Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Western Double Standards:
The Cases of Khodorkovsky and Guantanamo
By Yvonne Ridely
Al-Jazeera, CCUN, January 3, 2011
Yvonne Ridley highlights Western hypocrisy and double standards in
criticizing a Russian court for convicting tax dodger, money launderer and
thief Mikhail Khodorkovsky, while harbouring or condoning the kidnap and
illegal detention of Muslims in Guantanamo concentration camp.
I wonder if Hillary Clinton really believes in the pompous invective that
shoots from her lips with the rapidity of machine-gun fire?
We had a
classic example of it just the other day when she let rip in her grating,
robotic monotones over a Moscow court’s decision to jail an oil tycoon.
To be fair to Clinton, she was not alone. There was a whole gaggle of
disapproving foreign ministers who poured forth their ridiculous brand of
Western arrogance which has poisoned the international atmosphere for far
TheUS secretary of state said Mikhail Khodorkovsky's
conviction raised "serious questions about selective prosecution and about
the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations".
Although Khodorkovsky, 47, and his business partner, Platon Lebedev, 54,
were found guilty of theft and money laundering by a Moscow court, critics
like Clinton say the trial constitutes revenge for the tycoon's questioning
of a state monopoly on oil pipelines and propping up political parties that
oppose the Kremlin.
“... while it may appear to be quite touching to see all
these Western leaders express their outrage over a trial
involving the one-time richest and most powerful man in
Russia’s oil and gas industry, you have to ask where were
these moral guardians when other unjust legal decisions were
being made in US courts, for example?”
Clinton's censure was echoed by politicians in Britain and Germany, and
Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign policy chief, urged Moscow to "respect its
international commitments in the field of human rights and the rule of law".
Now, while it may appear to be quite touching to see all these Western
leaders express their outrage over a trial involving the one-time richest
and most powerful man in Russia’s oil and gas industry, you have to ask
where were these moral guardians when other unjust legal decisions were
being made in US courts, for example?
So why have the Americans and
Europeans rushed to make very public and official statements so quickly on a
matter of oil and gas, in another country? Okay, so it is a rhetorical
But shouldn’t Clinton put a sock in it? The USA is still
squatting in Cuba overseeing the continuing festering mess caused by one of
the biggest boil’s on the face of human rights – yes, Guantanamo is
approaching a decade of incarcerating men without charge or trial. At least
Khodorkovsky had his day in an open court and can appeal.
sticking her nose in to other country’s courts, perhaps the US secretary of
state would care to look into her own backyard and tell us why one of her
soldiers was given a mere nine month sentence earlier this month after
shooting unarmed civilians in Afghanistan?
And after he's served his sentence US army medic Robert Stevens can still
remain in the army, ruled the military hearing. His defence was that he and
other soldiers were purely acting on orders from a squad leader during a
patrol in March in Kandahar.
“The USA is still squatting in Cuba overseeing the
continuing festering mess caused by one of the biggest
boil’s on the face of human rights – yes, Guantanamo is
approaching a decade of incarcerating men without charge or
Five of the 12 soldiers named in the case are accused of premeditated
murder in the most serious prosecution of atrocities by US military
personnel since the war began in late 2001. Some even collected severed
fingers and other human remains from the Afghan dead as war trophies before
taking photos with the corpses.
By comparison, just a few months
earlier, Dr Aafia Siddiqui, was given 86 years for attempting to shoot US
soldiers – the alleged incident happened while she was in US custody, in
Afghanistan. She didn’t shoot anyone, although she was shot at
point blank range by the soldiers. The critically injured Pakistani citizen
was then renditioned for a trial in New York. The hearing was judged to be
illegal and out of US jurisdiction by many international lawyers.
Clinton have anything to say about that? Did any of the foreign ministers in
the West raise these issues on any public platform anywhere in the world?
Again, it’s a rhetorical question.
Of course, a few poorly trained US
Army grunts, scores of innocent Afghans, nearly 200 Arab men in Cuba and one
female academic from Pakistan are pretty small fry compared to an oil rich
tycoon who doesn’t like Vladamir Putin.
But being poor is not a
“Just for the record, the US judicial system imposes life
sentences for serious tax avoidance and laundering of
criminally-received income – crimes for which the Russian
tycoon has been found guilty."
Exactly how would the Obama administration have reacted if Russian
President Dmitry Medvedev criticized the lack of even-handedness in the US
judicial system and demanded Dr Aafia Siddiqui be repatriated? What would be
the response if Medvedev called an international press conference and
demanded to know why 174 men are still being held in Guantanamo without
charge or trial?
Just for the record, the US judicial system imposes life sentences for
serious tax avoidance and laundering of criminally-received income – crimes
for which the Russian tycoon has been found guilty. Sentencing will not take
place until Moscow trial judge Viktor Danilkin finishes reading his 250-page
verdict, which could take several days.
In her comments, Clinton said
the case had a "negative impact on Russia's reputation for fulfilling its
international human rights obligations and improving its investment
How on earth can anyone treat the US secretary of state
seriously when she comes out with this sort of pot, kettle, black rhetoric?
This from a nation which is morally and financially bankrupt, a country
which introduced words like rendition and water-boarding into common day
My advice to Clinton is do not lecture anyone about human
rights and legal issues until you clean up your own backyard. In fact, the
next time she decides to open her mouth perhaps one of her aides can do us
all a favour and ram in a slice of humble pie.