The Fashion for Hypocrisy 234

Hypocrisy seems to be massively in fashion.  This from William Hague renders me speechless: “Be in no doubt, there will be consequences. The world cannot say it is OK to violate the sovereignty of other nations.”

Then today we have the British Establishment at a closed event in Westminster Abbey in memory of Nelson Mandela.  Prince Harry, David Cameron, all the toffs.  I was never more than a footsoldier in the anti-apartheid movement, but I trudged through the rain and handed out leaflets in Dundee and Edinburgh.  I suspect very few indeed of the guests at this posh memorial service did that.  David Cameron was actively involved in Conservative groups which promoted precisely the opposite cause.

My first appointment in the Foreign Office was to the South Africa (Political) desk in 1984.  The official British government line was that the ANC was a terrorist organization.  I faced hostility and disapproval even when I tried to get action on appalling human rights abuses like the case of Oscar Mpetha (thanks here to Tony Gooch and Terry Curran, they know why).  I got in big trouble for asking how many black guests had been received in the High Commissioner’s residence in Pretoria.

Every day, on a day to day basis, my job involved dealing with members of the British establishment, its political, business and professional communities.  The entire tenor of those meetings was how to prevent economic sanctions, circumvent existing sanctions and prolong the economic advantages to the UK of white rule.  Support for PW Botha was axiomatic.  I have no doubt many of those people or those who worked alongside them are in Westminster Abbey today.

The final extraordinary outbreak of hypocrisy is on the British left.  Russian military invasion of Ukraine is approved by them, because it is an invasion by Russia, and not an invasion by the West.  They are precisely as hypocritical as Hague.  Both think it is OK to violate the sovereignty of other nations, but only by their chosen side.

Until 1917, Russia was an Empire, avowedly so.  Thereafter the Soviet Union was a non-avowed Empire. The Crimea, and the rest of the Caucasus, was not colonized by Russia until the 1820’s onward.  The reason Crimea has a majority Russian population is that Stalin deported the Krim Tartars as recently as the 1930’s.  That was an old fashioned, wholesale  colonial atrocity, precisely similar to the British clearing parts of Kenya for white settlement.

In the mid-nineteenth century, Russian statesmen like Nesselrode appealed to the British in particular, not to oppose their expansion in the Caucasus, because as he said like the British they were white Christian Europeans engaged in a civilizing mission among savages and Muslims.  It was precisely the same colonial motivation the British used.  There is no moral difference, or even overt difference in justification at the time, between British colonization of India and Russian colonization of Chechnya.  Because Britain happens to be an island, we think of Empires as something you get to by ship.  Russia’s Empire happened to be a contiguous land mass.  But Dagestan, Chechnya, and Tartarstan were none the less colonies, exactly as were Kokhand, Bokhara and Khiva, formed to make Uzbekistan.  Yet left wing anti-colonialism does not demand decolonisation by Russia, only the West. Gross hypocrisy.


234 thoughts on “The Fashion for Hypocrisy

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  • CanSpeccy

    When it comes to the defense of hypocrisy, offense you seem to believe, is the best defense.

    It is disconcerting though after the US and its sidekicks and lickspittles have fought so many wars against Hitlers in Iraq, Libya, Syria, etc., all in the name of democracy, to find them now in cahoots with Hitlerites in full Nazi regalia armed with chains and cobble stones in the process of destroying a democratic government.

    But, what the Heck, we the people are endlessly gullible.

    Heil Hitler.

    Will we soon have to applaud ethnic cleansing and rampant anti-Semitism in Ukraine?

  • GutterTheQuantifier

    Does anybody know where I can get hold of black and orange striped flags and/or ribbons?
    (This is a serious question, not a rhetorical point)

  • Resident Dissident

    Habba 9:13am I almost totally agree – my quibble is that you call the friends of Putin lefties when they are no such thing. There is a perfectly decent tradition of true lefties in this country who have always placed liberty and freedom above support for autocrats who oppose this country and other western democracies. The fact that they have now ended up supporting Putin who really doesn’t have a socialist idea in his head – and has practised a form of economics which bears no relationship to any recognised left wing model of economics at the same time as quashing the civil liberties of many of its citizens and treating non Russians within his empire with a contempt that is bordering on racism – really just demonstrates how far they has fallen from any socialist or left wing ideal. In future could we just refer to them as fellow travellers or useful idiots – I ‘ll let others decide which is which.

