Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

June 18, 2009

The Double Standard

Filed under: imperialism/globalization — louisproyect @ 4:10 pm

Obama removes gold chain, a gift of the Saudi monarch, for safekeeping

NY Times Editorial, June 15, 2009
Neither Real Nor Free

There is no transparency or accountability in Iran, so we may never know for sure what happened in the presidential election last week. But given the government’s even more than usually thuggish reaction, it certainly looks like fraud.


Sydney Morning Herald, June 4, 2009
Obama praises ‘wisdom’ of Saudi King

US President Barack Obama has praised the “wisdom” of Saudi King Abdullah, saying he has travelled to the birthplace of Islam to seek counsel before his keenly awaited speech to the Muslim world.

The king hosted Obama at his farm outside Riyadh on Wednesday, after the presidential motorcade drove up to the property along a drive lined by Saudi guards on horseback.

“This is my first visit to Saudi Arabia, but I’ve had several conversations with His Majesty,” Obama said.

“I’ve been struck by his wisdom and his graciousness,” Obama said, praising the long friendship between the United States and Saudi Arabia, the regional economic and political powerhouse.


The New York Times, May 20, 2009
Saudi Arabia Delays Local Voting by 2 Years, in a Setback to Electoral Democracy
By MICHAEL SLACKMAN; Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo.

Saudi Arabia’s brief and limited experiment with electoral democracy has suffered another setback with an announcement that the royal family has decided to postpone local council elections by at least two years.

The Council of Ministers, which is led by King Abdullah, made the announcement on Monday. It phrased the decision in positive terms, saying the government had ”extended the mandate” of the sitting councils by two years so that it could prepare changes to the law to ”expand the participation of citizens in the management of local affairs.”

But the decision delayed what was to have been the kingdom’s second round of national elections, and its small, frustrated community of human-rights and democracy activists immediately lamented the decision as another blow.

”I consider the decision a delay in a reform process that we were supposed to believe really began when we started this process of elections,” said Hatoon al-Fasi, assistant professor of women’s history at King Saud University.

Saudi Arabia held its first nationwide elections in 2005 for the newly created local councils, the kingdom’s first step in decades toward limited popular democracy. The 2005 election allowed men, but not women, to vote for half the representatives to 178 municipal councils. The other half were appointed.


BBC May 10, 2009
Egyptian TV interviews US ambassador on ties, Mideast

US Ambassador to Egypt Margaret Scobey has described Egypt as an important country in the Middle East. In an interview with the Egyptian state-run Nile News TV on 10 May, Scobey said Egypt was on top of the countries that had achieved political reforms over the past years. Egypt will continue playing a major role in the region in order to encourage and spread peace and stability, she said. We cannot make progress in the Middle East peace process without Egypt’s role, she asserted.

On the Egyptian-US ties, the ambassador said that the ties are strong in spite of some difference in viewpoints. The USA looks forward to boosting its ties with Egypt, she said.


The Irish Times, May 12, 2005
New election rules for Egypt effectively ban independent parties

Lawmakers have voted to change the constitution to allow Egypt’s first competitive presidential election but have imposed complex rules that critics say will keep power squarely in the hands of President Hosni Mubarak and his ruling party.

The restrictions disappointed pro-democracy advocates who had hoped lawmakers would make good on Mr Mubarak’s promise to hold a free and fair vote this autumn.

Under the constitutional amendment, passed on Tuesday, independents will be effectively banned from seeking the presidency. Government-sanctioned opposition parties will face complex obstacles in nominating a candidate.

Egyptian voters will be asked to approve the constitutional change in a referendum expected to be held before the end of the month.

Although Mr Mubarak will be forced for the first time to run for office if he wants to keep his job, the guidelines leave ample room for him and his party to determine which candidates will run in future elections.

“It means there is no change in the system,” said Mohamed Sayyed Said, an analyst at the al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. “Most people say, ‘Why bother? Why did the president propose the amendment?’ He gave with the right hand, and they took away with the left hand.”


Jordan: Tenth Anniversary of King Abdullah II’s Ascension to the Throne
Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Washington, DC
June 8, 2009

I warmly congratulate His Majesty King Abdullah II and the people of Jordan on the tenth anniversary of the King’s ascension to the throne. In April, when the King visited Washington, President Obama praised him for his “excellent leadership internationally,” and his “unmatched friendship with the United States.” His Majesty and I have been close friends for many years and I admire his leadership and efforts toward a more prosperous and peaceful future for Jordanians, and for the people of the region.

