CANBERRA – Russian President Vladimir Putin must have missed the memo that the West is the chosen ruler of the world and the U.S. president is He Who Must Not Be Disobeyed. They alone are judge of the legality and legitimacy of their own and everyone else’s behavior.
The invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein on a trumped-up pretext was not an example of great power aggression in the 21st century because Westerners say it was not. U.S. senators and officials joining street protests to overthrow Ukraine’s elected president is exporting democracy, a fine U.S. tradition. Putin’s opposition to the new leader installed in Kiev by a putsch is proof of Russian revanchism. Reclaiming Crimea — whatever its people want — is brutal aggression.