  • Resident Dissident

    “Does anybody know where I can get hold of black and orange striped flags and/or ribbons?”

    Find some yellow and blue ones and then soak them in blood.

  • twyllo

    ESLO, Hen Gogledd is a great part of Britain’s history and I had not heard of Elmet so thanks for the mention I will read up on it (i am a bit sceptical at first), but surely come on they were Welsh, or more precisely they were fellow country men, compatriots, cydwladwr, one of the land, fellow company: Cymro. The Old / Hen North / Goglydd is another reason for hestitating to vote yes as parts of Scotland were Welsh speaking until the (12 . Another reason is the word Cymro which can not but imply unity not division.

  • doug scorgie

    I’ve just seen the BBC news regarding the Ukraine crisis.

    During the report footage was shown of Russian tanks firing shells and rockets being launched and lots of explosions.

    This was file footage of past Russian military exercises; nothing to do with the Ukraine so very misleading.

    Is this acceptable from the BBC?

    Craig and Habbabkuk what do you think about this?

  • Jives


    Will you wheesht with your little barbs in this thread please?

    There’s much good discourse here-of all stripes-but your little snideys just reveal you as a disruptor who puts their agenda ahead of decent engagement.


    Please overcome your mission and try and broaden a decent thread without your puff.


  • mark golding

    Just Me – The Ukraine situation reminds me of a children’s story; Goldilocks and the three bears. In what seems an inoffensive and clean-handed scenario is really trespassing and selfishness.

    PCR is deluded by saying, ‘Only three countries stand in the way of [British] American world hegemony, two nuclear powers, China and Russia and a bag of nuclear knowhow-Iran, presently without the machined fissile material.

    In the Goldilocks story our young readers are so relieved she escapes out the window instead of being eaten by a bear. The moral reasoning of the story is therefore strung between self concern/preservation and transgressive social rule breaking.

    Self concern and preservation materialise into a sense of entitlement to that which does not belong to Goldilocks and we can equate this to British/American exceptionalism and hegemony.

    Globally it is this transgressive social rule breaking that is falsely called ‘violations of International law’ yet international law is relative, multi-disciplined and codified in and by the West. It is removed from Natural law or the law of nature which classifies social rule breaking. We can all apply these natural rules to move as one force and we are many. Expect us – we are the ‘hegemongers’ greatest fear.

    Who wants a ‘Goldilocks Planet?’

  • Resident Dissident

    ESLO’s comments about propiskas reminds of what I saw with my own eyes in Moscow a few years after Putin came to power. Near where I was staying I saw about 20 people, including young children living outside in some bushes – when I enquired who they were I was told that they were “chorny” (which is the name Muscovites give to those from the Caucuses) who had no propiski who had been evicted from their apartments by Moscows finest and were too scared to return in case they were given another beating. I am told that things have got even worse for immigrants in Moscow since then. For all those who bleat on about fascism and are prepared to give that label all so easily to Western governments – might I suggest that what I saw that day was far nearer to the real thing – and it all happened under their heroes watch.

  • Roderick Russell

    I found this article “Ukraine in Maps” in the New York Times quite instructive. It shows in clear perspective the ethnic and political divisions within the Ukraine.

    I don’t pretend to be an expert, but one has to wonder if, as Craig has mentioned, some readjustment of borders might be a realistic solution. But whatever is needed it seems to me that what the Ukraine and Russia need from the West at this time is help in resolving their differences, not finger pointing.

