As worrisome as it is that Russian President/Dictator Vladimir Putin has unreservedly and unhesitatingly invaded Ukraine to annex Crimea, it would be hard to say that his behavior is surprising. Putin has demonstrated his ex-KGB, cold-blooded and brutal mentality for many years now. Whether looking at his deadly and absolutist conflicts with uprisings in Georgia, Chechnya and elsewhere, his imprisoning of any Russian (including Pussy Riot) who dares to challenge or criticize him or his bigotry-into-law campaign to obliterate gays, this is someone who rules with an iron fist as a dictator, despite the charade of elections in the corrupt process ridiculously called Russian democracy.
Putin has made it very clear that he is seeking to return Russia to its previous standing as a rival power to the U.S. and the world community has for the most part, been acting like Igor to this Dr. Frankenstein, assisting him in bringing this monster back to life.
The very corrupt IOC threw their weight behind Putin by choosing Sochi for this year’s Winter Olympics. The G-8 threw their weight behind Putin by agreeing to his hosting this year’s summit. Even the GOP, Fox News and Right Wingers here in the U.S. threw their weight behind him when he pounded his chest with calculated demands for peace and negotiations in Syria instead of military action when President Obama was moving towards a strike in response to Syria’s use of chemical weapons against their own people (Republicans are so deep in their anti-Obama psychosis, they actually support a war mongering, lying, brutal dictator who represents an enemy to democratic values and an adversary to our nation’s President because they bond with anyone who opposes our black and not Republican President).
Let’s jump in the time machine, a distant 6 months ago, to once again bathe in the wisdom and philosophy of that world peace advocate, Vladimir Putin, from his New York Times editorial against Pres. Obama making a military strike in Syria:
The United Nations’ founders understood that decisions affecting war and peace should happen only by consensus, and with America’s consent the veto by Security Council permanent members was enshrined in the United Nations Charter. The profound wisdom of this has underpinned the stability of international relations for decades.
No one wants the United Nations to suffer the fate of the League of Nations, which collapsed because it lacked real leverage. This is possible if influential countries bypass the United Nations and take military action without Security Council authorization.
The potential strike by the United States against Syria, despite strong opposition from many countries and major political and religious leaders, including the pope, will result in more innocent victims and escalation, potentially spreading the conflict far beyond Syria’s borders. A strike would increase violence and unleash a new wave of terrorism. It could undermine multilateral efforts to resolve the Iranian nuclear problem and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and further destabilize the Middle East and North Africa. It could throw the entire system of international law and order out of balance.
From the outset, Russia has advocated peaceful dialogue enabling Syrians to develop a compromise plan for their own future. We are not protecting the Syrian government, but international law. We need to use the United Nations Security Council and believe that preserving law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos. The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not. Under current international law, force is permitted only in self-defense or by the decision of the Security Council. Anything else is unacceptable under the United Nations Charter and would constitute an act of aggression.
We must stop using the language of force and return to the path of civilized diplomatic and political settlement.
Boy, all that “respect international law” and “peaceful diologue” bullshit must have had Putin rolling on the floor and laughing at all the suckers out there who swallowed it (Republicans have no gag reflex and thus are able to easily swallow large amounts of BS).
Putin’s manipulative act of looking like a civilized seeker of peace just to thwart the U.S. attack fooled Republicans who are not very intellectually discriminating but hasn’t fooled those who know what Putin has really been up to.
His game plan has been clear. He has been using Russia’s renewed oil revenues and supplies to support and control those countries that undermine peace and stability for the rest of the world to create a space for Russia to wedge itself back into the global scene as the most powerful and threatening force among nations. As we’ve learned with the Tea Party, you don’t have to be as big as the biggest players to usurp power, you just have to be more single-minded, ruthless, threatening and unconcerned about causing destruction.
At this moment in time, Putin may believe that the plan is working, that this invasion of Ukraine demonstrates how powerful Russia is and how unafraid it is in using it’s military strength without being challenged. However, this does cut against the efforts he just made at enormous expense to portray himself and Russia through the Olympics as respectable. The recent cancellation of the rest of the G-8 members to attend the summit he was hosting this Summer is also a blow to Putin’s grand scheme of global respect. That may all seem like a bump in the road to Putin, things that can be managed in the future, as he basks in his new militaristic role but on the world stage, he is bombing big time.
It seems clear, Putin wants Crimea and he’s going to keep it no matter the international pressure or cost. He would like to annex the south and east of Ukraine and with the support of the local pro-Russian population there as well as his Russian army disguised as protestors and Ukranian militias, he may accomplish that as well. There will be a cost though and despite what may appear to be a path to Putin towards a USSR-type global power/threat, this may instead lead to limiting the rise of Russia.
Putin has had so much room to maneuver over many years because of the facade of democracy and political evolution in Russia. He has gotten away with supporting murderous regimes without global condemnation and sanctions because diplomacy pressured other nations to accept the charade.
