The Only Standards Are Double Standards

Exclusive: President Obama is still embracing Official Washington’s false narrative on Ukraine as he hypocritically blames the crisis entirely on Moscow and ignores the West’s role in toppling an elected president and provoking a nasty civil war, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Sometimes in dealing with the U.S. government and its compliant mainstream media, I’m left with the feeling that if it weren’t for double standards, there would be no standards at all. From President Barack Obama to the editors at the Washington Post and the New York Times, it’s obvious that what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander.

An election in an embattled country is valid and even inspiring if it turns out the way Official Washington wants, as in Ukraine last month; otherwise it’s a sham and illegitimate, as in Syria this month.

President Barack Obama and President-elect Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine talk after statements to the press following their bilateral meeting at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and President-elect Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine talk after statements to the press following their bilateral meeting at the Warsaw Marriott Hotel in Warsaw, Poland, June 4, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Similarly, people have an inalienable right of self-determination if it’s Kosovo or South Sudan, but not if it’s Crimea or the Donbass region of Ukraine. Those referenda for separation from Ukraine must have been “rigged” though there is no evidence they were. Everything is seen through the eye of the beholder and the beholders in Official Washington are deeply biased.

When it comes to military interventions, U.S. officials such as Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power assert a “responsibility to protect” transcending national sovereignty if civilians are threatened in Libya or in Syria, but not when the civilians are being slaughtered in Gaza, Odessa, Mariupol or Donetsk. When those killings are being done by U.S. allies, the allies are praised for their “restraint.”

The hypocrisy extends to the application of international law. If some leaders in Africa engage in actions that cause civilian deaths, they must be indicted by the International Criminal Court and dragged before The Hague for prosecution by jurists representing an outraged world.

But it’s unthinkable that there would be any accountability for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair and other “respectable” leaders who invaded Iraq and caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands last decade.

The United States also presents itself as the great guardian of democracy and constitutional order, except when those democratic impulses conflict with U.S. interests. Then, the American people are treated to the cognitive dissonance of overthrowing democratically elected governments in the name of “democracy.” [See’s “America’s Staggering Hypocrisy.”]

The Ukraine Case

When Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych rejected austerity demands from the International Monetary Fund that accompanied a plan for European association, senior U.S. officials decided that Yanukovych had to go and urged on protests, ultimately spearheaded by neo-Nazi militias, that violently overthrew Yanukovych on Feb. 22.

The U.S. State Department’s “public diplomacy” officials then spun a narrative that glued white hats on the putschists and black hats on those who sought to defend the elected government. Whenever people mentioned the inconvenient truth about the crucial neo-Nazi role in providing the muscle for the coup, they were accused of spreading “Russian propaganda.”

Yet, while U.S. meddling in the internal affairs of another country is a good thing, it is a bad thing if a U.S. adversary does the same or is just suspected of doing the same.

When American and French volunteers go to Syria to fight with the U.S.-backed rebels, those volunteers are, of course, operating on their own (such as American suicide bomber Abu Hurayra Al-Amriki). To suggest otherwise without proof would be a “conspiracy theory,” a point with which I would agree .

But, remember, the rules are flexible; while the U.S. press corps would mock anyone who jumped to a conclusion that the American and French jihadists in Syria must have connections to Washington and Paris, the opposite assumption applies to any disfavored government; then, the U.S. press just “knows” that some indigenous resistance must be directed from some nefarious foreign capital.

For example, the U.S. government is accusing Russia of somehow being behind the unrest in eastern Ukraine, Yanukovych’s political base, even though the unparalleled U.S. intelligence agencies and American journalists on the ground have been unable to detect any proof of this alleged direction from Moscow.

Still, the assumption led the New York Times to get suckered into a State Department propaganda ploy when the Times ran a lead story based on photographs supposedly showing covert Russian military teams that were “clearly” in Russia but then popped up in eastern Ukraine.

Two days later, however, the Times was forced to retract its scoop when it turned out that a key photo purportedly taken in Russia had actually been snapped in Ukraine, destroying the story’s premise. [See’s “NYT Retracts Ukraine Photo Scoop.”]

But that egg-on-the-face moment only made the Times more determined to prove that the ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine indeed were “minions” of Moscow, not free-thinking people who simply reject what they regard as the imposition of illegitimate authority from Kiev.

