Hypocrisy and the ‘rules-based order’

I have all but severed my connection with Google. There are remnants left, but as part of my unsubscription project, I have canceled the Voice (phone) and Enterprise (cloud storage and email) subscriptions which I have been working on phasing out. I should no longer be paying them anything.

Google has been problematic for privacy reasons, especially relating to abortion.[1] And I stopped buying Pixel phones following an absolutely appalling customer service experience.

Having moved into the Apple ecosystem, I had been maintaining the Google ecosystem while recovering my data. This project was hopefully complete because if it wasn’t, that data is now forever lost.


Imperialism

United States


Fig. 1. “American Progress,” painting by John Gast, 1872, digital version 2006, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

The truth is that there’s little new in Ishaan Tharoor’s piece today. It’s about western hypocrisy in the so-called “rules-based order” that undermines its appeals to that order on Ukraine and elsewhere.[2] This has been said before.[3]

More fundamentally, we have a clash between morality and the intentionally amoral ‘realism’ or ‘realpolitik’ theory. The latter posits that countries act according to their own interests with little regard for justice or for moral considerations. The trouble is that this is indeed how the U.S. and other major powers have operated, pretty much forever. So to paraphrase Tharoor (and the scholar he moderated at a conference), smaller countries who are often subject to major powers acting capriciously are less impressed when those same powers appeal to “morality.” But the colonizers refuse to recognize their own hypocrisy, setting up conflict that gets reduced to “the West versus the rest.”

I don’t argue with any of this. And Tharoor does valuable work in highlighting it yet again. But we need to move toward a solution:

“Rather than fictionalize the differences between an Enlightened West and a backwards rest around a ‘standard of civilization,’ should we not be pushing for a universal ‘standard of truth’ instead?” [Matias] Spektor asked.

This would force politicians and wonks to develop “some ability to see the world through the eyes of others,” he said. That may seem now a perhaps uncomfortable and unattainable level of empathy to expect of elites in power in Western capitals.[4]

The trouble here is in the doing, in the discrepancy between such words and actual deeds. We can say we uphold international law and human rights, but until we actually do it, these are empty words, which amount to, really, the same problem we started with.

Tharoor mentions Gaza only in passing in this article,[5] but he has previously written repeatedly, eloquently, and at length about the suffering there, and would surely agree that that would be a place to start.

Ishaan Tharoor, “The fallacy of the ‘West versus the rest’ worldview,” Washington Post, April 9, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2024/04/09/liberal-west-versus-illiberal-rest-worldview-analysis-matias-spektor/

Israel

Palestine

07_09:10:47-2
Fig. 2. The ruins of a terminal at the Gaza airport. Image by Said Khatib (Agence France-Presse) on September 9, 2018, via the Times of Israel,[6] fair use.

CNN’s analysis of dozens of videos from the night [February 29, 2024] and testimonies from eyewitnesses’ casts doubt on Israel’s version of events [in the ‘flour massacre,’ killing more than 100 Gazans and injuring more than 700]. The evidence, reviewed by forensic and ballistic experts, indicated that automatic gunfire began before the [Israel Defense Forces] said the convoy had started crossing through the checkpoint and that shots were fired within close range of crowds that had gathered for food.[7]

Most of the people that were killed were rammed by the aid trucks during the chaos and while trying to escape the Israeli gunfire.”[8]

Times of Israel, “Israel acknowledges killing 7 aid charity workers in ‘tragic, unintentional’ airstrike,” April 2, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-promises-probe-as-slain-aid-workers-home-countries-demand-explanation/

Yasmeen Abutaleb and Matt Viser, “Biden rebukes Israel over aid workers, but his Gaza policy is unchanged,” Washington Post, April 3, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/04/03/biden-world-central-kitchen-tough-statement-israel-policy/

Hafiz Rashid, “‘Unacceptable’: White House Cancels Event as Biden Struggles on Gaza,” New Republic, April 3, 2024, https://newrepublic.com/post/180409/white-house-cancels-event-gaza-outcry

