Mon 10 Mar, 2014 02:05 pm
Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School, is a co-author of The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic and Climate Change Justice.
What of Ukraine’s sovereign rights? We can sympathize with Ukraine while noting that Crimea is an already autonomous region over which Ukraine has enjoyed only nominal control. Crimea’s ties with Russia go back centuries. It was transferred from Russia to Ukraine only in 1954 while both countries were regions of the Soviet Union. This transfer reflected a top-down administrative judgment, not the sentiments of the Ukrainian or Crimean peoples.
As for the principles of international law, Putin put it well last week:
We are often told our actions are illegitimate, but when I ask, “Do you think everything you do is legitimate?” they say “yes”. Then, I have to recall the actions of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where they either acted without any UN sanctions or completely distorted the content of such resolutions, as was the case with Libya
Putin is wrong about Afghanistan (a case of self-defense later ratified by the Security Council), but he is right about Iraq and Libya, and he could have added Granada, Panama, and Kosovo as well—all wars that the United States started in violation of international law.