Breaking the Law

Who violated international law, Russia or the US? We did get UN authority to threaten Saddam Hussein but not to invade. Our country attacked Iraq with no provocation except for threats of nuclear weapons that turned out to be false. We killed probably well over 100,000 Iraqis and around 4,489 American soldiers. What did we gain from that fiasco? Iraq is falling apart with the beginnings of a religious conflict that may produce a civil war.

The Kremlin, on the other hand, is claiming territory that has belonged to Russia for centuries. There have been only one or two military fatalities. The whole imbroglio originated in the overthrow of the duly elected president of the Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych, by a bunch of hoodlums who have been quoted making anti-Semitic remarks and acting like Nazis. Yanukovych was a corrupt president, but the world is full of corrupt leaders. On the other hand, the parliament in the capital of Crimea, Simferopol, which was duly elected as well, voted to put a referendum on joining Russia to the people; the voters overwhelmingly approved the accession. Remember Woodrow Wilson. He asserted the right to "self determination."

Crimea became part of the Ukraine because Khrushchev in 1954 transferred the administration of Crimea from Moscow to Kiev. At the time, it was considered meaningless. After the USSR collapsed, Ukraine became independent. I was in Moscow at that time and was told by Russians that those living in the Ukraine were "little Russians" who would soon return to the fold. At the same time, the people in Moscow had no doubt that the Crimea belonged to them. Russia has more of a claim to Crimea than does the Ukraine.

The threats and military actions made by the West and the US are frightening. We complain that the Russians are staging military exercises on the border of the Ukraine while we are sending warplanes to the Baltic countries and Poland and are planning war exercises with a pitiable Ukrainian force. Our Vice President, Joe Biden, has been threatening Russia and asserting that the US will defend our Baltic NATO allies.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, we promised Moscow that we would refrain from moving NATO east towards Russia. We did just that. In 1999, we extended membership in NATO to Hungary and Poland. In 2004 NATO admitted as members: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia. All of them, except for the last, were members of the Warsaw Pact. Three of them, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, were considered part of the Soviet Union. In recent years we have put missiles in Poland, claiming they were there because of Iran! No one, least of all the Russians, believes that. There has been talk about bringing Ukraine into the EU. In fact, the whole eruption started with the Ukraine president’s turning down an agreement with the EU that would bring it closer to Europe. Some hawks have also recommended making the Ukraine a member of NATO, thus leaving us committed to protecting militarily that country from any attacks. That could be disastrous.

Remember that a tiger is most ferocious when backed into a corner. We should not back Russia into a corner. Washington has already inflicted sanctions on Russia and are threatening Moscow with additional sanctions. We are moving troops and ships into the Black Sea. Above all we should avoid threats and certainly any military action. Vladimir Putin has asserted that he has no intention of getting involved in any of the rest of the Ukraine. Let us take him at his word.

Thomas Gale Moore is a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

12 thoughts on “Breaking the Law”

  1. Russia has at least as much claim to Crimea and Sevastopol today as the United States did to the lower Mississippi River and the port of New Orleans in 1861 — which is what the U.S. Civil War was really all about. The Lincoln-Putin analogy is the one most on point, because what Lincoln could absolutely *not* accept as president of the United States was that his country's outlet to the Gulf of Mexico be in the hands of the Confederate States and, though them, the British Empire. Just so, Putin cannot allow his country's access to the Black Sea to fall into foreign and potentially enemy hands.

    1. I reject your "Lincoln-Putin analogy." The Crimeans wanted to return to Russia, and Putin embraced them without bloodshed. The South wanted to secede from the North which was exploiting them economically, and we know how many hundreds of thousands of Americans died as a result of Lincoln's drive to prevent secession no matter the cost. Your notion that the South would return to the British Empire if they won seems bizarre to me. England did not send troops to fight for the South in spite of the South's pleading for foreign help.

    2. Nice, perfect and to the point. Yes Russia Is always breaking the international law,I am going to save the URL and will absolutely visit again.

  2. I think Russia Is breaking the international law.They always breaking the international law and USA always respect international law.

  3. Good old US, being the antagonizer in this situation, those dung heads in DC probably have sweaty palms, praying the Russians attack first. It will be total destruction, then we will see who side the worlds countries are really on.

  4. Crimea became part of the Ukraine because Khrushchev in 1954 transferred the administration of Crimea from Moscow to Kiev. At the time, it was considered meaningless. After the USSR collapsed, Ukraine became independent.

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