ECLECTIC RANT: Thoughts on the Ukrainian Crisis

By Ralph E. Stone
Friday March 07, 2014 - 01:29:00 PM

Secretary of State John Kerry recently denounced Russia’s intervention in the Crimea by declaring, “It is not appropriate to invade a country, and at the end of a barrel of a gun dictate what you are trying to achieve. That is not 21st-century, G8, major nation behaviour." Guess which country has a sordid history of invading countries. As the saying goes, people in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. 

Given our recent interventions in sovereign countries, Kerry's statement is an astounding bit of hypocrisy. Wasn’t it just a short time ago that the U.S. -- in violation of international law -- invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq costing 6,801 U.S. lives and at least 132,000 civilian deaths. And according to a Harvard study, these wars will cost taxpayers $4 trillion to $6 trillion, taking into account the medical care of wounded veterans and expensive repairs to a force depleted by more than a decade of fighting. 

The cost of our 2011 Libyan intervention is at least $1.1 billion. 

The U.S. has used drone attacks in the sovereign countries of Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. According to The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, drone strikes in Yemen have killed between 72 to 178 civilians, including 27 to 37 children. Between 2004 and 2013, CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have killed 473 to 893 civilians, including 176 children, and between 2007-2013, drone strikes in Somalia have killed 11 to 57 civilians, including 1 to 3 children.  

And remember all the U.S. bluster threatening armed intervention in Syria until Russian President Vladimir Putin intervened, convincing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to agree to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons. In short, the U.S. painted itself in a corner and Putin saved our bacon. 

Going back further in time, remember our Vietnam misadventure costing 58,220 American lives. And our invasion of the tiny island of Granada where nineteen U.S. lives were lost and killing 70 island people were killed including 25 Cuban construction workers. 

While the Russian occupation of the Crimea is regrettable, the U.S. hypocritical bluster about the intervention impressed no one, least of all Vladimir Putin. Obama's March 4, 90- minute telephone conversation with Putin probably had more effect than all of Kerry's rants.  

Putin is still talking tough, but tensions are easing. Russia and the U.S. held their first direct talks since the start of the Ukraine crisis on March 5, raising hopes for a diplomatic breakthrough. Progress was limited, but Sergei Lavrov. Russia's foreign minister, met with his counterparts from the U.S., France, Germany, and Britain in Paris. Further discussions will take place in the near future. Talking is better than shooting.