    The peoples of the Ukraine are entitled to a peaceful and fair solution, but one mustn’t forget that Russia is a great nuclear power. There has been a rush to judgement in the West. We are not so keen on democracy where the results are not to our liking, as recently in Egypt, and I can tell you that in my own experience both the UK and Canada have little interest in the rule of law where the establishment is against it. If we carry on in this vein of finger pointing and isolating Russia, we are going to blunder into a war eventually as we did 100 years ago; not perhaps this time, or even next time – but eventually.

  • шах и мат

    NATO is sabre-rattling,

    but with a UNSC seized of the matter

    and a Russian presence that can effortlessly suppress exiguous Ukrainian forces, there will be no authorization for NATO-bloc force in Ukraine. As he did with Syria, Putin will loudly jack a shell into the chamber and calmly explain the UN Charter to the US of A. The US government will stamp their widdle feet and hold their breath till they turn blue. They will get over their tantrum soon enough. And someday they’ll grow up.

    This might just pry open more cracks in NATO. NATO’s a mile wide and an inch deep. The US is frantic to ignore UN Charter Article 53 but its NATO satellites have a lot to lose from aggression.

  • Resident Dissident


    Funny ESLO should mention Elmet – as my family is from that part of the world around Hebden Bridge. Ted Hughes poems about that part of the world especially those in Remains of Elmet really are evocative of the area – and it is pretty easy to see something Celtic in his style and the rhythm of his work. In my youth I lived a number of years in Wales and have nothing but good memories – I even came top of my class in Welsh one year – so I must have some Celtic roots! Given that the Celts occupied the whole of England before the Romans and Anglo Saxons – and I’m told that most British people have some Celtic DNA – I suspect that are rather more English Celts around than some would like to admit. Would also be a good reason for throwing all this petty nationalism aside and voting No.

  • Evgueni

    Quoting CM: “We are referring to the same event, and they left and went to Muscovy. Yes, Ukrainian lands are a potent part of Russia’s national myth. But that is exactly similar to Israel in Jewish national myth. The fact your people were somewhere a thousand or two thousand years ago does not give you the right to it now, if you left in the interim”

    This is the history of Russia that Russians like to repeat to themselves and anyone else who will listen. Conceived by Catherine the Great in order to aggrandise Muscovy, her new home, and to conceal that its origin was in fact in the Golden Horde franchise. There was another history of Muscovy before this new and much improved version was standardised on. In that history they did not yet call themselves Russians, did not lay claim to the legacy of Kievan Rus, admitted that ethnically they were a very mixed bunch with the largest portion being of Finnish-Hungarian tribes. (Ref: Vladimir Belinsky “Country Moksel”)

    Here’s a quote from Karl Marx, Google translate gets the gist across if your Russian is rusty:
    “В кровавом болоте московского рабства, а не в суровой славе норманской эпохи
    стоит колыбель России. Сменив имена и даты, увидим, что политика Ивана III и
    политика современной московской империи являются не просто похожими, а и
    Россия порождена и воспитана в противной и униженной школе монгольского
    рабства. Сильной она стала лишь потому, что в мастерстве рабства была
    непревзойденной. Даже и тогда, когда Россия стала независимой, она и далее
    осталась страной рабов. Петр I соединил политическую хитрость монгольского раба
    с величием монгольского владетеля, которому Чингисхан завещал покорить мир…
    Политика России – неизменна. Русские методы и тактика менялись, и будут
    меняться, однако главная цель российской политики – покорить мир и править в
    нем – есть и будет неизменной. “Московский панславизм – всего лишь одна из форм

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    Russian Ambassador to the UN Vitaly Churkin says ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich has sent a letter to Putin asking him to use military force in Ukraine to restore law and order.

    “Under the influence of Western countries, there are open acts of terror and violence,” Churkin quoted the letter from Yanukovich to Putin in the third emergency meeting of the UN Security Council.

    “People are being persecuted for language and political reasons,” Churkin read. ”So in this regard I would call on the President of Russia, Mr. Putin, asking him to use the armed forces of the Russian Federation to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defending the people of Ukraine.”

