Over the last few weeks, CNN has been filled with stories of Secretary of State John Kerry calling various Russian diplomats and telling them that they are wrong. That their ploy to enter Crimea to protect the “ethnically Russian citizens” is all too obvious. That they are making a clear, colonial bid for power in carving out the chunk of Ukraine which happens to give them access to a large trading port. The message is clear: the government in Ukraine has been democratically elected, and Russia should keep its mitts off of it.
Although I agree in theory that Russia shouldn’t interfere with a government chosen by the people, I can’t help but understand why Russia would make this move. They want to solidify their position as a global and economic superpower. So they look around for examples, and they settle upon the United States.
We have a long history of interfering with other country’s democratically elected governments to install dictators who are favorable to U.S. economic interference. In 1953, the CIA helped to organize a coup in Iran to overthrow the democratically-elected leader. He wanted to nationalize oil production, which would lead to lower oil profits in the U.S. In 1954, the CIA helped Jacobo Arbenz overthrow the democratically-elected leader of Guatemala, in order to help the Chiquita banana company keep their land. In 1964, we helped to overthrow the democratically elected government of Brazil, and in 1970 we helped put the Chilean dictator Pinochet in power, replacing another democratically elected leader.
The list goes on and on, Afghanistan, Poland, Nicaragua. If the people have elected a ruler with socialist land policies or anti-U.S .trade policies, you can bet it was at least discussed if we “ought not to help the poor, oppressed people of country x replace their ruler.” This was precisely the justification behind the Red Scare: we made communists out to be morally reprehensible and dangerous. Don’t get me wrong, communist governments can be and have been dictatorships throughout the Cold War. But many of the governments we helped to replace were merely heavy-handed on socialist principles, on trying to help out the poor. This directly affected our economic interests, so we interfered.
More recently, we’ve shifted our justification from these actions from protecting the “victims” of socialist government to protecting the victims of religious government. We claim that the people of Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, etc. need us. But the truth is that we as a country are out for economic gain, and routinely attempt to destroy or replace governments that don’t like us so that we can gain access to their country’s resources.
No one has sanctioned us for these actions. Other countries have even helped us clean up the messes afterwards (think: war in Afghanistan). Yet Russia does the same thing to the Ukraine, attempts to annex a small peninsula that would be economically beneficial to them, with the support of the people living in that peninsula, and they are the ones who get sanctioned?
Don’t mistake me. Russia is in the wrong. All I ask is that John Kerry recognizes the irony of his talks to the diplomats, of his political rhetoric.