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fredag 25 april 2014

Putin embraces Western humanitarian doctrines–with irony

Putin has already proclaimed two doctrines, previously rejected by Russia:

1. A group of people has a right to decide to form a new state or to join another state (Duma speech 18 March). (This is correct under international law, but only under very limited circumstances. The world is not inclined to allow some 5000 states – correspoding to 5000 ethnic groups or peoples – and the state’s right to territorial integrity generally prevails.)

2. A state has a right to intervene another country to protect people in distress, at least if they belong to the same ethnic group as the majority of the invading country (see for instance here and here). (This is not correct under prevailing international law, but such an action could at least be politically legitimate under extreme circumstances, as many held Kosovo to be.)

3. Putin has now added a third doctrine: To start “military actions against the country’s population … is without doubt a very serious crime” (here). This is sometimes true, sometimes not, depending on the circumstances; a state certainly has the right to uphold law and order, including with military means, as long as it respects human rights (and international humanitarian law, if there is and armed conflict) (compare here).

As a man with a great sense of humour (here), Puin is surely making a parody of “Western” international law, as enunciated in Kosovo. (And the West is not completely undeserving of that parody; see here.) However, members of some of Russias 185 ethnic minorities – like the Chechens -- may take him seriously, and so may neighbouring countries, like China (project what you read here, here and here).

As Marx said – “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce” – or perhaps it is the other way around.

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