Garry Kasparov is the Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation and the Founder of the Renew Democracy Initiative. Kasparov is the author of several books, including "Winter is Cotning: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must be Stopped" and "Deep Thinking: Where Machine Intelligence Ends and Human Creativity Begins." Previously, Kasparov was the World Chess Champion.
It is no secret that authoritarians are attempting to use the pandemic to strengthen their grips on power and advance their agendas. Which authoritarian actions amidst COVID-19 have been least noticed by the West, and how is the Human Rights Foundation working to combat them? It's not so much that the actions of dictatorships haven't been noticed by the free world, but that there has been so little action in response. There are few places in the world where human rights violations can be hidden for long--even North Korea--and this is hardly new to the COVID-19 era. There is only acceleration, exploiting the West's inattention due to the pandemic. The dictators are afraid the pandemic, and their mishandling of it, will lead to domestic uprisings. So, they are cracking down more, building up their surveillance apparatus and tightening the borders.
Unfortunately, they don't seem to have much to fear from the West these days. They know the potential exists, but obviously it's not enough to scare them anymore. And they support each other. Alexander Lukashenko, for example, probably would have fled Belarus by now if he and the security forces weren't openly supported by Russian President Vladmir Putin. China's Uyghur concentration camps have been exposed and what is the response? To boycott trade? To demand international investigations? No, Disney makes a movie right where the camps are and thanks the Chinese authorities! The National Basketball Association (NBA) issues a few press releases and limits its social justice calls to inside the US borders.
On several occasions, you've called for an alliance among free nations--underpinned by a global Magna Carta--that would stand up to tyranny around the world. Can you elaborate on your vision? What events would need to occur for such an alliance to become a reality?
The United Nations was designed to freeze conflict, to prevent World War III between the United States and the Soviet Union. It was a messy bureaucracy, a "cockpit in the Tower of Babel," as Churchill warned against in his famous Fulton speech in 1946, but you can say it helped achieve that goal. But after the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) collapsed, it was time for a new vision, the way the UN and other institutions like NATO had been created after World War II.
The free world had a tremendous advantage when the USSR fell, and it squandered that instead of pressing the advantage. New dictatorships sprouted from the ashes of the Soviet Union, others dug in and benefited from the West's engagement policies that offered all carrots, no sticks. Even today, the free world has economic, military, and cultural advantages...