6 More Russian Myths About Crimea
Published: April 16, 2014 (Issue # 1806)
Russian leaders often look uninformedáŚ or desperateáŚ when they try toájustify abuses ofápower byáclaiming that theáU.S. is guilty ofásimilar infractions.
Take, foráexample, President Vladimir Putinĺs comparison ofáRussiaĺs selective legal assault against YukosáŚ andáthe subsequent expropriation ofámost ofáYukosĺ assets intoástate-controlled RosneftáŚ with theáU.S. prosecution ofáEnron iná2003.
InáSeptember 2012, Putin, responding toáinternational criticism ofáthe prison death ofálawyer Sergei Magnitsky, said that theáU.S. had no right toájudge Russia because it executes convicted criminals atáhome. TheáForeign Ministry took this argument further, saying ináits 2012 report onáU.S. human rights violations that theáU.S. executes minors, which is aáblatant falsehood.
Russian authorities also fired back atáU.S. criticism ofáRussiaĺs record onáfree speech byáasserting that theáU.S. violated theárights ofáformer Private Chelsea (Bradley) Manning, jailed foráleaking 700,000 classified documents toáWikiLeaks.
Now, theáKremlin has adopted theásame flawed ôlook whoĺs talkingö argument toácounter criticism ofáits annexation ofáCrimea. Here are six more myths that Russia is fond ofáspinning.
1. All great powers annex territory. Look atáthe U.S., which unabashedly annexed Texas andáHawaii.
It is true that theáU.S. annexation ofáTexas iná1845 was aávivid example ofámanifest destiny, imperialism andápromoting theáinterests ofáthe powerful, slaveholding class ináthe South. TheáTexas annexation, which extended theástateĺs border toáthe Rio Grande river, was aáclear act ofáprovocation against Mexico, which had historical claims toáparts ofáTexas. Theáannexation sparked theáMexican-American war ofá1846-48, which theáU.S. won, giving it ownership ofáa huge swath ofáwestern territories fromáColorado toáCalifornia.
Similarly, Hawaii was annexed iná1898 after theáU.S. orchestrated aácoup overthrowing theáHawaiian monarchy iná1893. Theámain economic motive ofáthe coup was toáexploit Hawaiiĺs sugar wealth andápromote theáinterests ofáthe five largest U.S. sugarcane-processing corporations working onáthe islands.
But it is odd that Russia is pointing toáa 19th-century U.S. imperialist model ofáexpansion toájustify its annexation ofáCrimea. Is Russia still living ináthe 19th century, pursuing its own form ofámanifest destiny? Clearly, theápost-World War II world order, which is based onáUnited Nations-based system ofáinternational law andárespecting theáterritorial integrity ofáother nations, rejects these crude 19th-century andáearly 20th-century land grabs.
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