Nation magazine editor Katrina vanden Heuvel writes in The Washington Post that the U.S. government and mainstream media have arrogantly and self-servingly portrayed the calamity Western powers wrought in Ukraine as a false “morality tale” about democracy-loving protesters and alleged Russian aggression.

As vanden Heuvel wrote Nov. 25, this account holds that:

Ukrainians demonstrated against Yanukovych because they wanted to align with the West and democracy. Putin, as portrayed by Hillary Rodham Clinton among others, is an expansionist Hitler who has trampled international law and must be made to “pay a big price” for his aggression. Isolation and escalating economic sanctions have been imposed. Next, if Senate hawks such as John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have their way, Ukraine will be provided with arms to “deter” Putin’s “aggression.

But this perspective distorts reality. Although there is no question that Russia has contributed to the tensions in the region, what has unfolded was predictable and preventable. As experts such as Princeton University and New York University professor emeritus Stephen F. Cohen have argued, the West should have understood that an attempt to bring Ukraine into an exclusive arrangement with the E.U. would spark deep, historical divisions within the country and itself and provoke a Russian reaction. (Disclosure: Cohen and I are married.) In fact, as University of Chicago professor John J. Mearsheimer concludes in Foreign Affairs, “the United States and its European allies share most of the responsibility for the crisis.” In the face of Russian warnings and despite agreements to the contrary, over the past two decades the United States has expanded NATO to Russia’s border. The E.U. has similarly grown, seeking to incorporate Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics into its economic and political sphere. The Russians have warned repeatedly that they consider expansion of NATO a threat and have clearly drawn the line against trying to incorporate the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine.

Recently, 91-year-old former secretary of state Henry Kissinger has seconded this counterargument and perspective on the crisis. In an interview in leading German magazine Der Spiegel, which inexplicably received little attention in the U.S. media, Kissinger argued forcefully that the annexation of Crimea “was not a move toward global conquest.” He disputes Hillary Rodham Clinton’s charge that Putin is like “Hitler moving into Czechoslovakia.” Kissinger holds the West partially responsible for escalation and the deteriorating situation, suggesting that Europe and the United States underestimated the “special significance” of Ukraine for Russia. “It was a mistake not to realize that.”

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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