But now, that facade has been shattered and the world is no longer handicapped by having to accept Russia’s self-representation of itself, Russia now is defining what kind of nation it is and what kind of leader it has. The scheme of wrapping himself in the Olympic flag to hide his dictator’s uniform has blown up. Through his invasion of Ukraine, Putin has slapped the world in the face like the scene from the old movie Moonstruck and yelled, “Snap out of it!”
No, Russia is not a respectable citizen of the world community. As a nation (not as a people since many Russians are trapped in this chokehold) Russia remains an enemy of democracy (even in their own country!) and a tyranny in now-shorn sheep’s clothing.
Putin has made a huge miscalculation. The last thing you want to do if you are a bad guy and want to keep operating as such without paying a price, is to announce you’re a bad guy. And with this invasion and the threat he represents right now to world peace and the sovereign nation of Ukraine, Putin is making a declaration to any nation that wants peace in the world that he is their enemy too.
There are those who might defend Putin by explaining that Crimea and that region of Ukraine has essentially been Russian all along and that he’s welcome by them to “protect” them.
But from what? The new leaders in Kiev weren’t taking any actions against these people, they weren’t being rounded up or attacked, there was no actual impact on Ukrainians living in those areas after President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted. So there is NO justification for Russia to have invaded Ukraine, no threat at all that needed to be defended against.
The U.S. hasn’t done itself any favors in holding higher moral ground by launching a series of wars and conflicts in sovereign nations. Afghanistan can be rationalized for at least the initial military campaign as a response to an attack on our country by terrorists who were supported and harbored there (though that is not justification to still be fighting there after 13 years). The action by the U.S. in Libya was part of an international force and was taken as an emergency action to stop the mass murdering of human beings that was underway.
The biggest problem the U.S. has now in trying to condemn Russia for its invasion of Ukraine can be spelled out with four letters…Iraq.
Granted, this was a war that was created and dishonestly foisted upon Americans as well as Iraq and the rest of the world by a handful of Republican neocons who should be held for war crimes. The facts are though that the U.S., under then-President George Bush, trumped up a phony reason for invading a sovereign nation simply because the Bush Administration wanted “regime change”. In other words, Bush stated clearly that HE was going to rid Iraq of their leadership and replace it with leadership that HE wanted and found more “compatible” with his views.
Sad to say this but if Putin was to launch a full scale invasion of Ukraine under the contention that Ukraine is a threat to Russia and replace their government with leadership he wanted in place, is that so hugely different from the U.S. under Bush and the U.S. invasion of Iraq?
How can the U.S. have much credibility condemning Russia for invading foreign nations out of “self-defense” in an operation to put leaders in sympathetic to them and have greater control of that region?
If the U.S. stays out of such illegal wars in the future then as time passes, it can regain its moral high ground. President Obama has his opposition to the Iraq War to thank for contributing to his first election to become President so he is less impacted by the Iraq War but the U.S. is still ethically hobbled on the world scene by that.
At the same time, just because our last President did a horribly wrong thing, it doesn’t mean we have to remain silent when others do similar horrible things.
It would be surprising to see Putin back down and pull out his troops as opposed to staying entrenched and escalating this annexation of parts of Ukraine. If such an unlikely turnaround doesn’t happen, the U.S. and its allies have many levers to pull economically and diplomatically that can hobble Putin and Russia and it is their responsibility to the rest of the world to be prepared to use them swiftly if Putin won’t back down.
Putin must be confronted and Russia punished unless we want to see a much more dangerous world where nation after nation uses their military might to take what they want from neighboring countries or resource-rich nations.
With the power of precedent standing front and center, the strongest countries in the world have no choice but to step up and through their actions declare that there will indeed be a high price to pay for any nation if they invade and annex a neighboring country’s land.
And especially for the U.S., it is necessary for the rehabilitation of our international reputation and moral authority that our government stands steadfast against those who would prey upon nations weaker than they are.
One last question, could Ukraine turn out to be Putin’s Iraq? There are many differences when comparing the two but could what seems to Putin like an easy military overwhelming of Ukraine, turn out to be a long term disastrous occupation for him? It sure seems a distinct possibility but only if western nations stand united and strong against this aggression. Putin seems far too determined and stubborn to withdraw from Crimea and if economic sanctions against Russia are contingent upon Russia’s withdrawal from Crimea, the pain of sanctions won’t be immediate but could be long term and profound, hobbling the long term potential strength of Russia.
Internally, in Russia and even in southern and eastern Ukraine, Russia’s invasion may be very popular but does Putin really worry about public opinion in Russia (doesn’t he just imprison those who disapprove of his actions?). However, if the world stands against Putin because of this, if his and Russia’s reputations are cemented in as being brutal and not part of the civilized society of nations, his ultimate dream of ascending to the days of the USSR’s power over the rest of the world could be snuffed out and that could be the silver lining to this very dark cloud.