U.S. Calls Out Russia; Is There A Double Standard?

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry accused Russia of invading Ukraine on a "phony pretext." Critics accused the U.S. of doing the same in Iraq.
Posted at 6:03 PM, Mar 04, 2014

If you were listening to the Sunday shows this weekend, you probably heard a lot of Ukraine talk, and you may have caught this from Secretary of State John Kerry:

KERRY: "You just don't invade another country on phony pretext in order to assert your interests." (Via NBC

KERRY: "You don't, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped-up pretext." (Via CBS

The irony wasn't lost on Russian media. (Via Voice of Russia, RT)

Or on MSNBC's Rachel Maddow.


"The United States has absolutely no leg to stand on after we did the exact same thing and on a much larger scale."

COLIN POWELL: "Leaving Saddam Hussein in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option." (Via C-SPAN)

Essentially, the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was a war, critics could say, also based on "trumped-up" pretexts. (Via ABC

​Though supporters of U.S. involvement in Iraq would argue the U.S. decision was different — in that Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who had to be overthrown. (Via National Geographic

Either way, both Russia now and the U.S. at the time argued essentially that they acted out of necessity. So, is the U.S. in the position to call out Putin for not respecting Ukraine's national sovereignty? 

Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson doesn’t think so. He writes: "Before Iraq there was Afghanistan, there was the Persian Gulf War, there was Panama, there was Grenada."

That said, even if the comments from Kerry and other Western leaders come off a tad hypocritical, it doesn't mean they're without merit. (Via The White House / Pete Souza)

As John Aziz at The Week puts it: "Some governments in the West may have a credibility problem, but two wrongs do not make a right. The U.S. and the rest of the West are still within their rights to criticize Putin." ​

Russia claims its moves are necessary to defend the interests of Ukraine's ethnic Russians in Crimea, though it's hard to ignore Moscow's own interests — including its only warm-water naval base conveniently located in Crimea.