Great job everybody pic.twitter.com/MnGYGRBKjX— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) March 22, 2022
Paul Gottfried thinks we should be condemning Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“As a card-carrying member of the Old Right for the last 50 years, having suffered the slings and indignities that come with it, I am responding to other members of my fraternity who can’t bring themselves to condemn Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine and his destruction of its people. …
The attempts to defend Putin’s actions in Ukraine proceed from two unshakable beliefs among his defenders on the traditional American Right. The more grandiose explanation is that Putin is the upholder of Western conservative values, who is courageously battling LGBTQ+ enthusiasts in his country. He is also fighting back rhetorically against attacks on the family coming from onetime constitutional democracies that have fallen into the hands of woke totalitarians. Putin is also supposedly a man of faith, who devotes his energies to defending the Orthodox state religion and who is opening up monasteries and rebuilding churches in his country. We therefore cannot criticize him without endangering his sacred mission. If he is smashing Ukrainian cities, well that’s the price we pay for all the good he’s doing.
I’ve also been hearing from acquaintances that Ukrainians do not really constitute a nation but are ethnic Russians who are mischievously denying their identity. The Kiev-Rus settlement that took place in the 10th century (and was carried out by Scandinavians) was supposedly the starting point for the Russian national adventure, and “Ukrainian” is just another name for Russians who happen to be living in the area in which the Russian state origionally took form. In any case, Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy is supposedly just a corrupt lowbrow comic who has been built up by the U.S. government against his godly Russian counterpart.
The second reason for this rallying to Putin is that he is not responsible for his aggression. The U.S. State Department and scheming neoconservatives have created the present tensions between the Russians and Ukrainians. This happens to be partially true, if we recount the U.S. government’s involvement in the overthrow of a pro-Russian government in Kyiv in February 2014 and Joe Biden’s recent hints to the Ukrainians about their fitness for NATO membership. Neoconservatives have incited hatred against Putin as an antidemocratic leader and have been confusing statecraft with ideological wars for decades. I’d be the last person to defend these fanatical warmongers; and having suffered professionally at their hand, I have no reason to like them. …”
“As events progressed, wild speculation about the state of Putin’s “mental health” roiled Western tabloids. A search for “Vladimir Putin” and “madman” in the Nexis news archive for the first three weeks following the invasion yielded nearly 800 results. Sources speculated on the medical etiology of his apparent sudden descent into insanity. He was suffering from long Covid or Parkinson’s; perhaps he was taking steroid. …
It is clear that the rhetoric has escalated, but none of this is new. As tenuous allies become enemies, individuals can personify conflict and embody all that is bad in the world. This was the same path traversed by Saddam Hussein, who was gradually framed as a distant “other,” an irrational, madman, a “beast,” and, finally, “the personification of evil.” Irrational people in positions of power can’t be reasoned with. They are a danger and must be eliminated
This isn’t my reasoning.
When I look at Putin’s Russia, I don’t see anything like Aryan women in wheat fields or the savior of the White race or a bastion of Orthodox Christianity. I don’t see a model that we should be imitating here. I see Russia as it has always existed recovering from a period of relative weakness in the 1990s and trying to reassert control over its near abroad. I see an inwardly focused Russia that is lashing out at NATO expansion to its borders and which deeply resents the transformation of Ukraine into an “anti-Russia.”
For nearly all of American history, Ukraine was a part of the Russian empire and later the Soviet Union. Ukraine will always be a vital interest of Russia for geographic, cultural and historical reasons. American meddling in Ukraine can only lead to conflict with Russia. This has been known for at least the last 14 years since George W. Bush pressed for Ukraine and Georgia’s admission into NATO. The Russian position on Ukraine hasn’t changed in over a decade. What has changed is the willingness of American officials under Obama, Trump and Biden to meddle in the internal affairs in Ukraine to antagonize the Russians. The torch that was lit at the Maidan grew into a fire during Russiagate and has now engulfed Ukraine.
