By Matthew Rothschild on March 02, 2014

Why John Kerry's denunciation rings so hollow.

I just saw John Kerry on Face the Nation about Russia's invasion of the Crimea, and he was in full indignation mode, saying it was against international law, against the U.N. Charter, and a violation of Crimea's sovereignty.

But who is the United States to object?

We've repeatedly violated international law and other county's sovereignty as recently as the Iraq War (with John Kerry himself voting in favor of it). And the list prior to that is very long, including direct U.S. invasions of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Dominican Republican, Cuba, Haiti (several times in the twentieth century), Nicaragua (ditto), Panama and Guatemala. The U.S. has also supported coups from Brazil, Paraguay, Iran and Chile to Ghana and the Congo, and it has supported invasions by allies such as Indonesia into East Timor, Saudi Arabia into Bahrain and Israel into Lebanon. (For a more comprehensive list, see William Blum's "Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.)

This record of illegal U.S. interventions makes Kerry's denunciations of Russia's aggression ring extremely hollow.

The Russian invasion of Crimea is, in fact, totally unjustifiable, totally illegal, and an utter violation of Ukraine's sovereignty. It's big bully behavior, and nothing less.

It's a sad and sobering fact that 95 years after the founding of the League of Nations and 69 years after the founding of the United Nations, the most powerful nations of the world can still violate, with impunity, the sovereignty of the weakest nations.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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