevance of international human rights law.
Introduction; 1. American imaginings of human rights and the Middle East; 2. The human rights challenge from within; 3. The Middle Eastern gaze on American human rights commitments; 4. American imprints and the Middle East's new human rights landscape; 5. From the ashes of the post-September 11th era: lessons for the human rights project.
APSA Awards Statement – Co-winner of Best Human Rights Book, 2010
“Insightful, sober, and forward looking analysis of the practice of human rights in the harsh realities of violent conflict and moral ambivalence. This is how to uphold principled commitment to human rights, through critical pragmatic optimism, not unrealistic naivety or futile mutual aggression.”
- Dr. Abdullahi A. An-Na’im
Charles Howard Candler Professor of Law
“Critical of the constructivist theory’s omission of human rights violations in western states, Mokhtari examines the human rights discourse that emerged in the US after the torture of the US captives in the Abu Ghraib and other prisons became public. She shows that human rights advocacy has been successful in pushing the US courts and Congress to recognize the relevance of international human rights law, but only by reproducing the prevalent “East/West geography of human rights,” which treats the US as the origin and innate holder of international human rights norms and the East as the outlaw to be tamed and taught. Moreover, the Middle Eastern human rights NGOs appear to have accepted and internalized the core assumption of this binary. This book is not only original and timely, but it also has strong ethical and theoretical dimensions. As a documented commentary on policy, constructivist theory, and NGO strategies, it is a must reading for all who are concerned about human rights issues.”
- Zehra F. Kabasakal Arat
Juanita and Joseph Leff Professor
Political Science, Purchase College, SUNY