Reprinted from Consortium News
President Barack Obama talks with Ambassador Samantha Power, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, following a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Sept. 12, 2013.
(image by (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)) DMCA
Sometimes I'm challenged over my linking belligerent neoconservatives with "liberal interventionists" who justify U.S. military invasions under the "humanitarian" banner of "responsibility to protect" -- or R2P -- meaning to intervene in war-torn countries to stop the killing of civilians, like the 1994 slaughter in Rwanda.
And, most people would agree that there are extraordinary situations in which the timely arrival of an external military force might prevent genocide or other atrocities, which was one of the intended functions of the United Nations. But my overall impression of R2Pers is that many are careerist hypocrites who voice selective outrage that provides cover for the U.S. and its allies to do pretty much whatever they wish.
So, while many R2Pers were eager to seek war against the Syrian government when it cracked down on both peaceful and violent opponents in 2011 -- and especially after a mysterious Sarin gas attack in 2013 -- many of the star R2Pers went silent when Israel bombarded Gaza in 2008-09 and again in 2014.
The reason is obvious: There was no powerful lobby defending the Syrian government but there was one protecting the Israeli government. Additionally, the mainstream U.S. media is hostile to the Syrian government but almost universally supports the Israeli government. In other words, many R2Pers practice a double standard depending on who's doing the killing of civilians.
In 2011, the neocons and the R2Pers teamed up for a war against Libya, which was sold to the United Nations Security Council as simply a limited intervention to protect civilians in the east whom Muammar Gaddafi had labeled "terrorists." However, once the U.S.-orchestrated military operation got going, it quickly turned into a "regime change" war, killing Gaddafi and unleashing bloody chaos across Libya and neighboring African countries. It turns out that Gaddafi was right about many of his enemies being Islamic terrorists.
The Ukraine Case
We saw this neocon-R2P "chaos promotion" again in Ukraine where neoconservative officials and "liberal interventionist" activists rallied to the cause of the Maidan protesters when they challenged the elected government of President Viktor Yanukovych in late 2013 and early 2014.
On Feb. 20, 2014, when unidentified snipers killed both police and protesters, the neocons and R2Pers along with the Western media blamed Yanukovych -- though he insisted that he had ordered the police NOT to use deadly force -- and later studies suggested the snipers were likely working for the anti-Yanukovych side and had fired from locations controlled by the Right Sektor, extremists associated with the Maidan's neo-Nazi "self-defense" commandant Andriy Parubiy.
If indeed the sniper attack was a false-flag provocation, it worked, laying the bloody groundwork for the violent overthrow of Yanukovych two days later. Since then, the U.S.-backed regime in Kiev has dragged its feet on the sniper investigation, but independent field reports, including one from the BBC, indicated that the snipers likely were associated with the protesters, not the Yanukovych government. [Another worthwhile documentary on this mystery is "Maidan Massacre."]
But the West favored a Ukraine narrative that made the Maidan coup-makers the good guys and Yanukovych's supporters the bad guys. This was the view not only of neocons, like Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, but prominent R2Pers like New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. In April 2014, he returned to his family's ancestral home in Karapchiv in western Ukraine to interview some of its residents and presented their views as the true voice of the people.
Kristof depicted his father's old home town as an idyllic place where everyone loves the music of Taylor Swift and dreams of their place in a prosperous Europe -- if only President Barack Obama would send them weapons to kill Russians (or go "bear-hunting" as Kristof wrote in one column).
Pretty soon that desired outcome had become a reality. On May 2, 2014, pro-regime neo-Nazis massacred scores of ethnic Russians by the burning down of the Trade Union Building in Odessa. Amid the horror -- and reports of graffiti hailing the Galician SS, one of western Ukraine's contributions to the Nazi war effort -- there was little protest from the R2P community or from the West in general. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Ukraine's Dr. Strangelove Reality."]
Similarly, when Kiev's coup regime announced its "anti-terrorist operation" to destroy the resistance in eastern Ukraine -- and again dispatched neo-Nazi militias to spearhead the killing -- the thousands of deaths, mostly among ethnic Russians, were blamed on "Russian aggression" and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The R2Pers showed very little outrage even when the Kiev forces began shelling cities and leveling towns. [See Consortiumnews.com's "Seeing No Neo-Nazi Militias in Ukraine."]
A couple of human rights groups did take note of some outrages. Amnesty International reported abuses committed by Kiev's far-right Aidar militia against civilians: "Members of the Aidar territorial defense battalion, operating in the north Luhansk region, have been involved in widespread abuses, including abductions, unlawful detention, ill-treatment, theft, extortion, and possible executions. ... Some of the abuses committed by members of the Aidar battalion amount to war crimes, for which both the perpetrators and, possibly, the commanders would bear responsibility under national and international law."