So, when some Russian nationalists crossed the border to help their ethnic brethren in eastern Ukraine, it was assumed again without evidence that Russian President Vladimir Putin must have sent them.

Times reporter Sabrina Tavernise traveled to Donetsk but could not find the desired evidence. The Russian nationalists said they had no connections to Moscow and were motivated simply by a determination to help protect fellow ethnic Russians from the escalating military assault from western Ukraine.

Despite those disappointing findings, the Times front-page story on June 1 still made the desired point through its headline: “In Ukraine War, Kremlin Leaves No Fingerprints.” The phrasing assumes that Russian interference is real, just that the culprit has been careful to wipe away any evidence.

The article stated its conclusion this way: “Mr. Putin may not be directing these events, but he is certainly their principal beneficiary.” But is that tendentious phrasing even true? Putin has shown a willingness to have a dialogue with Ukraine’s new President-elect Petro Poroshenko in hopes to calming down the crisis on Russia’s border.

Protecting the Narrative

But Official Washington’s narrative of the crisis must always be maintained, whatever the lack of verifiable evidence. Though an objective observer might note that the crisis was provoked last year by a reckless European Union association offer followed by the IMF’s draconian austerity plan that was rejected by Yanukovych, prompting U.S.-encouraged violent demonstrations (all while Putin was preoccupied by the Sochi Winter Olympics) it is fundamental to the U.S. propaganda theme to boil the storyline down to “Russian aggression.”

Obama should and may know better that Putin’s response was reactive to the West’s provocations, not a case of Russian provocation but Obama is busy fending off accusations of “weakness” from Republicans and various neocons. So Obama apparently feels he has to talk tough and regurgitate the false narrative, as he did in his June 4 speech in Poland, declaring:

“As we’ve been reminded by Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, our free nations cannot be complacent in pursuit of the vision we share — a Europe that is whole and free and at peace. We have to work for that. We have to stand with those who seek freedom.

“We stand together because we believe that people and nations have the right to determine their own destiny. And that includes the people of Ukraine. Robbed by a corrupt regime, Ukrainians demanded a government that served them. Beaten and bloodied, they refused to yield. Threatened and harassed, they lined up to vote; they elected a new President in a free election — because a leader’s legitimacy can only come from the consent of the people.

“We stand together because we believe that upholding peace and security is the responsibility of every nation. The days of empire and spheres of influence are over. Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun or with masked men taking over buildings.

“And the stroke of a pen can never legitimize the theft of a neighbor’s land. So we will not accept Russia’s occupation of Crimea or its violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty. Our free nations will stand united so that further Russian provocations will only mean more isolation and costs for Russia. Because after investing so much blood and treasure to bring Europe together, how can we allow the dark tactics of the 20th century to define this new century?”

As I said, if it weren’t for double standards, there would be no standards at all.

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 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.


15 comments for “The Only Standards Are Double Standards

  1. Tina
    June 15, 2014 at 21:32

    Double standards. American people do not even know what is going on in the Ukraine.
    Please, look at the site (if you are pregnant or too emotional, do not read the article)
    It happened in Odessa on May, 2, 2014. Who were the killers? Those who supported the new president regime. Bandits. Nobody was put to the court for murders. Why did they kill those people? These people went on the streets to support the celebration of the WW2 victory day (May, 9), the day the new Ukrainian government prohibited to celebrate. Can you imagine? It did not aloud people to celebrate the victory over the fascism, it did not aloud people to remember those who gave own life while fighting with the fascism? And it killed them! What it means? I think it means that the new Ukrainian government is profascist government, the proof is in that article full of pictures of murdered people.
    Nowdays, not during WW2 people were killed, raped. Survivors were humiliated. They were bitted up while crawling… The new data – people were poisoned with some gas caused asphyxiation and swelling of the respiratory organs. Than they were burned, may be while alive. And Ukrainian government tells that these people burned themselves.
    But it does not tell how people could shoot themselves while being burned….
    And now what is going on in Slavyansk, Donetsk… – really a massive murder.
    Russia tries to get help from UN with no results. Nobody wants to listen.
    I myself did not react much on the events in Ukraine until I saw the massacre in Odessa.
    Now, anything that US says about Russia is under big doubt for me. How can we trust the news, analysts, and a President if nobody even mentioned about this massive murder? I am sure that White House knows about it but why they do not talk about it? Why they still support the Ukrainian president? They even sent the director of CIA over there and the Bidens, why?

