Sunday, October 6, 2013


The hypocrisy in international relations, although nothing new, still manages to bewilder and irritate me in equal measures. Are these hypocrites so blind, so indoctrinated, that they don't see the nonsense that spews from their mouths? Or are they very much aware of the double standards that form the basis of their rhetoric but hope the public won't pick up on it? There have been some great recent examples of such hypocrisy.

A few weeks back French and American political and social commentators were lining up to take a shot at Britain's perceived “crisis of democracy” over parliaments no vote to military strikes in Syria. Apparently international law must be respected at all times, and any violators must be severely punished. Except, what they actually mean is that certain people and countries must respect international rules, where others need not concern themselves with such things. It's telling when you see big political figures such as US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry replace the more objective term “international law” with the subjective “international norms”. But, as big violators of the former, what choice do countries like the US have but to change the terminology they use to deflect from the reality of their foreign policy.

Politicians and political commentators, particularly from the US and Israel, but Britain too, have been quick to dismiss the newly elected Iranian president's pledged willingness to discuss a settlement over the nuclear issue. Here the hypocrisy is as acute as ever. Often reference to Iran's violation of a UN resolution is quoted in the same conversation that mentions Israel's security; yet rarely are Israel's constant abuses of international law and disregard for UN resolutions mentioned. In that region, India, Pakistan, and even more relevant, Israel, are all allowed to stockpile nuclear weapons, whilst the international community headed by the US refuse Iran that same right.

Another recent example of the use of double standards in international relations was the grounding of the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales. Spain, France, Italy and Portugal, at the insistence of Washington, all denied his plane access to airspace over their respective countries, forcing him to land in Vienna. Whistle blower and to most outside the US, hero Edward Snowden, responsible for the recent NSA leaks, was suspected of being on-board. The fact that this turned out to be incorrect is irrelevant. What is disturbing is that the US and it's allies feel they have the right to force a plane carrying a democratically elected president to land in order for them to search that plane. Can you imagine, and I mean really try to envisage, a group of Latin American countries trying to force Air Force One, with president on-board, to land at a place of their choosing so they can carry out a thorough search. We all know what consequences would likely follow – the US would severely punish the perpetrators, and quite possibly, militarily.

Hypocrisy seems to be a key theme that runs through the foreign polices of some Western powers. Is there any wonder then that countries like Iran or North Korea are reluctant to engage with such countries? Countries that criticise them for their human rights record yet at the same time cosy up to Saudi Arabia, probably one of the worst abusers of human rights out there. What are the rest of the world seeing when they look at the US or Britain? - Aggressive, untrustworthy, and extremely hypocritical countries – and it's really not that hard to understand why they have such a perception!  

No comments:

Post a Comment