Annexation of Crimea by Russia has been compared with that of the West Bank by Israel today. Well, I had in mind the invasion of Kuwait by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in 1990. While the West is still ignoring the decades-long shameless theft of Palestinean land by Israeli settlers, Saddam’s aggression was initially also tolerated by the United States. Then American Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, had talked to Saddam a week before his onslaught and had suggested sort of a “green light” for war with Kuwait, which Saddam has declared the 19th province of Iraq.
“But we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait. I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late ’60s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. […] All that we hope is that these issues are solved quickly.”
We know about that because of the leaked, by WikiLeaks, diplomatic cables (although they had been declassified already in 1998, see a pdf here; at that time Glaspie’s inexperience was easily overlooked by the public). Saddam’s annexation resulted, after George H. W. Bush had changed his mind about his former ally, in a 24-year long war and civil war which is not over. When considering the Iraq-Iran war in the 1980, the Iraqi people are enduring permanent war now for 34 years.
That is not to be expected in the case of Crimea. After American and European amateurish meddling in the Ukrainian uproar Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had a walk-over. And, as many believe, no other choice. As a matter of fact, Crimea belonged to Russia, not the Ukraine, which got it as a thoughtless gift from Nikita Khrushchev (“unconstitutional”, as Putin declared yesterday) in 1954, just a symbolic guesture marking the 300th anniversary of Ukraine becoming a part ofthe Russian Empire.
And what about President Obama? Putin may be right when he sees him in a very weak position. Another Cold War is looming, something which America has apparently missed for the past 20 years while desperately seeking new adversaries, for instance, al-Qaeda and all kinds of terrorists, the Iranians, Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, and last but not least, whistle-blowers, journalists and, well, normal citizens.
Certainly, Russia’s annexation is illegal under international law. As Juan Cole writes, “The Crimean assembly that voted to hold a referendum was not representative. The referendum on Sunday was held under conditions of Russian military occupation and cannot be certified as meeting international standards for elections. The statistics put out about turnout and outcome are suspicious. Still, the annexation is ambiguous.” But is it such a big issue? Not really. At least nothing for going to war. Despite condemning annexation of Crimea, what Putin actually did, namely making sure that the erosion at the Russian borders does not further accelerate due to meddling of the EU and, in particular, NATO, would be out of question for Obama in case of the U.S. interests being affected.
We expect Putin, Obama and the European leaders to normalize as soon as possible diplomatic relationships. Rather talk than sanctions which hardly ever had worked.19 March 2014 @ 6:36 pm. Last modified March 19, 2014.