Diplomacy and Double Standards
CANBERRA – When does acceptable diplomatic caution and realism become indefensible abdication of moral standards? Not everyone on the foreign-policy frontline cares, but those who do often face deeply uncomfortable choices.
Negotiating a life-saving peace may mean giving amnesty to the murderously guilty. Living with tyranny might be less life-threatening than embracing anarchy. Calming a volatile situation may mean not publicly denouncing behavior that cries out for condemnation. Making the right call is more difficult in the real world than in a philosophy classroom.
But sometimes the line really is crossed, all relevant players know it, and the consequences are potentially profound. The United States’ failure so far to cut off its military aid to Egypt in response to the regime’s massacre of hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, in the streets and in prisons, is as clear a recent case as one can find.