President Barack Obama gave a speech today in Brussels where he denounced Russia and defended the 2003 Iraq War as legal and done while working within the international system. The speech comes after the Crimea was annexed by Russia under a controversial referendum and American neoconservatives have criticized the Obama Administration as naive and ineffective.
The remarks on Iraq came as Obama responded to complaints by the Russian government and others that America’s position on respecting sovereignty was hypocritical given the 2003 Iraq War.
Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy. Now, it is true that the Iraq war was a subject of vigorous debate, not just around the world but in the United States, as well. I participated in that debate, and I opposed our military intervention there.
But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system. We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain. Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people in a fully sovereign Iraqi state that can make decisions about its own future.
Worked within the international system? So if Russia had gone to the UN to get a resolution, failed, then annexed Crimea it would have been OK?
President Obama then oddly tried to conflate the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia with the far right revolt in Ukraine. Obama also falsely claimed that the US had no role in promoting the protests despite clear evidence to the contrary.
It’s not America that filled the Maidan with protesters. It was Ukrainians. No foreign forces compelled the citizens of Tunis and Tripoli to rise up. They did so on their own. From the Burmese parliamentarian pursuing reform to the young leaders fighting corruption and intolerance in Africa, we see something irreducible that all of us share as human being: a truth that will persevere in the face of violence and repression and will ultimately overcome.
America actually gave $5 billion to help foment “protesters” and was caught advising the current “interim” leader in Kiev, Arseniy Yatsenyuk. So while US officials may not have bussed people to the Maidan, America helped fund the operation and continues to advise and support those who came to power from it.
While the American people are uninterested in pursuing further action in Ukraine, President Obama seems determined to remain confrontational. But to what end?