Russia uses what-about-ism as an excuse for violations of UN rules of war.
The media in the USA, Denmark, and on BBC report that today is the 20 year anniversary for America invading Iraq on false grounds and without a UN mandate.
No, there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and yes, the war was terrible and had devastating consequences – for the people of Iraq and to a large extent for Europe.
The US went into Iraq without the approval of the Security Council – so did Putin when he invaded the Crimean peninsula and later Ukraine. Russia´s justification goes like this: the West does not obey by the rules that they claim everyone else must follow for world order.
Still, Europe must not fall into Putin and Xi’s trap and withdraw dritizism.
In the United States, we are seeing cracks within the Republican wing. Certain politicians, including the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, who also has presidential ambitions, are agitating for the United States not to be involved in conflicts outside the country’s borders. The well-known policy of isolationism is alive and well.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Putin is happy to letting the discussion in America unfolds, the agenda fits perfectly with his discourse. We seem to be perfectly capable in the West to get lost in domestic political arguments about the war and completely miss the bigger picture of why or why not to get involved. If the political fractions in America keep quarreling, plays perfectly into his hand – without much effort, America helps him get his work done.
Sergei Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said in early March on his trip to India that if the United States has the right to invade a country, why doesn’t Russia? In one sentence he argued that the West has no right to have a position on the war in Ukraine and is even partly to blame for it given past actions. According to the UN charter, neither the war in Iraq nor in Ukraine was legal – but that does not mean that Russia can justify the war in Ukraine with the US invasion of Iraq 20 years ago.
Totalitarian countries that are ideologically far from the West’s standards when it comes to democracy and human rights have found a rhetorical argument that we must be careful not to accept. Arguments and excuses that actions can be justified based on similar actions done in the past.
It’s like talking to a child who has gotten into a fight at school. “He started it,” says the kid, and thus says that his actions are justified. But it’s not what most of us teach our children – so why do we accept the rhetorical manipulation when it comes from grown-up politicians?
I am terrified of what will come out of the meeting between Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi. China could have cancelled the meeting after the ICC announced that Putin is a wanted war criminal as a response to the thousands of children who have been abducted and taken across the border from Ukraine to Russia. Putin is now wanted for human rights violations in 123 countries.
If Xi doesn’t touch the wrong doorknob, fall out of a window, or eat something poisonous, we’ll see him and Putin on a press conference announcing to the world they have agreed on new trade deals. Trade deals which – as now – means that the “goods” they trade can be taken apart and used in Russia’s warfare against Ukraine. Time will tell, how we in the West reacts to this – and the future will later judge those reactions.
Europa må ikke falde i Putin og Xis fælde og trække følehornene til sig
Rusland bruger whataboutism som undskyldning for brud på FN’s regler om krigsførelse.