Saturday, March 22, 2014

Putin and the rule of International Morality

In his New York Times editorial, speaking specifically about the Syrian situation and the discussion of the threat of the use of force against the Assad regime by the United States, Putin states : "The law is still the law, and we must follow it whether we like it or not." Of course he was talking about International Law and the fact that the use of force by one country against another is only justified in cases of self defense. 

Putin is not a disciple of the doctrine of "exceptionalism" and is obviously contemptuous of America's claim to it. To back up his rejection to any such claim he states : "We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal." Not only does he appeal to our own creed in objection to our doctrine, he also looks at the examples of our excursions in Libya and Iraq as showing that our actions have led to undesirable outcomes. Despite the unspecific 'bleatings' of those who believe that standing with our allies means marching in to their rescue with our heroic cavalry, Putin is on pretty solid ground in expecting that this will not happen here.

 As to whether sanctions will be effective as deterrence in our just pursuit of international idealism ...time will tell. We have no evidence of mass outrage against Russia among the Crimeans. What we have seen so far is celebration. The Crimean people do not need us to save them from themselves...or their leaders. As to our geo-political motives... Iraq is a witness AGAINST that. 

Much as I value the wisdom of my friend Walter Rhett, I do not see "the Mel Brooks effect" eventuating here. The reality of Russia's annexation of Crimea is that Putin is not viewed as "other" in the sense that the black lawman in "Blazing Saddles" was. We have forgotten about Libya. We would like to forget about Iraq. It is just a matter of time before the new geography of Ukraine/Russia becomes status quo. The rule of international morality will "be but a fleeting illusion" as long as some of us view ourselves as "exceptional" and others as objects in our back yards.

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