Ron Paul's Editorial and Putin's Address Point Out the One-Sided Story Being Spun in the West

Former representative Ron Paul, R-Texas

The Crimea story, like every story, has two sides. When only one side's point of view is reported it's called propaganda not news. Journalism's credibility rests on the concept of giving voice to both sides of issues. That's certainly not the case in the coverage of Ukraine generally and Crimea most acutely. That this one-sided coverage so blankets the mainstream media in the west is frightening to me. Imagine how little even-handed information past generations had before the Internet age.

Two days ago. March 17th, Ron Paul published an editorial titled 'Crimea secedes. So what?' in USA Today that broke the mold. Numerous anti-establishment media sites have referred and linked to it, but very few others. My congratulations to USA Today for having the courage to publish Ron Paul's piece. This piece by Dr. Paul isn't as revolutionary as many he's written, it's totally consistent with his views on foreign relations but what it doesn't do is toe the Empire's line. One point Dr. Paul makes about the hypocrisy of the US's spin on the Crimean referendum is outstanding, he says, "Critics point to the Russian 'occupation' of Crimea as evidence that no fair vote could have taken place. Where were these people when an election held in an Iraq occupied by U.S. troops was called a 'triumph of democracy'?"

In view of this blackout by the MSM of any other than the 'offical' story it's more important than ever to read the address Russian President Vladimir made March 18th, yesterday, to the heads of Russian regions and civil society representatives in the Kremlin [full English translation here]. In it Putin calmly and logically counters every one of the propaganda points that the western MSM unquestioningly recites.

For instance, Both Paul and Putin say the opponents of the Crimea vote like to point to the illegality of the referendum. But self-determination is a centerpiece of international law. Article I of the United Nations Charter points out clearly that the purpose of the U.N. is to "develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples." Putin adds, "Incidentally, I would like to remind you that when Ukraine seceded from the USSR it did exactly the same thing, almost word for word. Ukraine used this right, yet the residents of Crimea are denied it.  Why is that?"

Putin also talks about the well-known Kosovo precedent in which the UN International Court agreed with this approach and made the following comment in its ruling of July 22, 2010, and I quote: “No general prohibition may be inferred from the practice of the Security Council with regard to declarations of independence,” and “General international law contains no prohibition on declarations of independence.”

Most importantly IMO Putin talks about the Crimean Tatars and apologizes for their unfair treatment under Stalin's dictatorship. Adding, "I believe we should make all the necessary political and legislative decisions to finalise the rehabilitation of Crimean Tatars, restore them in their rights and clear their good name. We have great respect for people of all the ethnic groups living in Crimea. This is their common home, their motherland, and it would be right – I know the local population supports this – for Crimea to have three equal national languages: Russian, Ukrainian and Tatar."

Near the end of his address Putin says, "Our western partners, led by the United States of America, prefer not to be guided by international law in their practical policies, but by the rule of the gun. They have come to believe in their exclusivity and exceptionalism, that they can decide the destinies of the world, that only they can ever be right. They act as they please: here and there, they use force against sovereign states, building coalitions based on the principle “If you are not with us, you are against us.” To make this aggression look legitimate, they force the necessary resolutions from international organisations, and if for some reason this does not work, they simply ignore the UN Security Council and the UN overall."

The fate of the Tatars holds the key IMO to the long-term peaceful future of Crimea. The Tatars have a long and proud history. They are the descendants of the armies of Genghis Khan who conquered and ruled most of the Eurasian continent for hundreds of years. They currently make up 12% of Crimea's population. They understandably hate and fear Russia because the entire Tatar population was forcibly deported from Crimea in 1944 by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

Many of the Tatars boycotted the referendum and many others worry that should Tatar rights be trampled they will form an insurgency and undertake a guerrilla war. According to Tatar spokesman Imiril Mirov, "We have no armed units, no self-defence, nothing at all,” Mirov told IPS. "The primary goal is to avoid bloodshed, there is no sign of any Tatar resistance movement."

When you consider that 82% of eligible voters did vote in the referendum and 95% of them voted yes to annexation to Russia, even if every one of the other 18% of eligible voters said no, that still means about 80% of Crimeans, for better or worse, support Russian annexation. Clearly this is a legitimate majority and the west's leaders and media are purposefully mis-representing the facts.