Something I have always enjoyed about the US is its propensity for intensive navel-gazing. Hell, the mainstream western nations in general are all good at this, but the US has turned it into an art-form.
The agonising over Iraq started long before the US even began the war, and continues till now. There is a voluble and energetic debate as to the best way to deal with the situation. You can call the president a traitor, or even – with a nod to Bugliosi – demand that he be tried for murder.
And this is all deeply pondered, and vitriolically debated.
Unless, of course, one suggests that other nations undergo similar scrutiny. Russia, for instance. Then you get flamed to a sizzle. Writers in Russia are treated even worse. They get killed.
S&R has already featured Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered for writing about Russia’s brutal behaviour in Chechnya. On Sunday, Russian secret police kidnapped Magomed Yevloyev, the editor and owner of opposition Internet-based news site www.ingushetiya.ru, from the airport, shot him in the back of the head and dropped him off at the nearest hospital. That’s the English version of the site there, the Russian version is “strangely” defunct.
That bigots and xenophobes of all stripes hold themselves to different standards than the subjects of their opprobrium is beyond debate. But to hold some nations accountable for their actions and not others seems somewhat absurd.
I don’t know whether to consider it a form of the “happy native” theory that holds that the “unsophisticated” nations must not be held to our standards of discourse and are, in any case, happier as they are in their “unimproved” state. Or whether it is the supreme arrogance that considers events – even when the result of the actions of free-willed independent nations – as somehow being contained within the US discourse and being unworthy of debate unless the US is, in some way, responsible.
In any case, Russia has its own violently oppressed region of Muslim separatists. Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan are all seeking independence and all have Russian troops present viciously ensuring compliance. These states are neighbours of both Ossetia and Georgia. The entire region is fraught.
Yet, here is something I consider peculiarly revealing. The US, Europe and Australia have all suffered from threats and violent acts by Al Qaeda. Even France, long critical of the US invasion of Iraq, received threats from Osama bin Laden after passing a law that banned female public servants from wearing a head-scarf as they consider it an obvious religious symbol, banned for all religions. Yet neither Russia nor China – with all their brutal suppression of Muslims – have received any threats.
Any explanations? And, before the flame wars start, what I’m looking for is consistency. By all means, criticise the western powers, but then hold everyone to the same standards. That is real fairness.