The friendship between the United States and Jordan began 60 years ago and has grown and strengthened during the ten years of the King’s reign as he has pursued policies to bring stability, peace, and prosperity to Jordan and the Middle East. The United States extends its best wishes to the King and the Jordanian people on this anniversary and looks forward to our continued fruitful relationship in the years to come.


The New York Times, August 1, 2007
Islamic Opposition Group Pulls Out of Elections in Jordan
By HASSAN M. FATTAH; Suha Maayeh contributed reporting.

After months of growing tension with the Jordanian government, the opposition Islamic Action Front abruptly withdrew from nationwide municipal council elections on Tuesday. The group cited voting irregularities in the elections, which were seen as a test for the more politically sensitive parliamentary elections this fall.

The Islamic Action Front, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and the most influential political opposition group in the country, announced at midday that it was pulling out of the elections. The group said that because of violence and accusations of irregularities, its participation would lend legitimacy to the government’s efforts to weaken it.

”The level of corruption we witnessed made it impossible for us to continue with this election,” said Zaki Bani Rsheid, the group’s secretary general. Mr. Rsheid said that although the group had withdrawn, it was not boycotting the political process altogether.

The group charged that soldiers had been bused into contested districts to vote and that they were allowed to cast multiple ballots. It also said government security personnel had intimidated some voters and kept them from reaching the polls.


The New York Times, November 4, 1999
Pakistan’s Ruler Rejects Calls for Referendum

Pakistan’s new military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, said today that a referendum on his government would be too costly and would divert attention from the reforms he wanted to complete before restoring civilian rule.

The final decision on whether to hold a vote to gauge support for the coup he led on Oct. 12 will be made by the National Security Council, which consists of army officers and civilians who are ruling Pakistan.

“I’m not afraid of it,” General Musharraf told Pakistan’s official news agency. “But the result will be in our favor. The poor nation does not have a choice.”

In an interview with reporters, the general also said he expected a more severe reaction to his takeover from the international community.

“I was surprised,” the news agency quoted him as saying. “The reaction was more mild than I had expected.”

Western nations have been asking for a time frame for a return to democracy in Pakistan, which has been ruled by the army for 25 of its 52-year history. But General Musharraf has refused to give one, saying he has a list of things to accomplish before holding elections.


The New York Times, March 26, 2000

Positive Report on Meeting From Pakistan’s President


Pakistan’s military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, tonight recapped his meeting earlier in the day with President Clinton, and to hear him tell it, he and the American president became fast friends and agreed on most everything.

“I think we got on pretty well together,” the general said with a broad smile, adding that the two leaders discussed their golf game over an amiable lunch. “He told me he is a 12 handicap, and I told him that I would like to challenge him on that.”

Their mutual affection for golf was equaled by their shared detestation for terrorism. “I would say there was no difference of opinion on this issue,” General Musharraf said at a news conference. “He did raise concerns and I totally agreed with him. We ourselves are victims of terrorism and we denounce terrorism in all its forms.”


  1. Sure, but can’t you see that the goal of the imperial powers isn’t to launch some sort of popular revolution in Iran, but rather to get a “moderate” in there, give Iran status as a “regional power” and make Iran into ANOTHER Egypt or Jordan.

    By attacking the Iranian fraud and the major, undeniable failings of their society, I see the media as countering the agenda of the Obama brand of hegemony and adding fuel to the fire of popular forces.

    Comment by bhaskar — June 18, 2009 @ 4:19 pm

  2. I see that your enthusiasm for Obama has flagged. That is a step forward.

    Comment by louisproyect — June 18, 2009 @ 4:22 pm

  3. There is no double standard. There is a single standard at work in all the cases you quote. The single standard is “whether it is good for us”( us means the Wall Street pirates, Military Industrial parasites, politicos and the rest of Power Structure and it does not exactly include Obama Fan club).

    Comment by Ajit — June 18, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  4. I never had any genuine enthusiasm for Obama nor did I vote for him, but given the choice between McCain and Obama and without any possibility for meaningful “independent political action” I can easily understand voting for the tent that organized labor and communities of color were in.

    Even though I knew the social movements exisisting didn’t have enough clout to pressure Obama to enact meaningful reforms, I admit that the total scrapping of EFCA caught me off-guard.

