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Obama: No Country Has Right to Send Troops to Another Country Unprovoked

CNN Breaking:

President Barack Obama said today that Russia’s military moves in Crimea violated international law, adding that “no country has a right to send in troops to another country unprovoked.” He said the United States is examining a series of economic and diplomatic steps to “isolate Russia,” and he called on Congress to work with his administration on an economic assistance package for Ukraine.

As Doug noted yesterday, this statement rings rather hollow coming from the United States in the wake of the Iraq War. At least, unlike now-Secretary of State and then-Senator John Kerry, Obama opposed the Iraq War from the beginning.

Implied snark aside, the president is right: Russia has violated international law and  has no right to send in troops under present circumstances. But great powers not infrequently brush such niceties aside, or find pretexts under international law, to do what they feel they must in furthering their national interests.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He has a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    No country but the United States. We’re special.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  2. Michael,

    As the movie said, America F**k Yeah!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  3. But great powers not infrequently brush such niceties aside, or find pretexts under international law, to do what they feel they must in furthering their national interests.

    And, in the end, who really enforces international law in situation like this? The side that wins the conflict, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  4. beth says:

    @michael reynolds: We’re not special, we’re exceptional!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 14 Thumb down 0

  5. anjin-san says:

    As Doug noted yesterday, this statement rings rather hollow coming from the United States in the wake of the Iraq War.

    Very true. We pretty much abandoned the moral high ground at that point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 2

  6. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “No country but the United States. We’re special.”

    Yes, having such niceties as international law and consistency not apply to us is what really underlies the frequently heard claim of American Exceptionalism (as beth implied).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  7. Dave Schuler says:

    Yes, it’s sophistry. What constitutes provocation? One man’s meat, etc.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  8. C. Clavin says:

    Our list of travesties goes beyond the Bush/Cheney adventure in Iraq.
    Add Panama and Grenada to the list for starters.
    And then is our current fetish with Drones.
    If there is a high-ground…we don’t know what it looks like.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 1

  9. al-Ameda says:

    Sort of like Iraq, right?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  10. JohnMcC says:

    What will be the reaction when the Ukrainian victims of Russian ‘black sites’ and ‘enhanced interrogations’ are featured in color photography across the world’s media?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  11. john personna says:

    As I’ve said in the past, I’m all for amnesia among the populace when it reduces the likelihood of future wars … but I do find this particular amnesia, on the “Bush doctrine of preemptive war” to be a bit worrisome.

    To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense. The United States will not resort to force in all cases to preempt emerging threats. Our preference is that nonmilitary actions succeed. And no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression.

    There is kind of a key difference here. No, we never did go in “unprovoked.” Rather differently, and dangerously for the future, we went in with imagined threats and “preemption.”

    Now .. work that one with Iraq in the picture. Can you imagine a hawk building a case for preemption?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  12. john personna says:

    Oops, I meant to say “Iran” in that last bit.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  13. ernieyeball says:

    @john personna: Instead of 5 minutes, the comments editor should allow changes for “the rest of the day”.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Robin Cohen says:

    I guess no one told GWB about this before we invaded Iraq.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  15. john personna says:

    @Robin Cohen:

    Again, the reality is worse than that. GWB first sold this as self-defense, in a necessary preemptive mode, and then played “find the WMD” under his desk for the correspondents dinner.

    NBC — President Bush’s humorous references to the hunt for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq have drawn criticism from Democrats as inappropriate for wartime. The White House and Republicans contend the president was just poking fun at himself.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Robin Cohen says:

    @john personna: The fact that Bush/Cheney knew that the WMD were not real and that they lied to get us into 2 wars anyway will forever tarnish their respective legacies. The fact that we blindly followed their bogus lead should be a lesson for the future. This nation has seen more than enough of pointless wars and it will be interesting to see what Obama does next.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  17. mattbernius says:

    @Robin Cohen:

    The fact that Bush/Cheney knew that the WMD were not real and that they lied to get us into 2 wars anyway will forever tarnish their respective legacies.

    No offense, but at best they lied to get us into 1 war. I have a hard time seeing how Gore being in the Whitehouse (or for that matter any sitting president), provided 9/11 still happened, would have avoided going into Afghanistan.

    The WMD debacle was part of the lead-up to Iraq. On that, I offer no argument.

    As far as what Obama does next, the answer (beyond some diplomatic posturing and possibly light sanctions) is most likely nothing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  18. Grewgills says:

    @john personna:

    The White House and Republicans contend the president was just poking fun at himself.

    Oops, I started war based on ginned up intelligence. Silly me. See, it’s funny.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  19. Grewgills says:

    @mattbernius:
    Russia’s economy will suffer for this. How much of that is our doing and how much of it is their’s we’ll see.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  20. mattbernius says:

    @Grewgills:
    We’ll see how fast and bad the economic effects will be. One of the things Putin has done is work to limit the amount that outside powers had direct control over the Russian economy. I’m frankly not sure how much shutting Russia out of the G8 will effect them in the short term.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. Robin Cohen says:

    @mattbernius: Since both wars have accomplished nothing of value, I hope you are wrong. I hope we have learned from the debacle of lives lost and trillions spent but I have my doubts. The problem with Obama is his group of advisers who are bleeding hearts just waiting for the next sob story to push us into war such as in Syria. Susan Rice was all for sending ships to Syria even though most of the Country was against it. The fact that Obama has so much confidence in her is scary.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0