The horizon is not so far as we can see, but as far as we can imagine

Three Principles for Ukraine & for Great Power Politics

  1. Ukraine is not morally worse than Iraq, Yemen, or many other wars.
  2. Russia is not more evil in its foreign affairs than the US.
  3. Neither fact is whataboutism.

The general cases of these also apply. Most countries that seem good are not good. They are weak, and if they were powerful, they would not continue to act good. (The personal application of that principle will be the subject of another post.)

The point here is that there is NO ethical case for treating the US and Russia differently in terms of sanctions and response. Iraq was just as bad a war crime as Ukraine. So what is happening is not about ethics, it’s about other things. For many Europeans, it’s about fear (that’s another post), but for the US and its allies, this mostly about power: The actual “principle” is “our wars and annexations are good,” and “you can’t do to white, blonde Europeans who we consider part of Western civilization what you do to brown people who aren’t part of Western civilization.”

This is NOT an argument that what Russia has done is not an evil war crime. But countries who are not Western allies, like India, China, and most of the global south, even if they will condemn the actions, do not see this as anything worse than many actions taken by the US and its allies and see no reason to cooperate with sanctions unless those sanctions also benefit them, as they know that this is not about justice, but about power.

Justice applies equally to all. It commands respect. When the ICC declares it is opening a war crimes investigation against Russia, but didn’t against the US, everyone who isn’t a Westerner (and many of us, too) laugh bitterly. Why didn’t the ICC try Cheney and Bush and so on? Because the US threatened to invade if they did. (No, I am not kidding. Look it up.)

Next: Deals made when a nation is weak, do not hold if they are not actually in the country’s self-interest. This is at the heart of the China/US conflict, by the way. The “rules-based” world order was created when China was weak, by the people who put the boots to China for over a century. The Chinese don’t see why they should respect it. They will do so for as long as it is in their interest, and not one second further.

“Don’t keep deals that are bad for you,” is also why Russia is likely to break all Western IP. The only reason why they wouldn’t is that oil and wheat exports are still not subject to sanctions. Do that, and the IP goes. Then China helps Russia reverse engineer and manufacture Western goods, while smiling and denying, since they too hate Western IP. (In WWI, the US broke German patents. The core of the American chemical industry is based on this fact. After the war was over, they did not say, “Okay, we’ll go back to respecting them.”)

I remember the run up to and first period of the Iraq war. Then, as now, pointing out inconvenient truths was regarded as traitorous, and people said, “But Iraq is an evil dictatorship and Saddam, Saddam, Saddam.” Saddamn was an evil dictator, but Iraq was still a war crime (as is Ukraine).

Those same truths, by the way, were acknowledged by almost everyone as true ten years later when it didn’t matter, and many of those people are making the same mistakes now.

This is Great Power politics. The decisions on both sides are not being made for reasons of justice or ethics. That does not mean there isn’t an ethical case, but you can’t say, “We get to have wars, and everyone who isn’t our ally doesn’t.” That’s just the argument of a bully who says, “Only I get to beat people up!” and everyone who is ethical and not ruled by the emotions of the moment knows it.

A world at peace will happen (if it ever does) when powerful nations hold themselves to the same rules they hold the weak to, and not before.



Ukraine and the Coming Inflation


Open Thread


  1. anon

    Europeans and the Western media aren’t even hiding their racism anymore.
    They are outright stating that it’s okay to kill black and brown “uncivilized” people, but not okay to kill Europeans and those with blue eyes and blonde hair.
    And all of us have read about the harassment and discrimination that Africans trying to get out of Ukraine are facing.
    It does not surprise me that black people there are treated like trash. In my personal experience in the US, of the many immigrants from across the world that I’ve met, Eastern Europeans tend to hold the most racist beliefs about non-whites.

  2. Dan Lynch

    I’m not seeing the de-nazification of Ukraine as a war crime overall (though there will no doubt be individual acts of war crimes, as there are in every war.)

    Shorter version: neo-Nazis, with the support of the U.S., violently overthrew the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014. Anti-coup protesters were genocided, first at the May 2 2014 Odessa massacre, then in the Donbass. The Donbass genocide continued for 8 years while the coup puppet government thumbed their nose at Minsk accords.

    Donbass declared independence and Russia eventually recognized it. As an independent state being invaded and attacked, Donbass had a legal and moral right to fight back, including counter-invading enemy territory to destroy the enemy’s military & government. Donbass also had a legal right to ask other countries to assist, so Russia’s agreeing to assist was 100% legal.

