Bill Van Auken
“Nearly 300 innocent lives were taken–men, women, children, infants–who had nothing to do with the crisis in Ukraine. Their deaths are an outrage of unspeakable proportions.” — President Barack Obama on the plane crash in Ukraine.
“War is tough, and I said that publicly and I’ll say it again. We defend Israel’s right to do what it is doing …” — Secretary of State John Kerry, asked about slaughter of several hundred civilians in Gaza.
“And as society has hitherto moved in class antagonism, morality has always been class morality …” — Friedrich Engels, Anti-Duhring.
Over the past week, world public opinion has been bombarded with a level of hypocrisy and lying from Western governments and media that has few precedents in recent history.
This comes glaringly into focus when one contrasts the reaction to the deaths of 298 passengers and crew members in the Malaysian passenger jet crash in Ukraine and the response to the killing in Gaza of over twice that number in the continuing onslaught by the Israeli military.
In the case of the plane crash in Ukraine, Russia and the anti-Kiev forces fighting in the east of Ukraine have been indicted, without a shred of probative evidence, as mass murderers. This was the line taken by the Obama administration–and echoed by a media marching in lockstep with the official story–virtually since the first report of the Boeing 777 coming down on July 17.
In his initial statement from the White House, Obama described the deaths in the plane crash as “heartbreaking,” a “terrible loss” and “an outrage of unspeakable proportions.” The media has followed suit with profiles of victims and reports of mourning around the world.
The death of 298 innocent people, whatever the cause, is a terrible tragedy. But what a contrast to the breathtakingly callous response of Washington and the media to the US-funded slaughter of what is now approaching 700 Palestinians in Gaza. The overwhelming majority of them are defenseless civilians, whose identities go largely unrecorded and the agony of their loved-ones generally ignored.
In an interview on the ABC News program “This Week,” US Secretary of State Kerry dismissed charges that the mass killing in Gaza is a massacre and war crime, declaring contemptuously, “That’s rhetoric we’ve heard many, many times.” He added, “War is ugly and bad things are going to happen.”
Thus, the same government that is wringing its hands over the airliner deaths in Ukraine and making the most provocative charges of moral responsibility against Russia is totally complicit in the deaths in Gaza. It bestows upon the bloodthirsty state directly responsible–Israel–not only its political endorsement, but a blank check for further slaughter.
As these terrible events unfold, neither Washington nor the Western media pause from their propaganda campaigns to attempt to square the grotesque contradictions in their disparate responses to these two human tragedies.
In the legal code there exists the doctrine of “unclean hands,” which holds that anyone seeking a court’s relief must be innocent of wrongdoing relating to the subject of the given claim. If ever such a doctrine applied in the realm of world politics, it applies to the US government.
Of all the governments in the world, Washington has the least standing to lecture anyone on the subject of morality. Not only is the Obama administration directly complicit in the nonstop bombing and destruction of homes, hospitals, mosques and human beings in Gaza, the US government has itself carried out military operations in the Middle East over the past decade that have claimed the lives of somewhere between 500,000 and a million people, the vast majority of them innocent civilians.
And given the track record of the US and Ukraine, Washington’s principal partner in indicting Moscow for the Malaysian plane disaster, there is every reason to direct suspicion against the accusers themselves.
In the first instance, neither government is a stranger to shooting down civilian airliners. The most recent previous incident took place in October 2001, when the Ukrainian military fired a missile into a Siberian Airlines plane bound for Israel, killing all 78 aboard.
For its part, the US was responsible for one of the greatest previous losses of life in such an incident. In 1988, the Vincennes, an advanced US warship, having sailed into Iranian waters, shot down an Iran Airlines Air Bus, killing all 290 people aboard. Not only has Washington never apologized for this atrocity, the commanding officer of the ship that launched the missiles was awarded a medal.
It is noteworthy that in all of the outraged media coverage of the Malaysian Airlines disaster, these damning historical precedents go unmentioned.
The US and the regime in Kiev have indicted Moscow and demonized Russian President Vladimir Putin as bearing full responsibility for the Malaysian airliner crash on the grounds that Russia has allegedly armed anti-Kiev insurgents in eastern Ukraine and trained them in the use of the antiaircraft weaponry that was supposedly used to bring down the plane.
So far, this accusation has been based solely on recordings and videos placed on YouTube by the Ukrainian intelligence agency, whose previous rabidly anti-Russian charges have been exposed as lies.
More to the point, the political substance of the charge against Putin–that he is responsible for the disaster because he failed to quell the uprising in eastern Ukraine–is far more relevant to the actions of Washington itself. After all, the Obama administration has politically supported, funded and armed Islamist insurgents in Syria, stoking a civil war that has produced human tragedy on a far wider scale, with over 100,000 Syrians dead and an entire country in ruins. It pursued a similar war for regime-change in Libya, backed by NATO bombings, that killed 50,000 Libyans and has yielded similarly catastrophic consequences.
Nor is the same moral standard applied to the US, which supplies Israel with billions of dollars in military aid every year, when it comes to Israel’s mass killing of Palestinians.
In Ukraine itself, the US and Germany bear the principal responsibility for the current crisis, having orchestrated and supported a fascist-spearheaded coup in Kiev that overthrew an elected government last February, setting the whole bloody process in motion.
Washington, then and now, has pursued a provocative policy aimed at eliminating Russia as an impediment to its quest for Eurasian and global hegemony. Whatever facts emerge about the Malaysian airliner, it is abundantly clear that the main aim of the US, Germany and their allies is to exploit this tragedy to advance their agendas of militarism and imperialism in Eastern Europe and beyond.
To the extent that Russia raises factual contradictions and questions concerning the unsubstantiated charges over the airline disaster, it is denounced universally for “propaganda” and “conspiracy theories,” and the Russian media is ridiculed for spreading government lies. The Kremlin, however, is a rank amateur in comparison to the West’s corporate-controlled propaganda machine, which repeats and amplifies without question the most outrageous assertions and wholly unsubstantiated accusations coming from Washington and its allies.
Recent history has repeatedly proven that nothing said by Washington and its officials should be accepted at face value. No other government in the world has been implicated in so many egregious lies as that of the United States. Its credibility is the lowest within the US itself, where the bitter experience of a disastrous war launched on the basis of lies about “weapons of mass destruction” has been seared into the consciousness of American working people.
Washington’s claims of outrage over the loss of life or alleged violations of human rights and democracy in one or another country are always steeped in hypocrisy. Its phony appeals to morality in relation to the flight MH17 disaster in Ukraine, while simultaneously supporting the immoral slaughter of innocents in Gaza, only confirms that the analysis made by Friedrich Engels 137 years ago is just as true today.
Morality is “always a class morality,” Engels wrote. It “has either justified the domination and the interests of the ruling class, or… has represented the revolt against this domination and the future interests of the oppressed.”