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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

The west's hypocrisy and history of violence matters. Calling it out is not "whataboutism".

Opposing NATO, US and western imperialism, aggression, hypocrisy and warmongering is always a must and a duty of every leftist in the west.

The aftermath of a US drone strike that killed ten members of one family -- including seven children -- in Kabul, August 2021

In January, 2022 as tensions were escalating in the lead up to the Russian attack on Ukraine, Medea Benjamin and Nicolas J.S. Davies co-wrote a Salon piece called The U.S. drops an average of 46 bombs a day: Why should the world see us as a force for peace?

In it they note:

Over the past 20 years...U.S. and allied air forces have dropped more than 337,000 bombs and missiles on other countries. That's an average of 46 strikes per day for 20 years. This endless bombardment has not only been deadly and devastating for its victims but is broadly recognized as seriously undermining international peace and security and diminishing America's standing in the world...
The new Airpower Summary data reveal that the United States has dropped another 3,246 bombs and missiles on Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria (2,068 under Trump and 1,178 under Biden) since February 2020...
There has been no accountability for these 20 years of senseless destruction. Even with the publication of Airpower Summaries, the ugly reality of U.S. bombing wars and the mass casualties they inflict remain largely hidden from the American people.
How many of the 3,246 attacks documented in the Airpower Summary since February 2020 were you aware of before reading this article? You probably heard about the drone strike that killed 10 Afghan civilians in Kabul in August 2021. But what about the other 3,245 bombs and missiles? Whom did they kill or maim, and whose homes did they destroy?

In September 2021 a report found that "US drone and airstrikes have killed at least 22,000 civilians – and perhaps as many as 48,000 – since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001".

As Vijay Prashad writes in In These Days of Great Tension, Peace Is a Priority: "In the same week that Russian forces entered Ukraine, the United States launched airstrikes in Somalia, Saudi Arabia bombed Yemen, and Israel struck Syria and Palestinians in Gaza."

When it comes to talking about international law, the UN or the bombing of civilians, the west's sanctimonious hypocrisy since the Russian invasion has been rather staggering.

This has often been pointed out on social media:

These are just the tip of the iceberg. The last one also illustrates what Mouna Kalla-Sacranie points to when writing: "What the outpouring of support for Ukraine has shown us is not only a double standard, but the arbitrary ideological nature with which the world decides which lives are worth saving and which land is worth defending – in short, who is afforded solidarity, humanity, legitimacy and the right to resist."

Since the Russian invasion an interesting thing happens to many on the left when writing about the long history of terrible violence by the US and the west and the hypocrisy of its governments and media now. We will be accused of somehow minimizing the war in Ukraine and of "whataboutism".

If people simply stating the fact that the US has been committing what should also be deemed as war crimes, imposing illegal sanctions on countries like Cuba and Venezuela and carrying out illegal invasions under false pretenses that have killed hundreds of thousands causes folks to cry "whataboutism" this is a real problem. What those hurling the accusation are doing is providing straight-up cover for western imperialism and the war hawks and war narratives in the countries they live in and where they could actually do something about it.

Many on the left have been talking about this western violence long before this crisis -- and those who have not been, why not? -- and now is not the time to stop.

It is precisely during moments when western hypocrisy and war narratives are at a fever pitch that people in the west need to speak up again. These narratives are dangerous and deadly and need to be opposed even as we oppose the attack on Ukraine by Russia.

These stances are not mutually exclusive, rather it is essential both are clearly stated and that we always vocally oppose the governments, oligarchs, military leaders and pundits and commentators at home in our own countries in the west that have rained so much death and destruction down on innocent people around the world.

There is nothing, as awful as it is, that is uniquely awful about the war in Ukraine. The US invasion of Iraq was also totally illegal and based entirely on lies. Hundreds of thousands were killed, many of them innocent civilians, and no US or UK officials were ever held to account for war crimes.

One of the last strikes by the US military in Afghanistan as they were withdrawing killed ten entirely innocent members of a family in Kabul. They called it a "defensive strike" and claimed that the "US works hard to avoid civilian casualties." Among the dead were two 2-year old girls.

Oppose the war in Ukraine. But oppose the western lies, killings, bombings and war machine as well and as strongly.

If we are not doing that we are not trying to fight for peace or build a peace movement, we are participating in building a war movement.

Opposing NATO, US and western imperialism, aggression, hypocrisy and warmongering is always a must and a duty of every leftist in the west.



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