    Up to this point in my story everything Donbass & Russia have done is 100% legal and ethical. And I am not even taking into account the Russian claim that the neo-Nazis had planned to launch an offensive deeper into Donbass on Feb 25, or that Zelensky had announced the intention to develop nuclear weapons and perhaps had already begun that process.

    Some will say that the genocide in Donbass does not legally justify the invasion of all of Ukraine, but if that is the case then the WWII Allied invasion of Europe was also not justified. Most of us will agree that the Allied invasion of Europe was justified (though maybe not the Allied invasion of colonies) because it was a total war initiated by Germany, and the only way to stop Germany was to destroy its military & government. You could also make the claim that the Allies had a right-to-protect but let’s be honest, the Allies did not care about the death camps until the war was over.

    If Russia had instead merely liberated Donbass while leaving the rest of Ukraine untouched, the neo-Nazis would have continued shelling Donbass from across their side of the border, and ethnic Russians inside Ukraine would have continued to be persecuted. So that was not a viable alternative. We are not talking about dealing with reasonable people, we are talking about neo-Nazi fanatics egged on by psychopaths in NATO. As with Nazi Germany, the only solution was demilitarization and de-nazification.

    Ethics and law are two different things. From a strictly ethical perspective, perhaps Donbass & Russia should have merely defended from attacks within their own territories. But artillery shells and rockets do not respect boundary lines, never mind nuclear armed missiles.

    There is no such thing as a good war. Bad things always happen in every war and Ukraine will be no different. But it was not illegal.

  3. Willy

    Seems like yesterday it was all Russia, Russia, Russia! Should it be so strange how today it still is?

    Buying supplies at my local Home Depot, an employee presumed that I was one of his kind and started going on about how some guy called Brandon is the root of all evil. Nothing he said was based on anything credibility. It was all nonsensical tribal virtue signaling. I’m guessing that for every successful psychopathic power player there are at least fifty guys just like that employee willing to blindly supplicate themselves to that power player.

    Curious to see what the general Fox News tonal response was regarding Ukraine, I noticed that Judith Miller was one of their panelist “experts”. The USA may have blown their credibility as the worlds moral authority with Iraq as badly as Judith Miller blew her credibility as a journalist, but it seems the psychopathic power players get to carry on because guys like that Home Depot employee need their idols of worship.

    The rest of us then scramble about trying to figure out how to make these the idols safe and sane, since they’re far too wily to keep out of power, apparently.

  4. Soredemos

    I don’t know. Forcibly purging or even dismembering a Nazi infested state that wouldn’t stop waging wag on its own citizens and was likely to play host to nuclear weapons with a six minute flight time to Moscow at some point in the future seems a lot more justified than the invasion of Iraq was.

    Kiev had seven years to implement the Minsk Protocol and resolve the Donbass conflict. It failed to do so, either because it was unwilling, or because it was unable (ie, any government that seriously tried would be coup’d by Nazis, taken out back, and shot).

  5. Willy

    Ye shall know them by the way they treat the weak. But this isn’t about that (or maybe it is?).

    An aside, but when it comes to weakness of the “Russia, Russia, Russia!” catchphrase, I blame myself. Surely, I could’ve come up with something which clearly describes Hillary, Trump and Putin as the lying worthless dangerous sacks of shit they are all at the same time. Maybe I kept getting stuck on their differing player styles, I dunno.

    And then Sore explains why Ukraine gave up its nukes and has a comedian as their president.

  6. Astrid

    At worst, what Russia did so far is equivalent to NATO in Kosovo, though they seem much more restrained about avoiding casualties.

    Unilaterally disarming and letting your followers get slaughtered is not a moral position in my book. Violence is a place where the most powerful had the greatest freedom of action and this the greatest responsibility to act cautiously.

  7. ptb

    There’s no need to downplay the brutality of the situation or make excuses. At the same time, fans of US foreign policy, reigning champ in body count, should consider re-evaluating the senseless violence directly caused by US and closest allies, rather than doing everything possible to make things worse.

  8. Occasional Poster

    Willy, I think you are too caught up in US “hyper-partisanism”. Performative moral posturing and ritually repeating how bad and terrible you think the other party’s politicians and supporters are achieves what exactly?

