Friday, March 21, 2014

Putin is violating a rule that was designed to prevent World War Three


Russians aren't lamenting the end of the old world order 

Russian president Vladimir Putin expressed the bitterness of the ages when he addressed his compatriots this week. For three centuries, the West had conspired to bottle up Russia within its borders—since the time of Peter the Great, Catherine the Great and the establishment of the country’s sweeping empire. But no longer. The world would have to accept a confident new Russia that no longer tolerated such affrontery. Unspoken but communicated plainly were the words “or else.”

But Putin’s March 18 address to parliament was notable for other reasons, and that was in declaring a clear conclusion to two overlapping eras. One is the “post-Soviet period,” the quarter-century-long age defined by the 1991 collapse of the USSR and the triumph of the West and its ways. Russia is no longer supine and prepared to accept the faits accompli as presented by Washington and its allies, he said.

The second, though, is far more consequential: the post-World War II Pax Americana, the UN-led security architecture under which countries pledge not to forcibly annex one another (article 2, paragraph 4). Putin has not suggested that the UN charter be rescinded, but his absorption of Crimea—not to mention the 2008 effective annexation of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia—amount to the same thing. The only other significant forceful annexation since 1945 that has not been rolled back was Israel’s occupation of territories in 1967, writes the historian Juan Cole. (Others that were rolled back include Indonesia’s takeover of East Timor in 1975 and Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990.) Certainly, no other major world power has broken the pledge.

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