BusinessDay

Ukraine and the west’s double standard

Multilateralism did not die with the invasion of Ukraine by Russia. It died a long time ago.

It died when George Bush’s United States attacked a sovereign country called Iraq under the guise of demilitarising that country.

That ‘shock and awe’ attack on Iraq that was so well rhapsodised and glamorised by embedded CNN reporters and pundits who now demonise Russia, was undertaken without the backing of the United Nations.

Spewing falsehoods about weapons of mass destruction, the U.S and the U.K backed by a horde of smaller western countries attacked and destroyed Iraq, had its leader brutally executed and threw Iraq into a devastating spasm of sectarian violence that it is yet to come out of.

Hans Blix, the former Swedish diplomat and last head of the U.N United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission in Iraq was to sadly note in March 2003, that, “On March 19, 2003, Iraq was invaded by an “alliance of willing states” headed by the U.S. and UK.

The Bush administration certainly wanted to go to war, and it advanced the eradication of weapons of mass destruction as the main reason.

As Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz has since explained, it was the only rationale that was acceptable to all parts of the U.S. administration. Intervening swiftly with arms and crippling strikes might be easy for a great power, but achieving desired political aims is another matter and exiting may be hard.

Another important lesson is that today, armed international interventions are likely to be condemned by much of the world unless they are clearly in self-defense or have been authorised by the Security Council.

Iraq was neither. Unless we remember this going forward, I fear there is nothing stopping this kind of tragedy from being repeated”.

As a matter of fact, that tragedy did repeat itself as a farce. In Libya, a UN Security Council Resolution 1973 authorizing member states to take forceful measures to protect Libyan civilians became the pretext for NATO to launch an unprovoked war of choice on Libya, another sovereign country.

The U.S, U.K, France and their NATO allies neither sought for peace nor made decisive diplomatic efforts to deal with the crisis in that country peacefully.

NATO provided air support to a rebel faction, destroyed that country’s military, killed its people and supported that country’s leader, Muammer Gaddafi’s execution in broad daylight, with Hilary Clinton openly gloating at Gaddafi’s brutal murder.

Swaminathan S. Anklesaria Aiyar, writing for the Times of India in 2012, observed about NATO’s intervention in Libya, “Last year, the Arab Spring toppled dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, and catalysed demonstrations in other countries too.

The US, which had long patronised the dictators, switched to supporting the pro‐democracy agitators. But, as always, its actions were dictated as much by expediency as principles.

“The Arab Spring came to both Bahrain and Libya. The US loved the Bahrain monarch, who hosted its fleet in the Gulf, but hated Gaddafi of Libya who had financed many terrorist movements and once blown up an American plane. Result: the US looked the other way as Bahrain, with Saudi help, crushed its demonstrators.

But in the case of Libya, the US worked itself up into a moral lather, and pledged military support to Gaddafi’s supposedly democratic opponents.”

The result of that intervention reverberates today across large parts of Africa. Gaddafi, he further noted, “had hired many foreign mercenaries to protect him.

The mercenaries included a regiment of Tuaregs—nomadic Arabs of the Sahara—from Mali. When Gaddafi fell, the mercenaries fled, carrying a formidable array of arms, ranging from armoured carriers to shoulder‐fired missiles.

The Tuareg regiment marched 500 miles across southern Algeria to return home to northern Mali. When the Tuareg regiment returned home, it joined hands with existing northern secessionist groups (called the MNLA), and declared independence for northern Mali, which they named Azawad.

“Remarkably, the biggest beneficiary may be al‐Qaida. Its local branch, AQIM, has long been active in northern Mali. AQIM has joined hands with the ex‐Libyan Tuaregs and its MNLA allies to run northern Mali.

Many western columnists spouted outrage at Gaddafi’s atrocities on civilians. Yet none of them agonises over NATO responsibility for the chain of events causing massive civilian tragedies in Mali.

An entire country has been shattered by the consequences of NATO intervention in Libya. The western media bemoan Mali’s tragedy, but don’t own any responsibility for it”.

The effect of NATO’s intervention in Libya can be felt today not just in Mali, but also in Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Cameroun and across large parts of West Africa.

Mali, says Aiyar “drives home the law of unintended consequences. NATO intervention in Libya was only half‐principled, and motivated mainly by a desire to oust Gaddafi”.

Long before all these, the U.S and NATO succeeded in changing the political and geographical face of Europe when they launched an unprovoked war on Serbia in 1999.

NATO launched its air campaign against Yugoslavia in an attempt to force President Milosevic to accept the terms of an agreement to end his military campaign against the Kosovo Liberation Army.

The NATO bombing campaign, noted U.S based Politico magazine, “marked the second major combat operation in the alliance’s history, after the one it launched in 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

The attacks also marked the first time that NATO had used military force without the prior approval of the United Nations Security Council. (China and Russia let it be known that they would exercise their veto powers in the council, blocking its potential sanctioning of the operation.)