    It’s even more useless when it’s about a foreign leader. Who cares how many Americans “support” or “condemn” Putin? It makes absolutely no difference to anything that matters.

    Observing the “discourse” around this war I am struck by how high strung emotions are and how substance-free all the shouting, crying and moralizing is. It amounts to emotionally manipulated automatons shouting “Ukraine is good, Russia is bad and dead Ukrainians make me sad”. But the day after the media stops talking about Ukraine and stops showing pictures of bomb sites and suffering civilians all the “caring” and concern trolling will stop and everybody will forget that Ukraine even exists.

    Anyway, time for me to log off and go outside.

  9. bruce wilder

    In this conflict, morality or general principles of an anarchic international order are less puzzling to me than simply figuring out what is actually happening.
    The epistemology of living in a propaganda/disinformation bubble is troubling me. I do not think it is just me, either. I was glad to see Yves Smith (Susan Webber) admit she is at a loss in trying to filter out reliable reporting and analysis from Ukraine. My perception that this is an order of magnitude worse than Iraq in 2003 accords with her impression. Journalists and self-styled experts alike seem to have lost their ethical/conceptual grip on what is an objective fact, let alone on what is a fair interpretation.

    I appreciate that commenters share the online resources they find insightful. Maybe there will be better as the smoke clears, so to speak, but lots of people hang onto stories long after they are debunked, so I am not hopeful that it will get any easier to navigate.

    Right now I steer clear of the most “committed” patriots. Their urgent rhetoric of “you can help by spreading the word — people need to know” seems an obvious tell. It used to be a simple matter of noting what was omitted in the choice of where the origin story started that tipped off the wary. But now the origin is the invasion — nothing need come before that unconscionable act. Can Zelensky’s appearance in the Pandora Papers tarnish his heroic bronze? Should it?

    One concrete example to sort out: is the Russian military inept? Failing to achieve air superiority. Failing at logistics. Or acting under restrained rules of engagement (in order to leave Ukraine infrastructure and civil society functioning now and intact after the war)?

    “a bit of both” could be true, I suppose, but just being unable to sort out seems a poor standard. telling a future tale: “they will get more brutal as they are frustrated” is a sponge that absorbs facts and factoids. I cannot bear to peek at what tripe Tom Friedman writes in the NYT — still there — what does that tell you about the journalistic market value of judgment?

  10. Veronica

    Epochal Wars =/= Empire Consolidation Wars

    Morally are they different? No. Are their outcomes? Usually – at least for the elites.

    Epochal Wars (30 years war, WW 1&2) are fundamentally different than Empire Consolidation Wars (Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam). They rewrite the rules of the game for both domestic constitutions and international relations in mostly unpredictable ways. Consolidation wars don’t. If you know the rules, you don’t want them to change — at least not unless you’re 100% sure you know what’s next.

    But some things are pretty common with epochal wars. But more often than not, the existing elite in every country that is a combatant at the start of the war loses power afterward. THAT is what the media’s really upset about.

    I think the way the .0001% of war planning Western elites thought they were going to prevent this was with TIA — especially with cyber monitoring for dissidents, financial blacklists, and death squad-style od/suicide/cancelling whatever’s left of the real left. I am afraid they got more than far enough with these plans to survive a hot war. That’s the real lesson of the trucker protests, imo.

    The .01% that are VPs in media, Wall Street, civil government, etc. Seem to feel differently. They understand they’re screwed because they actually have history degrees. And that’s dominating the narrative right now.

  11. Jim Harmon

    On another Ukraine thread, someone rightfully trashed DNC hack site Daily Kos for its bloodthirsty pro-Ukraine coverage. But even on that site, there are wiser heads, one being a forthrightly anti-nuke cartoonist:

  12. Why didn’t the ICC try Cheney and Bush and so on? Because the US threatened to invade if they did. (No, I am not kidding. Look it up.)

    Ian is correct. Congress even passed a law during the Dubya years to that effect. See this:

  13. someofparts

    I actually watched the news on NBC last night. Even more than the manipulations and outright lies, the most striking thing about it was the nerve-wracking emotional intensity of it. I’ve been thinking about that pitch of hysteria because I wonder if it is the most important thing about propaganda, above and beyond the lies and more subtle misrepresentations.