    I’ve been following Alan Woods on marxist.com, and even though I some issues with his brand of Trotskyism, him and the late Ted Grant are dead on the money when it comes to interpreting revolutions and revolutionary-situations. I also recieved some first-hand material from a comrade of mine in Iran that I’m trying to convert and upload to “The Activist” later today.

    Comment by bhaskar — June 18, 2009 @ 4:39 pm

  5. Revolution in Iran? By whom? The internet-addicted yuppies and the rest of the ruling rich, backed by Uncle Sam. Sounds like the kind of “revolution” that Boris Yelstin rode to power on in Russia…cheered on by most of the “left” not another “1905” led by some “Father Gapon-like figure” as the oh-so-wise Alan Woods is deluding himself it is. Read the Nation’s pro “Green revolution” propaganda if you want to get a real idea about who the opposition is and what it wants. The only groups not mentioned in their accounts are the workers and poor. And for good reason.

    Most of the Iranian workers and poor voted for the current president because he at least keeps them on the dole…not because they are “stupid” or “religious fanatics” the way Obama’s stooges in the NY Times or The Nation claim. Of course the latter just can’t wait to go all the way with the USA now that the elegant, erudite Obama is calling the shots rather than the bumbling Bush.

    The upper layers of the Iranian middle class, not to mention the capitalist class, supports the other guy because they oppose such “handouts” as economically unwise and want more privitization and closer ties with the west.

    Small wonder that the given a choice between two Islamic reactionariues, the poor would prefer food on their tables as opposed to more “Western-style democracy” and the free-market mayhem goes with it in the midst of a world-wide capitalist crisis brought on by similar such policies elsewhere.

    Too bad the workers lack a socialist, or any class-based, pole of attraction to rally to. Then the analogies that Woods, Taffe, the ISO and the British SWP are tossing about out of desparation might make some sense.

    Comment by MN Roy — June 18, 2009 @ 7:54 pm

  6. Since everything we “know” about the Iranian election comes from the media (in its varied incarnations) … isn’t that enough to tell you that we can’t “know” enough to form a seriously valid conclusion?

    Comment by Richard Greener — June 18, 2009 @ 9:43 pm

  7. And of course, Israel, that vibrant democracy, which continues to deny the vote, and indeed all human rights, to almost four million persons, because they are members of the wrong ethno-sectarian group.

    Comment by Jim Holstun — June 18, 2009 @ 10:49 pm

  8. The capitalist media, echoing the line of the Obama administration, makes no secret of its support for Musavi and his “Green Revolution.” Its coverage, especially that of the elite Obama-loving Times and the no less elite establishment “left” Nation, is obviously slanted towards the crowds of yuppies marching for “democracy” and against “dictators.” So when The Nation’s correspondent describes the support that Musavi is getting from most of the big bourgeoisie, the well-to-do petty bourgeoisie and even sections of the religious establishment and omits the workers, the peasants and the poor from that list (and describes them as “fascists” to boot) it’s sort of coming straight from the horses’ mouth. In the case of the “left” enthusiasts for anything that moves, regardless of its class composition or politics, it’s coming from the equine’s other end..

    Comment by MN Roy — June 18, 2009 @ 11:06 pm

  9. Vibrant democracy and double standards…

    Has anyone looked at the Minnesota senatorial race lately…seven months in the making?

    Or the 2000 chad-stolen election in Florida?

    Or the Ohio debacle in 2004?

    LOL, to say the least.


    Comment by Gilles d'Aymery — June 18, 2009 @ 11:19 pm

  10. Thanks for this article.

    Comment by epoliticus — June 19, 2009 @ 2:26 am

  11. I’m with John B. on this one. Just because the Nation is supporting renegades who mask themselves within the Iranian resistance doesn’t mean that all of the street actions we’ve been getting accounts of this week are made up of renegades. Obviously it’s hard to tell anything from this far away, but it could well be there is a living revolutionary current looking to assert itself also. It’s easy to dismiss the analogies of Alan Woods. What else have we got? A cynicism that assumes that the Iranian people are incapable of thinking or moving past the meagre subsidy that the Ahmahdinejad regime hands out? That’s all I see most of the people who are debunking the revolutionary possibilities of the Iranian situation saying. Sure, it’s likely there are thousands and thousands of pro-capitalist agents working the passions of the people of Iran right now, and it’s just as likely that they’re tired of thirty years of clerical reaction and that many actually do see this moment as an opportunity to shake off elements of the old regime, and they don’t need a bunch of renegades drunk on the schemas of the west to tell them their lives are miserable. I don’t believe their memories of western interference in their region are that short, and I’m not that cynical. Sorry. The whole thing seems more complex to me than what most of the apologists for Ahmahdinejad are saying.

