The question has been raised, Is Vlad Putin Crazy?
Nobody asked that same question of George W. Bush. I recall there was a saying in the case of Bush that a village was missing its idiot.
Both Bush and Putin ordered invasions of other countries for what they both considered the best national interest of their respective nations. The difference seems to be that Putin wants the Ukraine to re-become a part of Russia (using force), whereas we occupied Afghanistan originally based on the concept of punishing extremists there who contributed to the 9-11 attacks.
But Afghanistan has over a 10-year war become a virtual U.S. Colony. We're still saying we'll eventually leave which makes it in our eyes okay.
Consider this recent statement from White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
"In this century, we are long past the days when the international community will stand by quietly while one country forcibly seizes the territory of another."
Long past? Not that long ago.
We seize territory. At the time of the beginning of the 10-year Iraq War when the head of the United Nations described the invasion as "The law of the jungle," this bothered us not a bit. We went ahead even though UN weapons inspectors were in Iraq searching for the weapons of mass destruction that were the alleged reason for the invasion and were not finding them. They were even in the Baghdad palace searching through Saddam Hussein's drawers. No weapons of Mass D.
It didn't matter. Basically, Bush said to the UN, "You're too late, get out of the way."
Russia once invaded Afghanistan to influence events there. So did we later on.
Further back in the 60's Russia invaded Czechoslovakia to influence events there. We did Vietnam.
But we were in the right.
The U.S. has been dropping drone bombs on Yemen in an undeclared war with no public discussion. The U.S. uses armed force as an instrument of foreign policy. But we're always in the right, unlike the Russians.
Let's look at Iraq again. Because a bunch of nut-jobs from Saudi Arabia did the 9-11 attacks, we invaded Iraq, which Bush himself admitted publicly had nothing to do with 9-11 after years of steadfastly and dishonestly maintaining the opposite. We attack Iraq to do a regime change of a former ally (Saddam) and because we don't want to attack Saudi Arabia, the home of the 9-11 nuts, because the corrupt sultans who rule Saudi Arabia we are friendly with.
This is not a defense of Putin. If you think I like Putin, read my earlier column "Our 10 Favorite Dictators." I described him as a troll in a suit. But I didn't like Bush either, and Obama has continued down the same road.
This column is instead a castigation of what could be seen as a little hypocrisy, or as they used to say, "The pot calling the kettle black."
For the United States, which has resorted to the use of armed force to influence foreign policy around the world as much as any other country, to lecture another country against using armed force----to me is somewhat disingenuous----even though many Americans believe our conflicts, all of them, are always in the right.
The difference seems to be that we fight mostly small impoverished countries to force them to behave in a manner we find acceptable and to establish ruling regimes friendly to us. Russia on the other hand conquers territory it formerly (for centuries) possessed and holds a suspect election to establish a regime friendly to it.
So you see there's a huge difference. I'm being facetious.
I don't personally believe we're always, all the time, every single time, in the right. I don't believe armed conflict to change the political map is always and every time the best thing to do. It often creates more new problems than it solves.
Both Iraq and Afghanistan were originally falsely portrayed by our government as seeming "punitive strikes" that sounded like they would be over quickly, though no time-table was given. Instead, they morphed into decades-long conflicts in which some of our soldiers served as many as several individual deployments, damaged our economy, and way more people died in the resulting crossfire than just the perpetrators of terrorism.
Does Jay Carney's statement that the world will not stand by in the face of aggression also apply to us and our recent past? Does that mean there has been a shift in our government away from the trigger-happy devious criminality of George Bush and the concept many Americans still seem to have that they never saw an American war they didn't like?
Power politics using armed force is of course not new. What is new is if we take on Russia as a cold or hot war opponent. Look at our list of adversaries in recent decades, it reads like a who's who of tiny, impoverished Third World Countries, Iraq, Afghanistan, Granada, Vietnam.
The Russian bear is a different animal. I predict the U.S. will be much more cautious with this beast than it has been with its earlier and usually much smaller opponents.