Haroon Siddique, Eleni Courea, and Patrick Wintour, “Former supreme court judges say UK arming Israel breaches international law,” Guardian, April 3, 2024, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/apr/03/former-supreme-court-judges-say-uk-arming-israel-breaches-international-law

Ishaan Tharoor, “Israel’s ‘unintentional’ strike on aid workers stirs global outrage,” Washington Post, April 3, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2024/04/03/israel-strike-world-central-kitchen-aid-workers-global-outrage/

Yasmeen Abutaleb and Matt Viser, “Biden warns Netanyahu the situation in Gaza is ‘unacceptable,’” Washington Post, April 4, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2024/04/04/biden-warns-netanyahu-situation-gaza-is-unacceptable/

Trinidad Deiros Bronte, “The unpunished deaths of other civilians question Israel’s willingness to clarify the attack on WCK,” El País, April 4, 2024, https://english.elpais.com/international/2024-04-04/the-unpunished-deaths-of-other-civilians-question-israels-willingness-to-clarify-the-attack-on-wck.html

Michael R. Gordon and Nancy A. Youssef, “Biden Ties Support for Israel to Civilian Protection in Gaza, ” Wall Street Journal, April 4, 2024, https://www.wsj.com/world/middle-east/biden-netanyahu-set-to-talk-as-gaza-aid-worker-deaths-add-to-pressure-on-israel-9dee3793

Jacob Magid, “Senior Israeli official warns of growing ‘shoot first, ask later’ culture in IDF,” Times of Israel, April 4, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/senior-israeli-official-warns-of-growing-shoot-first-ask-later-culture-in-idf/

Kate Sullivan, “Trump says Israel needs to ‘finish what they started’ and said war with Hamas is ‘taking a long time,’” Cable News Network, April 4, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/04/politics/trump-israel-comments/index.html

Adam Taylor, “Biden’s ‘red line’ on Gaza is nowhere to be found,” Washington Post, April 4, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2024/04/04/biden-wck-world-central-kitchen-israel-policy-change/

Dov Lieber, Rory Jones, and Margherita Stancati, “Israel Says Troops Lacked Grounds for Strike That Killed Aid Workers in Gaza,” Wall Street Journal, April 5, 2024, https://www.wsj.com/world/middle-east/israel-to-allow-more-aid-into-gaza-after-biden-warning-over-u-s-support-49bc42e4

Michael Tomasky, “Is Biden Really Going to Let Netanyahu Lose Him the Election?” New Republic, April 5, 2024, https://newrepublic.com/post/180481/biden-israel-netanyahu-lose-election

Lazar Berman, “Israel’s begrudging approach to humanitarian aid could cost it the war in Gaza,” Times of Israel, April 6, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/israels-begrudging-approach-to-humanitarian-aid-could-cost-it-the-war-in-gaza/

Karen DeYoung, “Six months into Gaza war, Biden confronts the limits of U.S. leverage,” Washington Post, April 6, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/2024/04/06/gaza-israel-biden-war/

Emanuel Fabian, “IDF chief says withdrawal of troops from Gaza doesn’t mean war is close to end,” Times of Israel, April 7, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-chief-says-withdrawal-of-troops-from-gaza-doesnt-mean-war-is-close-to-end/

M. J. Lee, “Inside President Biden’s pointed phone call with Benjamin Netanyahu,” Cable News Network, April 7, 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/04/06/politics/biden-netanyahu-israel-gaza-war-phone-call-details/index.html

David Horovitz, “Israel’s major ground war in Gaza is over; the state of war inflicted by Hamas is not,” Times of Israel, April 8, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/israels-major-ground-war-in-gaza-is-over-the-state-of-war-inflicted-by-hamas-is-not/

Katie Polglase et al., “Dying for a bag of flour: Videos and eyewitness accounts cast doubt on Israel’s timeline of deadly Gaza aid delivery,” Cable News Network, April 9, 2024, https://edition.cnn.com/2024/04/09/middleeast/gaza-food-aid-convoy-deaths-eyewitness-intl-investigation-cmd/index.html

