Soviet propagandists during the cold war were trained in a tactic that their western interlocutors nicknamed whataboutism. Any criticism of the Soviet Union (Afghanistan, martial law in Poland, imprisonment of dissidents, censorship) was met with a “What about…” (apartheid South Africa, jailed trade-unionists, and so forth).

It is not a bad tactic. Every criticism needs to be put in a historical and geographical context. A country that has solved most of its horrible problems deserves praise, not to be lambasted for those that remain.

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