On February 24th 2022, the Russian Federation, under the leadership of Vladimir Putin, launched a large scale invasion of neighboring Ukraine. Since then, we have seen footage of residential locations attacked, civilians murdered in airstrikes, and tanks rolling over civilian vehicles that are actively attempting to flee them. The scenes unfolding are heartbreaking and truly display the callousness of war.
But it is the reaction of Western governments that has been noteworthy. Declarations that the Russians are “War criminals” and that their actions are “Evil” have filled Western airwaves in the wake of the invasion. Just to be clear, these are accurate declarations. Bombing residential areas is a war crime. Targeting civilians who are fleeing from armed forces is a war crime, and these actions are evil.
So why wasn’t it a war crime when it was happening to brown people? Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Yemen, and Afghanistan all have documented strikes by coalition forces in residential areas. They all have documented incidents of soldiers going out of their way to bring harm to innocent civilians.
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The simple answer would be to say that the media are biased towards their own national interests. They have a political bias of their own, and don’t desire to screw it up by displaying images that are unflattering to their chosen political affiliation. Certainly an easy explanation, but is it an accurate one?
In May 2020, the Russian Federation bombed four separate hospitals in Syria over the course of just 12 hours. This is, of course, a war crime. The act of purposefully targeting hospitals and medical facilities during war is classified as a war crime.
Yet there were no widespread sanctions in response to this. No one offered boots on the ground in defense of the Syrian people. NATO response teams certainly weren’t triggered, despite it being a war crime committed by Russia, the very nation NATO was formed to combat.
In fact, just one year later, after taking office in January 2021, President Biden would go on to lift sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Strengthening Europe’s dependence on Russian energy, while simultaneously helping the Russian Federation to beef up their own coffers ahead of their invasion of Ukraine. This came after Russia actively engaged in publicly documented war crimes in Syria.
What changed from early 2021 when the Russian Federation was known to be actively committing these crimes until February of this year? European interest is the most obvious answer. As the second largest country on the European continent, Russia taking it would bring a significant shift to the geopolitical landscape in the region.
Which brings us to the hypocrisy. For the better part of a decade, Western leaders have lectured other nations for how they handle humanitarian crisis. From comments on border enforcement, to discussions of how they should handle refugees from abroad.
But now, as crisis comes to Europe, we are getting to see their actual feelings about refugees. The Twitter hashtag #AfricansInUkraine began trending on Twitter Sunday morning as videos began to appear online. African Ukrainians being denied access to trains, their cars being turned away at the borders of neighboring countries who were actively accepting white Ukrainian refugees just hours before.
One heart wrenching video showed a crowd of hundreds, perhaps even thousands of Africans, huddled together in the freezing cold as they are denied access to neighboring European nations. Women huddled with their infants in 3°C temperatures as they try to come up with a plan to get their families to safety. All because their own neighbors turned their backs on them in what appears to be a racially concerted effort.
Ask yourself honestly, if the Russian Federation had invaded Afghanistan in the same manner they have just invaded Ukraine, do you think it would even be a blip in the news cycle? As Russia bombed hospitals across Syria, did the world come together in an attempt to cripple their economy? No, in fact, they made deals enriching themselves and Russia in the process.
Now, because European lives are threatened, the people are asked to carry the burden of war. We are implored to stand for “Freedom and Democracy.” Where was that moral standard when the Obama administration authorized a drone strike on a wedding procession, resulting in the deaths of over 20 civilians, without a single confirmed terrorist kill?
Or perhaps some outrage could be directed at our most recent Presidential administration? During Trump’s time at the helm of our nation, he allowed Saudi Arabia to lead coalition airstrikes in Yemen. Using American made munitions, Saudi Led coalition forces bombed a school bus. They killed 26 children, and injured at least 19 others who were in, or nearby the bus.
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Where were the sanctions on Saudi Arabia? Where was the crippling global effort to stand up to atrocities against “Freedom and Democracy”? It was nowhere to be found. As Western governments showed, it only matters to them if the victims pose a risk to their power.
There is no genuine concern for decency, human nature, or even for children among the governments in the West. If Ukraine was two hundred miles further south from where it is today, would the world bother to even cover it? Right now, as you read this article, several militant groups wage war across the continent of Africa.
South Sudan has been caught recruiting child soldiers as young as 13 years old. Human rights watch Africa director Daniel Bekele gave this statement in 2015. “In Malakal, government forces are even taking children from right outside the United Nations compound.”
People are openly aware of war crimes being committed right in front of U.N. facilities, and nothing meaningful is being done about it. Five days, that’s all it took for the world to cripple the Russian economy. Just five days after their invasion of Ukraine, the Russian Ruble is worth less than a single American penny. The West controls the international community, that much is clear.
So, when we the people are called on to the pay the price for “Freedom, and Democracy.” Ask yourself, why now? What changed so drastically from 2020 when Syrian hospitals were being bombed by the very same perpetuators the West sanctions now? Simple answer is European interest.