From a node in the neoconservative network, a Fox News studio, Charles Krauthammer has complained about the eviction of the Ukrainian Navy from the city of Sevastopol, where it was headquartered. Not a word did the commentator say about the city’s location: Sevastopol is on the Crimean Peninsula. It would appear that the city now falls within Crimean jurisdiction – starting March 16, the day the people of Crimea voted to secede from Ukraine.
By most estimates, between 97 and 93 percent of Crimean voters said yes to a reunion with Russia. High too was voter turnout. McClatchy pegs it at 83 percent of registered voters in Crimea. BBC News was agreed, also reporting a ballot of “more than 80 percent.” Zerohedge.com counted a “paltry” 73 percent turnout, still “higher than every U.S. presidential election since 1900.”
As rocker Ted Nugent might say, the Russians and Crimeans are blood brothers. Nugent got into trouble for using this perfectly proper appellation to describe his affinity for a politician, of all people: Texas Republican gubernatorial hopeful Greg Abbott. Notwithstanding that in the land of the terminally stupid, linguistic flourish can land one in hot water – blood brother is a good, if colorful, turn of phrase that denotes fealty between like-minded people. Steeped in state-enforced multiculturalism, America’s deracinated, self-anointed cognoscenti have a hard time grasping the blood-brother connections between the people of Russia and Crimea.
For no apparent reason other than that it is pro-Russian, Americans have reflexively aligned themselves against the swell for secession in southern Ukraine. Separatist referenda in Kosovo, Catalonia, South Sudan and Scotland have been accepted without demur by a political and media establishment unprepared to countenance a similar referendum in Crimea.
Guided by the pack animals of politics and punditry who seldom fail to shed darkness on whatever topic they tackle, a nation that struggles to locate the disputed territories on the map has been convinced of the menace posed by Russia. According to a CNN poll, 69 percent of Americans say they see Russia as a threat. A Rasmussen Report poll indicated that “52 percent support U.S. diplomatic action against Russia over Crimea.”
Helping to drive American Russophobia is the implacable logic exemplified by Bill O’Reilly of “The Factor,” yet another node in the network mentioned. At the suggestion that there are similarities between Russian and American military bellicosity, the TV host foams at the mouth. Fulmination is followed not by argument, but by a form of ad hominem or psychologizing.
It is absolutely verboten on this popular and powerful show to compare Russia’s “excursion” into Ukraine to America’s naturally illicit and illegal occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya. In defense of their reflexive rejection of the reasonable, if inaccurate, comparison – for decades the U.S. has been far more aggressive than Russia in its forays abroad – Bill and his gang “argued” (on March 3) as follows:
President Vladimir Putin is a thug. That’s why his actions can’t be contrasted with the actions of “a good country” like the U.S. By “logical” extension, George Bush and Barack Obama are never to be fingered as thugs.
Why, Billy, some of you will inquire? Is it because these thugs are American? Precisely.
Next, Bill O’Reilly’s mind-reading gifts were galvanized to negate the juxtaposition of the actions on the ground of the Russian and American governments. Putin, it would appear, seeks the recrudescence of the Russian empire. On the other hand, the U.S., with a military presence in 148 countries and 900 bases worldwide, has neither sought nor achieved empire status.
Why, Billy, some of you will ask? Is it because the U.S. is a good country? You got it!
Be it in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey, the United Kingdom, Japan, Bahrain, Djibouti, South Korea, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Kuwait – even Aruba, Iceland, Indonesia, Kenya, Norway and Peru – wherever it plants its military boot, a “good country” is never an empire, only a force for good.
Me, O’Reilly would dismiss as “anti-American.” But what of former secretary of state Henry Kissinger? While Kissinger has condemned Russia’s annexation of Crimea, he excoriated “the demonization of Vladimir Putin.” This antipathy “is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one.” “The United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington,” wrote the statesman in the Washington Post.
Is Henry Kissinger anti-American or simply smarter than some Americans?
At least Secretary of State John Kerry hung on to his sense of humor. “Unless you are the United States of America, you just don’t invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests,” Kerry lectured the congenitally incurious David Gregory, of “Meet the Press.”
I ad-libbed. Except for the first eight words in quotation marks, Secretary Kerry did indeed say the foregoing. Given America’s military record, the missing words are implied.
The O’Reilly school of “thought” could – and does – counteract that Crimea’s vote to join Russia was tainted by fraud. This is certainly possible. Nevertheless, it is none of our business. Americans have their own tyrants to dethrone.
We’re supposed to be the freest people in the world, aren’t we? Is this claim not the moral basis for America’s we-know-best global meddling? But if we Americans are the freest people in the world, where’s our right to a referendum on, say, that “little” legislative “blip” called Obamacare? And if we’re so bleeding free, where’s our right to secede from D.C.?
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