November 28, 2022

Respected conservatives like Tucker Carlson and Pat Buchanan are raising objections to our involvement in Ukraine, and they deserve to be heard. But I think they are wrong, with all due respect. They miss the geopolitical picture almost entirely, which is disappointing.

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I don’t have any love for Ukrainian politics, which are almost as dirty as Joe Biden’s. Like most of us, I do have a lot of admiration and liking for Ukraine’s heroic popular resistance against a near-genocidal assault, waged against them by Putinist Russia, an assault that almost puts Hitler, Stalin and Mao Zedong to shame.

Putin’s war has returned Europe to the horrible 1914-1930s period, when it comes to sheer ruthless cruelty to innocent civilians, women and children most of all.  There are two aspects of the Russian assault that Tucker and Patrick Buchanan are missing.

One is moral. The other one is geostrategic.

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The moral critique is obvious enough, because Putin has been bombing civilians to kill, maim, kidnap, rape and scare them into submission. This is all purposeful, part of standard Russian strategic doctrine.

The West has closed its eyes to his city-bombing assaults on Chechnya, Georgia, Crimea and the Donbas. Chechnya had it worst, because Putin didn’t even want to spare the infrastructure he would need to impose his own rule on the Chechens. In Ukraine, Putin has (until now) tried to hit civilians, but not the center of Kyiv, for example, because he expected to use that infrastructure himself. But now that he’s failed in that effort, he is hitting the power and water supply in the Ukraine to give Ukrainians a taste of Slavic winter without heat, without water, without food. Stalin killed by imposed mass starvation, and Putin is trying to do the same.

The West has actually enabled Putin’s murderous practices in Chechnya and elsewhere, because, frankly, we did not want to deal with Chechnyan jihad warfare ourselves.

That was an intelligent but conscienceless strategic decision for the West: Let Putin exercise his wrath on jihadist forces in the Stans.

A US Marine Corps study recently pointed out that Putin”s assault on Ukraine is nothing new – it’s how he’s behaved since 1990, the end of the Soviet Empire. But Western media have closed their eyes to that brutal fact, because we felt protected by Putin’s ferocity when it was practiced against forces that threaten us as well.  That’s the cynical geopolitical side of things, and you can certainly disagree with that morally blind way of looking at the world, but you can’t say it’s irrational. Nations and peoples have always calculated the strategic odds, in addition to thinking about the horrors of aggressive war.

When push comes to shove, we do choose to be practical, even if it enables some pretty evil things. How much do ordinary people worry about constant gang warfare among black and Hispanic drug gangs in Chicago? We are shocked by horrific school shootings, which are evil enough, but urban warfare in our cities is just part of the background noise of daily life.