Against Exceptionalism

Fighting the State’s Hypocrisy

The Western condemnation of the Russian invasion of Ukraine has once again served to highlight the exceptionalist attitude of the West, and of the United States in particular. Whichever standards other countries and governments are held to, the West believes that it is permitted to deviate from, or even obliterate those standards, labelling its own interventionist feats with some other, innocuous term, while utilising a half-baked moral justification in order to promote its acceptability.

For instance, what is, for other countries, an illegal invasion of a sovereign state is, when the West does it, an act of “liberation”. When someone else organises a rebellion against a foreign government it’s a violation of “sovereignty” and of “international law”; but the West only “spreads democracy”. When other states commit horrendous acts of torture or indiscriminate murder they are “war crimes”; for the West, they are the “enhanced interrogation” and “collateral damage” necessary to fulfil a just and noble cause.

One does not have to endorse any of the motives or methods of the Russian state vis-à-vis Ukraine in order to point out this out; indeed, the precise details of this whole affair are outside the scope of this article. However, we might as well note that Russian concern over its Western border region is likely to be far more pressing than any interest that the West has either there or wherever else it has poked its heavily armed nose, such as Kosovo, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria. This serves merely to magnify the West’s unrelenting hypocrisy.

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