Sunday, March 16, 2014

The hypocrisy of the West towards Russia

Tomorrow, Crimean voters get to decide in a referendum whether they shall rejoin Russia. This vote has been condemned by Western leaders who, when it suits them, love to make a big issue out of self-determination.

Gauging the reaction to Russia's response to the state of affairs in the Ukraine, you'd think the former was the biggest threat to world peace since Nazi Germany. Western leaders such as Obama, whose countries have invaded numerous independent nations over the past couple of decades, posture and pontificate as though Putin was a foaming maniac who is about to launch another world war. Here's a few facts to consider.

Russia gave Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 when both countries were part of the USSR. As part of this deal, which survived the break-up of the Soviet Union, Russia was allowed to maintain troops in Crimea. The Western media has reported that Russia has invaded Crimea. It hasn't, it was already there.

The events in Ukraine over the last few weeks have seen the (albeit somewhat corruptly) elected government of Viktor Yanukovych overthrown by violent protests by a unholy alliance of opposition groups that include a significant presence of Neo-Nazis. The symbolic leader of those groups is a former Yanukovych ally and gas industry oligarch named Yulia Tymoshenko, who heads the All-Ukrainian Union "Fatherland" party.

After the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1990, the United States gave Mikhail Gorbachev assurances that it would not expand NATO east into former Soviet republics. These assurances counted for nothing with Germany joining NATO in 1990, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary joining in 1999, and Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania and Croatia all joining since then. Thus NATO now virtually surrounds Russia from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Is it any wonder the Russians are nervous about Ukraine moving into the Western European alliance? Imagine if Canada and Mexico had joined the Warsaw Pact during the Cold War and you get a sense of how Russia must see these developments.

We saw a further example of Western hypocrisy during the Sochi Olympics with Western politicians and celebrities jumping on the bandwagon to condemn Russia's new law against promoting homosexuality. Personally, I think this is a pretty despicable law, but it needs to be put in perspective - homosexuality is legal in Russia and remains so and eight US states still have similar laws on their books to that introduced by Russia. Besides, where was that chorus of protest from all those Western politicians and celebrities when Iran recently hung two men from cranes for their homosexuality?

Vladimir Putin's Russia is not a paragon of liberty and human rights, but neither are many Western nations.  President Obama claims the right to extra-judicial killing by drone of anyone, anywhere in the world. His government still imprisons suspected terrorists without trial or due process in Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, and his intelligence agencies claim the right to extra-judicial mass surveillance of law-abiding people both within the United States and abroad. Perhaps Obama and other Western leaders should put their own liberties in order before taking such a sanctimonious attitude towards Russia.

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