Vladimir Putin’s right about one thing: the West doesn’t observe its own rules

21 March 2014

10:10 AM

21 March 2014

10:10 AM

Congratulations to Stephen Glover for writing perhaps the only sensible piece about the Crimean crisis.

There is a certain force, too, to Putin’s charge that the West believes itself a chosen people to whom the normal moral rules do not apply. We have meddled, frequently with the help of military might, to spread our own creed of liberal evangelism across the world, regardless or not as to whether the people to whose aid we have come actually share our aspirations. It has been a staggeringly unsuccessful policy. Look at Iraq. Look at Syria. Look at Afghanistan.

I wonder too about the way the media reports these crusades. A while back I blogged here that we were not given the true picture of public feeling in Ukraine, suggesting that the east and south of the country, including Crimea, might view the defenestration of a democratically elected president with outrage. That was right, wasn’t it?

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  • maidanUK

    Many commenters here (incl. Rod) have been sadly misled by the Russian
    media. As someone who has Russian-speaking family in eastern Ukraine, let me
    help correct a few misunderstandings:

    1.Crimea is only 58% Russian-speaking and of those not all wanted to join
    Russia (source: national census)

    2.42% are Tatar or Ukrainian-speaking and do not want to join Russia – but
    boycotted the poll.

    3.Russian soldiers encouraged multiple voting and voting by non-resident
    Russian passport holders visiting (on film –

    4.the provinces of eastern Ukraine are not all majority Russian-speaking. The %
    of Russian speakers varies from 80%-90% in Donetsk & Luhansk near the
    border, down to 50-60% in Kharkiv oblast.

    5.Even those eastern speakers of Russian do not all wish to join Russia – the
    paid-for pro-Russian demonstrations do not reflect the wishes of the majority
    of people. Local discussions and local media reflect the wish of the majority
    to remain part of united Ukraine (but with friendly relations with Russia).

    6. There is not, and has not been, any discrimination against Russian speakers.
    Most families (like mine) are mixed. Having said that, most believe that the
    law should be changed to set equal status for both languages as official.

    7. There is not, and has not been, any evidence of anti-semitic attacks as
    claimed by Putin. Just another example of his Sudeten-approach.

  • davidshort10

    What they have in common is badly-fitting suits that look worse when buttoned up and without a tie. If men are going to continue not to wear a tie, they should start wearing buttoned-up round collar shirts.

  • FrankieThompson

    One word describing one place.


  • Jesse Du

    Neither Putin nor the west is the “bad guy”, and obiviously neither of them is the “good guy”. Those claims of “territorial integrity” and “Ukrainian sovereignty” by the west, as well as Russia’s pretext of “protecting Russian people” are nothing but clumsy excuses for their actions in Ukraine. Their only intentions are their own benefits. In politics there are no such things as justice and evil.

  • skara_brae

    Re the ‘Putin and the Spice Boys’ photo:
    What is Putin doing with his right fist as he stands beside Baby & Scary?

  • mhjames

    Russia doesn’t observe its own rules either. The Russian envoy to the UN proclaimed that the right to self-determination was superior to the right to territorial integrity. Chechnya voted for independence from Russia in the 1990s. Russia invaded it and wrecked it.

  • Kasperlos

    Quite simply it comes down to the old ‘Do as I say, not as I do.’ It’s the cynical attribute one finds at all levels in the adult world, from pushy politicians to empowered employment bosses to assanine school administrators to moronic military leaders, those who know best and better for others, but for themselve. It’s the ruled and rulers syndrome at all levels.

  • Blazenka Hudson-trograncic

    You forgot KOSOVO and its illegal independence referendum.

  • arnoldo87

    So Syria is an example of the West’s policy of “liberal evangelism”?

    Have you spotted some Western action in Syria, then, Rod that the rest of us missed? Our policy in that unfortunate country has been to do absolutely b*gger all , and has no similarity with Iraq or Afghanistan, where our efforts have left both countries in a better state than had we sat on our hands.

    • Baron

      You’ve just arrived from Mars, is that it, arnoldo87? When we leave Afghanistan the country will be as it was when we got there, if not worse.

  • mrsjosephinehydehartley

    Personally i think countries in or associated with the EU should get rid of that presidential tier in any organisation. Such a position is just too malleable, too easily corruptible and too easily affected by any amount of jumped up executive types – almost like the proverbial sacrificial lamb. Things don’t always have to culminate in sacrifice.

  • In2minds

    “normal moral rules do not apply” – And then there’s Cathy Ashton!

