America’s Staggering Hypocrisy

Exclusive: Official Washington is in deep umbrage over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine after a U.S.-backed coup overthrew the democratically elected president. Some top neocons want a new Cold War, but they don’t want anyone to note their staggering hypocrisy, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Since World War II – and extending well into the Twenty-first Century – the United States has invaded or otherwise intervened in so many countries that it would be challenging to compile a complete list. Just last decade, there were full-scale U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, plus American bombing operations from Pakistan to Yemen to Libya.

So, what is one to make of Secretary of State John Kerry’s pronouncement that Russia’s military intervention in the Crimea section of Ukraine – at the behest of the country’s deposed president – is a violation of international law that the United States would never countenance?

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland during a press conference at the  U.S. Embassy in Kiev, Ukraine, on Feb. 7, 2014. (U.S. State Department photo)

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, a leading figure in supporting the coup against Ukraine’s President Vicktor Yanukovych. (U.S. State Department photo)

Kerry decried the Russian intervention as “a Nineteenth Century act in the Twenty-first Century.” However, if memory serves, Sen. Kerry in 2002 voted along with most other members of the U.S. Congress to authorize President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, which was also part of the Twenty-first Century. And, Kerry is a member of the Obama administration, which like its Bush predecessor, has been sending drones into the national territory of other nations to blow up various “enemy combatants.”

Are Kerry and pretty much everyone else in Official Washington so lacking in self-awareness that they don’t realize that they are condemning actions by Russian President Vladimir Putin that are far less egregious than what they themselves have done?

If Putin is violating international law by sending Russian troops into the Crimea after a violent coup spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias ousted Ukraine’s democratically elected president – and after he requested protection for the ethnic Russians living in the country’s south and east – then why hasn’t the U.S. government turned over George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and indeed John Kerry to the International Criminal Court for their far more criminal invasion of Iraq?

In 2003, when the Bush-Cheney administration dispatched troops halfway around the world to invade Iraq under the false pretense of seizing its non-existent weapons of mass destruction, the U.S. touched off a devastating war that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and left their country a bitterly divided mess. But there has been virtually no accountability.

And, why haven’t many of the leading Washington journalists who pimped for those false WMD claims at least been fired from their prestigious jobs, if not also trundled off to The Hague for prosecution as propagandists for aggressive war?

Remarkably, many of these same “journalists” are propagandizing for more U.S. wars today, such as attacks on Syria and Iran, even as they demand harsh penalties for Russia over its intervention in the Crimea, which incidentally was an historic part of Russia dating back centuries.

The WPost’s Double Standards

A stunning example of the U.S. media’s double standards is the Washington Post’s editorial-page editor Fred Hiatt, who pushed for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 by treating the existence of Iraq’s non-existent WMD as “flat fact,” not an allegation in dispute. After the U.S. invasion and months of fruitless searching for the promised WMD caches, Hiatt finally acknowledged that the Post should have been more circumspect in its claims about the WMD.

“If you look at the editorials we write running up [to the war], we state as flat fact that he [Saddam Hussein] has weapons of mass destruction,” Hiatt said in an interview with the Columbia Journalism Review. “If that’s not true, it would have been better not to say it.” [CJR, March/April 2004]

Yes, that is a principle of journalism, if something isn’t true, we’re not supposed to say that it is. Yet, despite the enormous cost in blood and treasure from the Iraq War – and despite the undeniable fact that the U.S. invasion of Iraq was a clear violation of international law – nothing happened to Hiatt. He remains in the same job today, more than a decade later.

His editorials also continue to state dubious points as “flat fact.” For instance, the Post’s belligerent editorial on Monday, entitled online as “President Obama’s foreign policy is based on fantasy,” resurfaces the discredited claim that the Syrian government was responsible for a chemical weapons attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.

The Post wrote, “Since the Syrian dictator crossed Mr. Obama’s red line with a chemical weapons attack that killed 1,400 civilians, the dictator’s military and diplomatic position has steadily strengthened.”

