Tuesday, April 3, 2007
One of the least endearing features of Washington’s political/media hierarchy is its propensity for selective outrage, like what is now coming from George W. Bush about the “inexcusable behavior” of the Iranian government in holding 15 British sailors whom Bush has labeled “hostages.”
By Robert Parry
"This is the same President Bush who often mocks the very idea that international law should apply to him; he’s fond of the punch line: “International law? I better call my lawyer.” But Bush becomes a pious defender of international law when it suits his geopolitical interests.
The major U.S. news media predictably follows along, getting into an arms-crossed harrumph over foreigners trampling on the inviolate principles of international law, the same rules that should never constrain U.S. actions.
So, when British sailors were captured on March 23 after they may or may not have crossed over an ill-defined demarcation between Iraqi and Iranian waters in the Persian Gulf, the assumption in the U.S. media was that Iran must be wrong. After all, Bush has listed Iran as a charter member of the “axis of evil”; its leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a notorious hothead; and everyone knows the Brits always play by the rules.
Of course, left outside this narrow frame of reference was the gross violation of international law – the bloody invasion of Iraq in 2003 – that put the Brits there in the first place.
Back then, international law was deemed little more than a nuisance getting in the way of what President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair wanted to do, i.e. conquer Iraq, install a compliant government, "privatize" its resources, and threaten other countries in the region to get in line.
Bush regarded the United Nations Charter and its ban on aggressive war as some goofy experiment in multilateralism. Blair actually knew better. Though he recognized that the Iraq invasion would violate this fundamental tenet of international law, Blair went along anyway......
Suddenly, it was a new day with Bush and Blair fully committed to international law. Even a relatively minor Geneva transgression, such as filming captives eating, became a justification for unrestrained outrage.
Without any acknowledgement about their own abrogation of international law, the British and U.S. governments lifted these principles from the gutter, dusted them off and put them on a pedestal. The grand human rights defender, George W. Bush, lectured other countries about “inexcusable behavior” – and no prominent Western journalist called him to account for his contradictions."