“The campaign involved some 1,000 aircraft operating from air bases in Italy and Germany, as well as the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an aircraft carrier stationed in the Adriatic Sea. NATO aircraft flew more than 38,000 combat missions during the conflict. In addition, cruise missiles were fired from American ships and submarines”.

In all these cases, none of these nations and their leaders were in any way a threat to the U.S and its NATO allies.

“America stands up to bullies. We stand up for freedom,”so said Joe Biden the U.S President in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Most people in the world neither believe these flowery words nor do they accept the emotions behind it.

What many people outside the West believe, is that the U.S has been the world’s biggest bully; threatening anyone and any country that dared posit a counterview to its worldview.

In Yemen, rather than stand up for the right of Yemenis to live in peace, the U.S continues to provide military and diplomatic support to Saudi Arabia and the UAE in their genocide against innocent Yemenis. Annelle R. Sheline and Bruce Riedel in a 2021 Brookings report opined, “Unfortunately, Biden’s approach is fatally flawed.

The president stated that he would “end U.S. support for offensive operations in Yemen.” Yet the Saudi-led war on Yemen by definition, is an offensive operation.

Saudi Arabia is bombing and blockading another country: Between March 2015 and July 2021, the Saudis conducted a minimum of 23,251 air raids, which killed or injured 18,616 civilians.

The Houthis, known formally as Ansarallah, launch missiles in retaliation but if Saudi airstrikes ceased, the Houthis would have little reason to provoke their powerful neighbour. As long as the U.S. materially and rhetorically backs the Saudis’ war of choice, Biden’s assertion that the U.S. would end support for offensive operations is a lie”.

Germany’s new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz magisterially pronounced in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, “With the attack on Ukraine, President Putin wants to turn back time, but there is no going back to the time of the 19th century when great powers decided over the heads of smaller states”.

Yet, it is western powers that have over and over again decided over the heads of smaller states. The Maidan putsch backed by the United States and the E.U stinks of rabid interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine.

Ted Galen Carpenter, writing on August 6, 2017 for the National Interest Online, fittingly traced how a democratically elected President of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych was pushed out of power through a protest movement backed and manipulated by the West.

“There is an abundance of outrage in the United States about Russia’s alleged meddling in the 2016 presidential election,” he had noted.

Read also: Russia-Ukraine Crisis: Survey shows India, China support Russia

Such umbrage, he however believed, “might be more credible if the United States refrained from engaging in similar conduct. But the historical record shows that Washington has meddled in the political affairs of dozens of countries including many democracies. An egregious example occurred in Ukraine during the Euromaidan Revolution of 2014.

“Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych was not an admirable character. Despite his leadership defects and character flaws, Yanukovych had been duly elected in balloting that international observers considered reasonably free and fair—about the best standard one can hope for outside the mature Western democracies. A decent respect for democratic institutions and procedures meant that he ought to be able to serve out his lawful term as president, which would end in 2016.

“Neither the domestic opposition nor Washington and its European Union allies behaved in that fashion. Instead, Western leaders made it clear that they supported the efforts of demonstrators to force Yanukovych to reverse course and approve the EU agreement or, if he would not do so, to remove the president before his term expired. Sen. John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, went to Kiev to show solidarity with the Euromaidan activists.

McCain dined with opposition leaders, including members of the ultra-right‐wing Svoboda Party, and later appeared on stage in Maidan Square during a mass rally. He stood shoulder to shoulder with Svoboda leader Oleg Tyagnibok.

“But McCain’s actions were a model of diplomatic restraint compared to the conduct of Victoria Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs.

As Ukraine’s political crisis deepened, Nuland and her subordinates became more brazen in favouring the anti‐Yanukovych demonstrators.

Nuland noted in a speech to the U.S-Ukraine Foundation on December 13, 2013, that she had travelled to Ukraine three times in the weeks following the start of the demonstrations. Visiting the Maidan on December 5, she handed out cookies to demonstrators and expressed support for their cause”.

The extent of the Obama administration’s meddling in Ukraine’s politics, Carpenter further opined, “was breath-taking.

Russian intelligence intercepted and leaked to the international media a Nuland telephone call in which she and U.S. ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt discussed in detail their preferences for specific personnel in a post‐Yanukovych government.

The U.S-favoured candidates included Arseniy Yatsenyuk, the man who became prime minister once Yanukovych was ousted from power.

During the telephone call, Nuland stated enthusiastically that “Yats is the guy” who would do the best job. Nuland and Pyatt were engaged in such planning at a time when Yanukovych was still Ukraine’s lawful president”.

‘Might is right’ as a political and military philosophy in the post-cold war environment was not started by Russia, it was designed and sustained by the U.S, E.U and NATO.

It is the U.S and the West that have consistently deployed economic sanctions against countries that have defied their will. It is the West that has regularly threatened and executed military action against countries that have never attacked them.

Now Russia has done the very same thing and the West pretends as if this is the very first time a sovereign country is being invaded. They have been doing the very same thing they accuse Russia of doing!

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.