Would President Obama stand by allowing left wing revolutionaries to force the Mexican government out of office? What would he do if it looked like this was going to lead to civil disorder or war; and then imagine his reaction if there was a large enclave of English-speaking, pro-Americans on the Mexico side of the USA border, who voted to become part of the United States?
This is not a fatuous comparison. We know what the USA would do. They invaded and annexed New Mexico in 1846, then sixty years later invaded without declaring war (Veracruz), then in 1916 sent in a cavalry brigade to capture Pancho Villa.
But that’s ancient history. With nothing like the same justification…. However, in 1983 the USA invaded Grenada – in what was the embarrassingly pathetic Operation Urgent Fury. Despite international condemnation, 7300 Marines, Seals and Rangers piled in to defeat 1500 poorly-equipped Grenadians, 722 Cubans and 24 North Koreans (for which afterwards they were awarded 5000 medals). Nineteen American soldiers, 45 Grenadian and 25 Cuban soldiers plus 24 civilians were killed.
This was a good example of ‘too much too late’. By contrast President Putin’s actions in the Crimea are measured and responsible. He appears to be a statesman. Obama, Kerry and now Vice President Joe Biden do not.
The USA does not tolerate any instability in its own backyard. Why should Russia? Despite the so-called “Kerry Doctrine”, the USA isn’t going to sit back and allow left wing instability in the Caribbean, central America or further south. The Monroe Doctrine isn’t just going to be shelved because John Kerry tries to tell us it’s dead!
But in the Crimea, which is geographically far more salient to Russia than Mexico is to the USA, the stakes are actually much higher for everyone involved – except the USA that is. There are unpleasant factions in the Ukraine: the “Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites” Putin refers to in today’s speech. At the same time, the ‘new’ Ukraine president is likening Putin to Hitler for annexing parts of other people’s countries. This could get very nasty across the Ukraine as well as in Crimea.
The outside world ought to be working with Putin to maintain stability. Unfortunately they’ve forced him to back the Crimean referendum and now to approve the independence of the Crimea. It was of course independent anyway, albeit within Ukraine.
Countries are not inviolate territories to be defended on principle, but agglomerations of peoples who should be allowed to live as they wish: Scottish independence for example. After a long period of feeling threatened, the Russian majority in the Crimea has responded to the instability of Ukraine by requesting reunification with Russia and its protection.
America needs to understand that this is more important than their ideological problem with Russia.
The United Kingdom needs to weigh in heavily on the side of the Crimean people. The right of a people to live as it wishes is after all why soldiers like me and my comrades-at-arms in the British Commandos and Paras fought the Falklands War over thirty years ago.