When NATO forces attacked Serbia in 1999, killing many civilians, in order to establish the current disastrous mafia statelet of Kosovo, Sergei Lavrov spoke very wisely at the Security Council. He said:
Attempts to justify strikes as preventing humanitarian catastrophe were not recognized by international law, he said. The use of unilateral force would lead to a situation with devastating humanitarian consequences. No considerations of any kind could serve to justify aggression. Violations of law could only be combated on the solid basis of the law.
Attempts to apply other standards to international law and disregard other laws created a dangerous precedent, he said. The virus of a unilateral approach could spread… the Council alone should decide the means to maintain or restore international security. NATO’s attempt to enter the twenty-first century in the uniform of an international gendarme set a dangerous precedent.
He was of course absolutely right. Liberal interventionism and the right to protect were extremely foolish and dangerous doctrines. When propagated by useful idiots, even at their most high-minded they were never more that a repetition of the old imperialist “civilizing mission” of military attack to eradicate barbarous practices. In fact they were brutally utilized as an excuse for resource grab and personal enrichment.
The Robert Coopers of this world have been hoist with their own petard, because it was always inevitable that others would use the same excuse in areas where they had power, to do what the US and its satellites were doing where they could. If you promulgate that might is right, you cannot complain when someone punches you.
But that does not make Russia’s actions in the Ukraine right – rather it makes Lavrov a complete hypocrite. As Lavrov said to the Security Council, “the Council alone should decide the means to maintain or restore international security”, and the security council voted by 13 to 1 against the Crimea referendum. It is beyond argument that the man is massively hypocritical.
The truth is that the western powers and Russia are both vicious in the field of foreign relations and have little real care for ordinary people and their rights. Russian actions in military occupation of Crimea (far beyond keeping an agreed number of troops stationed in agreed bases) are indeed illegitimate and illegal.
Let me add two more hypocrisies in the Russian position. It is an offence carrying up to 22 years in jail to advocate the secession of any part of Russia. There is no sign of any referendum on self-determination for the people of Chechnya and Dagestan. I do not believe that in a genuinely democratic vote, there is any political proposition which would ever get 97% of the vote. You couldn’t get 97% of any group of people to vote for free ice cream. Interestingly enough, Putin is claiming in the Crimea precisely the same percentage – 97% – that Hitler claimed in his Plebiscite in Austria to ratify the Anschluss.
The other thing I thought wonderfully ironic is that I saw two representatives of the “international observer group” on Russia Today this morning, one Polish and one Hungarian, and both were from fully paid up genuine fascist organisations. The Hungarian has been saying it is most unfortunate that the BNP couldn’t make it.
For the other side of this coin – western hypocrisy – see here.