Submitted by The Space Worm Substack
The Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (a branch within the US State Department) releases annual ‘Human Rights Reports’ on 194 different countries around the globe. Their 2021 report for Ukraine was released in April of this year. Despite its relevance to whether US intervention in the RU-UA war is merited, the report received zero media coverage.
The report highlights “serious abuses” in the Donbas region citing multiple sources:
“International organizations and NGOs, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the HRMMU, issued periodic reports documenting abuses committed in the Donbas region on both sides of the line of contact.”
Here are major examples of ‘significant human rights issues’ listed by the bureau:
unlawful or arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings by the government or its agents
torture and cases of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of detainees by law enforcement personnel
harsh and life-threatening prison conditions
arbitrary arrest or detention
serious problems with the independence of the judiciary
serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence or threats of violence against journalists, unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, and censorship
serious restrictions on internet freedom
refoulement of refugees to a country where they would face a threat to their life or freedom
serious acts of government corruption
lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence
crimes, violence, or threats of violence motivated by anti-Semitism
crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting persons with disabilities, members of ethnic minority groups, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or intersex persons
the existence of the worst forms of child labor.
Comparing this to the State Department’s report on Russia, we find their assessment to be nearly identical (see screenshot below):
You really have to ask yourself, if our own State Department classifies these two nations as equally abysmal defenders of basic human rights, why on Earth should we care about who governs certain territories?
Corroborating the State Department’s classifications is the Heritage Foundation, a pro-interventionist conservative think tank founded in 1973. For nearly three decades, the foundation has maintained its Index of Economic Freedom which defines economic freedom as the “fundamental right of every human to control his or her own labor and property”. For the 2021 index, not only does Ukraine rank 35 spaces below Russia at #127 on the leaderboard, it’s in another category. Russia’s economy is deemed to be “moderately free”, a category shared by first world nations like Italy, France, and Spain, while Ukraine’s economy falls within the “mostly unfree” bracket.
The only material differences between Russia and Ukraine in the State Department’s report are related to Russia’s unfair elections, an issue the department does not attribute to Ukraine despite the Obama Administration’s interventions into their elections in 2014. That said, there is no question that Russian elections are less-than-legitimate. Despite Putin’s popular support (which has been cited in numerous western outlets), he certainly shapes the system to his advantage - whether it’s extending his legal term limit, imprisoning opponents, or outlawing online speech that demonstrates “disrespect” towards “state authorities”.
However, even granting that Ukrainian elections are likely freer and fairer than those in Russia, if our goal is to defend democracy, why have we refused for almost a decade to recognize the secession of Crimea?
Months after the widely disputed Crimean referendum to join Russia which passed in early 2014, Gallup, one of the oldest and most respected polling institutions in the US, in partnership with the Broadcasting Board of Governors, a US federal agency whose stated mission is to “promote freedom and democracy and to enhance understanding by broadcasting accurate, objective, and balanced news and information”, polled Crimeans on whether the referendum reflected the views of the people living there. Not only did 82.8% of the population confirm that it was, but 68.4% of ethnic Ukrainians did as well.
The following year, GfK, a German-based data and analytics behemoth, conducted a follow-up poll asking Crimean residents “Do you endorse Russia’s annexation of Crimea?” to which 82% responded “yes, definitely” with only 2% answering with a definitive “no”. One cannot claim to be defending democracy while aiding and abetting the Ukrainian government’s ongoing incursions into Crimea. David Sachs sums it up best:
Two very distinct phases to this war:— David Sacks (@DavidSacks) October 9, 2022
1. War for Democracy - defending Kiev.
2. War against Democracy - attacking Crimea.
The US accomplished something with #1. It should not support #2.
Ok, so if not protecting democracy or improving the quality of life, what are we doing? Can we simply not tolerate an infringement on sovereign borders?
If that were the case, why then does the US not only allow but actively support the United Arab Emirates and Saudi-backed invasion of Yemen that began in 2018 and continues today? Regardless of the origins behind this war, it was not sanctioned by the Yemeni government and thus an infringement on their sovereignty. It’s the Middle East so it doesn’t matter?
The real reason we are involved in Ukraine is not to help their civilians. It is not to preserve democracy. It is not to preserve national sovereignty. It is what US officials like Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Congressman Dan Crenshaw have both admitted. The true purpose is to ‘weaken Russia’. A goal in direct contradiction to “Standing with Ukraine”. This goal uses their home as our playground. It uses civilian lives as our propaganda. It does nothing for the ordinary Ukrainian whose life would experience no material difference if Russia were to govern Crimea (as it has done for nearly a decade with the approval of its inhabitants) or the Donbas (which has been mired in civil war for years with atrocities on “both sides”).
Oh yeah… and this goal also runs the risk of annihilating the human race.