WASHINGTON — A key young libertarian group is publicly opposing Ron Paul on Ukraine, saying that Paul is wrong to suggest that the United States is to blame for Russia's actions.
Alexander McCobin, a co-founder of the group Students for Liberty, put out a statement on Monday criticizing Paul, who has characterized Crimea's largely unrecognized referendum as a secession and has called for the United States not to act against Russia in this crisis. In the statement, McCobin praises Paul's son, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, for condemning Russia's actions.
While it's important criticize misconduct of the United States and some of its Western allies exacerbating the turmoil in the Middle East over the past two decades, it is also important to remember that there are other aggressors in the world; Russia — with it's ongoing wars in the Northern Caucasus, the invasion of South Ossetia, and it's most recent annexation of Crimea — being key among them.
Former Congressman Ron Paul, whose views are interpreted by many as wholly representative of the libertarian movement, gets it wrong when he speaks of Crimea's right to secede. Make no mistake about it, Crimea was annexed by Russian military force at gunpoint and its supposedly democratic "referendum" was a farce. Besides a suspiciously high voter turnout with legitimate international observers, the referendum gave Crimeans only two choices — join Russia now or later.
It's much too simplistic to solely condemn the US for any kind of geopolitical instability in the world. Non-interventionists that sympathize with Russia by condoning Crimea's secession and blaming the West for Ukrainian crisis fail to see the larger picture. Putin's government is one of the least free in the world and is clearly the aggressor in Crimea, as it was even beforehand with its support of the Yanukovych regime that shot and tortured its own citizens on the streets of Kyiv.
The recent spate of anti-war activists arrested in Russia is just one of many examples that illustrate that the Russian Federation is not a free country and everyone should be very careful with showing sympathies to an autocratic leader such as President Putin.
In contrast to his father, Senator Rand Paul gets it right by condemning Russian aggression while not subscribing to hawkish calls for military intervention at the same time. It is one thing to not intervene; it is another thing to applaud an autocrat for the sake of blaming our own government.
Reached by phone, Students for Liberty spokesperson Frederik Roeder said that the group was not calling for U.S. intervention in Ukraine, but that "we think that it's important to condemn what Russia's doing."
"Russia is one of the least free places in the world," Roeder said.
"In the Ukrainian case it's obviously not the U.S. government who is the aggressor but the Russian government who have invaded parts of a sovereign nation," Roeder said. "I think a lot of people got confused by this including Ron Paul and some libertarians who would say, 'Oh, that's secession,' but we did not observe a secession from Crimea, but a military annexation."
He added that Students for Liberty had organized a protest outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin last week.
Rosie Gray is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, D.C. Gray reports on politics and foreign policy.
Contact Rosie Gray at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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