Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall announced last week that he was considering a ban on Russian vodka in government liquor stores. By imposing such a ban, he told reporters, “we can send a small signal about what Saskatchewan thinks about Russian aggression in Ukraine.”
While Russian leader Vladimir Putin is undoubtedly shaking in his boots at this terrifying prospect, one has to ask Mr. Wall whether he expressed the same concern for foreign “aggression” in 2003.
It was in that year that the United States launched an unprovoked war against a relatively small, weak country that posed no threat to it. The full-scale invasion of Iraq destroyed a modern nation-state and led to the deaths of an estimated one million people, to say nothing of the vast number of refugees. Did Mr. Wall then express his support for banning Budweiser?
Since the end of the Second World War, no country has waged aggressive warfare – ruled the “supreme international crime” at the Nuremberg trials – more often than the United States. In country after country, American leaders have never displayed qualms about using military intervention to defend their interests.
By and large, Canada has supported its ally in these endeavours. Aside from sending in Canadian troops to assist in Afghanistan, Canada has either assisted and supported such aggression or maintained a respectful silence.
Where are the Canadian politicians denouncing the unrestrained use of drones by our ally against civilians in countries such as Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia? The Obama administration has killed thousands of people in these nations without any declaration of war. Regular reports document the transformation of wedding parties into horrific massacres, and yet the silence from Canadian politicians is deafening.
Similarly, the prevailing narrative of the situation in Ukraine omits some very significant – and for Western politicians, inconvenient – facts. While politicians and much of the media parrot a simplistic fairy tale of brave pro-Western democrats fighting an authoritarian pro-Russian government, the reality is more complex.
Regardless of its corruption, Ukrainian citizens democratically elected the administration of deposed president Victor Yanukovych. By contrast, the illegitimate government in Kiev receiving Canadian support came to power through a coup.
Further calling into question the democratic credentials of the regime in Kiev is the heavy presence of Ukrainian neo-Nazis. The ultra-nationalist, anti-Semitic Svoboda party now controls six cabinet positions in the new government, including defence.
Comparisons of Putin to Hitler by Western politicians are galling given their own support for a government stacked with neo-Nazis, who are starting to make their presence felt in Ukraine.
A Jewish community centre and synagogue was firebombed in February. Just last week, Svoboda MPs filmed themselves beating the head of Ukraine national TV and forcing him to resign. To speak of “democracy” in relation to such a government is an insult.
The dismissal of the referendum in Crimea supporting its annexation by Russia as “illegitimate” rings equally hollow in light of Western support for the same process in Kosovo. But Kosovo, we are told, was a “special case.”
The selective application of “international law” by Western governments recalls an observation by the Greek philosopher Anacharsis: “Written laws are like spiders’ webs, and will like them only entangle and hold the poor and weak, while the rich and powerful will easily break through them.”
Prince Albert Daily Herald