  • JEK68

    The point about bringing democracy to countries who have only lived under dictatorship and are unprepared to adjust to an open system has a lot of validity, but I wish people would stop saying that the west has double standards or no moral high ground because of its actions. Iraq and Afghanistan could not be more different from Russia’s actions in Crimea, Iraq was about dealing with a problem since 1990 in the form of a regime that had ignored international law was and was still corrupting the UN while being restricted militarily by the US, Britain and others.

    Afghanistan was about retaliating to a terrorist harbouring state after 9/11.
    Crimea is about a revolution in Ukraine which gave Russia an excuse to say it was protecting Russian speakers from attacks from the new ‘fascist’s’ that had taken over the country. No provocation, no violation of international law from Ukraine and Russia sends troops into an independent country and holds a referendum at ten days notice with no independent observers or legal mandate and asks a strange question rather than a yes/no.
    It is not about the fact that the people of Crimea might want to rejoin Russia, the problem is that the Russian state thinks it can act as it has done with no repercussions, which brings us to the real issue, the pathetic unnecessary weakness of the west and UN (again) in dealing with illegal actions by another state.

  • gelert

    Rod should have mentioned Vietnam, where millions of civilians were killed by American barbarism. The conflict also diverted huge resources from the US economy and led to the death of many US troops drawn from poor areas. Unlike WW2, any American with money or smarts was able to avoid service there.

    • OldJoeClark

      How many Vietnamese civilians were killed by Vietnamese barbarism? Or don’t they count?

      • gelert

        Surely not “Joe Who ?”.

        If the Americans had not invaded Vietnam there would have been no war and no barbarism.

        • OldJoeClark

          There was a war going on before the Americans set foot in Vietnam. Do some basic research, you fool.

          • gelert

            You must believe that everyone is as ignorant as you.

            There was a colonial war in which the French were defeated. ( Which didn’t stop them continuing with oppression in Algeria for more years. ) Why did the US have to interfere ? They have long preached of the evils of colonialism, except for themselves.

            • OldJoeClark

              I believe YOU to be ignorant or dishonest or, most likely, both. The American intervention was carried out in order to help the South Vietnamese resist a barbarous war of colonialism carried out by China via their proxies, the Viet Minh.

              • gelert

                The Viet Minh was a communist led movement that sought to gain independence from France. After Japan invaded they fought the Japanese with the help of the USA and the ROC. After 1945 the Viet Minh fought against the French re-occupation of Vietnam, with support from the USSR and the PRC.

                Following the American defeat in Vietnam in 1973 the country was eventually united in 1976. The government is communist, but in no way a colony of China. Historically they were more allied with the USSR and even had a brief border war with China over Vietnam’s invasion of Cambodia to remove the Khmer Rouge.

                Your explanation is the old, and long-discredited, domino theory to justify US interference in Asia. As deceitful an excuse for war as the WMD used to justify the invasion of Iraq; and just look what a bloody mess that created.

              • Jesse Du

                Actually, the Viet Minh was the one fighting for their beliefs and the future of their country, while the US was waging a bloody war against Communism via their proxies, the Republic of Vietnam. Unfortunately, the Republic of Vietnam (South) happened to be a barbarous and repressive regime, but it was anti-communist! So that was good enough for the US.

  • Mr Grumpy

    Up to a point, Rod. What moral rules does Putin obey that are consistent between Crimea and Chechnya?

    • tastemylogos

      Not the point being made here, fella. And it is such conflation that dissolves any kind of inward moral awareness.

      It’s just not good enough to say, ‘Look at them’. I care about the behaviour about the behaviour of our own representatives

      • Mr Grumpy

        “There is a certain force, too, to Putin’s charge that the West believes itself a chosen people to whom the normal moral rules do not apply.”

        Rod’s point even if not yours.

  • DougS


    “….A while back I blogged here
    that we were not given the true picture of public feeling in Ukraine,
    suggesting that the east and south of the country, including Crimea,
    might view the defenestration of a democratically elected president with
    outrage. That was right, wasn’t it?….”

    Yes it was.

    Which stupid idiots in the US and in the EU (Ashton?) thought that they could meddle in Russia’s back yard without any consequences.

    When a deal looked likely between the EU and Yanukovych all was well. As soon as he opted for the Russian offer instead, he immediately became a ‘corrupt tyrant’.

    We’ve already seen the US reaction to the possibility of the USSR in their back yard (Cuba) – it just stopped short of a nuclear WW3.

