Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Why Russia's Crimea is different from America's Iraq

Today President Obama said America's invasion of Iraq is nothing compared to Russia's annexation of Crimea. Coffin makers agree.

In 2003 the United States invaded Iraq, a stable country, claiming Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the US invasion was illegal and it was soon determined that Iraq had no such weapons. In 2005 Iraq held elections while the war was still being waged and American troops occupied the country. By 2013 the Iraq war had killed over 100,000 people, with at least 60,000 (lowest estimate) of those being innocent civilians.

In 2014 the people of Ukraine revolted and overthrew their government. Having a population where the majority is Russian, Crimea, a small region in Ukraine's south, feared the new national government and held a parliamentary vote to join Russia. Thousands of Russian soldiers in unmarked uniforms streamed into Crimea. An admittedly biased referendum was held but an overwhelming majority voted to join Russia. Despite the United States claiming it was illegal, the Russian government approved the annexation.

The United States has claimed that what makes the Iraq war different from Russia's takeover of Crimea is that Iraq is returning to self-government and no territory was taken. And that is certainly true, but it is also true that Iraqis wanted the US to leave, that Iraq is now likely to fall into a bloody civil war, and that the country suffered over 100,000 casualties.

Crimea is different from Iraq because its people not only share a culture, language and history with their occupying nation, but they themselves want to be a part of it. Though the referendum question was biased, there isn't anyone that would deny a majority of Crimeans want to be a part of Russia. This explains why the annexation happened without any major violence or even one civilian being killed.

President Obama is certainly right to say the invasion of Iraq is different from Russia's actions in Crimea. Unfortunately his proof is 100,000 dead Iraqis.

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