    • tina
      June 16, 2014 at 14:37

      Thank you for posting my “comment”. Over a month I was trying to post that article about Odessa in different magazines with no results. How to make people to know about what is going on in Ukraine? I am not talking about information from delusional journalists who blame Putin/Russia on all troubles in the Ukraine.

  2. carroll price
    June 12, 2014 at 10:19

    It’s the same double standard we see in Palestine. Where Jews, who stole the land from its rightful owners, routinely accuse the Palestinian people of being aggressors and terrorist if they offer the slightest resistance to having their homes razed and land occupied by foreigners. Which leads me to suspect, that the blatant double standards demonstrated by both Israel and the US is a result of the same people running the governments of both countries.

  3. Jim
    June 6, 2014 at 22:59

    America is so fundamentally hard-wired to the protection and advancement of democracy they run the world as a dictator. It’s staring us in the face.

  4. Yaroslav
    June 5, 2014 at 16:31

    Yea… And in spite of all this evidence all americans (except a dozen, who reads this site) believe in this bullshit.
    And people are dying at Ukraine… just elders, women, children… shooted and bombed in their homes, schools, hospitals…
    America is a truly Freedom Stronghold.

  5. Petron
    June 5, 2014 at 14:35

    Quoting Obama at the end of this essay strongly underscores the hypocrisy, in nearly every phrase. This stands out for me: “The days of empire and spheres of influence are over. Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun . . . ” We can now see that this kind of self-deception is in keeping with his faux election campaigning in 08. He is an oily liar, more and more reminding of Richard Nixon, previously number one at self-righteous verbiage wrapped in the flag. This cynicism disguises behind-the-scenes actions such as we’ve seen in Ukraine–from the machinations of Victoria Nuland and Geoffrey Piatt to the influence of Dempsey and Blackwater mercenaries. As Robert Parry and others have explained carefully, the playbook, as usual, has been regime change for regional and economic advantage, including intention to displace the powerful Putin. This pile of sneaking activity is then wrapped in high-sounding rhetoric where it will continue to reek for a long time to come . . .

  6. June 5, 2014 at 10:03

    They are not merely alleging things for which there is no evidence. The most bizarre part is that they are denying things for which there is plenty of evidence, things that you can see in front of your eyes, such as the existence of the neo-nazis.

  7. Joe Tedesky
    June 5, 2014 at 01:29

    As the saying goes, give them an inch and they will take a mile. The American’s acceptance of the Warren Report was a modern beginning of the deception imposed upon the world, by the powers to be of the dark state. Lie, after lie is all it has ever been since. We have been told that tax breaks for the rich would trickle down to all our benefits. We have been told that trade agreements would add employment. We fought their awful wars to guard our freedom. Have you been to the airport lately?

    I’m to overwhelmed to continue, so I will sign off. Look forward to reading all of your comments on this site. Often the comments are every bit as good as the articles. Hang in there, and take care!

  8. F. G. Sanford
    June 5, 2014 at 00:55

    This should be a historical wake-up for Americans. For those who care to seek it, the truth is readily available. Honest journalism, eyewitness testimony, video and voice recordings abundantly document the actual events. It’s a chance to have access to the information that would have been successfully repressed under similar circumstances in the past. There is no need to spend years doubting, wondering, speculating, seeking FOIA documents, trading accusations of partisan bias or pondering the veracity of dozens, perhaps hundreds of speculative books and documentaries. This time, plausible deniability and media consensus cannot bury the truth. A completely fraudulent rendition of the facts has been proffered in defense of a policy that cannot withstand scrutiny. Nor can any credible refuge be sought in the forest of evidence that denies the fig-leaf of faulty intelligence. The “conspiracy” to topple Ukraine is not a theory. This time, the “official” story and the truth can be examined side by side, and the conclusion is inescapable.

    If you will, for a moment, pretend that Maidan was Dealey Plaza. Pretend that the Trade Union Building was the Texas School Book Depository. And pretend that somebody on the 6th floor had a cell-phone camera. Pretend we can see who really did it. In Ukraine, the cameras WERE rolling. We can see the Nazi thugs and we can witness the atrocities. We can listen to Victoria Nuland’s phone conversation with Geoffrey Pyatt. We know that Brennan was there. We can watch the shelling of Slovyansk and Donetsk. Now pretend that all the evidence points to…Putin?

