Jackson Diehl, Deputy Editor of the The Washington Post's Editorial Page, has an Op-Ed today that contains a stirring defense today of "the rule of law." Diehl righteously complains the "president is already in danger of making 'legal nihilism' the byword for his administration." It might be considered quite surprising that an Editorial Page that has long cheered on many of the Bush administration's most extreme acts of lawlessness is suddenly complaining about the President's "legal nihilism," except that Diehl's sermon isn't directed towards the American President, but rather towards Russia's. Acording to Dihel, Russia is demonstrating a very upsetting disregard both for domestic and international law.
That an establishment organ like The Washington Post Editorial Page continues to think it can credibly lecture the world on the rule of law and the need to abide by international norms is a potent reflection of how deluded our political class has become. Given what our political establishment has sanctioned over the last seven years, it so obviously has -- to use the phrase coined by the ex-blogger Billmon -- "forfeited its ability to chastise the human rights abuses of others without triggering a global laughing fit." That goes double for our ability to chastise other political cultures for their disregard of the rule of law, particularly basic precepts of international law.
I'm with Greenwald 100 percent. How can we possibly expect people around the world to take us seriously when we live by such egregious double-standards? Yes, we should criticize the Russians, Chinese, etc. when they behave badly, but we need to actually behave well ourselves if we want our criticism to mean anything.
It's time we took a step back as a nation and refocused our efforts on being number one where it really counts--in freedom and quality of life. The best way to lead is always by example. East Germany's communist dictatorship collapsed because its people wanted refrigerators and newspapers that contained something other than government propaganda, not because we lectured them on the benefits of market economics and political liberalism. Why don't we recognize that same approach is appropriate in countries such as Iran, Cuba, and Venezuela?