    I have started to suspect that Trump was an inflection point for conservatives as well as liberals. For the liberals I know, he turned them into rabid believers in outlandish nonsense who behave with the same unhinged mania I saw in conservatives after Reagan was elected. For the conservatives I know, he seemed to have the opposite effect, which has changed them as much as the liberals have been transformed.

    It is not that the conservatives I know have suddenly seen through the propaganda they feasted on for so long. Their thinking on history and public policy is as fragmented and muddled as it ever was. What has changed is that their appetite for hysteria is gone. They no longer watch, listen to or read anyone who pushes their emotional buttons. They focus on their personal lives and avoid talking about politics at all. It is not ideal, but it is much better than it used to be with them and, if I’m not being too foolish to hope this, seems to leave room going forward for conversations that might actually be constructive.

    Now I am left wondering when, if ever, I will see liberals make a comparable psychological downshift away from hysteria, and what it will take to precipitate that. I’m also left hoping that we will make it to that point before we start launching nukes.

  14. Ché Pasa

    Maybe the media is becoming alarmed at how much they were taken by surprise by the invasion, how little they know about what’s really going on and how much they’ve been parroting USandNato propaganda. I don’t know.

    It’s become ridiculous. I mean the sight of Judy Woodruff in her bright yellow outfit against a bright blue background while she hemmed and hawed because she didn’t know a damned thing but claimed nonetheless that “we’ve never seen anything quite this horrible before” …. uhhhh, Judy? You’ve forgotten? Already? Afghanistan? Iraq? Syria? Libya? And on. And on. And on?

    Yeah, no. They haven’t forgotten. She hasn’t forgotten. But there has been a scripted narrative about Putin and Russia for so long and the initial push into Ukraine was so bias confirming that it was, for the moment, the most horrible thing ever.

    And now it’s as if some of them are starting to wake up from a dream.

    It’s impossible to know what’s really happening in part, as Ian suggests, because this is a Great Power game that includes China and all the players in the West and Eurasia. This may be the start of something much worse to come. We don’t know. But there’s a Guns of August, Missiles of October feel underlying it.

    What’s happening to Ukraine is awful and shouldn’t be happening, but it’s hardly the worstest most horrible thing ever. Far from it. In fact, compared to what most of us have witnessed for decades, it’s relatively mild — so far. Yet it can easily, too easily, lead to much greater conflict and that can too easily turn globally destructive.

    Which seems to be what our ruling factions — at least in London, DC, Brussels and possibly Moscow — really want. Get it on for real and get it over.

    Reset. Start anew or perish completely. The nihilism of our rulers is sometimes hard to fathom, but it is real. Ignorance, arrogance, nihilism, and incompetence. Wow.

    What did we do to deserve this?

  15. Barry Fay

    These are the kinds of articles that Ian is great at. After the scattershot Corona stuff it is really nice to see! And the level of the commentary reflects that fact. (Be sure to read “someofparts”! )

  16. Steve Ruis

    I had a colleague who contended that if one had power, one had to use it, because if you didn’t then you don’t really have power. As much as that seems to play out in human politics, oh Lordy, Lordy, how woeful are we.

  17. StewartM

    Zelensky is asking NATO for a no-fly zone. Of course, NATO is wisely declining; and in essence Zelensky is calling NATO and the US “chicken” for not doing so.

    Zelensky is of course, being delusional, but he is unintentionally raising a valid point. The West delighted in pushing NATO eastward, as they saw all gain and no pain. Now they are realizing that there could well be pain by continually provoking Russia. And their response to the situation is the Ukraine to decline to help directly is very revealing not just for the Ukrainians, but for all the countries of the former Soviet bloc.

    This is the fundamental weakness of an expanded NATO. When NATO was just Western Europe, and the Soviets were on the Elbe, NATO made more sense as it was a more cohesive coalition of interests. All the member states would agree that while the possibility of nuclear war was a very bad thing, they could not allow West Germany to be overrun. Now that “NATO” includes parts of the Soviet Union, like the Baltic states, is that still true? Would the Germans of British or French feel that threatened if the Baltic states were re-absorbed by Russia? Enough to risk a nuclear war? I don’t think so.

    Basically, this is Hungary 1956 all over again. We vocally egged on a resistance movement to the Soviets back then knowing full damn well that if the Soviet Union replied with force to crush the uprising, we wouldn’t or couldn’t do anything meaningful to stop it. We were more interesting in propaganda brownie points than in meaningfully helping the Hungarians or anyone else. Likewise, we encouraged the peoples of the former Soviet republics that they could have independent countries completely free from whatever happened in Moscow. That too was an illusion and thus we did them a disservice by not telling them up front we could not meaningfully support their continued independence if push came to shove. They certainly should have been forbidden to join NATO, and maybe the EU as well, not unless Russia was offered the same deal.