Times of Israel, “US Sen. Warren: World Court has ‘ample evidence’ to find Israel guilty of genocide,” April 9, 2024, https://www.timesofisrael.com/us-sen-warren-world-court-has-ample-evidence-to-find-israel-guilty-of-genocide/


  1. [1]Meghan Bobrowsky, “Google Says Maps, Searches Will Identify Clinics That Provide Abortions,” Wall Street Journal, August 25, 2022, https://www.wsj.com/articles/google-says-maps-searches-will-identify-clinics-that-provide-abortions-11661457587; Darryl Coote, “N.Y. AG to Google: Stop directing people seeking abortions to anti-abortion centers,” United Press International, June 30, 2022, https://www.upi.com/Top_News/US/2022/06/30/New-York-Google-Maps/9871656579373/; Jennifer Gollan, “Websites Selling Abortion Pills Are Sharing Sensitive Data With Google,” ProPublica, January 18, 2023, https://www.propublica.org/article/websites-selling-abortion-pills-share-sensitive-data-with-google; Poppy Noor, “Google targets low-income US women with ads for anti-abortion pregnancy centers, study shows,” Guardian, February 7, 2023, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/feb/07/google-targets-low-income-women-anti-abortion-pregnancy-center-study; Runa Sandvik, “How US police use digital data to prosecute abortions,” TechCrunch, January 27, 2023, https://techcrunch.com/2023/01/27/digital-data-roe-wade-reproductive-privacy/; Katherine Tangalakis-Lippert, “Facebook and Google are handing over user data to help police prosecute abortion seekers,” Business Insider, March 4, 2023, https://www.businessinsider.com/police-getting-help-social-media-to-prosecute-people-seeking-abortions-2023-2
  2. [2]Ishaan Tharoor, “The fallacy of the ‘West versus the rest’ worldview,” Washington Post, April 9, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2024/04/09/liberal-west-versus-illiberal-rest-worldview-analysis-matias-spektor/
  3. [3]Adam Taylor, “The United States and ICC have an awkward history,” Washington Post, March 16, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2023/03/16/icc-us-cooperation-international-criminal-court-history/; Ishaan Tharoor, “20 years later, U.S. invasion of Iraq hangs over war in Ukraine,” Washington Post, March 17, 2023, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2023/03/17/iraq-invasion-ukraine-history-shadow/; Ahmed Twaij, “Bush did what Putin’s doing — so why is he getting away?” al Jazeera, March 28, 2023, https://www.aljazeera.com/opinions/2023/3/28/putin-should-be-punished-so-must-bush
  4. [4]Ishaan Tharoor, “The fallacy of the ‘West versus the rest’ worldview,” Washington Post, April 9, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2024/04/09/liberal-west-versus-illiberal-rest-worldview-analysis-matias-spektor/
  5. [5]Ishaan Tharoor, “The fallacy of the ‘West versus the rest’ worldview,” Washington Post, April 9, 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com//world/2024/04/09/liberal-west-versus-illiberal-rest-worldview-analysis-matias-spektor/
  6. [6]Times of Israel, “20 years after its opening, destroyed Gaza airport embodies grounded peace hopes,” September 12, 2018, https://www.timesofisrael.com/20-years-after-its-opening-destroyed-gaza-airport-embodies-grounded-peace-hopes/
  7. [7]Katie Polglase et al., “Dying for a bag of flour: Videos and eyewitness accounts cast doubt on Israel’s timeline of deadly Gaza aid delivery,” Cable News Network, April 9, 2024, https://edition.cnn.com/2024/04/09/middleeast/gaza-food-aid-convoy-deaths-eyewitness-intl-investigation-cmd/index.html
  8. [8]Khader Al Za’anoun, quoted in Katie Polglase et al., “Dying for a bag of flour: Videos and eyewitness accounts cast doubt on Israel’s timeline of deadly Gaza aid delivery,” Cable News Network, April 9, 2024, https://edition.cnn.com/2024/04/09/middleeast/gaza-food-aid-convoy-deaths-eyewitness-intl-investigation-cmd/index.html

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