As the US and its European allies rally around the Ukrainian coup leaders and denounce the Crimean referendum, we have yet another opportunity to stand in awe of Washington’s limitless supply of arrogance. Meeting with the new “Prime Minister” of Ukraine – who achieved his high office by unleashing mobs on the duly elected government – President Barack Obama averred Washington would be “forced to apply a cost” unless the Crimean vote is called off.
So here is the United States, the alleged champion of “democracy,” hailing a decidedly undemocratic coup, honoring one of the coup leaders with an appearance at the White House, and railing against the decision of the democratically elected Parliament of Crimea to let the people vote on their own future.
As if vaguely aware of the massive hypocrisy infusing his word-cloud, Obama conceded the Crimeans might possibly have some say in all this, just not now: he wants talks with the Kremlin which “could lead to different arrangements over time” for Crimea. “But, that’s not something that can be done with the barrel of a gun pointed at you” – that is, unless we’re talking about Afghanistan. Or Iraq.
In Iraq, the first post-invasion elections were unilaterally canceled by Paul Bremmer, the American viceroy, because the newly “liberated” nation “wasn’t ready.”
As conceived by the neocon geniuses who lied us into that war, the original scenario for the elections was for a series of handpicked local “councils” to vet the candidates and apportion parliamentary seats to suit the convenience of Washington policymakers. This was furiously rejected by the Ayatollah Sistani, supreme religious leader of the country’s majority Shi’ites, who called out tens of thousands of his followers into the streets, howling holy murder. This set Bremmer and his fellow neocons back on their heels, and I guess the military intervened to get Washington to override Bremmer’s commissars and let the Iraqis have direct elections: you know, like one person one vote.
Then a referendum to ratify the Iraqi constitution was held, and shortly afterward the much-touted “blue finger” vote, at which point over 100,000 US troops were fighting a revived Sunni insurgency. The elections failed to tamp down support for the rebels and so Bush ordered the “surge,” which brought the total to over 150,000 American soldiers on the ground in Iraq.
Four elections have been held in Afghanistan with a very big American gun pointed at the Afghan people. In the ’04, ’05, ’09, and 2010 elections for President and Parliament there were as many as 101,000 US troops in the country – that is, 101,000 guns pointed at the electorate. Two of those elections have been held with Obama in the White House – but we can’t really blame him for his hypocrisy.
After all, the habit of “exceptionalism” is so ingrained in our political class, so much a part of the very air they breathe, that they are no longer even aware of it. To ordinary human beings, the breathtaking double standard is all too obvious, but to an inhabitant of Washington’s Beltway such heretical thoughts are downright subversive, indicative of the dreaded “moral equivalency” that separates supposedly marginal figures like Noam Chomsky from the ranks of the respectable.
When we do it, goes the unspoken first rule of “mainstream” American foreign policy, it’s an act of “liberation” – but when they do it, it’s a brazen violation of international law and a horrific act of aggression.
Our European sock puppets don’t dare dispute this, although their subjects might have a far different opinion. Before Yatsenyuk showed up in Washington with his hand out, the US and its NATO allies plus Japan issued a “stern warning,” as the McClatchy story put it, demanding the Russians cancel the referendum – and naturally not deigning to address the Crimeans directly:
“Any such referendum would have no legal effect. Given the lack of adequate preparation and the intimidating presence of Russian troops, it would also be a deeply flawed process which would have no moral force. For all these reasons we would not recognize the outcome.”
Yet all these American satraps recognize the “government” of Hamid Karzai, kept in power by American force of arms, just as they recognized the Iraqi government that finally emerged from the rubble of war. Or is it that the presence of American troops is somehow less “intimidating” than the Russians? Tweet me when Putin sets up the Crimean equivalent of Abu Ghraib. Or when those mysterious Russian-troops-out-of-uniform go on a murderous rampage like these guys did.