Note how there is no attribution or doubt expressed regarding either the guilt of the Syrian government or the number of casualties. Just “flat fact.” The reality, however, is that the U.S. government assertions blaming the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad for the poison gas attack and the death tally of 1,400 have both crumbled under examination.

The U.S. casualty figure of “1,429” always was regarded as a wild exaggeration, since doctors on the scene cited a much lower death toll of a few hundred, and the Wall Street Journal later reported that the strangely precise number was ascertained by the CIA applying facial recognition software to images of dead bodies posted on YouTube and then subtracting duplicates and those in bloody shrouds.

The problems with this “methodology” were obvious, since there was no way to know the dates when the YouTube videos were taken and the absence of bloody shrouds did not prove that the cause of death was poison gas.

More significantly, the U.S. claims about where the missiles were launched – more than nine kilometers from the impact site – turned out to be false, since expert analysis of the one missile that was found to carry Sarin gas had a maximum range of around two kilometers. That meant that the launch site was within territory controlled by the Syrian opposition, not the government. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Mistaken Guns of Last August.”]

Though it remains unclear which side was to blame for the chemical attack, the Syrian government’s guilt surely was not a “slam dunk” anymore than the Iraqi government’s possession of WMD in 2003. In such a case – especially on sensitive matters of war or peace – responsible journalists reflect the uncertainty, not simply assert an allegation as “flat fact.”

However, since Hiatt was never punished for his earlier journalistic violation – even though it contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, including some 4,500 U.S. soldiers – he is still around to commit the same offenses again, in an even more dangerous context, i.e., a confrontation between the United States and Russia, two nuclear-armed states.

Pushing for a New Cold War

And, what do Hiatt and other neocons at the Washington Post say about confronting the Russians over the Ukraine crisis, which was stoked by neocon holdovers in the U.S. State Department, such as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland,  and the U.S.-funded National Endowment for Democracy, which was founded in 1983 to replace the CIA in the business of destabilizing targeted governments? [See Consortiumnews.com’s “What Neocons Want from Ukraine Crisis.”]

The Post is demanding a new Cold War with Russia in retaliation for its relatively non-violent interventions to protect pro-Russian provinces of two countries that were carved out of the old Soviet Union: Georgia where Russian troops have protected South Ossetia and Abkhazia since 2008 and in Ukraine where Russian soldiers have taken control of Crimea. In both cases, the pro-Russian areas felt threatened from their central governments and sought Moscow’s assistance.

In the case of Ukraine, a neo-Nazi-led putsch – representing the interests of the western part of the country – overthrew the democratically elected president, Viktor Yanukovych, who came from the eastern region. Then, under the watchful eye of the neo-Nazi storm troopers in Kiev, a rump parliament voted unanimously or near unanimously to enact a series of draconian laws offensive to the ethnic Russian areas in the east and south.

Having fled Kiev for his life, Yanukovych asked Russia for help, which led to Putin’s request to the Russian parliament for the authority to deploy troops inside Ukraine, essentially taking control of Crimea in the south, an area that has been part of Russia for centuries.

Though the Russian case for intervention in both Georgia and Ukraine is much stronger than the excuses often used by the United States to intervene in other countries, the Washington Post was apoplectic about Russia’s “violation” of suddenly sacred international law.

The Post wrote, “as long as some leaders play by what Mr. Kerry dismisses as 19th-century rules, the United States can’t pretend that the only game is in another arena altogether. Military strength, trustworthiness as an ally, staying power in difficult corners of the world such as Afghanistan — these still matter, much as we might wish they did not.”

The Post also laments what it sees as a “receding” tide of democracy around the world, but it is worth noting that the U.S. government has a long and sorry record of overthrowing democratic governments. Just a partial list since World War II would include: Mossadegh in Iran in 1953, Arbenz in Guatemala in 1954, Allende in Chile in 1973, Aristide in Haiti twice, Chavez in Venezuela briefly in 2002, Zelaya in Honduras in 2009, Morsi in Egypt in 2013, and now Yanukovych in Ukraine in 2014. The next target of a U.S.-embraced “democratic” coup looks to be Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela.

