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[Opinion] Double Standards

Posted October. 20, 2004 23:10,   


“The U.S.’ diplomacy is full of double standards.” Recently, Russian leaders expressed discontent toward the U.S. They stated that the U.S.’ diplomatic principle are inconsistently applied to different counterparts or situations even though the pending international issue is identical. In particular, this inclination is vivid when the U.S. deals with issues that are not directly related to its national interest. Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also fiercely criticized the U.S.’ double standards after the hostage crisis occurred at a school in North Ossetia-Alania, southern part of Russia, last month.

After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the U.S. invaded Afghanistan and Iraq under the principle of a preemptive strike, stating, “Threats must be prevented.” Countries like Iran, which can be considered as a menace to U.S.’ security, are nervous because they do not know when they might be attacked by the U.S. The U.S. is waging a worldwide anti-terrorism war, entangling its allies. Yet, only the U.S. has the right to start a “preventive war.” When it comes to Russia’s military missions against the Chechen rebels, who claimed many civilian lives through terrorist attacks, the U.S. does not apply a “preventive war” but a new standard called “human rights.”

The U.S., which claimed that it would never compromise with terrorist powers such as the Taliban or al-Qaida, allowed the leaders of the Chechen rebels to enter its soil. Double standards are also revealed in the U.S.’ reaction to WMD. The U.S.’ attitude towards the same “rogue states,” including North Korea, Iran, and Iraq, is also discriminatory and biased. When the North Korea nuclear issue was winning the interest of the international community, the U.S. rebuked North Korea strongly as if it were the source of all evils. Then, when the U.S. invaded Iraq, there were cynical remarks in Russia, for example, “What is the standard for invading Iraq and not North Korea, which the U.S. said was so dangerous?”

There can be double standards like “if I do it, it’s romance, but if you do it, it’s an immoral affair” not only in international politics but also in national politics. One can frequently observe that people apply leniency on themselves and rigid standards on others. When “my team” makes an error, it can be overlooked under a circumstantial excuse that “you couldn’t help it,” but in the other party’s case, it becomes an object of punishment, which can never be forgiven. We should reflect whether such double standards are unconsciously applied to our decisions in everyday life.

Kim Ki-hyun, Moscow Correspondent, kimkihy@donga.com