America’s Hypocrisy Haunts
Anyone with a heart should react to Putin’s carnage in Ukraine with outrage against Russia and support for Ukraine.
Yet the United States and the rest of NATO have not been able to secure global condemnation of Russia’s criminal and brutal invasion. Much of Africa, China, India, Pakistan and a big chunk of the Middle East has remained on the sidelines. Why? Don’t they have hearts?
They have hearts, but they also have memories of what America and the West have done to them and elsewhere around the world. Sadly, America charges into countries around the world seeming to assume that no one is watching, or at least that they will not remember what they have seen in a year or two. Not so. Whatever America does, good or bad, affects lives. Unfortunately for America, the good fades rapidly from memory, but the bad — death, destruction, deprivation and hypocrisy — linger much longer in human hearts and minds with an eventual blowback. There is no escaping from the bad!
When America rightly upholds the sovereignty of Ukraine, others ask what about the sovereignty of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan?
When America rightly condemns Russia’s illegal invasion, others ask about the legality of America’s invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.
When America rightly faults the cruelty of Russian forces, others recall the cruelty of America’s prisons — Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.
When America claims that Russia’s invasion is akin to a world war, others see it as a European affair just like the West saw their wars as regional affairs.
When America rightly condemns Russia’s use of outlawed weapons — cluster munitions and land mines — others ask why America has not itself disavowed the use of these same munitions and has not joined the Mine Ban Treaty?
When America condemns China’s support for Russia, others ask why America continues to arm Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen?
When America rightly condemns Putin as a criminal to be investigated by the International Criminal Court (ICC), others ask why hasn’t America become a signatory to the ICC to make the court more effective?
When America rightly condemns Russia’s veto at the UNSC condemning Russia’s own invasion, others ask about America’s dozens of vetoes to hide Israeli violations?
When the West rightly does all it can for Ukrainian refugees — embracing asylum seekers with right to work all over Europe and even assuring housing in local homes — others recall the barbed wires that kept Syrians and Afghanis out and even now see Roma Ukrainians being mistreated.
What much of America and the West see as caring and moral support for Ukraine in times of humanitarian tragedy, much of the world sees American and Western hypocrisy in their reaction to conflicts.
Hypocrisy and its attendant blowback is not limited to conflicts. When the West rightly rings the alarm about climate change and calls for a global response, others see it as a catastrophe brought about by the West that the West should address first and foremost.
America behaves as if it can do anything with little regard for the broader fallout now and years to come, but never forget the power of blowback, it never lets go. America’s politicians act with hubris, lecturing the world with little regard to the broader fallout of their decisions, something that will haunt generations for years to come.
Morality matters in all dimensions of life and strategically so in the conduct of foreign affairs. Today, the world should stand united with the people of Ukraine and vow to do the same for every country and people from this day on.