Perhaps the closest U.S. parallel to the Russian intervention in Ukraine was President Bill Clinton’s decision to invade Haiti in 1994 to reinstall Haiti’s elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide to office, though Russia has not gone nearly that far regarding Yanukovych in Ukraine. Russia has only intervened to prevent the fascist-spearheaded coup regime in Kiev from imposing its will on the country’s ethnic Russian provinces.

Also, in the case of Aristide, the U.S. role wasn’t as pro-democratic as Clinton’s invasion on his behalf might suggest. Clinton ordered the action to reverse a 1991 military coup that ousted President Aristide with the support of President George H.W. Bush. Aristide was deposed a second time in 2004 in a coup partly engineered by the administration of President George W. Bush.

In other words, Clinton’s intervention on behalf of a popularly elected leader in Haiti was the anomaly to the more typical U.S. pattern of collaborating with right-wing military officers in the overthrow of elected leaders who don’t comply with Washington’s wishes.

Thus, the overriding hypocrisy of the Washington Post, Secretary Kerry and indeed nearly all of Official Washington is their insistence that the United States actually promotes the principle of democracy or, for that matter, the rule of international law. Those are at best situational ethics when it comes to advancing U.S. interests around the world.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his new book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). For a limited time, you also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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21 comments on “America’s Staggering Hypocrisy

  1. Peter Dyer on said:

    Speaking of the Russian invasion, Senator John Kerry said , “You just don’t, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext.”

    This from one of the large majority of US Congressmen who voted to authorise the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

    If there was the equivalent of a Nobel Prize for hypocrisy, Mr Kerry would surely be a finalist.

    • Paul G. on said:

      That is what the Nobel Peace Prize is frequently for, hypocrisy. Arafat, Kissinger, Obama are excellent examples.

  2. F. G. Sanford on said:

    Americans will surely see only the edited and censored versions of Kerry’s visit to Maidan Square, but for those with foreign satellite connections, there are some real revelations to be had. One showed Kerry waving good-bye as he entered his limo. As it drove away, cameras panned to a crowd which enthusiastically proffered the Nazi stiff-armed salute.

    Journalists trundled off to The Hague for prosecution as propagandists for aggressive war? It’s not far-fetched. That’s what got Alfred Rosenberg in trouble. He had supported counter revolutionaries in Russia, emigrated to Germany, and became editor of the Nazi publication, “Volkischer Beobachter”. A leading member of Aufbau Vereinigung, the White Russian conspiratorial emigre association, he presented plans to Hitler for establishment of Reichskommisariats in Eastern Europe, including Ukraine. Noted journalist and historian Raimund Pretzel (aka Sebastian Haffner) traces the ideological origins of the most vicious forms of antisemitism to these regions.

    Beware the expats: they are always the most fanatical exponents of radical politics. Rosenberg “The Balt”, Hess “The Egyptian”, Hitler “The Austrian”, and of course, Chamberlain “The Englishman”, upon whose “Foundations of the 19th Century” Rosenberg based his “Myth of the 20th Century”. It should come as no surprise that another notable subversive expat wrote “Game Plan: A Geostrategic Framework for the Conduct of the U.S.-Soviet Contest”, and perhaps more revealing, “Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century”. These works seem to be influencing current policy.

    Out of control indeed. Perhaps some of those journalists as well as our illustrious Secretary and Assistant Secretaries of State should be given a little remedial ‘homework assignment’. I would suggest having them contact the Simon Wiesenthal Center, and ask for information about the apparent hero of Maidan Square: Stepan Bandera.

  3. SovereignMary on said:

    Our so-called representatives would be far better off tending to and upholding our sovereign nation’s Supreme Rule of Law and Limited Government Republic instead of sticking their nose under the tent of other foreign nations entanglements and promoting spilling the blood of more of our youth.

