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NOTHING BUT DOUBLE STANDARDS
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Third, once big powers start to dream of regime change — a process already begun by the Perles and Wolfowitzs of this country — there is simply no end in sight. Isn’t it outrageous that people of such a dubious calibre actually go on blathering about bringing democracy, modernization, and liberalization to the Middle East' God knows that the area needs it, as so many Arab and Muslim intellectuals and ordinary people have said over and over. But who appointed these characters as agents of progress anyway' And what entitles them to pontificate in so shameless a way when there are already so many injustices and abuses in their own country to be remedied' It’s particularly galling that Perle, about as unqualified a person as it is imaginable to be on any subject touching on democracy and justice, should have been an election adviser to Netan- yahu’s extreme right-wing government during the period 1996-9, in which he counselled the renegade Israeli to scrap any and all peace attempts, to annex the West Bank and Gaza, and try to get rid of as many Palestinians as possible. This man now talks about bringing democracy to the Middle East, and does so without provoking the slightest objection from any of the media pundits who politely (abjectly) quiz him on national television.

Fourth, Colin Powell’s speech, despite its many weaknesses, its plagiarised and manufactured evidence, its confected audio-tapes and its doctored pictures, was correct in one thing. Saddam Hussein’s regime has violated numerous human rights and UN resolutions. There can be no arguing with that and no excuses can be allowed. But what is so monumentally hypocritical about the official US position is that literally everything Powell has accused the Ba'athists of has been the stock in trade of every Israeli government since 1948, and at no time more flagrantly than since the occupation of 1967. Torture, illegal detention, assassination, assaults against civilians with missiles, helicopters and jet fighters, annexation of territory, transportation of civilians from one place to another for the purpose of imprisonment, mass killing (as in Qana, Jenin, Sabra and Shatilla to mention only the most obvious), denial of rights to free passage and unimpeded civilian movement, education, medical aid, use of civilians as human shields, humiliation, punishment of families, house demolitions on a mass scale, destruction of agricultural land, expropriation of water, illegal settlement, economic pauperization, attacks on hospitals, medical workers and ambulances, killing of UN personnel, to name only the most outrageous abuses: all these, it should be noted with emphasis, have been carried on with the total, unconditional support of the US which has not only supplied Israel with the weapons for such practices and every kind of military and intelligence aid, but also has given the country upwards of $ 135 billion in economic aid on a scale that beggars the relative amount per capita spent by the US government on its own citizens.

This is an unconscionable record to hold against the US, and Powell as its human symbol in particular. As the person in charge of US foreign policy, it is his specific responsibility to uphold the laws of this country and to make sure that the enforcement of hum- an rights and the promotion of freedom — the proclaimed central plank in the US’s foreign policy since at least 1976 — is applied uniformly, without exception or condition.

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