Crimea, Afghanistan and Libya
Brian CLOUGHLEY | 27.06.2017 | OPINION

Crimea, Afghanistan and Libya

On June 20 the United States Treasury Department stated that economic sanctions against Russia «would not be lifted until Russia leaves Crimea». In that case, sanctions will remain forever, because ten days after the democratically elected Crimean parliament voted to accede to Russia on 6 March 2014, a referendum was held which confirmed its decision — and the citizens of Crimea intend to remain with Russia.

At that time «Mr Obama said that the referendum was illegal and would never be accepted» and the European Union proclaimed that the vote was ‘illegitimate and its outcome will not be recognised’». This was an interesting political signal, because it was obvious the objectors knew that the citizens of Crimea would vote to rejoin Russia. The hopes and desires of ordinary citizens didn’t matter, because the US and the EU had already made up their minds to ignore a democratic vote.

Predictably, the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, continues to declare that «NATO Allies do not and will not recognise Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea».

Time magazine was realistic in recording on March 16, 2014, that the citizens of Crimea «voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to secede from their country and join Russia, in a major victory for Moscow that followed days of international condemnation that the referendum itself was illegitimate». Of course they voted to accede to Russia. They would have been insane to do otherwise. The thought of being ruled by xenophobic bigots who had just mounted a US-assisted coup in Ukraine was appalling. Since the accession to Russia there hasn’t been a single instance of civil disturbance in Crimea — and be assured that if there was the slightest possibility of any such disorder, then US and British intelligence agencies would have informed their media.

The reason for the West’s condemnation of a democratic vote to belong to Russia by Russian-cultured, Russian-speaking citizens of Crimea is not difficult to determine. Since the end of the Soviet Union the US-NATO military alliance has been desperate to justify its existence, and there is no more convenient enemy to be conjured up than Russia. Until that could be arranged, excursions into wider war by NATO provided excuses for survival and expansion.

NATO’s total failure in the war in Afghanistan has further detracted from its miniscule credibility, and its 2011 blitz on Libya was a war crime. Both countries are now in chaos.

After fifteen years of US-NATO war in Afghanistan, as admitted on June 13 by the US Secretary for Defence, General Mattis, the place is a shambles, and «we are not winning in Afghanistan right now».

Amazingly, Mattis added «and we will correct this as soon as possible». What is he going to do? Wave a magic wand and eradicate corruption and install a democratic government and give equal rights to women and destroy the drug industry that accounts for 15 percent of Afghanistan’s GDP and disband the savage militias which have been so well-armed and funded by the CIA? Is he going to defeat the militants who have fought the US-NATO military alliance to a standstill over 15 years?

Mattis is the gallant intellectual general who boasted in a CNN interview in 2005 that «You go into Afghanistan, you got guys who slap women around for five years because they didn't wear a veil. You know, guys like that ain’t got no manhood left anyway. So it is a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them». — He is exactly the sort of rabid military maniac whose bash and crash tactics over the years have caused so many Afghans to loathe and despise the foreigners who invaded their country. Mattis declares that «NATO has always stood for military strength and protection of the democracies and the freedoms we intend to pass on to our children», but the Mattis-NATO concept of freedom is at variance with reality.

In Afghanistan, as recorded by Human Rights Watch, «Early on February 18, Afghan police special forces raided a clinic run by the humanitarian organization Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, assaulted medical staff, and shot dead two patients, including a 16-year-old, and a 15-year-old caregiver. Witnesses reported that international military forces accompanied the Afghan forces, although they did not enter the clinic». No prizes for guessing which country provided these «international military forces,» under NATO auspices. Freedom, anyone?

Then on 12 June 2017 US troops killed three civilians, a man and his two sons. The soldiers were in a vehicle convoy that was struck by a bomb, and opened fire, spraying bullets round the countryside in the cause of freedom. Now: nobody should denounce these young soldiers for panicking and blasting anyone they thought was a threat. It is only too easy for commentators and politicians to aim the blame in such circumstances — without reflecting that they themselves might not have been exactly cool, calm and collected when the bomb blast went off. Certainly the man and his kids should not have been killed — but the US soldiers shouldn’t have been in Afghanistan in the first place.

And while all this carnage is going on, the West’s sanctions on Russia continue to be aimed at the innocent citizens of Crimea in the hope that they will revolt against Russia and embrace what General Mattis calls the freedom-loving US-NATO military alliance.

In 2011 this freedom-loving military alliance destroyed Libya in an aerial blitz that began by US and British warships firing 110 Tomahawk missiles and continued with NATO’s air forces pulverising the place for seven months, during which their aircraft carried out 14,202 bomb and rocket airstrikes in the cause of freedom. As noted by one commentator, Human Rights Watch «released a report into the deaths of at least 72 Libyan civilians, a third of them children, killed in eight separate bombing raids (seven on non-military targets) – and denounced NATO for still refusing to investigate or even acknowledge civilian deaths that were always denied at the time».

Libya is now a catastrophic shambles, with armed groups fighting each other and Islamic State terrorists finding willing recruits for their savagery. The results of the US-NATO war that supported rebels against the Libyan government include «Shortages of food, fuel, water, medical supplies and electricity, as well as reduced access to health care and public services. Care for patients with chronic diseases, disabilities and mental health disorders is compromised by restricted access to the few functioning health facilities. The situation of women and children has become particularly vulnerable, since the hospitals are overwhelmed with trauma patients».

Before the US-NATO destruction of Libya the World Health Organisation recorded that «the country is providing comprehensive health care including promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative services to all citizens free of charge through primary health care units, health centres and district hospitals». The CIA Factbook noted that Gaddafi’s Libya had a literacy rate of 94.2% which was higher than in Malaysia, Mexico and Saudi Arabia. According to WHO, life expectancy was 75 years, as against 66 in India, 71 in Egypt, 59 in South Africa.

Forgotten are the wise words of Brazil, China, India, Russia and NATO-member Germany (which refused to join the Libya bombing spree), who warned against «unintended consequences of armed intervention» concerning which Mr Putin (then prime minister) observed that it was regrettable when the «so-called civilized community, with all its might, pounces on a small country, and ruins infrastructure that has been built over generations».

The question is, where would you prefer to live? — In Afghanistan, after 15 years of US-NATO war, where barbaric violence rules, the lives of women are obscenely degrading, corruption is terminal and illegal drug production is the highest in the world? Or Libya, destroyed by a US-NATO blitzkrieg, where there are now «two rival parliaments and three governments» and even the New York Times admits that it is «a violent and divided nation rife with independent militias, flooded with arms and lacking legitimate governance and political unity»?

Or might you not prefer Crimea, where infrastructure is being improved and the people do not fear being sprayed with bullets by foreign soldiers; where every effort is being made to improve the living conditions of its inhabitants who are the targets of spiteful western sanctions? 

Tags: Crimea  Libya 

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