  4. Outstanding statement and writing!!! This holds the Mandarins to account for their shameless service to whichever member of the war party happens to be in power. The Democrats and Republicans share the common behavior of military aggression and hypocrisy before and after the fact.

  5. rosemerry on said:

    About the chemical weapons attacks in Syria, discredited or not. How often has the USA condemned/stopped/prevented the hugely damaging murderous chemical attacks by Israel on defenceless Palestinians who are allowed no military defence?
    The USA provides weapons to criminals all over the globe, then condemns any response by the victims.

  6. Jonny James on said:

    Great article, and this time with much fewer excuses for Obama.

    Why wasn’t the psychopathic and serial liar Nuland not fired immediately – after her embarrassing gaffes and abuse of power? Why wasn’t the State Dept. and NED cleaned up when the Obomba stepped in? Obama appears to love the so-called neocons and his foreign policy is virtually indistinguishable from that of Cheney. The only differences are superficial.

    He even one-upped Bush Jr. by signing NDAA 2012 and declared that the imperial presidency is above the law and constitution is optional. Drone murders of US citizens without due process, NSA full surveillance dominance etc.

    Meanwhile these sociopaths are trying to stage a coup in Venezuela again. They got away with it in Honduras and tried it back in 2002.

  7. Alfredo on said:

    I call myself a liberal, but I just loathe comments like the ones being left here. Let me put it this way: I know I live in an Imperial country. Russia is also an Imperial country. I’d rather be here (New York) than there. I’d rather live here than in PR (where I was born), Venezuela (where I grew up), Cuba (for which I sold bonds as a teen in Caracas), or any Red states (rightly called: RED, as in the Red Menace). So stop the BS. Hypocrisy is the soul of politics.

    • True, Alfredo. Hypocrisy is the soul of politics. But what’s behind the hypocrisy is the titanic hubris (“exceptionalism”) of the U. S., not just its government but a large percentage of its citizens… Hypocrisy comes after the hubris as a sort of mask to prevent self-examination. The hypocritical statements of the leaders are not meant for their counterparts across borders, but for the “faithful” in the pews and voting booths.

      • F. G. Sanford on said:

        It’s like I mentioned above: beware the expats, especially those waving a flag and boasting patriotism. They profess love of America, and demonstrate it by castigating those who subscribe to Constitutional principles of free speech, legitimate dissent and reasoned public discourse. They despise the hypocrisy they learned in the motherland, but invoke the same methods to slander the patriotism of others. How many Germans had to learn this lesson from an Austrian who claimed to be a patriot?

  8. Anonymous on said:

    we are ill-positioned to criticize Russia based upon our own past behavior (under a failed prior administration). It is sad that our past hubris causes us to lose the capability to credibly articulate moral values today.

    The moral quandary of foreign policy is the balancing of geopolitics with the moral values we hold that makes us ethically distinct as opposed to geographically distinct. A nation’s foreign policy has to balance idealism with realism. It requires we sometimes stand aside and accept as faits accompli consequences we would not tolerate internally. On the other hand, there are times when foreign policy must reflect our values, with greater or lesser force, depending upon how we identify our security and our interests to be compromised. A corrupt foreign policy uses the moral imperative to justify a geopolitical imperative, and this is a particular failing of governments that do not have long term foreign policies, such as ours.

    This shows that large democracies cannot have effective foreign policies without broad bi-partisan agreement as to those policies. The greater the partisanship, the weaker the foreign policy.

  9. David McLaughlin on said:

    BUT WAIT ……… have you forgotten our invasion of Grenada? AND Surely, you didn’t forget our invasion of Panama in 1989, did you? In both cases we violated the UN Charter to invade a country, simply because we did not like their leader.

    How can Russia’s action, on their boarder, be any different than what we did? Also keep in mind, we killed a lot of people with our invasion of Panama.

