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Obama in Brussels on Ukraine, Russia, do's, don'ts and specks in neighbor's eye

March 27, 2014, 17:42 UTC+3 Sitov Andrei
US President Barack Obama gives a speech in Brussels at the end of a 24-hour trip in Belgium

US President Barack Obama gives a speech in Brussels at the end of a 24-hour trip in Belgium

Sitov Andrei Andrei Sitov Andrei Sitov
ITAR-TASS correspondent
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WASHINGTON, March 27. /ITAR-TASS/. The US authorities remain certain that in case they are unable to exercise control over something, they nevertheless can unmistakably define the course of the history.

“The future is ours,” US President Barack Obama remarked in his speech on Wednesday at the Palais des Beaux Arts in Belgium’s Brussels. His speech addressed to the European youth was earlier announced by the White House as a conceptual summary of the US Administration’s foreign policy approaches.

Naturally, the issue of recent developments in and around Ukraine frequented throughout his speech. Obama though attempted balancing tough and reconciliatory rhetoric addressed to Moscow. He spoke about Washington’s opinion about the inadmissibility of Crimea’s merger with Russia and about the United States and its allies’ readiness to expand the isolation of Russia.

“And if the Russian leadership stays on its current course, together we will ensure that this isolation deepens,” the US president said but added that any military response to Russia on behalf of the West was ruled out.

“This is not another Cold War that we’re entering into… The United States and NATO do not seek any conflict with Russia,” Obama said. “Nor will Russia be dislodged from Crimea or deterred from further escalation by military force.”

He said the United States intended to combine “substantial pressure on Russia with an open door for diplomacy,” however, adding that “America, and the world and Europe, has an interest in a strong and responsible Russia, not a weak one.”

The US leader said events in remote Ukraine caused no harm to interests of his country and the Americans. In his opinion, the United States could have ignored the developments in that country if it were not for the commitment to political ideals, which unite America and Europe. In his speech, Obama said many touching words about these ideals and their significance for the current and previous generations. Although, he said that the United States and Europe do not “claim to be the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong in the world,” his whole speech proved the opposite.

Key principles and norms, including the rule of law, named by Obama during his speech were by the way the right thing to do. The other thing is that it would have hardly harmed his country to abide by these principles and norms as well. It is a known fact that the United States has been involved in most of the conflicts and wars in the modern world.

Obviously trying to be extremely objective or at least that was what he hoped for, Obama recalled in his speech the war in Iraq and the Kosovo conflict. However, he did so only to prove that these cases differed in one or another way from Russia’s situation with Crimea.

“Even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system,” he said. “We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory.”

This may be true, but hundreds of thousands were either killed or wounded as a result of the US invasion of Iraq. However, this may be or may be not a coincidence, but it is not main point. The fact is that the Americans constantly and obtrusively trample on the very same norms of the international law, which Obama particularly outlined in his speech in Brussels. The United States has been never held responsible for that. For instance, the Afghanis, Pakistanis or Yemenis would like to bring to responsibility those who regularly kill or mutilate their civilians with air strikes delivered by combat UAVs.

Naturally, Obama evaded such details in his speech only briskly mentioning that we are all humans and Americans and Europeans are not ideal. But he went on saying that “part of what makes us [US and Europe] different is that we welcome criticism, just as we welcome the responsibilities that come with global leadership.”

Such statement about the US unity with Europe in terms of global leadership truly deserves applause. Yes, it was true that US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland apologized to Europe for dropping a four-letter word in relation to the European Union while commenting on the Ukrainian situation. However, intimidated Europeans later felt almost sympathetic for Nuland and jointly scolded all those, who drew attention to her so-called blunder. Europe also swallowed the recent news about US intelligence wiretapping European leaders. Even earlier, when the United States would down allegedly by mistake a foreign passenger aircraft or bomb a foreign embassy, the so-called ‘civilized world’ kept mum about the possibility of expelling the Americans from any of the ‘gentlemen’s clubs.’

Obama may curl his lips over 'foreign propaganda' as much as he wants, but it is an undeniable fact that US propaganda calls the tune for all free and independent western press and exerts tough control over all ‘sidebar talks.’ This was confirmed to ITAR-TASS correspondents on many occasions by US officials, who proudly described how collective “public diplomacy” of the United States and its allies is organized and works.

Obama’s speech in Brussels turned out to be another example of such “public diplomacy.” By the way, his public speeches in the United States gradually become treated with more skepticism and not only on behalf of his political rivals. For instance, Anne-Marie Slaughter, who is the president of the New America Foundation and served as the director of policy planning at the State Department between 2009 and 2011, said in her blog published by Washington Post daily, that the United States should cede from its “sanctimony”.

“More broadly, the United States would do well to tone down its sanctimony. Putin’s annexation of Crimea violated international law. However, so did the US invasion of Iraq and the NATO intervention to protect Kosovo, even if the latter was, to many, including me, a legitimate violation,” she wrote.

According to social surveys, regular Americans are not excited with their country’s claims for the international dominance. A recent poll conducted by the CBS television network showed that 58 against 36% of the polled Americans spoke against such US “leadership” in settlement of international conflicts. Taking in particular the current situation in Ukraine, 61 against 32% of the polled believe that the United States should not interfere in that conflict. Finally, 65 against 26% spoke against US military assistance to the current Ukrainian authorities.