From Portside <[email protected]>
Subject Hypocritical Scolding Won't Stop a Russian War on Ukraine
Date January 22, 2022 2:00 AM
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[Peace cannot be found if the U.S. relies on the self-righteous
assertion of principles that our government refuses to apply to
itself. ] [[link removed]]

HYPOCRITICAL SCOLDING WON'T STOP A RUSSIAN WAR ON UKRAINE  
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Mitchell Zimmerman
January 19, 2022
otherwords.org
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_ Peace cannot be found if the U.S. relies on the self-righteous
assertion of principles that our government refuses to apply to
itself. _

Demonstrators wave a tattered Ukrainian flag in Kiev, Ukraine,

 

As Moscow signals its apparent readiness for war over Ukraine
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the U.S. government seems determined to ignore Russia’s
not-so-ridiculous concerns over the military alliances of neighboring
states and the prospect of nuclear weapons on its borders.

Should Americans worry about our country inserting itself into another
war?

Ukraine is far away, and Russia isn’t directly threatening us.
Nonetheless, the U.S. intends to arm and support Ukraine if it comes
to war, and there can be no certainty whether a proxy war might
escalate. Nuclear powers need to tread carefully around each other.

Let’s look at the U.S. response to Russia’s insistence that
Ukraine not join NATO, the U.S.-dominated military alliance that
Russia wants to keep out of its immediate periphery.

Washington rejects that demand. The U.S. representative at talks with
Russia recently declared it to be among America’s “bedrock
principles
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that there be “no tolerance of overt or tacit spheres of influence,
no restrictions on the sovereign right of nations to choose their own
alliances.”

Contrary to these noble statements, America has long deemed it a
bedrock principle that the United States has a sphere of influence:
all of North and South America!

Remember the “Monroe Doctrine” you learned about in high school
history? In 1823, President James Monroe warned European nations that
the entire western hemisphere was our turf and that they entered it at
their risk.

The nature of that risk became all too clear in 1962, when Cuba tried
to exercise its “sovereign right” to choose its own alliance.

After the U.S. tried to overthrow its government, Cuba chose to ally
with the Soviet Union and let the Russians put nuclear missiles in
Cuba. The U.S. response was to bring the world to the brink of nuclear
war rather than accept the Soviets’ move into our sphere of
influence.

So much for “bedrock principles.”

The U.S. now proclaims it a “bedrock principle” that Ukraine, at
least, can make an alliance with whomever they want, Russian
sensibilities be damned. But suppose Mexico decided to join the
Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Russian-sponsored
counterpart to NATO?

Can anyone imagine the U.S. would quietly acknowledge Mexico’s right
to do so?

The fact that a country considers it a prerogative to limit the
destiny of its neighbors doesn’t make that right, whether it’s the
U.S. or the Russians doing it. Ukraine has the right to defend itself,
the right to conduct its internal affairs as it pleases, and the right
not to be dismembered by a powerful neighbor.

However, it’s a sad reality of international affairs that powerful
nations tell themselves that they (but no one else) have the right to
meddle in the affairs of weaker neighbors.

Avoiding war doesn’t necessarily mean that the rights and interests
of smaller nations have to be abandoned. But practically speaking, the
path to peace does require mutual accommodation by all parties.

Finding the right accommodation may not be easy.

It is not unreasonable for the Russians not to want a hostile alliance
— and potentially nuclear weapons — along their border. But
Russia’s key interests do not reasonably include dismembering
Ukraine.

Meanwhile the U.S. is not crazy for wanting Ukraine to be free to
connect economically and culturally with Western Europe. But it’s
not a key interest, requiring a confrontation between nuclear-armed
states, to insist that Ukraine has the “right” to join NATO.

Peace cannot be found if the U.S. relies on the self-righteous
assertion of principles that our government refuses to apply to
itself.

_Articles by Mitchell Zimmerman
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