    And also, while your at it, take a look at what NATO did to Serbia. They attacked and invaded Serbia, so that they could separate off a historic slice, which is now a totally independent Kosovo. Perhaps NATO has set the precedent for what Putin is going to do for Crimea? The local state government in Crimea is already talking about a referendum to separate from Ukraine.

  10. Roger Thomas on said:

    The hypocrisy of the American and Western European politicians is mind-boggling. I do not know how they can live with themselves. All but especially the American and British governments have allowed their countries to become vassal states of Israel, stooges of Zionism, fighting proxy wars for that abomination of an apartheid, murderous and colonising regime. Hiding behind their spurious cry of democracy and human rights for everyone, they have caused chaos, death and destruction throughout the World at the behest of those Zionist thugs. AIPAC and Friends of Israel must be outlawed before humanity can be restored to the West.

    Meanwhile the defenceless Palestinians remain the oppressed victims of the thieving Zionist holocaust. Seemingly, the only way to overcome the hypocrisy is for individuals and institutions to implement BDS, boycott, divestment and sanctions against that vile regime.

  11. Michael T Bucci on said:

    March 4, 2014

    Letters Editor, Portland Press Herald
    RE: Ukraine and media coverage

    L E T T E R

    The U.S. media has created “war fever” in this country and done so in a manner that befits William Randolph Hearst in 1898 when he propagandized war with Cuba. When no one else could answer the question “Who sunk the Maine?” he boldly declared, “It was the damn Spanish!” Today, it is the damn Russians!

    It appears every ear of every news editor heard the combined voices of NATO planners, military generals, Wall Street profiteers and Brzezinski neocons in unison command: “You furnish the headlines, stories and pictures, we’ll furnish the war.”

    The Maine hadn’t sunk; the whole of media sunk to “yellow journalism” levels.

    According to my reasoning, the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government is called a coup d’état. An installed “interim” government that consists of radical nationalists, right-wing extremists, anti-Semites and active neo-Nazis who led the putsch is called fascistic. Personnel in CIA, State Dept. and U.S. NGO’s who foment violent regime change in sovereign nations are called “infiltrators” and “instigators”. The goal to encircle Russia and China by the West, control oil, natural gas and global distribution channels in central Asia is called “The Great Game” on the “Grand Chessboard”.

    With little importance given by U.S. media to explaining these background facts, American conservatives and liberals have been induced with war fever. Let’s hope the fever doesn’t proceed into dizziness, confusion and hallucinations.

    Think before you act. And always be careful what you wish for.

    Michael T Bucci

    -30-

  12. Paul G. on said:

    ” …relatively non-violent interventions to protect pro-Russian provinces of two countries that were carved out of the old Soviet Union: Georgia where Russian troops have protected South Ossetia and Abkhazia since 2008 and in Ukraine where Russian soldiers have taken control of Crimea. In both cases, the pro-Russian areas felt threatened from their central governments and sought Moscow’s assistance.”

    Reading this from the Republic of Georgia, I respectfully suggest you bone up a little better on the complicated history of the Georgian conflict. Briefly it in no way resembles the Ukraine, except by the presence of Russian troops, who were there before 2008. Abkazia and S. Ossetia are breakaway provinces whose beef is mostly ethnic., demonstrated by their expulsion of ethnic Georgians. Abkazia has a very long history of being independent, even under Stalin they had a certain autonomy. I would never describe them as “pro-Russian”, which is a moniker that describes the Crimea and probably most of Eastern Ukraine. The Russian troops are seen just as protection against nationalistic elements of the former Tbilisi government that tried to reintegrate them violently. See http://www.ceiig.ch/Index.html., the Tagliavini report.
    Moreover the Russian response to Georgia’s shelling of the capital of S. Ossetia was very violent, and as out of proportion as was Georgia’s attack on that city. The Russian troops invaded Southward and wrecked havoc all the way to Gori (the town from whence Stalin came ). This was not what anyone could call “relatively non-violent”.
    Moreover Georgia was not “carved out” of the Soviet Union, an insulting reference. Georgia has always been Georgia for more than a millennium before the United States existed. Their relationship with Russia was first as a vassal to the Tzars to protect against the Persians. They later took advantage of the chaos of the Russian revolution to kiss the Russians good by for three years of independence; only to be then forcibly brought into the Soviet Union I suppose Stalin thought it wouldn’t do for his home country not to be part of the Soviet Empire. . When the Soviet Union collapsed they promptly said good bye again.
    Their intention to join NATO is likely the reason for Russia’s interest in the breakaway provinces. It is a Catch 22 they want to joint NATO to protect them against the Russians; but the reason the Russians are a threat is the Eastward expansion of NATO in violation of the deal Gorbachev made in allowing the reunification of Germany.