    Finally, the decisions made in the 1990s to humiliate Russia and to drag her through the mud, to enforce austerity on Russia instead of something like a Marshall Plan, to actually support democracy instead of cheering Yeltin sending in the tanks to crush the Duma, and instead of what Gorbachev wanted–an economic order roughly similar to Nordic socialism–to enforce Ayn Rand capitalism on her is bearing fruits (and the reality of that capitalism is Russia got what we have here–not a free, dynamic, economy, but corruption and oligarchs) is now bearing fruit for all to see, though many cover their eyes and refuse to see it.

  18. Trinity

    someofparts makes a really good point about the dimensions of propaganda, and just how skilled at it they’ve become. Probably why I never watch news channels. Also, a friend at work informed me that she is now addicted to a particular news channel. That can’t be accidental, either. As I’ve mentioned, many people these days suffer from some form of PTSD, and one of the main outcomes of PTSD is seeking validation, so she’s found a channel that gives her that validation (validating that she is thinking “correctly”, that she’s not only part of a “tribe”, but also the “right” tribe doing “right” thinking).

    Given that I don’t watch the news, I’m speaking regardless of what the talking heads on TV are saying (or more importantly, not saying). To me this is all a watershed moment, a turning point, the first of many until the dust settles. Will we end up with a multi-polar world, or slavery for all?

    From my “big picture” perspective, this is the start of a war for control of the entire Earth. Probably the first of many “skirmishes”. War is very lucrative for a very few, but if this war is won by the few that Michael Hudson mentions, it’s also a very lucrative victory. The main problem is that they can afford a war (it pays for itself). And also pays for the skilled propaganda machine someofparts describes.

  19. Soichero Rocks

    I didn’t think Putin could be this stupid. He’s walked right into it and despite what his apologists in the West say, and he has many apparently on both the far “left” and the far “right”, he and Russia are truly f*cked at this point. I don’t think there is any coming back from this. He’s crossed the Rubicon.

    I’ll know the West is serious about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (those who still refer to it as “the Ukraine” give themselves away) when Russian oligarchs end up dead. For anyone worth their classist salt, you should never eschew dead oligarchs. The only good oligarch is a dead oligarch, so you take dead oligarchs when you can get dead oligarchs, regardless of which oligarchs they are.

    ALL oligarchs are enemies of “the people” and if oligarchs start ending up dead, well, it sets a great, positive precedent because there can be no progress without justice and dead oligarchs is justice while living oligarchs are an impediment to justice. Death to ALL oligarchs everywhere. Dead oligarchs has to start somewhere, so dead Russian oligarchs is as fine a place to start as any.

    Also, NeoNazis and their loyalties are so confusing, aren’t they? In Ukraine, allegedly at least, they detest Putin, Russia and Russians but in America, the NeoNazis simply adore and worship Putin and they love Russia and Russians. How much is there to fear from idiotic nimrods who can’t even draft, agree to and adhere to a simple ideological doctrine.

    In my opinion, NeoNazis in Ukraine are a foil for Putin just as NeoNazis in America are a foil for various malevolent political factions. Foils abound in the battle for hearts and minds as do tropes. Foils & Tropes. Sounds like a great Manhattan law firm, doesn’t it?

    As far as Orlov is concerned, give me a break. Russia isn’t China. It’s largely a resource rentier state and always will be if it, and the world, survives Putin’s push for a lasting legacy. Russia is not going to start reengineering Airbuses. What a ridiculous notion. Disinformation at its finest. Propaganda.

  20. bruce wilder

    FACEBOOK WILL TEMPORARILY allow its billions of users to praise the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian neo-Nazi military unit previously banned from being freely discussed under the company’s Dangerous Individuals and Organizations policy The Intercept

    Meanwhile the NY Times omits any mention of the Azov Battalion in its coverage of the battle in and around Mariupol, where power and basic services have been cut, in apparent contrast to Russian tactics elsewhere.

    Do these people (journalists) have no self-awareness? Or is this hyper-reality in practice?