    Comment by MIchael Hureaux — June 19, 2009 @ 2:37 am

  12. Another good illustration of this double standard is the case of General Zia. After contributing to the massacre of Palestinians in Jordan, with the blessing of the U.S. state, Zia became Pakistan’s most notorious dictator and enabled the emergence of Shari’a in Pakistan. But since his regime was quite useful to the U.S. during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, U.S. officials did not concern themselves at all about Shari’a in this case. No worries about stoning and all that. Nowadays, however, the implementation by the neo-Taliban of Shari’a suddenly seems to shake the moral fiber of pseudo-feminists in the U.S. government. They’ve had a change of heart.

    Comment by epoliticus — June 19, 2009 @ 2:39 am

  13. One thing that’s NOT hard to tell from afar is that if Obama’s favorite in Iran were to have won then Cuba and Venezuela would get fucked over as a result.

    Now put that fact in your Peace pipes and smoke it.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 19, 2009 @ 2:36 pm

  14. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no fan of A’jad or any of the murderous mullahs. Nor am I “cynical” about the ability of workers in Iran to take matters into their own hands and dispose of all of the religious reactionaries…provided they have a political perspective, ie, a program, and a vehicle, ie, a party, to do so.

    After all, it was the Iranian workers and the left-wing guerilla groups who really brought down the Shah in 1979. Only thanks to the two-stage Stalinism all of their organizations followed, they lacked a program that linked the struggle against the Shah to the struggle for workers power and socialism.

    Unfortuantely, what we are seeing now appears to be yet another US-backed “color-coded” coup in which masses of the middle-class, usually well-to-do students, are utilized as a battering ram to bring down regimes considered thorns in Uncle Sam’s side under the banner of abstract “democracy.” Usually this follows an election in which the pro-imperialist side loses and crys foul, as in Serbia or the Ukraine.

    In Venezuela, they used similar tactics and employed similar social forces but were defeated since the workers and peasants not only remained loyal to Chavez and the revolution but were organized and just as combative, if not, more so, than the CIA-side was.

    No doubt not everyone in the streets is an internet-addicted yuppie clamouring for the ways of the west, but that is clearly what the dominant political tendency of the “movement” is at the moment, as its abject apologists in the bourgeois press and the establishment “left” testify to by their staunch support for it.

    As for the Trots, they’re living in another world to begin with. Remember, most of them thought that Yeltsin’s coup in 1991 was the beginning of the “political revolution” and said pretty much the same thing about the Soros-supported coup that toppled Milosevic in 1999.

    Comment by MN Roy — June 19, 2009 @ 8:04 pm

  15. MN ROY’s analysis is spot on in my view. Nobody on the left wants the mullahs but it’s not so “complex” as to figure out in advance that any real “change” in Iran will almost certainly translate into hostilities toward Cuba and Venezuela as the new regime tosses bones to the Pentagon.

    What the Pentagon wants in Iran (political turmoil devoid of toilers leading it) is an almost foolproof barometer of what socialists don’t want. It’s virtually a zero sum game. Yet many leftists couldn’t comprehend it during the fanfare and glee surrounding Yeltsin’s victory. A victory that oversaw the wholesale looting of the State, a War on Chechnya, Destitute Veterans peddling their WWII medals on the sidewalks, cigarette ads & prostituion everywhere, and gangsters like Putin.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 19, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  16. MN, Karl, did either of you read the article John B posted?

    There’s also this: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/19/opinion/19shane.html?_r=1

    But, you know, the NY Times is obviously run by the Zionist run neo liberal media, so why consider them right?

    Comment by Jenny — June 19, 2009 @ 11:40 pm

  17. I’ve read the articles and am excited about some of the points they make about potential progressive significance. But I’m not a “workerist” who believes working people are always right, particularly when there’s no party to channel their political aspirations. As Lenin put it, was the Russian proletariat right when they backed WWI all the way through the Kerensky regime? Are

    I come from an auto worker family and I’m while I’m all in favor of labor “flexing their muscle” I find it curious that a work stoppage was planned for only a 1/2 hour as that’s the shortest strike in human history. Not exactly an indicative of an illegitimate regime, especially since by all accounts the vote was at least going to be a fairly close race. The Roh Tae Woo regime of South Korea was apparently a lot more illegitimate based on the mass actions of their auto workers and there was no hue & cry over police crackdowns in the commercial press here.

