Press Reluctant to Call Russia's Crimea Takeover an 'Invasion'; No Such Hesitation in 1970 with Cambodia

The Obama administration's most recent abuse of the English language late last week involved its reluctance bordering on refusal to call Russia's military move into Crimea an "invasion." The press, unlike in 1970 when Richard Nixon sent U.S. troops into Cambodia for under three months, is largely following suit.

CNN (HT Hot Air) began the Team Obama-driven festivities on Friday by reporting that "According to the latest U.S. assessment, there has been an uncontested arrival of Russian military forces by air at a Russian base in Crimea. They are believed to be Russian land forces, CNN was told."


I reviewed 11 stories on the AP wire as of 2:45 p.m. (no links provided, since many are being continually revised). One by Lara Mills ("THOUSANDS MARCH IN PRO-INVASION RALLY IN MOSCOW") did have many "invasion" references, but it was about demonstrations in Moscow. A second by Lara Jakes ("US CALLS ANY THREAT TO UKRAINE NAVY 'DANGEROUS'") quoted Secretary of State John Kerry referring to an invasion (he must not have gotten the memo): "Kerry said Sunday that world leaders 'are prepared to go to the hilt in order to isolate Russia with respect to this invasion.'" The remaining nine stories contained no form of "invade."

The New York Times joined the party on Saturday in a report containing no form of "invade" by Alison Smale and Steven Erlanger:

Russia’s move to seize control of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula on Saturday led Ukraine to call up its military reserves on Sunday and warn Moscow against further incursions as Western powers scrambled to find a response to the crisis.

Mr. Obama accused Russia on Saturday of a “breach of international law” and condemned the country’s military intervention, calling it a “clear violation” of Ukrainian sovereignty.

"Incursion" is what Dick Nixon and his administration took to calling the operations in which U.S. troops went into Cambodia to flush North Vietnamese encampments. Nixon told the nation on April 30, 1970 why he believed it wasn't an invasion:

Tonight, American and South Vietnamese units will attack the headquarters for the entire Communist military operation in South Vietnam. This key control center has been occupied by the North Vietnamese and Vietcong for 5 years in blatant violation of Cambodia's neutrality.

This is not an invasion of Cambodia. The areas in which these attacks will be launched are completely occupied and controlled by North Vietnamese forces. Our purpose is not to occupy the areas. Once enemy forces are driven out of these sanctuaries and once their military supplies are destroyed, we will withdraw.

These actions are in no way directed to the security interests of any nation. Any government that chooses to use these actions as a pretext for harming relations with the United States will be doing so on its own responsibility, and on its own initiative, and we will draw the appropriate conclusions.

Operations in Cambodia ended on July 22, fewer than 90 days later.

CambodiaInvasionHeadlineMay1970

Though Nixon made it clear that it was all about removing North Vietnamese from their sanctuaries (quite successfully, by the way), the press routinely called America's actions in Cambodia an "invasion."

John Kerry is infamous for his "Chrismas in Cambodia" remarks. He claimed that he had been on a secret mission in Cambodia which pre-dated Nixon's announced "incursion":

On the floor of the Senate on March 27, 1986, Sen. John Kerry issued this statement: “I remember Christmas of 1968 sitting on a gunboat in Cambodia. I remember what it was like to be shot at by Vietnamese and Khmer Rouge and Cambodians, and have the President of the United States telling the American people that I was not there; the troops were not in Cambodia. I have that memory which is seared — seared — in me.”

Mr. Kerry’s statement at the time was similar to other statements he had made after returning from duty in Vietnam, and throughout much of the 1970s. Writing for the Boston Herald in October 1979, Mr. Kerry said this: “I remember spending Christmas Eve of 1968 five miles across the Cambodian border being shot at by our South Vietnamese allies who were drunk and celebrating Christmas. The absurdity of almost being killed by our own allies in a country in which President Nixon claimed there were no American troops was very real.”

There are only two "little" problems.

First, Nixon was not sworn in as President until January 20, 1969.

Second, no one in Kerry's chain of command believes that Kerry was in Cambodia at the time.

John Kerry's "Christmas in Cambodia" story cannot possibly be true.

Now John Kerry is U.S. Secretary of State.

The country's diplomatic apparatus is not exactly in the best of hands, is it?

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.