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Not funny, but still hard not to laugh: How Can the US Accuse Russia of Violating International Law?

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(Article changed on March 3, 2014 at 12:57)

By Dave Lindorff

US invading troops in Panama, Russian troops in Crimea (
US invading troops in Panama, Russian troops in Crimea (
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If you want to make moral or legal pronouncements, or to condemn bad behavior, you have to be a moral, law-abiding person yourself. It is laughable when we see someone like Rush Limbaugh criticizing drug addicts or a corrupt politician like former Sen. John Ensign (R-NV) voting for more prisons, more cops, and tougher rules against appeals of sentences.


The same thing goes for nations.


And when it comes to hypocritical nations that make pious criticisms of other countries about the "rule of law" and the sanctity of "international law," it's hard to find a better laughing stock than the United States of America. 


After invading Iraq illegally in 2003, with no sanction from the UN, and no imminent threat being posed by that country to either the US or to any of Iraq's neighbors, after years of launching bombing raids, special forces assaults and drone-fired missile launches into countries like Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia, and killing hundreds of innocent men, women and children, after illegally capturing and holding, without charge or trial, hundreds of people it accuses of being terrorists and illegal combatants, after torturing thousands of captives, the US now accuses Russia of violating international law by sending troops into Crimea to protect a Russian population threatened by a violently anti-Russian Ukrainian government just installed in a coup.


How many times has the US sent troops into neighboring countries based upon the claim that it had to protect American citizens during a time of turmoil. We have Grenada in 1983, Panama in 1989, the Dominican Republic in 1965, and Haiti in 2003, for starters. Would the US hesitate for even a moment to send troops into Mexico if the Mexican government were overthrown in an anti-American coup, and if demonstrators who had led to that overthrow were attacking Americans?  Of course not.


The Panama invasion, and the overthrow and arrest and removal to the US of Panama's elected President Manuel Noriega, is particularly instructive, as it involved protecting a strategic US overseas base -- the US Canal Zone -- much as Russia is protecting its naval bases in Crimea, operated under a long-term lease from Ukraine but threatened by the recent Ukrainian coup.  The US, headed at the time by President George H.W. Bush, invaded Panama under the pretext of protecting Americans in that country, but the attack (which had been planned well in advance of any threats to Americans) quickly morphed into an overthrow of the Panamanian government, the arrest of its leader, and the installation of a US puppet leader.


But the US mocking of international law goes far beyond that...

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Dave Lindorff, winner of a 2019 "Izzy" Award for Outstanding Independent Journalism from the Park Center for Independent Media in Ithaca, is a founding member of the collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper (more...)
 

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