US Diplomatic Double Standards

“What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander – both must be treated exactly alike. Apple sauce is just as good for one as the other.”

––  Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable.

Interesting things happen to countries that are allied to the United States, and you can never tell what Washington’s reaction is going to be when there is a major incident or drama that is usually predictable to most observers of international affairs except those in the White House, the Congress and the CIA.

Decades of US support for the corrupt dictator Mubarak in Egypt have ended with a washing of hands that would be the envy of Pontius Pilate.  The Bible recounts that when Jesus was on trial and  “Pilate saw that he could prevail nothing,  but rather a tumult was made, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying  ‘I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it’.”  Whereupon the Crucifixion took place.

Mubarak was hardly a ‘just person’, but the message is there for any ally of the United States :  be very careful when Washington people support you, because when the music stops, so will they.  It is important for dictators to bear in mind that when someone gets behind you, it makes it easier for them to stab you in the back.  And Washington was directly behind Mubarak.  So close, indeed, that when tumult was made on the streets, as in Pilate’s days, the back-stabbing dagger didn’t stay long in its sheath.

After a lot of White House dithering there was a public relations crucifixion and lots of official propaganda leaks to the media with the line that  ‘We always knew he was a baddie but went along with him in the best interests of his country and Middle East peace.’

The popular uprising against Mubarak caused a bit of hand-wringing in Washington, but the important action was the hand-washing.  A faithful ally was hung out to die.

Mubarak was corrupt to his bootstraps;  he ruled Egypt in a fouler and more oppressive fashion than any pharaoh ever did,  and with much less style and dignity.  But for almost thirty years he was loyal to the US and,  of even more importance for his survival and prosperity, totally supportive of America’s bizarre Israel policy.  The fact that Palestinians,  his fellow Arabs, are victims of creeping genocide by the racist Israeli state, ably abetted by Washington, mattered not one bit to Mubarak, whose only interests were staying in power and making money.

But loyalty is not a two-way street, so far as the US is concerned. “My friend, right or wrong” simply doesn’t apply, and the moment a dictator becomes a difficulty for Washington,  the White House hands are washed and the unfortunate potentate is poured away with the suds.

Remember Manuel Noriega, the Panamanian dictator?  He was a great buddy of the US, and a prime (and generously salaried) CIA asset.  As with so many CIA prospects, he attended the School of the Americas, but after he was recruited and helped to power he became too greedy and made lucrative deals with drug cartels, so the US invaded Panama and dragged him off to a Miami slammer.  He served seventeen years, and last year was sent to France to do another seven years there.  (In a nice touch, he’s been allowed to keep his French decoration, the Légion d’honneur,  that he was awarded in 1987.  And in an ironic twist, it transpires that the French prime minister had an all-expenses-paid Christmas holiday in Mubarak’s Egypt.  The US isn’t the only place that cultivates dishonest despots.)

The message is clear:  be as dictatorial and corrupt as you like, but don’t offend or embarrass Washington, because if you do, it’s exit time, with fanfare vengeance.  And when you are placed on trial by your former friends and want to produce proof, as did Noriega, that the CIA paid you millions of dollars to do what the American President wanted you to do, and were endorsing your corruption up to the hilt (that dagger, again),  you’ll be told that your evidence is inadmissible because it  “would confuse the jury”.  That is barely credible : real Third World stuff;  but it’s on the record.

It is doubtful that Mubarak will go to prison, like the equally sleazy Noriega, but there’s little doubt the US would very much like him to be silenced, so he’ll probably end up in internal exile, or even in Saudi Arabia, that sumptuous sanctuary of last resort for doomed dictators.  He’ll be yet another failed and forgotten fuehrer, victim of his vanity and the inevitable collapse of the seemingly never-ending rah-rah encouragement of the Washington bunco merchants who back all sorts of horrible horses.

The international picture of US credibility is dismal and becoming more pathetic day by day.  What is sauce for a goose only too often turns sour when (if you’ll excuse the extension of metaphor) the goose ceases to lay Washington’s golden eggs.

And the ultimate message from Washington is :  Don’t do as I do – do as I say.

Of the 22 countries in the Arab League, only two are vaguely democratic.  Sure, the Palestinians (who don’t have a country, because their lands are illegally occupied by thuggish Israeli settlers, but are counted as a member of the League)  had elections in their tiny Gaza Gulag, but their government was not recognised by Washington because it was – fairly understandably – anti-Israel.  And this unashamed denial of support for the result of a fair and free election didn’t prevent the moral tap-dancer Hillary Clinton from pronouncing, presumably without a giggle, that  “The United States wants to see the Egyptian government respond to the legitimate rights of the Egyptian people, and the creation of a process to address frustrations and reconcile various demands.”

