America’s Shameless Hypocrisy

“If we divine a discrepancy between a man’s words and his character, the whole impression of him becomes broken and painful; he revolts the imagination by his lack of unity, and even the good in him is hardly accepted.” – Charles Horton Cooley

The hypocrisy of the United States is stunning in its shamelessness. From nuclear proliferation, to human rights, to due process, the U.S. persistently and arrogantly pursues a policy of do as we say, not as we do.

The latest example of America’s love of the double standard arises out of the slaughter of hundreds of demonstrators in and around the Uzbek city of Andijon. On May 13 and 14, the government of Uzbekistan suppressed a popular uprising by gunning down as many as 750 people, including many women and children.

The uprising resulted from protests over the trial of 23 local businessmen whom the Uzbek government accused of being Islamic extremists and terrorists. While the businessmen are unabashedly motivated by religion, they claim to be part of a self-help collective of entrepreneurs without violent intentions. To date, the Uzbek government has not offered any evidence to the contrary.

Uzbekistan is, of course, a close ally of the U.S. in the intergalactic war on terror. Bush & Co. are chummy with the Uzbek government despite the fact that, in the words of the State Department, “Uzbekistan is an authoritarian state with limited civil rights.” According to the State Department, the Uzbek government has a “very poor” human rights record and continues “to commit numerous serious abuses.”

Not that any of this actually concerns Bush & Co. In fact, while Bush prances and preens before hand-selected audiences to espouse the virtues of freedom American-style, the U.S. sends terror suspects to Uzbekistan to be tortured and places its imprimatur on Uzbekistan’s despotism by maintaining military bases there.

Recently, however, the Bush administration’s hypocritical attitude toward Uzbekistan became far more overt.

In response to Uzbekistan’s peculiar take on freedom of assembly, the Bush administration urged the Uzbek government “to call for a credible and transparent international investigation.” Furthermore, the Bush administration stressed the importance of permitting “impartial observers” into Uzbekistan to “assess the situation to find out exactly what happened.”

It’s interesting that Bush & Co. would place such importance on an impartial investigation by an independent body into the Andijon massacre. Groups such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, as well as ranking members of Congress, have similarly called upon the Bush administration to permit transparent and independent investigations of the U.S. military’s abuse and torture of detainees in Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and Bagram. Those calls have fallen on the deaf ears of the Bush administration and its nationalist supporters who take offense to the notion of some outside body investigating us.

Take, for instance, the recent comments by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in response to the recent report by Amnesty International on the U.S. military’s use of torture. According to Rice, an outside investigation into the U.S. military’s use of abuse and torture at Guantanamo is unnecessary. Why is such an investigation unnecessary? In the words of Secretary Rice, because the U.S. “is one of the strongest defenders of human rights around the world.”

That’s a scary thought.

Rice’s dismissive treatment of calls for any kind of independent investigation of torture by the U.S. is but the latest example of the Bush administration’s obstinance.

Back in January of 2004, before the story broke on Abu Ghraib, the United Nation’s Special Rapporteur on Torture sought permission from the U.S. to visit the detention facilities at Guantanamo. Permission denied. Three other U.N. rapporteurs have made similar requests since then, with identical results.

In May of 2004, House Democrats asked Attorney General John Ashcroft to appoint a special counsel to investigate the atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib. No response. That request was repeated on May 12, 2005, to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. There has been no response to date.

On April 28, 2005, Senator Patrick Leahy, in a statement from the Senate floor, called upon the White House to allow an independent and comprehensive investigation into the human rights violations committed by the U.S. at Abu Ghraib. Senator Leahy’s call to action was ignored.

On May 25, 2005, the Constitution Project, also called upon the Bush administration to establish an independent commission to investigate the torture and abuse at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and elsewhere. The statement’s signatories included David Keene of the American Conservative Union, two former Republican Congressmen, and Robert Levy of the Cato Institute. The statement was also endorsed by the National Institute of Military Justice. Not exactly a bunch of left-wing Bush-haters. Nonetheless, one can anticipate the Bush administration’s reaction: none.

William Hazlitt, the English essayist, said, “A hypocrite despises those whom he deceives.” In its hypocritical calls for an open and independent investigation into the Andijon massacre while refusing to permit a similar investigation into the widespread use of torture by the U.S. military, the Bush administration despises and seeks to deceive many. Beyond the international community, human rights groups, and those looking for reasons to oppose the administration, Bush & Co. seek to deceive the American people as a whole, both directly and through Congress. In doing so, the Bush administration reveals its contempt for the American public, as well as for the democratic principles for which the U.S. purportedly stands.

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