Sunday, March 02, 2014
The Harrowing Cynicism
2 March 2014
John F. Kerry, Secretary
United States Department of State
2201 C Street NW
Washington, DC 20520
Dear Mr. Secretary,
In remarks you made on broadcast television today regarding Russian military aggression in the Crimean peninsula of Ukraine, you made a rather startling statement, which I quote: “You just don't in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped up pretext.”
Generally, when someone commenting on the day’s news makes me laugh, it is a comedian such as Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert. It is a rare day when an elected official or cabinet officer gets my funny bone, and this remark is all the funnier in that it was delivered without a hint of irony and seemingly in earnest.
While I uphold a policy that defends Ukraine’s rights to self-determination against aggression by Russia, a remark like this sadly reveals why the United States has no moral ground with respect to military aggression. I am sure you know what I am talking about, but I will proceed with the following points all the same.
In 2002, while you served in the United States Senate, you voted to authorize President Bush’s (and Vice-President Richard Cheney’s) controversial rush toward the invasion of Iraq. You did this in spite of controversy and alarming questions that were raised at the time regarding the pretext for that war.
In 2004, when you were a candidate for President of the United States, your criticism of the invasion and occupation of Iraq was not to state that “You just don't in the 21st Century behave in 19th Century fashion by invading another country on a completely trumped up pretext.” Instead, you criticized President Bush simply for not carrying out his aggression properly, and made the case you would have done a better job of it.
We invaded and occupied a country on a completely trumped up pretext, in the face of mass opposition all over the world. That memory is fresh in the minds of citizens of conscience and our own corruption in this respect undermines the moral case you are trying to make. And there is the ongoing folly of our invasion of Iraq, besides the human devastation and economic ruin it has caused: we lack solid footing for opposing similar behavior by other powers.
While we must oppose Russian aggression against Ukraine, we do so as a giant hypocrite on the world stage. Thus, even a good foreign policy may be undermined – as we were warned in 2002, during the heated rush to a war against someone who had not attacked us. This will, incidentally, come back to haunt your colleague Senator Clinton, if she runs for President as is widely expected.
It might be well for the United States to work within a coalition and allow one of the nations that opposed the invasion of Iraq to be the spokesman. I would at any rate beg you not to make unintentionally hilarious statements about military aggression and trumped up pretexts – for after the laughter, comes the harrowing cynicism.