That process is called ‘democracy’ Hilly Baby.  Just like it is in God’s Own Country that you represent.  But it seems you are selective about where and how legitimate rights and law and justice should be observed.


Take, for example, the shooting by a US citizen of two Pakistanis in the city of Lahore on January 27.  The American stated he thought he was going to be robbed by two motorcycle-borne men who he said were armed.  He opened fire and killed them both. (Can you hear the Tea Party cheers?)   His name is Raymond Davis.  But on the other hand it might not be Raymond Davis, because a State Department spokesman denied this was his name,  but then a representative of the local embassy said that this is his name.  These people can’t get their act together even when they’re lying.

Then there were claims that Mr Davis is a diplomat – a bona fide member of the State Department, which is headed by the justice-promoting Ms Hillary Clinton.  But on January 28 the US embassy in Pakistan described Davis as a “staff member of the US consulate general in Lahore.”  In other words, not a diplomat.  Next day, his status had altered to being a  “diplomat assigned to the US embassy in Islamabad.”

His two-year visa was issued in the ‘Business’ category. So he is not a diplomat, and even if he WAS a diplomat – even if he had been the US ambassador – his status wouldn’t make killing people legal.

But the State Department  spokesman, a sensitive soul called Crowley, reiterated that  “We continue to stress that the US diplomat has diplomatic immunity and should be released”   ––  after killing two people. What outrageous presumption.  Small wonder that so much of the world regards Washington’s arrogance with anger and contempt.

Then there’s the small matter of the killing of a bystander by a car driven by an American SUV speeding to the aid of Davis.  After the killing the car drove off and the driver was spirited out of Pakistan in a New York Heartbeat.  Nobody – not even Sarah Palin or Newt Gingrich or the Murdoch News Foxers – could call this support of justice by the country that preaches democracy and the rule of law so energetically around the world.

What would have happened if a citizen of Pakistan attached to the Pakistan consulate in New York had shot two Americans in Manhattan? ––   He would have been whipped off to jail before you could say “double standards”.  And if a car driven by another Pakistani,  on his way to help the killer,  had killed a bystander, do you think that Pakistan would have managed – or even tried – to get the driver out of the country in order to avoid US justice ?

Obama’s National Security Adviser, Tom Donilon (who ?), was reported by ABC as having said that if Davis is not freed, then Pakistan’s ambassador in Washington could be “kicked out” and warned that a visit to the US by Pakistan’s president would be in jeopardy. As it is, some high level meetings have been cancelled.   Fine.  Carry on.  Who cares?  Certainly not Pakistan.  And if all US aid to Pakistan is cancelled, as threatened by some members of Congress, does any sane person think this would be a proper course of action in attempting to force alteration of a court decision about detaining Davis until all his actions are clarified?

Pakistan is a democracy, if a shaky one,  with an independent and somewhat erratic  judiciary. It needs all the domestic and international support that can be given if it is to survive. So it is not only arrogant for Washington to demand that Pakistan should surrender a person charged with murder,  it is grossly irresponsible. It also plays right into the hands of Islamic extremists, who are having a ball about this debacle, which has been so badly handled by Washington’s political apparatchiks (as distinct from the competent professional diplomats to whose advice so little attention is paid). The media in Pakistan and all round the Muslim world are taking a good kick at America about this incident – which could have been handled so easily – and the propaganda price can’t be measured.

Panama was invaded and Noriega was kicked out because he wasn’t toeing the US line,  but the goody-goody reason was that his country wasn’t a democracy.  And US abandonment of the dictator Mubarak, after thirty years of total support, is supposed to be justified because his country wasn’t a democracy.  Yet when democracy rears its head, as with the fair election of Hamas in Gaza, and it doesn’t suit the US, then it isn’t recognised.  And when a creaking but optimistic democracy like Pakistan exercises its rights as a sovereign country and arrests an American who has undoubtedly killed two people, there are screams of hysterical protest from the bunch of humbugs in Washington.

What is sauce for the American goose is definitely not sauce for the international gander.

BRIAN CLOUGHLEY’s website is www.beecluff.com


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Brian Cloughley writes about foreign policy and military affairs. He lives in Voutenay sur Cure, France.

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