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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/21/22

What About Zelenskyy's Proposal to Protect Democracies Around the World?

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The Oligarchs - Michelle Post
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Zelenskyy's proposal is an important conversation to engage, and the American press, by ignoring it, does a disservice to the cause of world peace

Ukraine's President Zelenskyy yesterday proposed that the world create a new agency, one that is well-armed enough to take on the most powerful nations, to defend smaller countries and, particularly, smaller democracies that are under attack from larger nations.

The American press is ignoring it. But it's the opening for a conversation the world should engage now, as democracies around the world are increasingly failing and under attack.

As Freedom House noted:

"The present threat to democracy is the product of 16 consecutive years of decline in global freedom. A total of 60 countries suffered declines over the past year, while only 25 improved. As of today, some 38 percent of the global population live in Not Free countries, the highest proportion since 1997. Only about 20 percent now live in Free countries"."

Zelenskyy began by pointing out that Russia's attack on Ukraine wasn't just a land-grab; it was also an attempt to destroy a democracy on Russia's borders, a vital and vibrant democracy that was offering an uncomfortable alternative to Putin's strongman oligarchy.

"Russia has attacked not just us, not just our land, not just our cities," Zelenskyy told the US Congress, "it went on a brutal offensive against our values, basic human values. It threw tanks and planes against our freedom, against our right to live freely in our own country, choosing our own future."

Ukraine had previously trusted that the Budapest Memorandum, signed by US President Clinton, Russian President Boris Yeltsin, Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, and British Prime Minister John Major on Dec. 5, 1994, would protect their integrity as a nation after they gave up over 1900 nuclear weapons in exchange for a promise of peace.

As I noted last week, it required the US, Russia, and the UK to respect the borders of Ukraine. Tragically, as Ukraine discovered in 2014 when Russia walked in and annexed Crimea, the Budapest Memorandum didn't have an enforcement mechanism. It's sort of like passing a law in your town that outlaws burglary but also fires the police department and the courts.

Similarly, while the UN has peacekeeping troops and every European nation has its own small military, there is no international or multinational force large enough to protect non-NATO small nations from attack by larger ones, particularly when the larger ones gang up together.

We saw this writ large recently when George W. Bush and Dick Cheney infamously lied us and 48 other "coalition of the willing" nations into attacking Iraq and wreaking devastation on that nation for two decades in ways that were even more severe (so far) in terms of lost lives and property destruction than the Russian attack on Ukraine.

My generation saw the same happen when LBJ lied us into the Vietnam War - and the slaughter of an estimated 2 million Vietnamese people (and Nixon's bombing of civilians in Cambodia and Laos) - after that country had driven out the French.

America has always liked to believe we're the "good guys," and sometimes we were. Franklin Roosevelt invoked that when he roused the nation a year before we entered World War II with his December 29, 1940, speech to the nation calling for armament in defense of Great Britain:

"The experience of the past two years has proven beyond doubt that no nation can appease the Nazis. No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it.

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Thom Hartmann is a Project Censored Award-winning New York Times best-selling author, and host of a nationally syndicated daily progressive talk program on the Air America Radio Network, live noon-3 PM ET. His most recent books are "The Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "Unequal Protection: The Rise of Corporate Dominance and the Theft of Human Rights," "We The People," "What Would Jefferson Do?," "Screwed: The Undeclared War Against the Middle (more...)

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