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Moral Authority Squandered

Filed under: International Affairs
Tags: , ,

One of the most insidious hangovers of the Iraq war debacle is that the United States has now lost any moral or legal authority it previously had to criticize other countries’ unjustified military aggression. Even worse, all we have to show for it is Bosnia-in-the-desert and thousands of lives lost and harmed. 

As the latest in an eternal line of brutal Russian mafia dons prepares to destroy Ukraine, the only thing the US can do is shut down the Russian oligarchy’s access to its money, and urge other countries to do the same. Good luck getting the Swiss to play ball. 


  • Bruce Beyer

    Gosh Alan, don’t you think it’s really too bad that “Russia couldn’t shut down the American oligarchy’s access to its money, and urge the other countries to do the same”. I think that was what France was trying to say back in “03.

    • America’s wealthy don’t keep money or investments in Russia

      • hwhamlin

        Look up the Magnitsky Act.

    • Ismaeal Naji

      yeah, let’s just destroy the world’s economy in one fell swoop!

  • hwhamlin

    Obama — Chicken Kiev.
    Putin is doing donuts on Barry’s front lawn again, and Barry is going to have conversations with other countries about how nice it would be for there to be “consequences”.

    • Bruce Beyer

      I got an idea, why doesn’t “Barry” just start a war. Aha, WW III that’s the war without winners.

      • No, WW2 had winners and losers.

      • Bruce Beyer

        Civilians killed — 38-55 million
        Military causalities — 22-25 million

        Corporate profit after US taxes — doubled

        That’s a lot of winners and losers.

      • Hard to find people who would have let Hitler keep all of Europe and north Africa, and Japan keep its conquests. You keep on keeping on.

      • hwhamlin

        I’m sure that Neville Chamberlain is the Patron Saint of the WNY Peace Center — as was Bertrand Russell the Patron of the Buffalo Nine.

      • Bruce Beyer

        Hard to find a man I admire more that Bertrand Russell. I don’t remember the Buffalo Nine having “patron saints” but I’ll raise the issue at our next “cell” meeting. 4 of 9 were Vietnam vets -1 Korean war & 3 Vietnam but I’m sure that we all aligned with Russell’s statement — “War does not determine who is right — only who is left”.

      • Had the US not intervened in World War 2, there would be no Jews left in Europe, no Roma left in Europe, Slavs would be enslaved, and German would be much more widely spoken.

    • BlackRockLifer

      What do you suggest? Should Obama follow the Republican strategy of blindly sending American soldiers to die with no clear mission or chance of success?

      • UncleBluck

        Your asking that question to a guy who has a Dick Cheney poster on his bedroom ceiling……

      • hwhamlin

        Obviously, Barry should draw another “Red Line”, and talk tough.
        Surely by now he’s demonstrated that his words are an actual superpower.

      • John Wilcox

        What you say would have so much more meaning if you and your ilk weren’t such habitual hypocrites.

      • Classic punt. Don’t answer the question – just mock the black guy.

    • Georgia 2008.

      • Scott Whitmire

        Exactly. W was not exactly know to be timid about chucking bombs. These pieces have been moving for decades, and it wouldn’t matter who was in the White House. The truth is, even absent Iraq, we would never go to war to liberate Ukraine from the Russians.

        Believe me, I have little but contempt for Obama but playing the hand dealt from 2008 left little in the tank to do anything about this but squawk.

        It would be nice, however, to have a president that when confronted with the idea the Russia is our major geopolitical foe responded with a thoughtful answer (perhaps even realizing Romney was probably correct) instead of some dickhead “he-he the 80’s called and they want their policy back.”

      • Russia is Mexico with a bigger army and even bigger landmass. It’s been relegated to bribing and/or obliterating its former constituent republics. I don’t envy Russia’s position (or people) one bit, and it looks likely that Ukraine will be partitioned. (See, e.g., Transnistria).

      • Jon

        No, You are mistaken. Russia is the United States who took half of Mexico’s territory when it suited them and had superior military power.

  • Sean Danvers

    It is pretty funny to hear US Gov’t officials decrying the invasion of a sovereign nation on a flimsy pretext.

  • Mr.Snooks

    Russia’s stock and currency are being clobbered today. The shirtless one is planning an exit stratagem as we speak.

  • starrrbuck

    Iraq aside, has better “moral authority” ever been able to prevent, limit, or undo any USSR/Russia military actions?

    Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Afghanistan, … ?