  21. DMC

    There’s an essential difference between US oligarchs and Russian oligarchs. American oligarchs run the government for their own benefit. In Russia, the oligarchs get their say, but Putin gets the last word, and oligarchs who color outside the lines get a one-way ticket to Lubyanka. So there is at least some interest in the commonweal, an overall concern for running the country to address the concerns of the citizenry. In the US, the 99% have less than 1% of the influence on public policy, while the 1%, have more than 99% of the influence(see the recent Princeton study).

  22. Soichero Rocks

    News for you. Putin is an oligarch. He cares no more for the citizens of Russia than American oligarchs care for citizens of America. Oligarchs are oligarchs and the only good one is a dead one. How immature to play the game of “my oligarchy is better than your oligarchy — Nanny nanny boo boo!!” As if.

  23. Ché Pasa

    Hmm. In all this discussion of oligarchs, somehow the fact that Ukraine is an oligarchy too is left out of the equation. I know our propagandists never mention it, but Ukrainians know. Oh, how well they know. Zelensky was elected in part because he promised to tame them, even jail some of them. Hasn’t happened, but it was a nice campaign promise, no?

    The nazis in Ukraine are… useful to the oligarchs. Very. It’s hard to overstate their intensity of hatred and violence toward Russified Ukrainians — not just Russians. They have been part of the security apparatus, the military and the government since the Euromaidan coup in 2014. The claim that the Azov Battalion “can’t be nazi” because it’s part of the National Guard now is laughable. Not laughing tho. And the claim that there aren’t any nazis in the government/military/security apparatus because Zelensky is Jewish is ridiculous on its face.

    Zelensky has not been able to fulfill any of his main campaign promises. I wonder why. Could it be because the oligarchs who actually rule Ukraine would rather not be tamed, would rather not go to jail? Could it be because the nazis that protect them and the government would rather stomp and kill Russians and Russified Ukrainians than stop doing it?

    I don’t know. It’s all so odd, isn’t it?

  24. Soredemos

    @Soichero Rocks

    Most ‘Neo Nazis’ in the US are no such thing. A lot of them are stupid and right wing, but they aren’t fascists.

    Whereas the Ukrainian ones openly praise OG Nazi collaborators and adorn themselves with Germanic names and symbols. In Ukraine there are absolutely a lot of genuine Nazis. They aren’t some fictitious foil, and I can give you plenty of evidence to prove it. And I don’t even have to resort to Russian media to do it.

  25. Soichero Rocks

    The nazis in Ukraine are… useful to the oligarchs.

    The Nazis in Ukraine are useful to many, Ukrainian oligarchs especially but by no means exclusively. And no Sore, a foil doesn’t have to be a fiction to be a foil. Sometimes foils are a fiction, but that is not absolute by any means.

    I’m not defending Ukraine. Far from it. The most Ukraine could ever have hoped for is the status of a rump state which it was before this past week. Now, its fate is a Russian vassal forever in shambles.

    Susan Webber had this to say to me at NC.

    Major exercise in demonstrating how you don’t know much of everything, starting with that there are real bona fide neo-Nazis in Ukraine who wear Nazi regalia and have beaten pols they didn’t like into hospitalization. You might bother learning something before spouting nonsense.

    Not once did I deny there are true dyed-in-the-wool, at least in their own twisted minds and souls, “neo-Nazis” in Ukraine. My point is, so what? There are “neo-Nazis” everywhere these days, and always have been since the crushing defeat of Nazi Germany, so Ukraine is not some “special case” or cause in this regard. Especially as it relates to Putin who claims it is one of his pretexts for invading Ukraine yet he has no problem with Nazis so long as they aren’t of the Ukrainian variety. The American version and the versions in other European countries are just fine and dandy and actually quite useful to Putin so he tacitly approves of them, if not explicitly, and helps enable them. Just a tad two-faced, I’d say.

    Explain the following, Susan. I’m sure she’ll find a way to defend Putin. Apparently it’s her raison d’être, or one the reasons at least.

    And Russia has proved to be only too willing to cater to these groups. While Moscow’s relations with neo-fascist contingents across Europe — in France, in Hungary — are well-known, less has been said about its extensive efforts to cultivate like-minded actors in the United States.

