The invasion of Ukraine by Russia is horrifying, but what is equally disturbing is the knee-jerk reaction by some Americans not only in the media but also from our elected representatives. America has done the very same thing as Russia while claiming the moral high ground.

Make no mistake, what Russia is doing is barbaric, immoral, and a crime against the Geneva Convention, which is a standard for the treatment of prisoners and civilians during a time of war. Violations can bring moral outrage and lead to trade sanctions or economic reprisals against the offending government. I fully support the sanctions against Russia, its banking systems, and the Russian oligarchs. Before we claim the moral high ground, let’s examine what America has done in the past.


“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” said George Santayana in his book Reason in Common Sense.

• Iran, 1953: Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh was the target of the earliest coup of the Cold War that the U.S. government has acknowledged. According to the just-declassified CIA-authored history of the operation, “It was the potential … to leave Iran open to Soviet aggression when the Cold War was at its height and when the U.S. was involved in an undeclared war.

• Guatemala, 1954: A coup in 1954 forced President Árbenz from power, allowing a succession of juntas in his place. Classified details of the CIA’s involvement in the ouster of the Guatemalan leader, which included equipping rebels and paramilitary troops while the U.S. Navy blockaded the Guatemalan coast, came to light in 1999.

• South Vietnam, 1963: The U.S. was already deeply involved in South Vietnam in 1963, and its relationship with the country’s leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, was growing increasingly strained amid Diem’s crackdown on Buddhist dissidents in South Vietnam. According to the Pentagon Papers, on August 23, 1963, South Vietnamese generals plotting a coup contacted U.S. officials about their plan. After a period of U.S. indecision, the generals seized and killed Diem on November 1, 1963.

Let’s also not forget the March 1968 atrocities of the My Lai massacre, in which U.S. soldiers killed more than 500 Vietnamese civilians.

• Chile, 1973: The U.S. never wanted Salvador Allende, the socialist candidate elected president of Chile in 1970, to assume office. President Richard Nixon told the CIA to “make the Chilean economy scream.” The agency worked with three Chilean groups, each plotting a coup against Allende in 1970. U.S. attempts to disrupt the Chilean economy continued until Gen. Augusto Pinochet led a military coup against Allende in 1973. The CIA also conducted a propaganda campaign supporting Pinochet’s new regime after he took office in 1973, despite knowledge of severe human rights abuses, including the murder of political dissidents.

• Panama, 1989: The U.S. invaded Panama to overthrow military dictator Manuel Noriega, whom grand juries in Miami and Tampa indicted on charges of racketeering, drug smuggling, and money laundering. Noriega’s Panamanian Defense Forces were promptly crushed, forcing the dictator to seek asylum with the Vatican Anuncio in Panama City, where he surrendered on January 3, 1990.

• Iraq, 2003: The U.S. entered Iraq with slogans of “Shock and Awe,” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction but ended up with “Weapons of Mass Deception,” Abu Ghraib, “Collateral damage happens,” (Donald Rumsfeld), “You Break It You Own It,” (Gen. Colin Powell) and “We Don’t Want the Smoking Gun to Be a Mushroom Cloud,” (Condoleezza Rice)

• Between 1947 and 1989, the U.S. tried to change other nations’ governments 72 times, including 66 covert operations and six overt ones. How can we ignore the incitements carried out by the western alliance with the expansion of NATO beyond the borders of a unified Germany, a violation of promises made to Moscow in 1990, and the stationing of NATO troops and missile batteries in Eastern Europe?

As we express our anguish for the people of Ukraine, we should also express our anguish for the people of Iraq, South Vietnam, Panama, Chile, Iran, and Guatemala.

All victims of unjust wars are equally worthy of compassion, and most of all, equal justice. If Putin were to be tried in the International Criminal Court, should not George W. Bush also be tried? Didn’t his administration go before the U.N. to press their case for invasion? If we can’t see ourselves, we can’t see anyone else, and this blindness leads to catastrophe. No country should ever revel in its moral superiority.