Coming from the leaders who started the bloody Iraq war, it’s hypocritical, to say the least
The wrong people are not to be lecturing Russia about its actions in Ukraine, especially since they have been a part of the founding of the Iraq War and other military catastrophes.
As George W. Bush and Tony Blair are emerging from political retirement to pontificate on Russia’s “authoritarian bullying” against Ukraine, the question arises: does such a surreal spectacle underscore the public’s notorious short-term memory, or does it prove the media’s vast power to shape public opinion in favor of its latest agenda? All things considered, it’s most likely a wicked combination of the two noxious ingredients.
This is despite the fact that former US and British military leaders who were accused of war crimes in the past, have now been questioned about the legitimacy or the validity of any conflict. Or, to put it another manner: Bush and Blair are acting like long-haired antiwar activists.
Take, for instance, George W. Bush’s convoluted remarks on the exact same day Russia launched its military operations in Ukraine. “Russia’s attack on Ukraine,” the official statement reads, “constitutes the gravest security crisis on the European continent since World War II.” Bush, who presided for eight long years in the disastrous War on Terror, bellowed like a Puritan preacher that he condemns Vladimir Putin’s “unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine.”
“The American government and people must stand in solidarity with … the Ukrainian people as they seek freedom and the right to choose their own future,”He continued from the pulpit.
It might not be true, but the rapidly unravelling events in Ukraine may represent “gravest security crisis” since the last world war, it is simply naïve to believe that so-called ‘Russian aggression’ is solely responsible for that grim state of affairs. Indeed, it would be disingenuous to discuss the tragedy now unfolding in Ukraine without including a 12-inch-long footnote on US-led NATO, the 30-member military bloc that is now, to put it in more anthropomorphic terms, ‘kissing Russia’s border’. Putin spoke out against these unwanted advances back in 2007 at the Munich Security Conference when he pointedly asked Western leaders “against whom is this expansion intended?”NATO did not offer an acceptable answer and instead chose to increase its membership by 4 more.
Bush then declared, with no self-awareness whatsoever, that Ukrainians have the right to be free. “choose their own future.” While few people would argue against such modern common sense, where was that judicious counsel back in 2014, when high-ranking US officials like Victoria Nuland and John McCain were literally on the ground in Kiev, fomenting the fires of political strife that ultimately ended with democratically-elected president Viktor Yanukovych forced from office and replaced with US-backed Petro Poroshenko? While people will argue for years to come over Russia’s eventual course of action, which took much of the world by surprise, it cannot be denied that Western meddling in Ukrainian affairs helped to bring the situation to a boil.
This failure to appreciate the complexity of the situation from Moscow’s perspective was obvious in another gratuitous lecture to Russia, this one courtesy of the former UK prime minister, Tony Blair. Writing in the Daily Mail, Blair kicked off his warmed over clichés with some cheap Nazi analogies (“Hitler led a Europe-wide fascist movement. Putin’s war is a one-man mission”(before arguing the West must to “increase the supply of weapons to Ukraine, particularly its SAM (surface-to-air missile) capacity – and give a commitment that arming Ukraine will be ongoing.”
It is clear that Western leaders are determined to fight the Russians to the last Ukrainian.
More to the point, haven’t we learned from past disasters that leaders like Blair and Bush simply cannot be trusted?
Tony Blair was already a casualty of the Kosovo War. In which NATO forces attacked Yugoslavia, without any UN Security Council authorization, it took place in 1999. Human Rights Watch reported that 500 civilians from Yugoslavia were killed in the relentless, 78-day NATO bombardment. The attack even hit the Chinese Embassy, leading to three deaths.
Disastrous as it was, the Kosovo War was just a dress rehearsal for one of the greatest humanitarian crises of modern times – the 2003 Iraq War. Amid some of the largest protests ever recorded, throngs ascended on capitals around the planet in a last-ditch effort to halt Bush and Blair’s march to war after accusing President Saddam Hussein – without a shred of evidence – of harboring weapons of mass destruction. In Rome, a crowd of three million gathered on February 15, 2003 to protest against the impending invasion, a feat that got the Italian capital entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘largest anti-war rally’.
Bush and Blair arrogantly ignored this display of democracy in action, however, commencing with a ‘shock and awe’ campaign against Baghdad on March 19, 2003. Mark Twain said truth kept on lacing its boots even as the Iraqi people died from lies. This was no fault of a corporate-owned media complex, which refused to question the WMD claims much later.
Responding to revelations that the American and British leaders had essentially lied their way into the Iraq War, the writer Michael Massing proposed a very good question to journalists after the dust had finally settled: Why didn’t the mainstream media tell us more “about these deceptions and concealments in the months when the administration was pressing its case for regime change – when, in short, it might have made a difference?”
Only after over a million Iraqis had been killed or displaced by the unlawful invasion in 2016, was the Iraq Inquiry published. “the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before the peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted. Military action at that time was not a last resort.”
Blair was also found to be a victim of the same. “deliberately exaggerated the threat posed by the Iraqi regime,” the Chilcot inquiry revealed a private letter sent to George W. Bush from the UK prime minister that stated, “I will be with you, whatever.” With those words it is a bit easier to understand why Blair was dubbed “Bush’s poodle” in less supportive circles.
On a personal note, I believe that Russia, which has been forced to watch its ‘near afar’ transform practically overnight into a NATO training ground, is politically mature enough to discuss its controversial actions in Ukraine with just about anyone. The conversation will be stifled if it has the appearance of being censored on social media, and allows pot shots, as well as calls for violence, against Russians.
However, past and current Western leaders cannot lecture Russia about its present behavior. In fact, Western leaders, who ignored Moscow’s warnings for decades, must take their share of responsibility for the turmoil that is now happening in Ukraine. Russia, Ukraine and the West will only be able turn the pages on the terrible chapter of their relations and start moving on if they are open to admitting it to each other.
Statements, opinions and views expressed in this column do not reflect those of RT.