The Hypocrisy of Indignation

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power speaking at the UN Security Council, 12/14/16

Merriam-Webster defines the word “hypocrisy” as a “feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not.”

The indignation and outrage that Ambassador Samantha Power is demonstrating during her speech above before the U.N. Security Council this morning is hypocrisy illustrated.

Don’t get me wrong: I very much respect Ambassador Power and commend her for her passionate plea to the humanity of her colleagues and so this critique is not directed at her. It is instead directed at the hypocritical foreign policy she is tasked with upholding.

How dare the government of the United States decry the actions of the Russian Federation, the Syrian Arab Republic, or the Islamic Republic of Iran in Aleppo when it was the American government and its allies who had an opportunity to do something to end the Syrian Civil War when it first broke out in 2011? The Russian military did not begin operating in Syria until late 2015 so where was the no-fly zone that we saw in Libya? Where was American military action when President Bashar al-Assad crossed President Obama’s infamous “red line” in 2013?

Or better yet, where is that same indignation and outrage with regards to the ongoing U.S. bombing campaign in Yemen with their Saudi allies? In fact, did you know the United States is currently bombing seven different countries around the world? I bet you didn’t.

For the United States, it is easier to revive the Russian boogeyman from its Cold War grave than to come face to face with its own hypocrisy. When the U.S. Air Force accidentally bombs hospitals and kills innocent civilians, it’s okay. But when the Russians do it, it’s a war crime.

However, the scapegoating does not end in Syria, but rather extends to American domestic politics as well.

The indignation and outrage that the United States is showing at the claims and allegations of Russian hacking and interference in the November election are just as hypocritical. Did the United States already forget about its CIA-backed and funded coup against President Salvador Allende in Chile in 1973? Or the 1953 CIA-organized coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh?

I do not think the Russians are in the right here nor am I fan of President Vladimir Putin. The Russians are just as guilty of the bloodshed in Syria as the Americans are and no government should be interfering or meddling in the elections of other countries. Period. In fact, it is well-known that the Russian government under Putin has meddled in elections elsewhere so if these new accusations are proven true, an action like this would not be unprecedented on their part.

But the American people cannot turn a blind eye to history and pretend that their government has the moral high ground when lecturing the rest of the world on what is appropriate behavior. American foreign policy has been and is inherently hypocritical, but it doesn’t always have to be this way and I trust that it won’t be once our generation is in the halls of power.

As 2016 comes to a close, the words of Spanish-American writer George Santayana could not ring more true: “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”