Niagara Gazette

Bob Confer

March 24, 2014

CONFER: Russia on the right side of Crimea issue

Niagara Gazette — I don’t like Russia. Never have. Probably never will. 

When Niagara University hosted the World Juniors in 2010-2011, I was mortified by how many Americans were wearing Russian pride and passionately cheering on the Reds. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Don’t they know our history with Russia? Don’t they know what Russia still is?”

They seemed to buy into the myth that the Cold War ended and were oblivious to the fact that Russia was not the kinder, gentler country portrayed in the press, that it features a murderous KGB agent as its head, a court system that finds most defendants guilty, a controlled economy that makes our country’s income gap and crony capitalism look pedestrian, and a network of spies still working to this day (think back to the 10-person ring busted in the United States in 2010).

Fast forward three years. Now it seems fashionable to hate the Russians again. Their friends — which are what our elected officials and press seemed to become over the past two presidencies – have turned on them.

As an outcome of the Ukraine shake-up — more specifically the Crimeans’ desire to join Russia — the Obama Administration has placed sanctions upon Russia, neoconservatives are calling for more dramatic actions, and the press now paints Russia as deeply evil, just weeks after opining at length about how the Sochi Olympics had showed a good and just Russia.

Despite my long-held feelings for Russia, I have to disagree with the vitriol and diplomacy being thrown their way. Russia should be left alone. They are on the right side of this issue.

The United States and United Nations constantly tout the importance of democratic principles when it comes to governance and they love it when mass numbers of people make their voices heard to bring about change. Consider the silly fawning over the Arab Spring. That sense of revolt, the call for self-governance (or at least a new government), and the majority’s hunger for a new tomorrow really excited the Western world.

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