    He may be corrupt like so many elected presidents, but, like it or not, he happens to have been elected and, last time I checked his tenure had not run out. Is it legal and appropriate for an elected president to make such a request? Can any lawyerly commenters here clarify?

  • шах и мат

    Don’t you worry, the Russians have 30 IQ points on their NATO counterparts from the highest levels on down the echelons. What Putin grasps is that some people run red lights unless there’s a cop at the corner to intimidate them. Putin will do what he needs to do to contain the most urgent threat to peace, the USA.

    Game over. Peace 1, NATO 0.

  • Resident Dissident


    And a lot of Russians also have the blue spot. I of course come from an even more ethnically mixed up country.

  • Resident Dissident

    “Don’t you worry, the Russians have 30 IQ points on their NATO counterparts from the highest levels on down the echelons.”

    Nothing like a bit of racial supremacy.

  • oddie

    no “expert” has been given more MSM Ukraine space than Yale/LSE man of the left, Timothy Snyder. on Democracy Now, he is given far more time than Ray McGovern:

    Amy “left” Goodman makes her position clear in the second sentence of the transcript:

    3 Mar – Democracy Now: Who Is Provoking the Unrest in Ukraine? A Debate on Role of Russia, United States in Regional Crisis
    (2ND SENTENCE): Ukraine’s new prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said Russian President Vladimir Putin had effectively declared war on his country…

    some excerpts:

    TIMOTHY SNYDER, Yale University history professor: Putin and his advisers and the Russian press have made very clear that they understand Ukrainian events not just as an expression of Ukrainian interests or ideas or aspirations, but as part of a decadent European civilization. And by decadence, they mean rejection of Christianity, advocacy of the rights of ethnic and sexual minorities…
    This revolution was started by a Muslim civil society activist. It has ended with a Jew as prime minister of the country…
    Putin will try to argue that all of this just confirms his own view that Russia is all alone as a kind of superior national civilization facing a world conspiracy which, depending upon the mood and depending upon the audience, is either made up of Nazis or gays…

    RAY MCGOVERN, retired CIA analyst: And when you have 65—count them, 65—projects in the Ukraine funded with $100 million, if I were a Russian, I would say, “Hmmm, looks like they’re trying to do with the Ukraine what they did to the rest of Eastern Europe,” what the U.S. pledged not to do, and that is to pluck these countries off one by one and have them join not only the European Community, but NATO. The Russians aren’t going to stand for that. And, you know, the people advising Obama might have warned him that you go a bridge too far when you threaten a strategic interest the Russians consider so sensitive as the Ukraine…
    Who is Geoffrey Pyatt? Well, Geoffrey Pyatt is one of these State Department high officials who does what he’s told and fancies himself as a kind of a CIA operator, because now the CIA doesn’t do much of this stuff, and so State Department have to do it. Now, who is he? He was in Vienna. What was he doing in Vienna? He was orchestrating the election of Amano, Amano to be head of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, because they didn’t like Baradei, the guy that they tried to get rid of earlier. But they knew that Amano—and it’s clear from cables from Vienna, from Pyatt, released by WikiLeaks, that Pyatt was glowing and saying, “Amano is so happy for all our support in making him head of the IAEA, and now he’s asked us for a little bit more money, because he’d like to fix up his office.” I mean, it’s so apparent what State Department types now are doing, in a self-styled sort of covert action, political action sort of thing, so to create the right results. And the IAEA is a big deal, OK? Pyatt played a very crucial role in that, and now he’s doing the bidding of the likes of Victoria Nuland, who I would describe as a neocon, prima donna assistant secretary of state for European affairs who is doing our country—doing no one any good, cookies or not.

    ODDIE – i would add that Nuland worked in Clinton, Dubya & Obama administrations, & her husband, Robert Kagan: “was a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century. More recently, his book The World America Made has been publicly endorsed by US President Barack Obama, and its theme was referenced in his 2012 State of the Union Address.” (Wikipedia).

    who is the “left” of which Craig is speaking?

