With hypocrisy befitting a hyper power, US President Obama expressed “deep concern” over Russia’s decision to send troops into Crimea, calling it a “violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity. . . and breach of international law.”
In a 90-minute conversation described as tense, Obama and Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, exchanged views on the crisis in Ukraine, where the country’s legitimate leader, Viktor Yanukovich, was ousted from power by violent street protests.
Obama reportedly warned Putin that Russia’s refusal to order the Russian soldiers back to their bases would result in the United States sitting on the sidelines of the upcoming G8 summit in Sochi, Russia, scheduled for June, as well as “greater political and economic isolation.”
Putin won parliamentary approval from the Senate over the weekend to dispatch military forces to the Crimean Peninsula. In defending his position, Putin drew attention to “ultra-nationalist elements” working alongside the opposition, which are being “encouraged by the current authorities in Kiev.”
The Russian leader emphasized that in the event of further violence in the eastern regions of Ukraine and Crimea, “Russia reserves the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population.”
Although Obama’s talk tough was little more than tossing raw meat to the hawks in the Republican Party, diseased beyond recognition by Neo-Con ideology, his comments nevertheless betrayed a breathless amount of hypocrisy.
After all, Washington wrote the book on violating the territorial integrity of sovereign states with its 2003 invasion of Iraq, which was wrongly accused of harboring weapons of mass destruction. Urgent pleas on the part of UN weapons inspectors, not to mention worldwide anti-war protests, fell on deaf ears in Washington as intelligence-challenged leaders dropped smart bombs on Baghdad.
Blamed on a case of “bad intelligence” – oops! – hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have been killed over the past decade, while the country remains a basket case of ongoing sectarian violence and regular suicide bombings: a phenomenon completely unknown to Iraqis when the dictator Saddam Hussein was in charge.
Washington’s war-on-terror train continued chugging along its iron track, even after the Nobel Peace Prize winner Barack Obama relieved Bush of his imperial command.
Today, Obama’s “hope and change” campaign promises notwithstanding, Guantanamo Bay detention facility, which Amnesty International has dubbed, “the GULAG of our times,” remains open for business, while Washington’s drone diplomacy continues to destroy America’s image in faraway places like Yemen and Pakistan.
But even the US’s closest allies are sick and tired of the extra-judicial wave of serial killings. Just last month, the European Parliament voted by a majority of 534 to 49 MEPs to support a resolution that says “EU member states should strictly refrain from participating in or facilitating extrajudicial targeted killings, for instance by sharing relevant information with countries such as the US.”
Finally, during the Libyan civil war of 2011, US-led NATO forces worked on the side of the rebels, many of whom were known radical Islamists, to hunt down Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan leader was eventually killed at the hands of a lynch mob. So much for planting the seeds of democracy.
As much as Washington may try to paint Moscow’s actions in Crimea as some sort of brazen military expedition, Russia’s actions in Ukraine cannot be placed in the same category as Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, for example, where US-led military operations in those hotspots have led to disastrous outcomes.
Russia and Ukraine signed an agreement that gives Russia’s Black Sea Fleet basing rights in Crimea until 2042, so to call the deployment of troops to Ukraine a “Russian invasion” – as some Western media are branding it – is clearly wide of the mark. Protecting the lives of Russian citizens at a time when Kiev is clearly not capable of securing the peace is no invasion.
Russia’s large ethnic community in Crimea has reacted with alarm to last month’s violent street protests, fueled by a Western-backed opposition movement made up of an unpredictable blend of ultra-nationalists and, some believe, even worse.
Uncertainty over the political disposition of the Ukrainian opposition provoked a warning from Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, who last month called on Kiev’s Jews to leave the Ukrainian capital and even the country if possible, Israeli daily Maariv reported.
“I told my congregation to leave the city center or the city all together and if possible the country too,”Rabbi Azman told Maariv. “I don’t want to tempt fate,” he added, “but there are constant warnings concerning intentions to attack Jewish institutions.”
For some readers, all this may sound disturbingly familiar. In countries where Western governments are working to prop up opposition movements to advance their geopolitical ambitions – the spread of NATO forces eastward not least among them – the world is witnessing the outgrowth of potentially dangerous political forces.
The heedless rush to play power politics for nothing more than geopolitical advantage was exemplified by State Department official Victoria Nuland’s taped conversation with the US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt, where her colorful choice of language was not the most shocking thing.
“That would be great I think to help glue this thing and have the UN glue it and you know, f**k the EU,” she said.
“We’ve got to do something to make it stick together, because you can be pretty sure that if it does start to gain altitude the Russians will be working behind the scenes to try to torpedo it,” Pyatt replied.
The most disturbing part of the talk, however, was when Nuland suggested that Klitschko, the former boxing champ turned leader of the pro-European ‘Punch’ party, is not destined for a long political career in Washington’s view.
“I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government,” she reportedly said.
This tendency of Washington playing God in the affairs of sovereign states, revealed by Nuland’s comment, has proven itself to be a destabilizing factor from Kabul to Kiev.
Robert Bridge is the author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, which discusses the dangerous consequences of extreme corporate power in the United States. It is available in PDF form here.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.