Dmitry Bykov. Small Difference
We will not compare today's Kiev with Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Let's rather compare the United States back then with Russia today.
"The USA does not and can not have a moral right to moralise and preach about compliance with the international norms and respect for the sovereignty of other countries. What about bombing of the former Yugoslavia, or the Iraq invasion on the false pretext?" - so reads the stern message of the Russian Foreign Ministry, commenting on the proposed sanctions against Russia. And it is quite an eligible question, as wall as the favourite argument of sitting-room patriots and propagandists: you talking about us?.. What about you, yourselves?.. What about Yugoslavia, Iraq, Afghanistan?! Let's not, as is stated in the comment, fall to polemics with base propaganda, remind them of what was happening in Yugoslavia under Milosevic, and compare the current Kiev with Hussen's Iraq, where people were being dissolved in acid. Let's use a different comparison: America back then with today's Russia.
Let's take it as the basic fact that the younger Bush and Clinton had grossly violated the international norms. But America did not equal Bush and Clinton. The bombing of Yugoslavia was accompanied by stormy debates at all levels - from the Congress and to the press. Clinton was subjected to fierce criticism, in America itself cultural figures condemned the intervention in Yugoslavia, mocking the concept of "humanitarian bombing". And even the most diehard patriots weren't too happy that America finally got off the knees and showed the world its face of a real global policeman. Even those who openly supported US actions in Yugoslavia weren't exactly full of ardent national pride - because the balance of power was too obvious. The American people have not demonstrated any of this touching monolithic unity. Not to mention the fact that the US did not discuss or even consider the prospects of joining this or that part of Yugoslavia to America as the fifty-first state.
The invasion of Bush Jr. in Iraq was accompanied by a real split in the American public opinion: no American president before has known such harsh criticism, not in the last hundred years. Both in Europe and in the States, all of the left-wing intelligentsia was loudly condemning the war,. The leading journalists were shouting about double standards. The anti-war demonstrations were not less massive and radical than in the days of Vietnam. Michael Moore made his revelatory Fahrenheit 9/11 and got the Golden Palm at Cannes for it. American writers have not signed an enthusiastic petition to President Bush for his efforts in a historically critical moment to save the world from "fascism". Neither the American government nor even the Republicans were in any consensus on the invasion of Iraq. Intelligence reports about the existence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction (the "false pretext" referred to by the Russian Foreign Ministry) were being questioned. Bush suffered a catastrophic decline in popularity for this war, which ultimately led to the defeat of the Republicans in the 2008 elections. Even when the memory of September 11 was still fresh, the Iraq war did not have a total, not even an 80% support in the American society. The society did not consider the war as anything to celebrate or be proudly united over. Again, no one in the States argued that the Bush's aggression will finally put the wanton Russia, imposing its standards on all the world, back in its place.
In other words, America is not reduced to just its presidents, governments and congressmen. Its role on the world stage is not limited to the role of a global policeman. It always has a chance to correct its own errors, like the Vietnam war - not only under the influence of economic conditions, but also under the influence of its domestic and the international public opinion. American intervention in the domestic affairs of other states is never accompanied by a total "hey-OK" back at home. There are no cases of increased repressions against dissidents and bans on criticism on the Internet. On the contrary, each such action blow up the American public life, resulting in hundreds of books, films and public organisations. The Vietnam has created not only a generation of veterans, but also a generation of pacifists. The main thing is that those who condemned the war in America were not called traitors, at least at the state level.
Russia, from the viewpoint of the world community, is dangerous both for its people, and the world, and its close neighbours - not only because we are ready at any time to use military force to protect "our people" and "their" territories, despite completely ignoring this protection at other times. It is dangerous precisely because it has no mechanisms to inhibit these decisions. It has no multi-party system, the Russian Parliament has an unanimous soul and an unanimous vote, and the population is ready, at a short notice or even without one, to approve any crap. Because only crap increases our national self-respect, whereas compassion and respect for others' lives in this country will always be a sign of weakness and betrayal. America is not only its government, but Russia is only and exclusively the government, with only 2-5% of the population willing to resist it at all. And this support will continue being total and unanimous - as long as this government lives a happy and undisturbed life, until it gets another chance to betray with great pleasure itself and yourself.