  • oddie

    Snyder’s cynical exploitation of gays, etc on Democracy Now is no accident:

    1 Mar: New York Review of Books: Ukraine: The Haze of Propaganda
    Timothy Snyder
    The first was the gay conspiracy. This was a subject that had dominated Russian propaganda throughout last year but which had been essentially absent from Ukraine. Perhaps Ukraine could join in? Yes indeed: the Ukrainian prime minister began to explain to his population that Ukraine could not have closer cooperation with Europe, since the EU was interested chiefly in gay marriage…
    Enter a lonely, courageous Ukrainian rebel, a leading investigative journalist. A dark-skinned journalist who gets racially profiled by the regime. And a Muslim. And an Afghan. This is Mustafa Nayem, the man who started the revolution. Using social media, he called students and other young people to rally on the main square of Kiev in support of a European choice for Ukraine. That square is called the Maidan, which by the way is an Arab word. During the first few days of the protests the students called it the Euromaidan. Russian propaganda called it, predictably enough, the Gayeuromaidan…
    As the New Year began the protests broadened. Muslims from southern Ukraine marched in large numbers. Representatives of the large Kiev Jewish community were prominently represented. Some of the most important organizers were Jews. The telephone hotline that people called to seek missing relatives was established by gay activists (people who have experience with hotlines). Some of the hospital guards who tried to stop the police from abducting the wounded were young feminists…
    Yes, there were some Jews, and there were some gays, in this revolution. And this was exploited by both the Russian and Ukrainian regimes in their internal propaganda. The Russian press presented the protest as part of a larger gay conspiracy. The Ukrainian regime instructed its riot police that the opposition was led by a larger Jewish conspiracy. Meanwhile, both regimes informed the outside world that the protestors were Nazis. Almost nobody in the West seemed to notice this contradiction…
    The first Ukrainian protester to be killed was an Armenian. The second to be killed was a Belarusian…
    Bohdan Solchanyk was a young lecturer at the Ukrainian Catholic University, a Ukrainian speaker from western Ukraine. He was shot and killed. Yevhen Kotlyov was an environmentalist from Kharkiv, a Russian speaker from eastern Ukraine. He was shot and killed. One of the people killed was a Russian citizen; a number of Russians had come to fight—most of them anarchists who had come to aid their Ukrainian anarchist comrades. At least two of those killed by the regime, and perhaps more, were Jews. One of those “Afghans,” Ukrainian veterans of the Red Army’s war in Afghanistan, was Jewish: Alexander Scherbatyuk. He was shot and killed by a sniper. Another of those killed was a Pole, a member of Ukraine’s Polish minority.
    Has it ever before happened that people associated with Ukrainian, Russian, Belarusian, Armenian, Polish, and Jewish culture have died in a revolution that was started by a Muslim? …

    not everyone in the comments is buying Snyder’s analysis. it is so evidently as much “propaganda” as the “propaganda” in his headline.

    all worthwhile analysis should begin with the constitionality of the ouster of the Ukrainian Govt.

  • Evgueni

    Clark 3 Mar, 2014 – 3:41 pm

    “I still want to know, who are this lot?”

    The bloke addressing the others with shields etc is saying to them that they “must behave as befits peaceful demonstrators, without any provocations, like civilised Europeans”. He then repeats the same in Russian. The tone is informal.

  • fred

    “Funny ESLO should mention Elmet – as my family is from that part of the world around Hebden Bridge.”

    A nice little drug town with an unfortunate tourist problem as someone once said.

  • Clark

    Evgueni, 11:55 pm, thanks. Is that all?

    Fred, 12:00 am, I entirely agree. Hippins Valley is a wonderful place to get stoned and follow down from Heptonstall on a bright day early in Summer.

  • craig Post author


    Whoever they are, the affair looks to me entirely staged for the camera. There is a lack of spontaneity, of people looking around them, of excitement of the moment. It is all highly artificial.

