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Crimean referendum fruit of NATO expansion and our lack of respect

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 - 12:01 am

The United States is “preaching temperance from a barstool” about Russian involvement in Crimea.

Our elected leaders and pundits appear shocked that a large powerful country would violate the sovereignty of a smaller country. Our protestations would be more effective if we hadn’t invaded over 50 countries since World War II.

Our past and current foreign policy belies that notion that we act from the purist of democratic principles while others (i.e., Russia) act only in their national interest. Our neoconservatives seem confused by the Crimean referendum to rejoin Russia. They call the vote illegitimate when their 82 percent participation is much higher than recent American elections. If the presence of foreign troops makes voting illegitimate, then elections in Afghanistan and Iraq also must be illegitimate.

Too many Americans appear eager for conflict with Russia. These are probably the same people who claim America is the world’s only superpower, while Russia maintains more than enough hydrogen bombs to destroy our planet.

The lesson of the Cuban missile crisis is that we should never repeat that scenario. People who talk about “being on the right side of history” should consider that war with Russia could be the end of history. No one will win World War III.

Most Americans are unable to understand Russia because they don’t know that the Soviet Union did most of the fighting against Germany in World War II. They fought 200 German divisions, while we fought 10. Russia lost most of its western cities fighting German advance. We lost 408,000 soldiers in World War II, while the Soviet Union lost over 27 million men, women and children.

Tensions with Russia are not the result of any American weakness. The Crimean referendum is the fruit of aggressive expansion of NATO and our lack of respect for the sovereignty of other nations. Crimea is similar to our creation and control of Panama. The world is more likely to follow a good example than American exceptionalism and hypocrisy.

Tim Tiernon is a resident of Fort Wayne.