March 18, 2014
On Thursday March 6th President Obama spoke at the White House on the referendum and the issue of Crimea. In his prepared remarks, Obama stated categorically that the United States would not recognize the results of the Crimean referendum. He argued that the it would violate both the “Ukrainian Constitution and international law.” Obama kept the comedy coming when he noted that, “In 2014 we are well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders.” As with all statements made by the US government, and the President specifically, this must be contextualized and deconstructed in order to be effectively critiqued.
First and foremost is the question of democracy and, more specifically, how exactly Washington is choosing to define this gravely abused word. In referring to the so-called “interim government” in Kiev, headed by Yatsenyuk and his associates, as “democratic leaders”, Obama demonstrates either a complete lack of understanding of the word democracy, or as I think is more likely, an utter contempt for democratic principles. By referring to an unelected entity that has seized political power in Kiev by force, and through collaboration with Nazi elements, as “democratic leaders,” Obama exposes himself and his administration to be cynical opportunists whose interests rest not in democracy but in a geopolitical agenda guided solely by strategic interests.
Naturally, the references to the Ukrainian Constitution and international law are also deeply disingenuous. Obama, and the US imperial system more generally, speak of international law purely when it suits their interests, eschewing it completely when it does not. This fact has been illustrated quite clearly with Washington’s wars of aggression throughout that last two decades, including the illegal wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, not to mention the habitual violations of international law in Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and around the world.
The most significant point here is that the US recognizes democracy and international law only when it suits their interests. Moreover, US hypocrisy regarding democracy becomes self evident if one examines the recent historical precedents of Kosovo and South Sudan. In both these cases, precisely the same individuals who today cry about international law and argue against the democratic right of Crimea to determine its own future, were then eloquently and unabashedly in favor of precisely the same sort “democratic aspirations.”