    In 2015, for instance, St. Petersburg hosted one of the most outspoken gatherings of far-right ideologues Europe has seen in years. With speakers rotating across the dais, a pair of Americans — Jared Taylor and Sam Dickson — railed against Washington’s turn toward civil rights and racial equality. Taylor, a man Spencer himself has cited as inspiration for his political baptism into white nationalism, and a man who recorded robocalls on behalf of Trump during the campaign, joined Dickson, erstwhile lawyer for the Ku Klux Klan, as the latter praised Putin for encouraging high birthrates among white Russians. The organization pulling the Americans to the conference was itself an outgrowth of a Russian party founded by Dmitry Rogozin, Moscow’s deputy prime minister.

    And Moscow’s government mouthpieces have enthusiastically promoted the views of American neo-Nazis and white nationalists. Not only have Spencer and his wife been welcomed as geopolitical analysts on Kremlin-funded outposts such as RT and Sputnik, but these outlets have also proved eager to flame far-right fringe theory. During the 2015 Jade Helm controversy — when armed, hard-right U.S. militias became convinced that President Barack Obama was set to “invade” Texas, among other states — one of RT’s hosts wailed that there was little doubt Jade Helm’s planning had “started some kind of war … between America and itself.”

  26. StewartM


    Most ‘Neo Nazis’ in the US are no such thing. A lot of them are stupid and right wing, but they aren’t fascists.

    Oh, but they are indeed fascists. You must remember, that the Nazis were something of an outlier. In other states properly called ‘fascist’ (Italy, Spain, Romania, etc) fascists had to share power with traditional conservatives. To some extent this blunted their agenda, but even in Germany, Hitler was willing to sacrifice his bully boys, the SA (who favored individual violence against the ‘inner enemy’ in the streets), in 1934 to appease traditional conservatives in the military and the financial elites. In part, that’s because having a society where goons can run around beating people up and destroying property at whim isn’t good for business.

    Hitler was as much against the ‘inner enemy has his SA, however, so he moved to a more bureaucratic implementation of ‘final solution’.

    The traditional US fascist movement is not the Aryan Nations or Neo-Nazis, but the KKK. And I would say that Trump is something very close to a fascist; there’s a good reason why these types are drawn to him.

    The real rejoinder to Soichero Rocks would be: there is no ‘international fascism’. Where is the cry “Ultra-nationalists of the World Unite!”?? Early on in their relationship, when Hitler was the upstart fascist next to Mussolini, he and Mussolini were adversaries, not allies. Hitler didn’t get along well with Franco, either (after his meeting with Franco in 1940 he screamed that Franco was a “little major” who in Germany “would never rise to the rank of Sargent!”). So the relationships between fascists are opportunistic. It is perfectly possible for one group of fascists to applaud a second group of fascists while condemning a third group of fascists. That is probably the best summation of what is going with the American/European Right, the Ukrainian fascists, and Putin (whatever Putin is, he certainly enjoys the support of Russian ultra-nationalists and those like Alexander Dugin who claim a superior “Russian civilization”–though since Dugin is also anti-tech, a “civilization” based without either the internet, or even chemistry and physics being taught (!!!) wouldn’t be dominant for very long):

    Why should all this be surprising, for with communism in the late 1970s we had communist Vietnam invading communist Cambodia while being attacked in turn by communist China? Their ideology sure didn’t prevent that from happening.

  27. bruce wilder

    Zelensky did not simply fail to prosecute Ukraine’s oligarchs — at least not the reliably neutral or anti-Russian ones — he apparently sold himself to build his own fortune.
    But, hey, pay no attention to the men behind the curtain . . .

  28. anon y'mouse

    here’s a musical interlude, fitting for the present hour:

    great convo here. thank you to the host.

  29. bruce wilder

    people get confused by the latent potential for authoritarianism in human psychology, which may manifest as right-wing political attitudes in any society — right-wing political attitudes are not in themselves sociopathic or indicative of sociopathy in the individual and it is only in becoming organized thru the leadership of demagogues, that that potential turns to evil.
    Ukraine has had actual neo-Nazi organizations, training for and practicing political violence.

    in the U.S., the propaganda of political tribalism has pushed people emotionally in the direction of expecting violence and largely uncoordinated and mostly senseless violence has manifested at an alarming rate — mass-shootings rarely rate more than local headlines and occur weekly, but have no organizational purpose or intent.

  30. Soredemos

    @Soichero Rocks

    You seem to miss the fact that only in Ukraine do Nazis make up a significant part of the military, have immense political pull, were conducting a war against ethnic Russians, and were on the path to playing open host to NATO.

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén