Posted by Curt on 18 March, 2022 at 10:24 am. 6 comments already!


BY Charlie Johnston

Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, I have had the uneasy feeling that we are being herded rather than informed. I don’t like being herded. A few observations and then my “final answer” on what I think is going on…
We are all now supposed to agree that Vladimir Putin is among the greatest of history’s evil monsters. But I don’t. Oh, if you are an internal opponent to his rule you are likely to find yourself dead or, at least, imprisoned on flimsy charges. He is certainly a brutal autocrat – like those who have successfully ruled Russia for a millennium. I am not shocked to discover that, in a land where the politics is all bears, tigers and lions, that the ruler is not a lamb. The end of Putin’s rule does not mean we will get a lamb running that difficult land, only a new brutal autocrat. So the question, for me, is whether Putin is so strikingly more brutal than the average run of Russian brutal autocrats that his downfall is likely to bring someone better and more stable.
In his dealings with the rest of the world I have found Putin to be patient, restrained and predictable. I think he has had the best grasp of a coherent geopolitical strategy of any national leader on the globe for the past two decades.
When he invaded Georgia in 2008, he said it was to stop attacks on Russian soldiers in the separatist regions and to prevent a Georgian “genocide” against the separatists. Sounds like a convenient excuse, except that when his aims were accomplished, he withdrew his troops from Georgia. If he is a megalomaniacally expansionist monster, he clearly had not yet gotten the hang of it. When he took Crimea back in 2014 the Ukrainians did not even resist. Except for the anomaly of the 23 years that Crimea had been governed by Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union it had been governed for over 500 years from Russia. It had no historical connection to Ukraine at all. And it housed Russia’s warm-water port, which is vital to its ability to project naval power…kind of like San Diego is to America. Politically, culturally and militarily it was Russian – which may be why the Ukrainians did not contest its return to Russia. At that time, Russia also offered support to the separatist regions in the Donbass (two regions at the eastern edge of post-Soviet Ukraine). In that case, the Ukrainians did fight to retain the Donbass and unless Russia was willing to send troops, their bid for independence would fail. Russia was NOT willing to send significant amounts of troops, so the bid for independence did fail. But that did not change the fact that the Donbass was almost 70% ethnic Russian and wanted to re-unite with the mother country. So much for self-determination.
For 23 years, Putin has consistently complained of NATO surrounding Russia and insisted that offering Ukraine membership in NATO was a red line for him. He has also consistently argued for the repatriation of those territories in Ukraine that have been historically Russian, rather than Ukrainian, that is, a big chunk of the land east of the Dnieper River – but has made clear he will accept the independence of the Donbass. For his trouble, western “diplomats” have effectively told him to mind his own business: that they have decided and he has no voice in the matter.

Let’s just look at recent Russian history. The last Communist dictator was Mikael Gorbachev. He was NOT a particularly brutal autocrat and significantly relaxed the government’s rigid control over the individual and the economy. For his troubles, he was victim of a nearly successful attempted coup in August of 1991. Though the actual insurrectionists failed in that attempt, four months later the country Gorbachev presided over was dismantled – and there was no Soviet Union for him to preside over (an event I consider one of the great blessings of the age). Boris Yeltsin rose to rule Russia. He was too busy a drunk to be a proper murderous dictator, so he shopped it out. He gave his nod of approval to a coterie of oligarchs who were free to loot the country and kill opponents with impunity so long as they remained loyal to him. It brought Russia to the brink of catastrophic collapse. In 1999 Putin became acting president when the toll of age and booze caught up with Yeltsin and the pressure of trying to hold together a collapsing society was too much for the old tippler. Putin rapidly brought the oligarchs to heel and put Russian society on a trajectory away from catastrophic collapse. In 2000 he was rewarded by being elected to the presidency in his own right. (Understand that elections in Russia are not the same animal as they are in the United States – excepting, of course, the 2020 election.) He quickly anointed his own crew of oligarchs. They, too, looted the land even though they were substantially more restrained than the oligarchs under Yeltsin that brought the nation near ruin.
Some suggest Putin is a great crusader who will restore Christianity. I have read several biographies of Putin including one that is sympathetic and one that is deeply critical. I accept that he is genuinely Christian – in a savage land. But I wonder whether his Christianity is an end in itself or in service to the state. If the latter, that would not shock me, for even in the time of the Czars it was presumed that the Russian Orthodox Church was primarily subordinate to the state – though it was dangerous for a Czar to get too crosswise with the Church. So I am not buying that he is the crusader of restoration. Yet I note with no little shame that when, a few years back, Christians were under massive and murderous persecution in the Middle East, Russia was the only country in the world that mounted large-scale assistance to those persecuted Christians rather than just wringing their hands.
I am under no illusions about who Vladimir Putin is, but I think the folks whipping up white-hot hatred of him are. Or maybe they are not: for most of them, white-hot hatred of Putin serves their major agenda. Putin is not the great Christian hope – but he is the biggest impediment to globalist dreams of world subjugation.
We are all now supposed to agree that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the modern-day equivalent of Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln all rolled into one. But I don’t. Certainly I was inspired by his retort to the American offer to whisk him to safety: “I need ammunition, not a ride.” It was evocative of American Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s reply to a German demand of surrender at Bastogne: “Nuts!” and to Admiral David Farragut’s cry at the battle of Mobile Bay: “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!” But I have a little trouble getting all warm and fuzzy about a guy who has been primarily bankrolled by George Soros (with the ardent support of Bill Gates, to boot).
Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine (and remember, Ukrainian elections are not the same animal as pre-2020 elections were in the United States, either), following the brief reign of Petro Poroshenko, an interim head of state after the Maidan Revolution which toppled former President Viktor Yanukovych, who had good relations with Russia. Many believe, with good evidence, that it was actually a coup orchestrated by western powers, including the USA. Strikingly, a telephone call between Asst. Sec. of State Victoria Nuland and the American Ambassador was intercepted which caught them discussing who the US intended to install in the new Ukrainian government – well before the existing one had been toppled. An actual neo-Nazi group was used by conspirators to help topple the government – and later harass the Russian majority in Eastern Ukraine. The biggest legitimate objection to Yanukovych was the corruption he tolerated – and even encouraged.

I don’t know if Zelensky actually tried to stop corruption in Ukraine or just shift it to benefit the friends and families of high-ranking officials in the United States. Certainly, the interim president had appointed some genuinely independent prosecutors, but when one of them ventured too close to Burisma (which was paying Hunter Biden $50,000 per month) then-Vice-President Joe Biden very publicly demanded that the prosecutor be fired or the US would revoke a billion dollars in loan guarantees. Other than the two-tiered justice system that has taken hold in America, I have no idea why Biden has not been impeached and jailed. Since then, Ukraine has been both honey pot and money laundering haven for high officials’ families and friends in America.
What is certain is that Ukraine is a victim state, as has often happened to a border state trapped between two more powerful rival countries. The last Ukrainian president who tried to build good relations with Russia was toppled – with the help of Barack Obama’s State Dept. The last Ukrainian prosecutor who tried to root out big corruption was fired at the insistence of the very man who currently occupies the Oval Office. Whatever Zelensky’s personal principles, he is in a constant battle for survival whether or not he is at war.
We are supposed to continue to believe that, as it was for nearly a century, America is a worthy champion for justice in the world and for self-determination for nations. Shoot, America is no longer either of those things for even the American people. It is all do what the government and establishment media says or be cancelled, fired or jailed. We lack even the aspirational moral heft to be dictating what other countries must or must not do anymore. How can we declare it a moral crime for Russia to invade Ukraine, but not for China to brutally subjugate Hong Kong or to declare the international waters of the South China Sea Chinese territory by building artificial islands there? Why would we absolutely refuse any diplomacy with Russia to preserve the territorial integrity of historic Ukraine while offering self-determination to the Russian majority in the Donbass? Why did we fail to use diplomacy to try to preserve the integrity of Hong Kong as agreed to by treaty? Why have we not cut off China from financial ties when it is actively attempting a genocide against the Uighurs? There may well be pragmatic reasons for some of this, but let us not pretend there is any moral clarity – or even coherence – involved. The foreign policy that says it is not our business how territorially aggressive China is but a vital interest to keep Russia from behaving similarly is of a piece with the American domestic policy that it is okay to loot, burn and maim if you are a leftist protester but a crime of the gravest sort to get out of hand while protesting from the right.

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