  13. Susan on said:

    A Brief History of U.S. Interventions:
    1945 to the Present
    http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Blum/US_Interventions_WBlumZ.html
    or
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_interventions_of_the_United_States;

    Google “Netherlands Invasion Act” or see
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Service-Members%27_Protection_Act
    The American Service-Members’ Protection Act (ASPA, Title 2 of Pub.L. 107–206, H.R. 4775, 116 Stat. 820, enacted August 2, 2002) is a United States federal law that aims “to protect United States military personnel and other elected and appointed officials of the United States government against criminal prosecution by an international criminal court to which the United States is not party.” Introduced by US Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC) and Representative Tom DeLay (R-TX) it was an amendment to the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act for Further Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States (H.R. 4775). The bill was signed into law by George W. Bush on August 2, 2002.

  14. LucasFoxx on said:

    I guess I’m missing how the 450 democratically elected deputies of the Verkhovna Rada who deposed their President and seated a interim President until the December elections became part of a US led “coup.” I doubt we have the resources for that. Not everything is a super secret shadow government conspiracy.

  15. It’s now Orwell’s Amerika. The truth died a silent death a long time ago. What matters is who gets to tell the myths. This land runs on myths, corruption and opportunism. The opportunity to take from others is at the top of the wish list.

    The rest of the world won’t be humoring us for much longer. Especially when we go completely bankrupt, finally catching up with our leaders’ moral bankruptcy.

    Investigate Brzezinski, the covert support to Jihadists across the region via Saudi Arabia and other US so-called “allies,” in addition to the NGO imperialists, the billionaires who want to take and take without conscience. We have been at the mercy of unbridled psychopaths for far too long.

    And this:

    Is This the Man Who “Radicalized” Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
    http://wp.me/pUM5o-5v

  16. Bob deserves a lot of credit for his coverage of Ukraine.

    No one has exposed this scam as well as he has in all of its perfidy.

    The hypocrisy of condemning Putin’s reaction is really rich.

  17. I do wish that the title of the article was something like “America’s Government’s Staggering Hypocrisy – Both ‘Parties’ “, with a sub-title regarding the mass-monopolized U.S. corporate media’s complicity in the hypocrisy and misinformation – for the simple reason that many people looking at the title “America’s Staggering Hypocrisy” may see that title as equating the entire 318 million plus population of the U.S., as all being the same and/or as approving of the U.S. government’s hypocrisy, and therefore not read the article.

    “All Governments Lie”, as the Jewish-American journalist I. F. “Izzy” Stone famously taught, and the U.S. government is no exception – as I. F. Stone also pointed out. This also means that there are false statements from Ukraine’s past and current government, and from past and current governments in Russia (just like from many other nation’s governments in the past and the present).

    Now, the utter refusal to “look in the mirror” by politicians (of whatever “Party”) and policy makers – in our nation and in many others – about the current and/or past actions they are party to, and by corporate media’s lack of factual reporting (just like “State” media propaganda in many nations) on such things, is certainly also not new.

    It’s part of ongoing active refusal to be willing to learn from failed “group-think” policies and rigid attitudes that result in the same types of things being done over and over, with a either false agenda for what and why the same types of things are being done over and over, or a “It will somehow have different result if we keep doing it over and over enough times” philosophy – a philosophy which is considered a form of insanity by many.