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Up in a puff of smoke: Western moral credibility

By John Queripel | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2024-02-27 17:09
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A man holds a girl in his arms and evacuates from a building destroyed in Israeli airstrikes in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah, on Oct 12, 2023. [Photo/Xinhua]

And then, as quickly as a magician makes a watch disappear, it was gone. Western moral lecturing and hectoring has been exposed for what it is, a sham, based on duplicity, double standards and self-interest. Cracks had been appearing in it for a long time, suspicions growing as to its actuality, but suddenly, it has been starkly exposed as non-existent. The whole edifice on which it has imposingly stood, unquestionably, seemingly so secure, had been shown to be a house of cards, suddenly called out by most of the world.

There were inklings of its vacuous nature earlier, the clearest case being the open lying around the 'Gulf of Tonkin incident,' which led to war in Vietnam, with millions killed, mainly Vietnamese in the subsequent bloodlust. A decades respite and then it took another hit as the US thumbed its nose at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling regarding its funding of the Nicaraguan Contras during the 1980s.

It is this century, however, which has seen the vacuous nature and cynical lying of 'Western morality' nakedly exposed.

Within a few years of the century that self-serving 'morality' was on full display. Everyone at the time knew that Iraq neither had 'Weapons of Mass Destruction,' nor any involvement in 9/11. In the world's cities, hundreds of thousands marched, their cries and banners indicating they knew that the causes for war were naught but a concoction. Still, with the lies flowing fast, the triumvirate, Bush, Blair and Howard, joining in great moral cause as they called it, unable to secure support from the UN, who understandably believed their own expert Hans Blix, decided to go to war. Years of hell followed, most graphically seen in the absolute destruction of Fallujah.

Of course, afterwards, no WMDs were found. Few were surprised. The triumvirate, having cynically trashed international law, along with Iraq, walked free straight to the world speaker's circuit with its lucrative rewards. Punishment for breaking international law seemingly is reserved for Balkan despots and African warlords. Still nothing for the triumvirate though.

Fast-forward through Afghanistan, with more horrors committed, with a final loss by the 'world's greatest military machine' to a group of theological students (I was one and I know we weren't that threatening) to the events of Gaza.

These are the death knell for an already badly shaken and exposed 'Western morality.'

The acquiescence of the West to the massacre of, at this stage some 29,000 Palestinians has made absolutely clear the hollowness of any Western claims to morality. It has been left to South Africa, and their allies from 'the South' to do the heavy lifting, to remind the world that there is such a thing as ethics and international law, particularly when it comes to genocide.

The West of course was absent in its support of South Africa's charges, dismissing them as 'meritless' and 'galling.' (Antony Blinken), while Australian P.M. Anthony Albanese gravely intoned that the case was an unneeded sidetrack from the political task of a 'durable peace,' while doing nothing to secure that peace. These actions, or better non-actions, stand in stark contrast to the West's rushing to support Ukraine in its case brought to the ICJ. But then, Western morality seems blind to double standards. 'What's good for us, is not good for you.'

Then as the ICJ delivered its damming provisional measures, against Israel, on that very day, Israel alleged that the UNRWA is an organization with strong sympathies for Hamas. Without providing evidence they charged 190 of the UNRWA's more than 30,000 employees (13,000 of them in Gaza) have acted inappropriately, twelve even taking part in the October 7 events. Suddenly the 'moral antennas' of the West spring to life, and they determine that they will cut off their financial assistance to the UNRWA. Never mind that 25% of Gazans are starving, 75% have lost their homes, and there is no access to potable water, with disease rampant. These things rate far lower on the West's moral index than 30,000 bombs delivered into an area 40 by 10 kilometers by those that can 'do no wrong,' 'the most moral army in the world.'

'Western morality' would no doubt be outraged by UN special rapporteur for the Occupied Territories Francesca Albanese charging that states, 'cutting funding aid to UNRWA could violate states obligations to the Genocide Convention,' except that in their smugness they won't even hear it.

Western moral standards have become in the sight of most of the world a laughable oxymoron.

The sound heard next time the West delivers a moral pronouncement? The guffawing of the majority of the world. It shall be loud and sustained. The emperor is standing bare but seemingly oblivious to his state.

John Queripel is a Newcastle, Australia based author, historian, and public commentator.

The views don't necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

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