Last week, a report was published suggesting strongly that the murder of Alexander Litvinenko was ordered at the very highest level in the Kremlin, probably by Putin himself. The response of the UK Government succeeded in exposing a classic application of double standards.
The Government of country A ordered the use of a deadly radioactive substance to eliminate one of its former citizens who was resident in country B because it regarded him as a traitor and a danger to the country’s security. According to the Prime Minister of country B, one David Cameron, this is an outrage against international law requiring sanctions against country A.
However, not so very long ago, the Government of country B ordered the firing of a missile from a drone to eliminate one of its former citizens (and anyone standing too close to him at the time) who was resident in country C because it regarded him as a terrorist and a danger to the country’s security. According to the Prime Minister of country B, the same David Cameron, this is an entirely justified act of self defence.
Now, of course, the two situations aren’t entirely identical, and of course I’ve simplified things to highlight the similarities. But in both cases, governments have resorted to extra-judicial killing to dispose of people that they can’t get to otherwise, and no government which is prepared to resort to such measures can really have very good grounds to criticise another which behaves in the same way.
Cameron is always banging on about British values. I’ve noted before that I really don’t understand exactly what those values are or what makes them specifically British; but insofar as I do understand the claimed values of the West, I don’t remember them ever including the use of extra-judicial killing, or of the application of double standards. Sometimes, people’s real values are more obvious from their actions than their words.