    I’m not cynical just cautious and skeptical until I can read the Pentagon’s view. Here’s the truism I live by. If the Pentagon backs a mass movement comprised of brown people then I warn those people to wise up & keep their hands on their wallets.

    Remember Lech Walensa in the Gdansk shipyards of Poland circa 1981 and the pro-western movement he led? That shipyard employed over a million workers with decent pay & benefits in those 4 decades it ran from the 40s through the 80s. Where are those workers today? According to Wiki: “Gdansk shipyards have fallen on hard times. Once a place of work for over 20,000 people, the Gdansk shipyards provide only 3,000 jobs today.”

    If Uncle Sam wanted to bomb me like it’s threatend Iran in 07 & 08 then I’d clamor for “friendlier relations” with him too. But without a political party keenly aware how imperialist penetration exploits people in general and brown people in particular then there’s a very real danger that the Khodro Auto Plant will wind up like the Gdansk Shipyard.

    Here’s 3 articles in a row linked on the home page of this Unrepentant site that while clearly pro-worker, puts things in a better perspective than the 2 mentioned above in my view:

    But What if Ahmadinejad Won?

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 20, 2009 @ 1:22 am

  18. I suggest this comment thread on Lenin’s tomb: http://www.haloscan.com/comments/lenin/3171838244020132833/

    It gives you some good information and insight into what’s going on in Iran right now. Even Yoshie admits that two good reasons for removing ahmad are his hostility to homosexuals and holocaust denial.

    Comment by Jenny — June 20, 2009 @ 1:45 am

  19. Jenny — I know you think Marxists, as you’ve written before, are “Us Versus Them” crude reductionists but in fact the NYTimes IS run by Zionist Neo Liberals and you’ll find nobody who posts here (except for Alan Young) will deny that. However it doesn’t follow that Marxists don’t read their paper. On the contrary. Marxists need to read that paper so that they can tell what the Pentagon & the class that rules it thinks about something in order to read the “zero sum” barometer of progressive significance of a given situation. Of course nothing is consistently “zero sum” as that would indeed be crude reductionism — rather it’s merely a fairly accurate guidepost or compass for action, that is, it’s “practically zero sum.” If the Pentagon’s for it then toilers watch out.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 20, 2009 @ 1:53 am

  20. I haven’t read any Yoshie but I assume he’s equally offended by Netanyahu’s denial of the holocaust unleashed on the Semites living, squatting & dying in the West Bank & Gaza?

    As far as the NYTimes letter, it’s almost never even debated on the left that historically CIA has always been able to plant themes, stories, articles, letters and “facts” (like WMD) into their pages. I’m not arguing that was suck a letter. I’m saying you better learn to read between the lines if it’s printed in the commercial press.

    Comment by Karl Friedrich — June 20, 2009 @ 2:25 am

  21. I’m sorry, but for right now, I stand with Bhaskar, John B and others who support the right to protest. Now how about you? Seriously, read the comments thread, it’s quite insightful. I’m done here before it gets more headache inducing.

    Comment by Jenny — June 20, 2009 @ 2:50 am

  22. Also: Chris Floyd also believes the Iranian protests weren’t encouraged by the CIA: http://chris-floyd.com/component/content/article/3/1780-hypocrisy-and-hope-western-coverage-iranian-courage.html

    That said, I agree we should just let these events play out.h

    Comment by Jenny — June 20, 2009 @ 4:14 am

  23. Okay, Okay, one more good article critquing Ahmin and the author doesn’t even like Mousavi: http://www.uruknet.info/?p=m55259&hd=&size=1&l=e

    Comment by Jenny — June 20, 2009 @ 4:39 am

  24. […] that’s what all the twits are talking about these days. Well you’re in luck because The Unrepentant Marxist exposes the double standard of Obama’s disapproval of Iran, yet odd approval of despotic regimes in the same region which […]

    Pingback by Carnival of the Liberals #93 - Liberal Critiques of the Democratic Party - The Largest Minority — June 20, 2009 @ 1:37 pm

  25. That is kind of a weird. Because you do have a point will all these mentioned countries, but I couldn’t see Israel on the list… Any particular reasons? No double standards regarding this state??

    Comment by amazed — June 29, 2009 @ 2:37 pm

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