Friday, February 28, 2014

Window on Eurasia: The US is Betraying Its Founding Principles in Ukraine, Russian Commentator Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 28 – If anyone reads the opening words of the American Declaration of Independence, a Russian opposition commentator says, he or she will immediately see that the United States is betraying its founding principles by refusing to stand up to Moscow in defense of Ukraine.

            In a commentary on, Aleksandr Lukyanov says that despite mistakes and failures to follow through in support of its principles in the past, the United States has more often acted on the basis of them and made the world a better place on balance than it would otherwise be (

            But in recent years and particularly with regard to Ukraine, Washington has not defended the basic principles its founders proclaimed: the inalienable natural rights of every individual, the legitimacy of states based on the expression of support of the governed and the right of a people to resist despotism.

            “In the majority of major and minor conflicts of the20th century (both world wars, the cold war, the wars in Korea and Vietnam, numerous conflicts in the Middle East and so on),” he continues, “America has taken the side of those who were struggling for freedom against tyranny.”

            Despite shortcomings and mistakes, “the hypothetical ‘world without America’ that is the dream of Russian ‘patriots’ would have been an extremely uncomfortable place in which tyrant would have been far more numerous and freedom far less than in the real world” that exists at the present time.

            That is what makes the last few years so troubling to those who have looked to the United States, Lukyanov says.  “The history of American foreign policy under Obama’s leadership,” he argues, “has been a history of defeats and retreats” – in Iraq, in Syria, in Iran, and now tragically in Ukraine.

                While some are hoping that no one will do something untoward in Ukraine, there is mounting evidence that “Putin will decide on armed intervention and the annexation of Crimea,” under one pretext and cover or another.  One hopes that this will not happen, but recent history “does not give a basis for optimism.”

            “The only force capable of effectively guaranteeing the security and territory integrity of Ukraine is the United States,” Lukyanov says. But recent events suggest that that “the hope that the US will as in former times support those who struggle for their freedom are today practically equal to zero.”

            US Secretary of State John Kerry has already declared, Lukyanov continues, that”America and Russia will not get into a dispute over Ukraine.” Translated from diplomatic language, this means or at least will be interpreted by Vladimir Putin to mean that “’we will not support Ukraine; do what you want.’”

            The many who promote anti-Americanism “love to call America ‘the world gendarme.’ Alas,” Lukyanov concludes, “the problem [now] is not that America is a gendarme but that the gendarme has grown timid and no longer will defend peaceful residents from hooligans who are no longer constrained” by the United States.

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