As for dead babies in the streets of Kharkov and Mariupol, I don’t detect any danger in Americans and other Westerners flocking to Putin’s cause and outright supporting the war in Ukraine. The danger lies entirely in the readiness of Americans to leap into this conflict. Virtually no one is calling for forming a military alliance with Russia, arming the Russians, declaring economic war on Ukraine or getting into the war on the side of Russia. There are millions of people who are ready to plunge into the war on the side of Ukraine though. In fact, the vast majority of our elected representatives in Washington support this policy and have already acted on it. The Pentagon is waging war against Russia. Americans are also being led down the primrose path into entering the war in Ukraine due to relentless media propaganda.
In the United States, the argument is entirely between those who 1.) are looking for any excuse to get more deeply involved in the war in Ukraine and 2.) those who want to stay out of it and remain neutral like every other country in the Western hemisphere with the exception of Canada. Yes, we know that the war in Ukraine is awful, but getting more involved in this conflict is guaranteed to make the conflict even worse. It is making the world a more dangerous place. It is devastating the American middle class and working class. It is already making the censorship and erosion of civil liberties in this country even worse. It is escalating the weapons systems which Russia is using to win the war on the ground.
The most compelling argument for not getting involved in this war in Ukraine is that Americans know so little about the situation. We don’t know what has been going on in Ukraine. There is so much corruption. There has been so much byzantine intrigue going on there from a whole cast of characters that ranges from the Biden family to George Soros to the European Union. We’re not familiar with Ukraine’s historical and ethnic divisions. No one cared about Ukraine three months ago. This is a fad and a bandwagon. Americans are being manipulated by “journalists” who are pointing cameras at Ukraine. It would take us years to figure out everything that has gone on in that country that caused this expansion of the war.
We don’t need an investigation though to know that the United States has no vital interest at stake in Ukraine and particularly in the status of Donbas. Whether it goes to Russia or stays in Ukraine isn’t nearly as important to Americans as avoiding being sucking into World War III over it. The entire history of Ukraine since the Middle Ages has been being dominated by one empire or another. It is not like there haven’t been battles and wars between Great Powers like the Crimean War over Ukraine. The fact that there have been all kinds of wars in Ukraine in the past hasn’t prompted us to jump into those wars.
There is a reason why we aren’t jumping on the bandwagon to condemn Vladimir Putin as an evil dictator who is bent on world domination. The United States entered World War I to stop the Hun and the Kaiser to “make the world safe for democracy.” The United States entered World War II to defeat Adolf Hitler who traded places with Satan in the liberal imagination. We’ve found substitutes for Hitler over the years in Manuel Noriega, Slobodon Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Bashar al-Assad and Muammar al-Gaddafi. We have learned from bitter experience where all this liberal moralizing ends up leading us.
Suppose we do end up in a hot war with Russia over Ukraine. Why wouldn’t this war end up becoming a total war against everything associated with Russia? That’s the most important lesson of World War II. It wasn’t just Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich that was defeated. The World Wars were a catastrophic blow to the West and we have been stuck in a malaise and mood of self hatred ever since. The war against Nazi Germany evolved into a war against race realism and nationalism which strengthened the American establishment and institutionalized liberal hegemony in the United States and Western Europe. As soon as the guns stopped firing in Europe, the Double V campaign turned on the Jim Crow South.
The people who are clamoring for war with Russia and who are canceling Russia won’t stop with Russia. The same weapons will be used to suppress everyone in the West who doesn’t toe the establishment line. In fact, many of the weapons which have already been turned against Russia were already being used by same people like Christina Freeland to suppress our voices here at home. We shouldn’t be doing anything to empower those people and nothing expands the power of the state like war.
The best thing we can do to help both the Ukrainians and ourselves is to stay out of this conflict. It is what we should have done all along instead of recklessly provoking Russia and inflaming tensions in the region. It is what most countries on earth are doing. Looking out for their own interests.
Note: It was a foolish mistake to hand out security guarantees like cotton candy to all of these countries in eastern Europe like the Baltic states which have all these historical grievances which we don’t understand.