You just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests. This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behavior in the 21st century."
While that might have been said by any number of people following the U.S. Invasion of Iraq in 2003, it was actually said by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, about Russia’s invasion of the Crimea.
Pres. Barack Obama was heard to say Russia had committed a "breach of international law" when it sent troops to purportedly protect ethnic Russians from an as-of-yet unarticulated danger.
"This is a matter of defending our citizens and our compatriots, of defending the most important human right -- the right to life," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said at a U.N. human rights meeting in Geneva. While that sentiment is almost laughable coming from the representative of a country that has a less-than-stellar record when it comes to human rights, it’s taking a page right from the propaganda machine that has reinforced the vision that America is the indispensable nation that does what it must to protect its interests and project democracy around the world.
But this is what is to be expected after the United States has steamrolled its way around the world since Sept. 11, 2001, doing whatever it feels necessary in its "Global War on Terror," despite condemnation of our tactics and strategy from even many of our allies.
"Since when does the United States government genuinely subscribe and defend the concept of sovereignty and territorial integrity?" Marcus Papadopoulos, commentator for "Politics First," told RT. "They certainly did not do that when they attacked Libya. They certainly didn’t do that when they invaded Iraq. They certainly didn’t do that when they attacked Serbia over Kosovo and then later on recognized Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. The United States government merely pays lip service to sovereignty and territorial integrity, it picks and chooses."
And while we in America hold ourselves out to be the One True Beacon of Hope and Justice in a world overrun by evil people hell-bent on imposing their will upon their neighbors, many in the world see the United States as a naked aggressor, willing to murder women and children in drone strikes aimed at our ill-defined enemies.
The invasion of Iraq, Abu Ghraib, the prison at Guantanamo, special forces forays into sovereign nations and drone strikes all give license to men like Vladmir Putin to invade places such as Crimea. And what if Putin decides to take it one step further by invading eastern Ukraine? What can the U.S. do? Likely nothing, outside of threatening economic sanctions on Russia and its monied elite. Are we willing to risk nuclear war over a piece of land that belonged to Russia until Kruschev "gifted" it to Ukraine in 1954? Because any threat of military action by the U.S. or NATO is likely to be met by more belligerence from Putin.
"The more we rattle our swords, the more Putin is emboldened toward saber-rattling," wrote Douglas Christian for the Baltimore Post Examiner. In the simple game of threats and warnings, it is a no-win situation for the US. Militarily, Putin is crazy, and the United States isn’t."
So we can get on our high horses and bemoan Russia’s "breach of international law" and its invasion of another country on "phony pretexts," the truth is, this is a perfect example of our chickens coming home to roost and we being able to do nothing about it.
Perhaps if we were willing to admit our mistakes in this War on Terror our moral suasion would be that much more effective, but while we have our own none-too-hidden skeletons in the closet, thugs like Putin exercise their impunity over their weaker neighbors.
~ Brattleboro Reformer