  • oddie

    from the “right”:

    28 Feb: Breitbart: Palin Mocked in 2008 for Warning Putin May Invade Ukraine if Obama Elected
    Palin said then:
    “After the Russian Army invaded the nation of Georgia, Senator Obama’s reaction was one of indecision and moral equivalence, the kind of response that would only encourage Russia’s Putin to invade Ukraine next.”
    For those comments, she was mocked by the high-brow Foreign Policy magazine and its editor Blake Hounshell, who now is one of the editors of Politico magazine.
    In light of recent events in Ukraine and concerns that Russia is getting its troops ready to cross the border into the neighboring nation, nobody seems to be laughing at or dismissing those comments now…

    Independent Journal Review: Mike Miller: Remember Obama Mocking Romney With This Comment About Russia During A 2012 Debate?
    In the heat of the 2012 campaign, during an October presidential debate between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Obama ridiculed Romney over his concern about Russia as a “geo-political” threat.
    Obama attempted to paint Romney as somehow out-of-touch with 21st century geo-politics, suggesting (ironically, as we now know) that al-Qaeda was a bigger threat than Russia. “You said Russia. Not al-Qaeda. You said Russia,” Obama said regarding biggest threats. Then came this snarky blast:
    “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back because…the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”…
    Incidentally, Palin has been consistently ridiculed for saying “I can see Russia from my house,” which she never said. What a tragedy that, as both Palin and Romney correctly feared, Ukrainians can now see Russians from their homes.

    from the “left”:

    1 Mar: The American Interest: Battle for Ukraine: Putin Smashes Washington’s Cocoon
    Analysis by Walter Russell Mead & Staff
    A Politico report calls it “a crisis that no one anticipated.” The Daily Beast, reporting on Friday’s US intelligence assessment that “Vladimir Putin’s military would not invade Ukraine,” quotes a Senate aide claiming that “no one really saw this kind of thing coming.”
    Op-eds from all over the legacy press this week helped explained why. Through the rose tinted lenses of a media community deeply convinced that President Obama and his dovish team are the masters of foreign relations, nothing poor Putin did could possibly derail the stately progress of our genius president…
    Too much of the Washington policy establishment looks around the world and sees only reflections of its own enlightened self…

    give thanx i am neither “right” nor “left”.

  • шах и мат

    Ha ha racial supremacy, you statists, you think everybody screams like Fay Wray whenever some random chump accuses them of being racist. In fact, Russians are only slightly smarter than Americans on average. The real difference is between a meritocracy like Russian intelligence and the ass-kisser culture of US government parasites. The bureaucrats are the stupidest ones – often they’re even military, which is the absolute bottom of the barrel (Who signs up to get their nuts blown off in arid lands?) – and they’re always sucking up to their social betters the death merchants, angling for jobs, MIPRing them useless projects to curry favor. Do you know these people? Have you ever had a clearance? They are losers. That’s why they’re losing now again.

  • Sofia Kibo Noh

    Representatives of Kherson, Nikolayev, and Odessa have appealed to Crimea leadership to be part of the autonomous republic if its powers will be enhanced after the referendum which is expected on March 30, RIA Novosti quoted the vice speaker of the Supreme Council of Crimea, Sergey Tsekov, as saying.

    Can it be right for such important decisions to be left to the people who live there? Don’t they know how hard Victoria Nuland worked and how many dollars were spent to relieve them of the government they had mistakenly voted for?

    “In an eight minute, 46 second speech at the National Press Club sponsored by the US-Ukraine Foundation, Chevron, and Ukraine-in-Washington Lobby Group, Nuland boasted that Washington has spent $5 billion to foment agitation to bring Ukraine into the EU. Once captured by the EU, Ukraine will be “helped” by the West acting through the IMF.”

    Some people are so ungrateful!

  • Trowbridge H. Ford

    Now Professor Stephen Cohen in putting in the proper context on the media President Obama’s most undiplomatic conclusion to the Ukrranian crisis that Putin’s Russia is “on the wrong side of history” aka on the way out in the longstanding zero-sum game with it.

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