    In arenas of public relations and world opinion, wouldn’t Putin and other adversaries of the U.S. point to other things such as the U.S. (and British) bombing Lybia in 2011, U.S. advocacy of bombing Syria in 2013, hundreds of drone strikes in Pakistan/Yemen/Somalia in recent years, the U.S. staying for so long in Afghanistan, …

    Moral authority might be nice as a feel good ego thing or self esteem, but I’m asking has it ever made any real practical difference for a matter such as Russian action in Ukraine?

    • The United States can come up with many justifications for either engaging or disengaging in any international crisis. However, we have effectively lost the ability to critique – with a straight face – unilateral, pre-emptive / pretextually justified military invasion of a sovereign nation-state because we so foolishly did it ourselves just 10 years ago.

      I think economic pressure on Putin’s mafia is appropriate, and that we need to examine what our rights and obligations are under treaties covering the territorial integrity of Ukraine. Clearly, however, there aren’t going to be American ground forces in Ukraine. Putin’s thin legitimacy is supported by graft. Attacking that is the only way to deal with him.

      • starrrbuck

        I see what you’re saying with the rest of what you wrote about distinguishing between unilateral (= 7 nations, mainly U.S., also U.K., Australia, and 5 others) pre-emptive invasion in Iraq vs. unilateral (= 10 nations, mainly U.S., and 9 others) 2011 bombing in Libya or unilateral (we’ll never know how many nations) 2013 bombing in Syria, or unilateral 1-nation U.S. preemptive drone attacks in several nations.

        Unilateral now often refers to multiple nations (7 for Iraq invasion, 10 for Libya bombing, etc.), and invasion is different from bombing or drone attacks. True and true.

        But I’m still not aware of when the U.S. critiquing with a straight face and moral authority caused any helpful real impact on anything similar to what’s going on now with the Russian army in Ukraine. That’s what I’m curious whether there were any past occasions that I’m forgetting or never heard about.

  • Colin Eager

    The US government lost that moral authority long before the 2003 war.

  • jimd54

    Who in the world has “moral authority” to do anything? The worlds hands are dirty.

  • hwhamlin

    Moral authority is one thing (and completely irrelevant to Putin).
    Quite another thing is the ability to convince Putin that there may be adverse consequences to his actions.
    That depends on how things have gone in recent times between the two countries.
    Unfortunately, the thuggish Putin has observed Barry’s impotence time and time again over the last five years, and has won all the faceoffs — on nuclear weapons negotiations, on asylum for Edward Snowden, on convincing Barry to undercut our allies in Poland and the Czech Republic, on dismantling the nuclear missile shield in Poland on the exact anniversary of Hitler’s invasion, on ties with Egypt, on strengthening the murderous Assad in Syria, and now on the invasion of Crimea.
    Unfortunately, the score of this game has already been decided. Putin by forfeit.

    • What adverse consequences? The ones I mention in the original piece, which are targeted towards the kleptocracy squirreling away its wealth in Europe and Caribbean? Or are you suggesting that the US and/or NATO wage war against Russia on the Ukranians’ behalf? You think that a nuclear weapon shield in Poland is going to magically prevent a nuclear apocalypse, or are you just trolling again? I’m sure you pine for the days where questions were easy and answers were very simply responded to within the context of a bipolar global world, but the fact is that Putin’s geopolitical actions are hardly as rational or predictable as those of his Communist ancestors, and when you are dealing with someone with nothing to lose and no conscience, someone who wages war at the drop of a hat, you have to choose between containment or catastrophe.

      I’m sorry that you’re so enamored with Mr. Putin. Perhaps you should move there. He is shirtless and wrestles bears.

      • hwhamlin

        It’s too bad that Barry and his worst-ever AG “Geoffrey” Holder decided last year to ignore enforcement (sound familiar?) of the Magnitsky Act, or you might have some “consequences” to report, by way of pressure on the Russian kleptocracy.
        As it is, Barry will emulate his patron saint Jimmuh Carter (boycotted the 1980 Olympics), and decided to stay home from the Sochi G-8 meeting this year, and play golf instead. Wow, Vladdy ought to be quaking now!
        Incidentally, Barry also decided to skip his National Security briefing this past Saturday – while Putin was invading Crimea – and settled for a synopsis from Susan (“Those naughty Benghazi movie critics!”) Rice.

      • Right. Because what – Jimmy Carter was wrong to boycott the 1980 Olympics because of Russia’s invasion of Afghanistan? Or should we have gone to war with Russia over it?

        As for the Magnitsky Act, I wonder why a refusal to enforce it isn’t mentioned in this article the pinkos at National Review posted yesterday?

      • hwhamlin
      • Accuracy in Media? You must be joking.