Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that the Ukraine/Crimea crisis has been “created artificially for purely geopolitical reasons." And he’s right.
It's important to understand that this is not a “one-off” but only the latest in a long line of international “crises” either deliberately hyped up or artificially created by the western powers to further their geopolitical interests.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague has said that Crimea is the “the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century.” But it‘s not the first time leading western politicians have talked in such alarmist terms in recent years.
Exactly 15 years ago, in March 1999, we had the Kosovo “crisis” – with western leaders claiming that unless NATO took urgent military action thousands of Kosovan Albanians would be killed by Serb forces, who we were told were engaged in a brutal genocidal war.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair told the House of Commons on March 23, 1999: “We must act to save thousands of innocent men, women and children from humanitarian catastrophe, from death, barbarism and ethnic cleansing from a brutal dictatorship.”
But it was an artificially-created “crisis” as what was going on in Kosovo was a low-level conflict between Yugoslav forces and Kosovan Liberation Army fighters backed by the West.
The KLA’s job was to carry out attacks on Yugoslav forces, provoke a violent response from Belgrade, which could then be used as a pretext for NATO intervention to destroy an independent, socialist country which had resisted globalization. A “crisis” had to be created in order to justify the NATO military action.
Four years later, we had the Iraq WMD “crisis.” Something had to be done about Saddam's deadly weapons which threatened us all, western leaders told us. We couldn't wait for the team of UN weapons inspectors to finish their job.
“If we don't act now, then we will go back to what has happened before and then of course the whole thing begins again and he carries on developing these weapons and these are dangerous weapons, particularly if they fall into the hands of terrorists who we know want to use these weapons if they can get them,” Blair said.
On April 28, 2003, when Saddam’s WMD hadn’t shown up, Blair said: “Before people crow about the absence of Weapons of Mass Destruction, I suggest they wait a bit.” Eleven years on, and we’re still waiting.
Throughout the last decade we've also had the Iranian nuclear “crisis.” We were told repeatedly by the West’s elite that the Islamic Republic was developing nuclear weapons which posed a clear threat not just to the Middle East region but to the whole world. Dealing with the Iranian nuclear “threat’ was deemed to be our most urgent priority. In January 2011, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox warned that Iran could have nuclear weapons by the end of 2012.
But 2013 dawned and Iran still didn’t have any nukes.
Then there was the “crisis” in Libya in 2011. We were told Colonel Gaddafi's forces were massacring innocent people and were about to launch a genocidal attack on the civilians in Benghazi. Again, we had to deal with this urgent “crisis.”
“We simply cannot stand back and let a dictator whose people have rejected him, kill his people indiscriminately,” declared British Prime Minister David Cameron, doing his best Tony Blair impression.
“Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing,” said President Barack Obama on March 28, 2011. As in the case of the “crisis” in Kosovo and the “crisis” with Iraqi WMDs, the western response to the “crisis” in Libya was a military attack.
In August 2013, another “crisis” – with Western claims that the Syrian government had launched a deadly chemical weapons attack against its own people. Again, we were told we had to act quickly and firmly to deal with the “crisis”. It was only the diplomacy of Russia and public opinion in western countries that prevented a US-led military attack against Syria.
Now, in March 2014, the new “crisis” is Putin's “invasion” of Ukraine and the threat Russia poses to independent, “democratic” Ukraine. This, don’t forget is “the biggest crisis in Europe in the 21st century.”
In fact, none of the above were real crises – including Crimea. There was no genocide in Kosovo. Iraq had no WMDs. Iran had no nuclear weapons program: it was a “Manufactured Crisis”, to use the title of investigate journalist Gareth Porter’s new book.
Gaddafi's forces weren't massacring civilians in Libya – nor had Gaddafi threatened a massacre of civilians in Benghazi. What Libyan forces were doing was what Yugoslav forces were doing in 1999: i.e. fighting a war against western-backed insurgents.
In Syria, the evidence – as well as logic – suggests it was the rebels, and not the government which launched the chemical weapons attack at Ghouta – in order to get a full-scale military intervention from the western powers. And there is no Russian “invasion” of Ukraine.
But – and here's the most important point – the western responses to these artificially created “crises” did lead to real crises. The “crisis” of Kosovo was dealt with by a brutal 78-day bombardment of Yugoslavia, which wrecked the country's infrastructure, and which left thousands killed or injured, with NATO’s use of depleted uranium leading to a spike in cancer rates. As for human rights, they’ve suffered too.
“Nowhere [in Europe] is there such a level of fear for so many minorities that they will be harassed or attacked, simply for who they are,” said a report on Kosovo by Minority Rights Group International in 2006.
The WMD “crisis” of Iraq led to an illegal invasion which Iraq has not yet recovered from, or is likely to recover from for a very long time – with up to 1m killed and a country plagued by violent sectarian conflict. Last year was Iraq’s deadliest since 2008, with over 7,000 people killed, In 2002/3 neocons couldn’t stop talking about the Iraq WMD ‘crisis’ and how urgent action was needed; now, when there is a real crisis in the country, they are silent.
The Iranian nuclear “crisis” led to draconian sanctions being posed on the country – which has led to real hardship for the ordinary people of Iran – (as reported on RT) and higher oil prices for Europe too, just what we didn’t need at a time of major recession. Millions have suffered needlessly due to steps taken to deal with a “crisis” which never existed in the first place.
The Libyan “crisis” of 2011 led to a brutal NATO assault on the country which led to thousands of deaths, and now Libya, like Iraq, is a wrecked country, again plagued with conflict. Again, those who couldn’t stop talking about the “humanitarian crisis” in Libya in 2011, are strangely silent these days.
The Syrian chemical weapons attack “crisis” almost led to the outbreak of a major regional war, and possibly World War Three, but in their obsession with toppling the Baathist government, still the West and its regional allies supports the violent rebels thereby prolonging the misery of war for millions of Syrians.
Now the serial “crisis” creators are at it again, this time trying to convince us that a referendum in Crimea and the possibility of the Crimea where almost 60 percent of the population are ethnic Russians returning to Russia is a major “crisis”.
And once again the steps that they are proposing – sanctions on Russia – would lead to more of a crisis than the “crisis” itself: they would be disastrous for western economies, especially those in Europe.
At the same time that we’re expected to lose sleep over artificially created crises like Crimea, real crises which affect the lives of millions of ordinary people in the West and elsewhere are ignored by western elites. Global warming. The record numbers of young people without jobs. The ever-widening gap between rich and poor. The rapid fall in living standards of ordinary people in the west. These are crises which proper democratic governments would be dealing with. Instead the western elite prefer to invent new ones.
Recent history teaches us that whenever western leaders and their elite media cheerleaders talk of an international “crisis” and warn that “something must be done” the best way of avoiding a real crisis is to do absolutely nothing. Let’s concentrate on tackling the real crises like environmental destruction, poverty, inequality and unemployment and not be fooled by the artificial “crises” that the western elites want us to focus on.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.