    How would we react if Russia made overtures to an independent Scotland;

    ‘Hows about a pact lads, we could be the broad shoulders that CallMeDave said you needed to look after your North Sea oil interests, you’re welcome to use the Ruble and we’ll just park our nuclear subs in that handy ready to base at Faslane?

    Not well I think!

    • gelert

      If Putin did this, there is sweet FA that Dave could do about it; unless his friend O’Barmy backed him. Judging by recent behaviour I don’t think O’Barmy would do much, other than speechify.

  • Shazza

    Totally agree Rod. If the EU had not blown kisses at Ukraine and promised them a wedding ring whilst expecting Russia to pay for the wedding, all this could have been avoided.

  • ItinerantView

    “Saudi Arabia, our ally in the Middle East, is far closer to being such
    an enemy, and, unlike the Russians, it is seriously trying to spread its
    ideas in our country, rather than just laundering ill-gotten gains into
    London’s property market.”

    A theme that is rarely mentioned in the press, a country that ranks among the most intolerant and oppressive on this earth,yet has an extensive outreach programme in the British education system.

    Saudi efforts to spread Wahabbism and their Muslim Minority Affairs agenda,needs far more exposure and criticism in the MSM.

  • Baron

    Rod, what was so objectionable on Baron’s posting? Would anyone care to tell him?

    • Wessex Man

      It’s not down to Rod Liddle, the the politically correct times we live in here in the West, Putin must look west and laugh!

    • DougS

      Have another try Baron – change a couple of words – see what happens.

      • Baron

        Part 1: lightly tweaked:

        You’re right, here, Rod, you were right then, but then you’ve been always one of the few prepared to challenge the orthodoxy of the MSM’s monochromatic progressivism.

      • Baron

        Part 2: lightly tweaked:

        Why are we so surprised Putin behaves the way he does anyway. What does the West do after communism in Russia implodes? It lets NATO, the military set-up to contain the communist Russia, to surround the country, now free of the evil of communism, even tighter than before, handing out membership like confetti.

        How likely was it that such policy were to even spawn amongst the Russians liberated from communism the feeling of security, warmth and affinity with us?

      • Baron

        DougS, no luck with the bit that contained the point Baron wanted to make. Thanks for your suggestion though.

  • FF42

    I don’t see Putin as the “bad guy” as far as Crimea is concerned (he is a bad guy in other ways, though). Nevertheless he is definitely a reckless guy and Russia will pay a high price for his adventures in Crimea.

    The US was also diminished by its actions in Iraq. We too, although there was less to diminish in our case.

  • edithgrove

    Do you ever consider the history of the Ukraine Rod, and Stalin’s attempt to kill off the lot of them? And when he makes a grab for every Russian speaking region of the former USSR will you be fine with that too, since there’s always two sides to any argument. He went after gays and the world’s leaders lined up to stand next to him grinning, it’s not like that gave him the idea he could get away with anything.

    • GentlemanPugilist

      Please remember that Stalin was Georgian, and he murdered millions of Russians too. Lazar Kaganovich, the man directly responsible for the Ukrainian Famine, was Jewish. I fail to see how the Russians can be held responsible for that terrible period in Ukraine’s history.

  • allymax bruce

    Hi Rod. ‘Liberal evangelism’; great use of a misnomer. Why? Because Liberalism is associated with the ‘Independent vote’ in USA; where approx 40% of the voter-roll are declared ‘Independents’. Now, if they’re not Republican, and they’re not Democrat, then they have to be seen in some form of Political philosophy; right? Ergo; Liberals, but a ‘new’ Liberal; a Neo-Liberal! It was all contrived by the Neo-Cons of the Conservative Right in 80’s USA, to ‘garner’ this apportioned mass of voters to the Conservative right, by telling them they are ‘Neo-Liberal’ in their thinking, thus must then vote accordingly for Neo-Con ideals, values, philosophy etc. The peoples of the USA are conned everyday by their ‘political machine’; I wish they would just wake up and smell that horrible Starbucks coffee, and reject it !

    • gelert

      In contrast, voters in the UK are sooo sophisticated in their political decisions 😉

    • andylowings

      What on earth are you on about ?

  • Chris Bond

    Liberal evangelicalism.
    Good description. The minute “modern” liberalism branched off from classical liberalism was a terrible moment in the history of the west. The concept of forcing what you believe are freedoms and liberalism on to people as per H G Wells contention that liberals need to be “liberal fascists” is a terrible thing.

    It’s an appalling creed. Classical liberalism/ Libertarianism is the only way forward from Orwellian Liberal oppression.

  • D Whiggery