The US, and consequently the western democracies, lost the ability to genuinely criticize the bad guys for doing bad things like torture or kidnapping. Of course, the situation in China is not comparable to US, but we lost the argument.
Have a look for books on the US's covert (and slightly less covert) activities in Central and South America.
> most of these fuckups were illegal
> - or at least not officially
Unless something like war crime trials are held, or reparations are paid to the relevant countries it doesn't matter in the least for the end result, or for future such operations whether or not these operations were legal or sanctioned. Nobody involved of any significance ever got charged or convicted, and the US certainly didn't help reinstate the governments that had been overthrown.
The only thing that happened post-9/11 was that the official narrative started more closely resembling the realities on the ground.
One of the most negative longterm consequences is also the fact that HN seems unable to discuss Chinese human rights violations, and instead must derail all such threads into discussions about the US. Almost none of the comments here actually discuss topic of the OP.
> The US, and consequently the western democracies, lost the ability to genuinely criticize the bad guys for doing bad things like torture or kidnapping. Of course, the situation in China is not comparable to US, but we lost the argument.
This is absolutely not true. The US and Western democracies very much have the ability to criticize human rights abuses just with the caveats that 1) one doesn't have to be guiltless to criticize or call out bad behavior, 2) the US is not a unitary political entity , and 3) a hypocrite is not wrong, she's merely guilty as well.
 let alone the union of US and Western democracies
How is that? To me it seems Europe very much has the moral high ground.
UK took part in the Iraq war. France took part in the Libya campaign. These are the only two European countries with any sort of military. The rest just let the rest of the world act as their defence force.
Europe of course has the unfortunate distinction of being the starting point of both world wars.
Large parts of it didn't just support communist dictatorships but actually were communist dictatorships throughout the 20th century.
Now you have the modern era. Spain is doing bulk arrests of political dissidents who organised a referendum on Catalonian independence. The leader of the so-called "rebellion" is currently under arrest in Germany pending extradition back to Spain on charges of corruption (i.e. due to the spending required to organise the referendum). The EU has collectively refused to comment on the China-esque behaviour being engaged in right inside its own territory.
Oh, and the EU just passed one of its first extra-territorial laws, the GDPR, which claims jurisdiction over every country and company in the world.
And let's not get onto the behaviour towards to the UK ... threatening to ground flights, revoke driving licenses, revoke domain names, trade sanctions designed to force companies to leave the country and so on. Telling the UK to surrender its own territory, and pay nearly a hundred billion euros in return for nothing. Far more aggressive behaviour between supposed allies than can be seen anywhere else in the world right now.
So - what moral high ground?
But hey, up until a few years ago, countries like France and U.K. were hosts of the bask terrorists and could have sworn for their lives those gentlemen were also freedom fighters. I'm old enough to remember how IRA had a positive image in some parts of the US too.
1) Are they violent?
2) Are they supported by the local population?
3) Are they willing to work with the national government?
The answer is clearly yes to all three. That means Spain needs to deal with them politically, by winning votes, not by calling them rebels and traitors and tossing them all in jail as if it were the 1600's.
Go look at the UK for an example of how to do it. Scottish nationalists had their own problematic attributes from the perspective of many English, but the resolution was peaceful, democratic and accepted by both sides.
Spain has utterly failed at this, and the rest of the EU has simply nodded their heads, let them get on with it and indeed is helping them by arresting the Catalonian leaders in preparation for extradition.
In an article on China grabbing political dissidents to bring them back to China for incarceration this is highly relevant to any claim that Europe has a moral high ground.
EU is the only significant entity taking global warming seriously and acting on it.
EU takes in far more refugees than USA, China, Japan or Australia... combined.
So - that moral high ground.
A hell of a moral high ground if you ask me...
Mediapart is the Independant media that broke the story back in 2012, and has been attacked by Sarkozy.
Mediapart is one of the very few media who isn't owned by plutocrats, most of them happening to be, by no coincidence, Sarkozy's friends (Bolloré invited Sarkozy on his yacht after his election; Dassault is a senator from Sarkozy's party; Drahi is a staunch supporter of Sarkozy; Bouygues is father-in-law of one of Sarkozy's sons; etc). Sarkozy never actually sued Mediapart, because the dossier is absolutely rock-solid. He constantly complains about "undeserved attacks" and "smearing" in his friends' complacent media, but he never actually sued the website.
You have no idea how totally corrupt the French state is nowadays. It's truly terrible. Macron plans are even worse and will make France a true authoritarian state (exactly along the lines of Putin's Russia), by depriving MPs of the minority of almost all of their (very few) legislative rights and powers, opening the possibility of a third mandate for the president, etc.
And France is not Sarkozy only : There has been Hollande since, and now Macron. (Just like you, I hope there will be very serious sanctions against Sarkozy)
Also, Macron is not perfect, but saying "Macron = Poutine" is excessive.
(On the mandates thing : France used to have maximum two 7-years mandates = 14 years max. Even if it gets to three 5-years mandates, that is 15 years max. Nothing revolutionary. If voters want change, they have twice the opportunity to vote for a change. In France, votes are properly counted, nothing like Russia.)
We said human rights didn't matter.
Now that might makes right is our nation's policy, it appears that l/3rd of the voters are just fine with that.
Would such criticism have had an effect otherwise?