Fittingly, given the coincidence of the US cinema Oscars ceremony held at the weekend, American politicians and their Western allies were also starring in bravura performances of hypocrisy and double think with regard to their denunciations of Russia’s recent security response to chaos in Ukraine.
Increased military maneuvers apparently by Russian troops in Ukraine’s southern Crimean Peninsula over the weekend were met with strutting over-the-top reactions from Washington and other Western members of the so-called Group of Eight economic nations.
The US, Britain, France and Canada said they were canceling plans to attend the G8 summit to be held in Sochi later this June in protest over what they said was Russia’s «violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty». German Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to endorse calls for Russia’s suspension from the G8, however the German leader in a phone call with American President Barack Obama complained that the Russian head of state, Vladimir Putin, was «living in another world», according to the New York Times.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said he agreed with Obama’s earlier admonition to Russia that there «must be significant costs» imposed on Moscow for its military actions in Crimea.
French President Francois Hollande issued a statement urging Putin to «not use force» in any involvement of Russian troops on Ukrainian territory. That’s a nice touch of self-parody from Hollande given that he ordered hundreds of French troops into the Central African Republic in recent months – an intervention that sparked thousands of deaths from sectarian clashes between Muslim and Christian communities there and which has now resulted in a full-blow humanitarian crisis in that country.
While Cameron and Obama talk about «significant costs» to be sanctioned against Russia for troop movements in Crimea – during which not a single shot was fired nor has anyone been injured – both British and American leaders continue to have evaded prosecution for illegal wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Iraq where more than one million people have died and millions more wounded and displaced.
But the star political performer among the Western hypocrites was American Secretary of State John Kerry. His botox treatment may limit facial movements, but Kerry’s rhetoric made up for that in playing to the gallery. He denounced to US media what he called «incredible, brazen aggression» by Russia towards Ukraine.
«You just don’t invade another country on phoney pretext in order to assert your interests», said Kerry. «This is an act of aggression that is completely trumped up in terms of its pretext. It’s really 19th century behaviour in the 21st century».
These words come from the top diplomat of a country that has used countless phoney pretexts – from weapons of mass destruction to humanitarian protection – to subvert and invade other sovereign states, inflicting millions of deaths; not just in the distant past but right now in the present with regard to covert operations and sanctions in Syria, Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, among other places.
And, irony of irony, the most pertinent location for US-led subversion is Ukraine. The ousting of the elected government in Ukraine last month follows months, and indeed years, of American-sponsored destabilization that has culminated in a new unelected regime composed of neo-Nazis and other fascist thugs.
Kerry is to travel this week to Kiev «in a gesture of support» for the US-backed new regime, which is headed up by so-called interim Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The junta in Kiev has key cabinet posts occupied by members of the neo-Nazi Svoboda party, including those for national security, armed forces and justice. The Washington-backed cabal in Kiev follows the script outlined by Kerry’s underling Victoria Nuland last month in a phone call to the US ambassador to the Ukraine, and it came into being under the threat of further violence from the fascist thugs who manhandled the elected President Viktor Yanukovych out of office at the end of February…
The mob-rule that Washington and its European and NATO allies spent months agitating for has consequently thrown Ukraine into chaos and violent uncertainty. Pro-Russian populations in the East and South of the country have taken to the streets demanding protection from the CIA-backed far-right militias that have usurped power in Kiev. The sense of fear gripping Ukraine is not just a product of fevered imagination or Moscow’s political rhetoric. The cadres of Svoboda and its Right Sector paramilitaries have publicly warned of ethnic cleansing against Ukraine’s Russian communities as well as any other perceived political enemies. Officials among Yanukovych’s Regions Party have been wounded in gun attacks.
Yet the authors of this coup d’état in Ukraine – Washington and its NATO allies, along with their dutiful Western news media – now accuse Russia of violating sovereignty and «bringing the region to the brink of war». NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen has even charged that «Russia is threatening peace in Europe».
This inflammatory rhetoric was ramped up by the Western-installed puppet leader Yatsenyuk, who accused Moscow of «an act of war against my country». Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but new admissions to the organization, Poland and Lithuania, have claimed that they are threatened by the movement of Russian troops in the Crimean Peninsula. In theory, the 28-member NATO could invoke a military response under its umbrella defence obligations.
However, for now, US officials are playing down a resort to military action. John Kerry told American media at the weekend that «all options were on the table» but he added: «The last thing anybody wants is a military option in this kind of situation.»
Unlike Washington’s numerous «trumped-up» and murderous military interventions around the globe, Russia can very well argue that the chaos unleashed in Ukraine by Western destabilization has clear and present dangers to its vital national interests.
Russia’s long-standing bilateral agreement with the Ukraine on the use of Crimea as a naval base for its Black Sea Fleet gives Moscow a legal prerogative to protect its military installations there. The newly formed parliament in the autonomous Crimean Republic has also called upon Russia for protection of its citizens – 60 per cent of whom are ethnic Russians.
The Russian parliament’s vote at the weekend to give President Putin powers to send troops into Eastern Ukraine could also be enacted with legal validity given the lawlessness on the streets that have ensued from the coup d’état in Kiev.
What is needed to avoid a military conflict between the West and Russia over events in Ukraine is a clear and honest assessment of what has led up to this point. It is only adding to the problem when Western leaders and media engage in outrageous hypocrisy, double standards and deception on the causes of the present crisis. An example of this delusional thinking can be seen in how the New York Times reported on the latest developments in Crimea.
The New York Times editorialized: «[Putin’s] strategy has been pursued aggressively by subterfuge, propaganda and bold military threat… aimed at blunting the impact of a popular uprising [in Ukraine] that sought to push the country away from Russia and deepen ties with Europe».
A popular uprising? By neo-Nazis and gun-wielding fascists under the tutelage of the CIA? What about provable Western subterfuge and propaganda? Can this newspaper – America’s supposed premier quality publication – be for real?
Such a portrayal of events in Ukraine and its repercussions is sheer fantasy that conceals the very real and unlawful interference in that country by Western governments. Of course, we should not be surprised; the Western media is in the business of selling phoney pretexts for illegal US-led wars. Indeed, Western media are fully complicit in the war crimes committed by Washington and London in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere; and yet they piously continue to churn out their mendacity with impunity, as in the case of Ukraine.
If that is how Western politicians and their media choose to falsify the grave situation in Ukraine, then it does not bode well for a reasonable, diplomatic resolution. How can meaningful dialogue be conducted with such idiocy?
The disturbing aspect about Western leaders’ reaction to the problems that they have themselves directly created in Ukraine and the wider region is that these people are not merely acting dumb.
The breath-taking hubris demonstrated by Kerry, Obama, Cameron, Hollande and Merkel et al is not an Oscar-winning «performance». These people actually seem to believe their own nonsense. And that mental vacuity makes for a very dangerous collision course.