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The Independent: Geoffrey Wheatcroft: The Hypocrisy of America's Outrage

Author: Geoffrey Wheatcroft
June 18, 2010


Geoffrey Wheatcroft comments on the "hypocrisy" of American rage at BP following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Last week two Englishmen said that they were deeply sorry, but David Cameron had an easier time of it than Tony Hayward. The prime minister's unequivocal apology in Parliament for what he called the indefensible shootings in Londonderry in 1972 was universally praised for its candour and courage.

Two days later the hapless chief executive of BP appeared before a Congressional committee and managed to dig himself into a deeper hole than ever, quite failing to propitiate the wrath of his interrogators, not that there was anything he could have done to satisfy them short of kneeling and disembowelling himself according to the formal rituals of seppuku. Hayward is a perfectly competent geologist who has been hopelessly out of his depth from the beginning of this disaster and whose excruciating gaffes (“I want my life back”) -- have won no friends.

But that's not the end of the matter. If we are witnessing a story of corporate greed and incompetence in the Gulf of Mexico, to match the story of military brutality and incompetence in Londonderry 38 years ago, we have also seen a quite remarkable display of American hypocrisy.

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