Eugene Robinson writes: Is it just me, or does the rhetoric about the crisis in Ukraine sound as if all of Washington is suffering from amnesia? We’re supposed to be shocked — shocked! — that a great military power would cook up a pretext to invade a smaller, weaker nation? I’m sorry, but has everyone forgotten the unfortunate events in Iraq a few years ago?
My sentiments, to be clear, are with the legitimate Ukrainian government, not with the neo-imperialist regime in Russia. But the United States, frankly, has limited standing to insist on absolute respect for the territorial integrity of sovereign states.
Before Iraq there was Afghanistan, there was the Persian Gulf War, there was Panama, there was Grenada. And even as we condemn Moscow for its outrageous aggression, we reserve the right to fire deadly missiles into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and who knows where else.
None of this gives Russian President Vladimir Putin the right to pluck Crimea from the rest of Ukraine and effectively reincorporate the historic peninsula into the Russian empire. But it’s hard to base U.S. objections on principle — even if Putin’s claim that Russian nationals in Crimea were being threatened turn out to be as hollow as the Bush administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. [Continue reading…]