Wednesday, February 23, 2022


Bret Stephens has an odd theory about the U.S. response to Russian aggression against Ukraine:
Central to much of the skepticism regarding America’s involvement in the crisis in Ukraine is the question, “Who are we?”

Who are we, with our long history of invasions and interventions, to lecture Vladimir Putin about respecting national sovereignty and international law? Who are we, with our domestic record of slavery and discrimination, our foreign record of supporting friendly dictators, and the ongoing injustices of American life, to hold ourselves up as paragons of freedom and human rights? Who are we, after 198 years of the Monroe Doctrine, to try to stop Russia from delineating its own sphere of influence? Who are we, with our habitual ignorance, to meddle in faraway disputes about which we know so little?

Such questions are often put by people on the left, but there’s a powerful strain of the same thinking on the right. When Bill O’Reilly asked Donald Trump in 2017 how he could “respect” Putin when the Russian president is “a killer,” the president replied: “We’ve got a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?”
So Americans don't agree on a strong response to this crisis and the first thought Stephens has is to blame the left? Seriously? And then to add that, oh, yeah, right, I guess some right-wingers have doubts about intervening, too?

I've read some bad Ukraine takes, but this has to be one of the laziest. Intervention skepticism? Must be the fault of those blame-America-first hippies! And, sure, Trump too -- although Stephens overlooks the fact that Trump doesn't consider "killer" to be a pejorative. He was raised to believe that the world consists of "killers" and losers, and you've got to be the former in order to avoid being the latter.

Many (if not most) of the Americans who want U.S. and international pressure to work in this crisis are liberals who acknowledge "our domestic record of slavery and discrimination, our foreign record of supporting friendly dictators, and the ongoing injustices of American life" -- despite all this, we're rooting for America and NATO, and rooting against Putin. There are leftists who aren't, but they're not the primary critics of the Biden administration's response.

The primary critics are people like Tucker Carlson. His argument sounds like a funhouse-mirror version of Stephens's blame-America leftism. Last night on his show, he said:
... it might be worth asking yourself, since it is getting pretty serious: What is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much? Has Putin ever called me a racist? Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?
The people who don't want the U.S. to respond aggressively to Putin's imperialism aren't skeptics because of slavery or the Monroe Doctrine -- they're people who think America isn't pro-white enough now. They're people who hate America for its religious diversity and its (((globalism))), who think the pandemic is a hoax and regard our only non-white president as a savage (and our country as corrupted by his presidency) because, among other things on some occasions he ate dog meat when he was a child in Indonesia.

Bret Stephens can believe what he wants, but whatever his opinions may be, he should at least keep tabs on what Americans are thinking right now. Instead, he reaches for an off-the-shelf cultural stereotype that's dated and irrelevant. C'mon, Bret, make an effort.

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