Hi, there. It’s early afternoon here in Lithia, Florida, on Saturday, February 26, 2022. From what I can discern from my window, it seems to be a nice “Florida winter” day – the sun is shining, it’s warm and a bit muggy outside, and there’s no rain in the forecast.
I don’t want to write a super long post today; the war in Ukraine is on my mind. I’m sad about the terrible waste of lives, property, and treasure in Ukraine; war is, after all, a destructive human endeavor (and, after prostitution, the second oldest profession) that affects both the aggressor and the defender. For the first time since World War II, a major European nation-state – Russia – is violating a neighboring country – Ukraine, in this case – to bully its government and people into obeying Vladimir Putin’s edicts to abstain from doing anything that runs counter to the Kremlin’s wishes.
I have, in previous posts, already written a great deal about what Putin wants, but let me recap them for you briefly:
- Putin is angry about the eastward expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) after the “end” of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Many ex-Soviet leaders, Mikhail Gorbachev being one of them, have said that the late President George H.W. Bush and other NATO leaders had pledged that NATO would not expand east of Germany after Russian troops were withdrawn from the former Warsaw Pact nations in eastern and central Europe
- Putin is also angry that the West does not “respect” Russia like it did the former Soviet Union. He is intent on making the Rodina great again by asserting its “sphere of influence” on countries that were former parts of the Soviet Union
- Ukraine has, since 2014, aspired to become a member of the European Union and the NATO alliance. Putin and many Russian nationalists say nyet
- Like many authoritarian leaders who are less than beloved by their own citizens – see Argentina’s military junta in early 1982 – Putin seeks to use a manufactured war (or “special military operation,” as he describes it) to rally the Russian people by appealing to their love of country and nationalist streak
This conflict did not come out of nowhere. Putin, who was a KGB officer during the last decades of the Cold War, has been preparing for this moment for quite a while. Maybe as far back as the first Obama Administration. Note that he made his first move against Ukraine in 2014 by annexing the Crimean peninsula and overtly and covertly aiding Russian separatist movements in the eastern part of Russia’s neighbor to the West.
I know that my conservative friends refuse to believe this, but the Ukraine-Russia War of 2022 is precisely the reason why Putin and his clique of kleptocrats wanted Donald Trump to win the Presidential elections in 2016 and 2020. According to the Mueller Report on Russian efforts to interfere with the American electoral system, the goal was to have a Putin-friendly President who would appeal to the segment of the American population that is nationalistic, isolationist, suspicious of multilateral world organizations such as the United Nations, and simpatico with white supremacists and anti-LGBQT movements, which unfortunately are also a part of Russian far-right politics.
Whether or not Putin likes Donald Trump as a person, I cannot say with 100% certainty. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn’t. What he does like is that Trump is a disruptive force – a bull in a China shop, if you will – who is eager to undo not just the delicate balance of America’s fragile socio-political structure, but also – and this is what matters to Putin’s Russia – the post-World War II order that has prevented – thus far – a Third World War.
Putin probably doesn’t want to nuke the United States back into the Stone Age. He knows that if he did that, the West would nuke Russia in response. Note that I said “probably.” Maybe he fantasizes about it in the same way that many white supremacists dream about a race war in which people of color, non-Christians, and LGBQT orientations can be “disposed of.” I don’t know. My gut feeling tells me, no, he’s not THAT crazy. Then again, my gut feeling also told me that no, there’s no way that the GOP will nominate someone as crass and self-centered as Donald Trump for the Presidency in 2016.
What he does want, though, is to force the West into accepting his worldview of “Russia is back, and we aren’t going to play second fiddle to the United States, NATO, or the European Union. We are a major power, and we want a sphere of influence where the Warsaw Pact once was.”
Here’s the thing: As long as the United States stands resolutely behind its NATO allies, the alliance can deter Putin and his allies in the Russian power structure from military adventures in Europe. That’s why he is picking on Ukraine; it’s not a NATO member or a EU member, so Kyiv is essentially on its own militarily, and Article Five of the Atlantic Treaty – the “mutual assistance” clause – does not come into effect here.
However, with someone like Trump, a man who railed against NATO during his four-year Presidency and even sided with Russia against the Central Intelligence Agency, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the National Security Agency re Russia’s well-documented attacks on the election system in ’16, Putin has a “mole” in the White House. A “mole” who is not only willing to undo the web of financial and military arrangements that have given the West the ability to contain Russian adventurism in Europe and elsewhere but is also willing to undermine the American democratic form of republican government
As I wrote yesterday on my Facebook page to my remaining conservative friends:
Hey…if you support Donald Trump (still) AND are putting up “I support Ukraine” posts on your timeline, you need to re-examine your belief system, especially for hypocrisy.
While Putin is ruthlessly invading Ukraine and starting the biggest war Europe has seen since World War II, the 45th President of the United States is praising Putin for being “smart” and “savvy” on right-wing media outlets.
Oh, and in case you are blaming Joe Biden for letting this happen, stop. Just stop. Putin has been waging a war against the U.S. for years – perhaps since the Bush Administration – in which he uses the Republican Party’s many ties with Russia, including the Kremlin’s coziness with Mike Flynn, Donald Trump, and his family, Tucker Carlson, Fox News, and OAN.
To be clear, Putin does not want to use nuclear weapons against the United States to destroy us outright; he knows full well that we will retaliate and bomb Russia tit-for-tat. But he does seek to divide us – and there are so many ways that he can do this – and distract us.
The four-year three-ring circus that was Donald Trump’s Presidency is paying off big time now. Not only is the right-wing media working overtime to spread a confused message – some Republican Senators are now overtly anti-Putin, others are not; Tucker Carlson said a few days ago that the Russia-Ukraine war was not a strategic concern for the U.S – but the former President and many of his top aides are fervently pro-Putin.
The two biggest foreign policy challenges the current Administration has faced (the exit from Afghanistan and the Ukraine-Russia war), have, as their root causes, Trump’s flawed decision-making. He was anti-NATO and was eager to accede to Putin regarding Ukraine. He also negotiated with the Taliban in 2020 and agreed to the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2021.
So, if you still think Trump is “your” guy and that he got a raw deal from the “libs” and the “mainstream media,” you need to either reexamine your belief system or take your “I Support Ukraine” photo frames down.