    The only ” conspiracy theory” here is the administration’s version of the truth. Despite all evidence to the contrary, “That’s their story, and they’re stickin’ to it”. Note that the official lie also has bipartisan support. Neither party is willing to question it. There is no need for a “coverup”. The “impossible to keep” secret is before our very eyes. Witnesses don’t have to be ignored, threatened or eliminated. Documents don’t have to be withheld or destroyed. Evidence need not be falsified. None of that is necessary. Once endorsed, the official version becomes bullet-proof. Maidan should become the “gold standard” for evaluating conspiracy “theories”. It should become a “teachable moment”. It’s a chance to return to 1963 and imagine what a cell-phone camera might have captured behind that 6th floor window. Based on Ukraine, it doesn’t matter. And that lesson will no doubt embolden leaders of the future to envision crimes more brazen than any conspiracy “theorist” can imagine.

    • N Dalton
      June 5, 2014 at 04:26

      Totally agree with the basic analogy and all those insane “Double standards”.
      A perfect example and Case in point for such a despicable insult to all humanity must be this explicit contribution >

      What will it take for the American people to wake up and realize that Israel is not only devouring their hard-earned tax dollars to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity, but, for gratitude, is spitting in their faces and boasting about taking the US for a ride?

  9. incontinent reader
    June 4, 2014 at 20:03

    Bob- I’d take it even a step further. Our President is not only demanding that others hold themselves to one set of standards, while he is violating those same standards. He is also pretending to adhere to those standards that he is violating, while accusing others, who are in fact adhering to the standards, of violating them. So, he has committed three crimes in the process- the substantive crime itself, the perjury and/or fraud related to his denial that he committed the crime, and the knowing or intentional frame-up of his victim.

    It’s a shame that we must look to a foreign leader for a paradigm and standards that the world, including our country, would be advised to follow, but Putin is right on this one, whether or not it will also advance his own nation’s interests.

    • Tjoe
      June 4, 2014 at 23:32

      He is a US lawyer…a professional liar.

      • Andrei Pokrovsky
        June 5, 2014 at 14:21

        Great website, a lot of stuff here just makes sense. I have no way of knowing for sure who to trust but simple common sense suggests that the analysis on this website is closer to the truth. I wonder though, what are the true motivations behind American foreign policy. I realize there are some elements in play such as natural gas, general belief by US foreign policy makers in maintaining the balance of power via regime destabilization, NATO expansion (indeed why?). I guess in the end of the day it’s a power play on the “Grand Chessboard”. But what is the true thought process behind these decisions? Is there any way of deducing it? One theory that comes to my mins is it just basically fight for domination to make sure Russia doesn’t become too powerful, attempt to inflame Russia as paint it as untrustworthy business partner to Europe? Why does US have to dominate though, is it just mistrust and assumption of the worst possible intention of all other countries as a universal doctrine? I don’t think you can operate like that though. It seems obvious that a better way to “control” and trust other countries is to expand and improve relationships and trade with them, not amplify mistrust and stir mutual hatred.

        • Terje Kristian Pedersen
          June 10, 2014 at 18:20

          Good questions.

          If you read “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” by PNAC, you will see that the millitary and neocons have wanted to focus their troops in the South-East of Europe.

          I encourage you to read the whole document, but here are a few citations:

          REPOSITION U.S. FORCES to respond to 21st century strategic realities by shifting
          permanently-based forces to Southeast Europe and Southeast Asia, and by changing naval
          deployment patterns to reflect growing U.S. strategic concerns in East Asia. (Page IV)

          The Balkans, and southeastern Europe more generally, present the major hurdle toward
          the creation of a Europe “whole and free” from the Baltic to the Black Sea. The delay
          in bringing security and stability to southeastern Europe has not only prevented the
          consolidation of the victory in the Cold War, it has created a zone of violence and conflict and introduced uncertainty about America’s role in Europe. (Page 15-16)

  10. Larry
    June 4, 2014 at 18:40

    That’s our Creative Class, alright. Just making things up to fit the ‘standard’. It was very prescient of N. Chomsky so long ago to identify the American intellectual class as perhaps the most dangerous group of all.

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