As Russia annexes Crimea, Ron Paul, writing in USA Today, shows why it is difficult to take him and other hard libertarians seriously when it comes to foreign policy:
Residents of Crimea voted over the weekend on whether they would remain an autonomous region of Ukraine or join the Russian Federation. In so doing, they joined a number of countries and regions — including recently Scotland, Catalonia and Venice — that are seeking to secede from what they view as unresponsive or oppressive governments.
These latter three are proceeding without much notice, while the overwhelming Crimea vote to secede from Ukraine has incensed U.S. and European Union officials, and has led NATO closer to conflict with Russia than since the height of the Cold War.
What’s the big deal? Opponents of the Crimea vote like to point to the illegality of the referendum. But self-determination is a centerpiece of international law. Article I of the United Nations Charter points out clearly that the purpose of the U.N. is to “develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples.”
A paean to “self-determination” is a bit rich, don’t you think, Dr. Paul, in light of these facts from?
Officially, the joining-Russia option on the ballot attracted a healthy 97 percent support from the 83 percent of registered voters in Crimea who made it to the polls. The most repeated tidbit was the voter turnout in Sevastopol, long a pro-Russian bastion, where a reported 123 percent of registered voters are said to have cast ballots.
Admire the Crimean “get out the vote” machine! Even Barack Obama is envious! More:
Ukrainian news reports said that all one needed to vote was a passport, and it didn’t have to be a Ukrainian one. One reporter from Kiev showed his Russian passport and was handed a ballot and allowed to vote. This raised questions in Kiev if perhaps the Russian soldiers and Russian paramilitary occupying the area since late February had been allowed to cast votes.
It also raised eyebrows, because while an estimated 58 percent of the Crimean population is known to be ethnic Russian and very pro-Russia, the remaining 42 percent are not thought to be similarly smitten. Ukrainian opinion polls over the last decade have consistently shown Crimea to be more pro-Russian and in favor of secession than any other region of Ukraine, but previous polls had shown consistently that those favoring splitting from Ukraine and joining Russia numbered about 40 percent.
Hmmm. Polls run 40 percent in favor, then the military moves in, and then polls run 97 percent in favor. Paul’s only response to this is:
Critics point to the Russian “occupation” of Crimea as evidence that no fair vote could have taken place. Where were these people when an election held in an Iraq occupied by U.S. troops was called a “triumph of democracy”?
Accusing others of hypocrisy is all well and good, but it is not an argument. Does occupation taint a vote or not, Dr. Paul? Does it depend on whether the occupation is by the U.S. (bad) or Russia (A-OK)?
Paul may be right that we have no business doing anything about this, and I am willing to listen to the Paulite arguments that the U.S. Constitution “does not allow the U.S. government to overthrow governments overseas or send a billion dollars to bail out Ukraine and its international creditors.” But if that’s the argument, stick to that argument. Say “what Russia is doing is wrong, but the U.S. can’t correct every wrong in the world.” Don’t tell us how Russia’s annexation of Crimea is the inevitable result of “self-determination.” That’s just foolish.
Love your economic positions though!