Raimondo’s opinion is a little for valid than my own:
McCobin is wrong about South Ossetia: like the Crimeans, the Ossetians held a referendum and voted to separate from Georgia’s central government. In response, Georgia invaded the region, sending in its troops before the Russians ever got there. They bombarded Tsinskvali, capital of the rebel province, deliberately targeting civilians, killing and wounding hundreds.
According to Human Rights Watch, Georgian artillery fired directly into basements – where civilians were sure to be hiding.
As the BBC put it:
“The BBC has discovered evidence that Georgia may have committed war crimes in its attack on its breakaway region of South Ossetia in August. Eyewitnesses have described how its tanks fired directly into an apartment block, and how civilians were shot at as they tried to escape the fighting.”
McCobin hasn’t even bothered to do the most basic research: he’s simply swallowed the new cold war mythology whole. It’s easier that way.
As “evidence” for his contention that the Crimean referendum was invalid, he links to a piece by David L. Phillips, Director of the “Program on Peace-building and Rights” at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights,” and Carina Perelli, formerly head of the UN’s Electoral Assistance Division. Absurdly, the authors aver:
“When a referendum is properly conducted, both winners and losers accept the outcome. However chastened, losers resign themselves to defeat because of guarantees that their rights will be preserved through constitutional and other means.”
By this standard, the Ukrainian “revolution” is invalid: Viktor Yanukovich, you’ll recall, was elected to the office of President, but the opposition didn’t resign themselves to defeat: instead, they turned to the US government, which funded and encouraged a rebellion that soon turned violent. Snipers shooting at protesters and police were later identified by the Estonian Foreign Minister as being aligned with the coup leaders, who wanted a pretext to blame the government and take power themselves. Armed ultra-nationalist groups – including a fair proportion of neo-Nazis – stormed government buildings, and the opposition took power in a coup.
Oh, but Crimea’s referendum, organized by the elected Parliament, is “invalid.”
Where does McCobin’s viewpoint come from?
“It’s much too simplistic to solely condemn the United States for any kind of geopolitical instability in the world. Non-interventionists who sympathize with Russia by condoning Crimea’s secession and blaming the West for the Ukrainian crisis fail to see the larger picture. Putin’s government is one of the least free in the world and is clearly the aggressor in Crimea, as it was even beforehand with its support of the Yanukovych regime that shot and tortured its own citizens on the streets of Kyiv.”
The oily conflation of supporting secession – which every authentic libertarian supports, everywhere, as a matter of high principle – with “non-interventionists who sympathize with Russia” is a typical neocon ploy. They did it during the Iraq war: by opposing US intervention, we were “supporting Saddam.” By “condoning” the right of the Crimean people to national self-determination, we “sympathize with Russia.” McCobin has been taking lessons in the Washington Free Beacon-Buzzfeed school of “journalism” – the two neocon outlets that, that coincidentally, eagerly took up this “story” of a “libertarian split” over Ukraine.
This isn’t a matter of being misinformed: McCobin is simply lying when he accuses the Yanukovich government of torture and murder. No one knows who employed those snipers, although the Estonian Foreign Minister clearly has his suspicions. And Ukraine is no more free than Russia: with no less than eight neo-Nazis holding high positions – including chief of the national police – in the unelected “interim government,” one could make a good argument that today it is far less free.
While Hillary Clinton inanely likened Putin to Hitler, the reality is that one of the three top leaders of the coup belongs to a party that sided with the Nazis in World War II and actively participated in the Holocaust. The “muscle” that enabled the coup leaders to take over government buildings was supplied by “Right Sector,” an openly anti-Semitic pro-Nazi gang of skinheads.
Is this the movement the “libertarian” McCobin supports?
Raimondo breaks down what I called the “beltway effect” on the libertarian movement in America:
So who is this guy, anyway? He’s the “president” of a Koch front group with lots of money and very few activist members who had “come to Washington on a Charles Koch Institute fellowship,” according to Dave Weigel. The Kochs, in spite of their popular reputation, have long since given up pushing a libertarian agenda; and foreign policy is the very least of their concerns. They never gave Ron Paul a dime, and their paid minions trash-talked him at every opportunity.
When the Campaign for Liberty, the Paul organization, founded a youth group the Kochtopus quickly jumped in with SFL – which never amounted to any real competition because it concentrated mainly on staging a series of expensive conferences, with generous scholarships and students flown in from all over the world. Like all Koch Astroturf outfits, this one is run from the top, and while there’s plenty of debate – indeed, SFL is little more than a debating society – there’s less democracy than in Putin’s Russia, which at least goes through the motions of holding elections.
In response to inquiries over Twitter, SFL tweeted that McCobin’s statement was “just a statement by individuals,” and – incredibly – that “SFL doesn’t have an official stance on foreign policy.” Yet every story covering this episode headlined the alleged “libertarian split” over Ukraine.
Of course there is no such split. We American libertarians know who and what is the main danger to peace and freedom in this world, and it sure isn’t the leader of a has-been semi-Third World backwater like Russia.
For a group with no “official stance” on foreign policy, the SFL web site has a lot of gosh wow puff pieces prettifying the Ukrainian coup. And they’re hot on the Venezuelan opposition, too: indeed, they have a list of articles on both countries on thesame page. What do these two nations have in common? They’re both being overrun by the American Regime-Change Machine, and SFL is cheerleading the effort – “unofficially,’ of course.
While SFL doesn’t have a lot of actual functioning chapters, and consists mainly of a self-appointed leadership fueled by plenty of Koch money, it does indeed have some actual grassroots members and one has to wonder what they think – and whether they were even consulted. How do they feel about being fed a line that is identical in all respects to the one being taken by the Obama administration – and the Weekly Standard? How do they feel about the President of their organization going public with the accusation that Ron Paul is “applauding an autocrat” – because he supposedly hates America?