“The ruling-class talking point du jour is that Russia’s war in Ukraine has dealt a crushing blow to Western populists. The populists, according to this view, tied their fate to Vladimir Putin’s: whether by praising him, calling for more genial relations with Moscow, turning a blind eye to Kremlin depravities, or some combination of the above. Now that Putin has launched a failed invasion of Ukraine—failed according to Twitter and feverish media wish-casters, at least—his populist fan club is also tainted by his cruelty and incompetence. Ergo, “populists are losing this war,” as a headline in UnHerd put it.
It’s pure poppycock, but before I explain why, let’s briefly pause to note the sheer grotesqueness of this ideological posturing at this moment. Amid the carnage wrought in Ukraine by Moscow’s aggression, the suffering of ordinary Russians under Western sanctions, and the anxiety that grips Europe as a whole, the liberal establishment sees fit to cashier misery into point-scoring against their domestic political opponents. This is the business we’ve chosen, you might say, and fair enough—but then kindly stop whinging about civility, decency, and unity. …
The bigger problem here is circular reasoning. Kaufmann assumes that opposing hawkism and escalation makes one “anti-Western.” Pro-Western-ness is thus defined at the outset as a preference for the foreign policies of the liberal imperium and its marquee institutions. Therefore, he concludes, Carlson, Vance, et al. are lamentably anti-Western. But this is to beg the question. Carlson and his populist confreres argue that hawkism is inimical to the interests of ordinary people in the West and, if escalated to a nuclear point of no return, to the survival of humanity at large. They are defining Western-ness differently than self-identified liberals, in other words, and judging by the record of liberal interventionism the past 20 years, such a redefinition is sorely needed. …”
This isn’t about Putin and the war in Ukraine.
If Turkey had invaded Syria or Russia had invaded Georgia or Pakistan had invaded India, our response would have been the same. Fundamentally, we don’t support liberal imperialism or entangling alliances like NATO or the military-industrial complex or wars to dominate Eurasia. This has been our consistent position throughout all the previous wars in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Afghanistan. The expansion of the American Empire to include Ukraine is putting us on the road to war with Russia.
We don’t want to jump into conflicts in far flung parts of Eurasia in countries we barely understand and where we have no vital interest at stake. This is the lesson of Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. Ukraine is a far more dangerous place to intervene because the stakes are so much higher there. Large parts of what used to be Ukraine are ethnically Russian like Crimea and the Donbas. These regions have historically been part of Russia while western Ukraine has historically been part of Poland, Lithuania or Austria-Hungary. Ukraine is a vital interest of Russia on the same level that Canada is to the United States.
Russia is an autocratic multicultural empire. Ukraine was part of the Russian empire and later the Soviet Union through 200 years of American history. It isn’t surprising that Russia is willing to fight over Ukraine. What has changed is that Yankees now feel compelled to meddle in Ukraine and push Russia’s back against the wall all the way to Donbas. They act like they have a divine right to dominate the world.
There have always been Americans who 1.) are opposed to imperialism and militarism and 2.) would prefer to mind our own business in North America and 3.) focus on our enormous problems and challenges at home. This conflict in Ukraine is already making us poorer, less safe and less free. It is also a major distraction from dealing with our domestic problems. It is not in our interest to have a poor relationship with Russia. We’re dealing with essentially the same Russia that has always existed in this world.
There is only one side that wants to militarily intervene in this conflict. It is the Zelensky stooges who want to arm Ukraine and establish a No-Fly Zone. In contrast, our side IS NOT saying that we should form an alliance with Russia or arm Russian separatists in Donbas or intervene in this war on the side of Russia. We simply want to mind our own business and stay out of it and focus on our own problems.
The idea that we want America to become more like Russia is preposterous. The opposite is true. We’re not one the ones calling for censorship and arresting our political opponents and getting involved in this war. The hysterical people who are doing so are repeating some of the most shameful bigoted episodes in American history like when Germans were persecuted during World War I, the press was censored and critics of American imperialism like the socialist Eugene Debs were imprisoned.
How has this relentless meddling in Ukraine helped Ukraine? Is Ukraine better off now that it has become the new Syria? How is the return of the threat of nuclear war helping Americans? How is inciting this conflict helping Americans deal with record gas prices, inflation and our supply chain issues?
We’re not going to stay silent while the exact same fools who plunged us into Iraq urge us to jump off the cliff into a far greater disaster over a place no one cared about two months ago.