Washington’s colonialist leaders vowed never to recognize the results of the referenda held in the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics and the liberated areas of Kherson and Zaporozhye between September 23 and 27, where the territories voted overwhelmingly in favor of joining Russia, but recent history exposes their hypocrisy.
Rules for Thee But Not for Me: Referenda Results the West Recognized When It Suited Them
United States and its Canadian and European allies have dismissed the results of the plebiscites held in the Donbass and the liberated areas, seemingly reading from the same talking point playbook and describing the votes as a “sham,” “absolute sham” or an “illegitimate/illegal sham.” President Biden dubbed the votes “a flagrant violation of the UN Charter and the basic principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Washington and its partners have threatened Moscow with a raft of new sanctions as it moves forward to formally incorporating the territories into the Russian Federation.
But recent history shows that Washington and its allies are not at all averse to using referenda to hasten the destruction of their adversaries, or even to expand their own territorial realms, when it is convenient for them. Sputnik recalls a few big examples.
The destruction of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was a tumultuous and blood-soaked process which began in the late 1980s, and culminated in the collapse of the nation’s successor, the rump state of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, in 2003. The collapse has been attributed to a range of factors, including rising nationalism and growing centrifugal processes which began after the death of post-WWII Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito in 1980, and International Monetary Fund-approved economic reforms that were carried out through the second half of the decade.
Western diplomatic support for nationalist forces in the breakaway territories would also prove pivotal in the early 1990s, as would NATO’s material and military support during the latter part of the decade
Early in June 1990, the parliament of the Yugoslav republic of Slovenia issued a declaration of sovereignty from Belgrade. Six months later, on December 23, 1990, authorities in Ljubljana organized a referendum, with voters asked whether the republic should “become an independent and sovereign state.” 90.83 percent of Slovenia’s residents turned up for the plebiscite, with 95.71 percent voting ‘Yes’. The republic subsequently declared formal independence from Yugoslavia on June 25, 1991 and, following a brief series of skirmishes between Slovenian territorial defense forces and the Yugoslav People’s Army, the latter was forced to pull out of the republic.
Croatia followed suit, with republican authorities organizing an independence referendum on May 19, 1991. A month later, on June 15, 1991, the republic’s parliament approved Zagreb’s exit from the SFRY. The move sparked a large-scale conflict between Croatian forces, the Yugoslav military and local Serb militias. The war lasted until 1995 and caused the deaths of as many as 70,600 troops and civilians, while more than 600,000 Croats and Serbs were displaced from their homes.
Germany and the European Economic Community – the predecessor to the European Union, played a crucial role in assuring that Slovenia and Croatia did not become international outcasts after proclaiming independence from the SFRY. Bonn (which remained the capital of the Federal Republic of Germany until mid-1991), welcomed leaders from the breakaways in December 1991, giving them the nod on independence and opening embassies in early 1992.
Within the EEC, Bonn successfully put down French resistance to recognizing the pair of Yugoslav republics as independent on the grounds that doing so was premature and could destabilize the region, and the bloc’s then-12 members approved a resolution authorizing recognition if Ljubljana and Zagreb met a series of vague conditions, including ‘respect for democracy’ and the ‘protection of minorities’. Germany pushed through the diplomatic recognition of Slovenia and Croatia in the face of resistance from the United Nations, and even hesitation from then-US President George H.W. Bush, who did not follow suit with recognition until April 1992. Bonn also provided Croatia with vast quantities of armaments and military equipment from the armories of the former East Germany.
With the precedent set by Slovenia, Bonn and Brussels followed a similar pattern in other Yugoslav republics, speedily recognizing the results of plebiscites in Macedonia (where a vote was held on September 8, 1991) and Bosnia and Herzegovina (where a referendum boycotted by local Serbs took place on March 1, 1992). The US and the EEC recognized the latter as an independent state in early April of 1992. However, Macedonia did not get formal diplomatic recognition from Washington until 1994 as the US bid to placate its Greek allies, who were concerned over the new nation’s name. Germany, France and other EEC bloc nations recognized Macedonia in December 1993.
The Western powers trod a similar, albeit more careful path in supporting the breakup of the USSR, remaining wary of the country’s military power and seeking to preserve the trust and goodwill of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as he made one geopolitical concession after another abroad and carried out broad economic and political reforms favorable to the West at home.
Between July 1989 and March 1990, the nationalist supreme councils of the Soviet republics of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia declared sovereignty from Moscow. From February 9 and March 3, 1991, republican authorities organized “popular surveys” and “polls” on independence, with between 74.9 and 93.2 percent of voters voting in favor. These votes would later help serve as a basis for recognition.
Around the same time, on March 17, 1991, union authorities held a referendum on the preservation of the USSR “as a renewed federation of equal sovereign republics.” Republican authorities in the Baltics forbade the referendum from being held on their territories, with officials in Armenia and parts of Moldova and Georgia also boycotting it. In areas where the vote did take place, including the Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Azerbaijani, Kazakh, Kirgiz, Tajik, Turkmen and Uzbek republics, 77.8 percent of voters among the 148.5 million people who took part voted in favor of preserving the union. The US and its Western European allies made no formal comments on that vote.
Don’t Mess With Texas (excised from Mexico and annexed by the United States)
The destruction of communist adversaries in Eastern Europe isn’t the first time Western leaders used the power of the popular vote for purposes benefiting their interests.
Much of the modern state of Texas was part of Mexico before it was gobbled up by European colonists backed by the power of the United States military. In March of 1836, a group of settlers held a convention “of the representatives of the people of Texas” seeking to secede from Mexico, accusing Mexico City of reneging on guarantees of constitutional liberties, autonomy and republican government.
Delegates voted in favor of separating from Mexico and joining the United States, but the White House initially rejected the idea, prompting Texas to temporarily become an independent country. Texas was annexed by the US in 1845, sparking the Mexican-American War of 1846-1848, in which over 11,000 people perished. After the conflict, Mexico was forced to sign a humiliating peace treaty that allowed the US to acquire some 845,000 square km of territory, including areas which today comprise all or parts of the states of California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
(Each point of the foregoing reveals the hypocrisy and double standards of the plundering governments of United States and Western Europe when they hector other nations about human rights and their standards of oligarchy which they tag ‘democracy’ – Eds).