According to a readout of the meeting, “The Vice President commended the Prime Minister for the Ukrainian government’s commitment to move forward to stabilize Ukraine and its economy. He reiterated that the United States stands firmly behind Ukraine and the Ukrainian people in ensuring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Vice President underscored the continued strong support of the United States, and his personal support, as Ukrainians chart their own course for a democratic future.”
If anyone is keeping score, the U.S. made a show of disrespecting sovereignty when it invaded Iraq under former President Bush. Sovereignty in this context is defined as a country’s independent authority and the right to govern itself. Both President Obama and Vice President Biden have deliberately and carefully clarified that Ukraine has a right to govern itself and that the U.S. supports this right.
Vladimir Putin has also noticed this, and he has tried to excuse his actions toward Ukraine by bringing up what former President Bush did in Iraq. CNN reported that he “pointed out what he sees as a double standard by leaders in the United States and other Western countries, saying that the United States acted in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya without a U.N. resolution authorizing that action or by “twisting” U.N. resolutions.”
While in Libya, there was a U.N. resolution, the issue regarding Afghanistan can be argued both ways. However, all sane people agree that the glaring violation was the invasion of Iraq, based as it was upon a lie, and without U.N. support.
Putin doesn’t get to claim that because Bush did it, it’s okay for him. It was wrong when Bush did it and it’s wrong now. Furthermore, it is hardly a double standard when President Obama has been clear on his understanding of sovereignty, and voiced his opposition to the Iraq War in October of 2002. Saying that he was not anti-war, but rather anti-dumb war, then Senator Obama said (per NPR):
But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.
So for those of us who seek a more just and secure world for our children, let us send a clear message to the president today. You want a fight, President Bush? Let’s finish the fight with bin Laden and al-Qaida, through effective, coordinated intelligence, and a shutting down of the financial networks that support terrorism, and a homeland security program that involves more than color-coded warnings.
This administration is not the Bush administration, and nowhere is that more evident than their steady, calm, and effective approach to foreign policy. Only people who don’t pay attention think that there’s no difference between the parties. Obama is no Bush, and Biden is no Cheney.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.