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J Bryant
J Bryant
2 years ago

The strapline for this fine article is “Making excuses for Putin shames conservatives.” I would argue the strapline should be “Making excuses for Putin shames Western democracy.”
Our society has reached a point where a significant number of people feel affinity for a Russian autocrat. This is not a symptom of a problem with conservatism. It’s a symptom of a problem with our democratic institutions. We have bowed down, literally or through our inaction, to a loud minority of “woke”, and their “elite” enablers, that denigrates and undermines our own culture, and now there is a reaction to that trend.
The phrase “culture war” has become a clichĂ© but the word clichĂ© does not mean wrong, it means overused and lacking in originality. A clichĂ© is a truth said often, but nonetheless a truth. I believe we’re in a war for our culture and in matters of culture symbols are important. People are responding to the symbolism of Putin as a man who is not apologetic about being a man, who is not apologetic about being proud of his country and culture. They are not endorsing Putin’s actions so much as applauding the symbolism and contrasting it to the decadence and decay of our own democratic institutions.
The solution to both Putinism and wokeism in the West is to engage in painfully honest introspection as a society, and if the majority feel our own cultural traditions are valuable then be willing to fight for them. Conversely, if we can’t be bothered to reassert pride in our own society then it’s time to let go. Shuffle off the world stage and let the woke, and Putin, have their way. Then it’s bread and circuses for us as long as they last.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You have perfectly articulated my thoughts, and feelings, thank you.

Charlie Dibsdale
Charlie Dibsdale
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

and mine

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

Ditto.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

You may well be right that people are responding to the symbolism of Putin, rather than the reality. But praise Putin, and you also praise his politics. Symbolism (as the article says) is a poor guide to actual policy. As we see also for COVID, where a lot of reactions seemed driven more by symbolism than by rational analysis.

As for passing the buck from conservatism to western democracy, that sounds a bit like ‘It is not my fault, he made me do it!’ He is writing to his fellow conservatives (us!) about what we really need to do better. And he is right. Saying that the woke ought to change before we do, is only a way of dodging the blame.

Andrew Langridge
Andrew Langridge
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

I’m not saying you’re falling into this trap, but the phrase ‘defending our own cultural traditions’ is often used as cover for opposing the rights of people not to be discriminated against because of their gender, skin-colour or sexual orientation; something that Putin and his ilk are particulary notable for. People tend to forget that defending minorities is the essence of the Christian value system. Egalitarianism is at the heart of the Christian tradition from Votes for Women to anti-slavery to opposion to forced-sterilisation and chemical castration of homosexuals.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Langridge
Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

I understand you mean ‘sub-marxist culture’ when you say ‘Christian tradition’.

Andrew Langridge
Andrew Langridge
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

Opposing the domination of individuals by powerful rulers is not necessarily Marxist. Nor is it weakness or an inability to defend the prevailing culture.

Last edited 2 years ago by Andrew Langridge
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

There are some problems here. Life is always better if you are part of the dominant majority. Your assumptions are shared, your behaviour is understood, people laugh at your jokes instead of taking offence, life is organised to fit with you. Being outside the dominant majority is harder (even if you are just left-handed). So most people would rather have that the dominant current in society was theirs. Unfortunately we cannot all get that. If your background, culture, sexual orientation etc. etc. puts you in a small minority, there *will* be problems. The only question is who needs to do how much of the work of adapting. And if all minorities demand that they must be at least as well off as any majority member, they are demanding that the majority should do all the work and sacrifice their sense of belonging and peace of mind to promote the minority groups. Hypothetically I am not convinced that even Jesus would insist that we should all speak sign language (to protect the deaf from discrimination), or teach all our children that being gender-queer is the normal state of humanity, to prevent people who do not fit into the man/woman binary from feeling excluded.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Roger Inkpen
Roger Inkpen
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

That’s a very interesting philosophical argument which I’ve seen before. But it makes perfect sense and I’m sure we’ve all come across people from different ethnic backgrounds who have varying degrees of ‘integration’ into our society. (note I put the word integration in quotes because we have different attitudes to British/Western/Christian culture and the people around us).
My point being that people can look and sound different depending on their environment. Someone from 2nd or 3rd generation of immigrants can be anything from totally cut off from mainstream society to being fully integrated, as we have now with senior politicians and other prominent people.

Cristina Bodor
Cristina Bodor
2 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Sharply put!

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

Don’t know about Vance, but Carlson never defended Putin. He asked if Ukraine was worth nuclear holocaust. Not the same.

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago

Apparently, the Putin regime sent out an instruction to friendly media outlets to use more clips of Carlson. That means they like what he’s saying

Tom May
Tom May
2 years ago
Reply to  rodney foy

So what? Tuckee was trying to ask something stripped of emotion? Most of the segments I saw were him asking “what is America’s national interest in this? When Kazakhstan is attacked will you be so emotionally invested?

rodney foy
rodney foy
2 years ago
Reply to  Tom May

I did not say I was emotionally invested

Michael Coleman
Michael Coleman
2 years ago

Exactly correct. Tucker is more isolationist with respect to Ukraine than I am but he has been consistently isolationist for many years and has not praised Putin or Xi.
Also, it is not clear that Orban should be grouped with those tyrants – see this Redstate article for example

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

Carlson’s argument applied to Hitler too – what did Hitler do to Americans? Nothing, so his position would be to let him play at genocide.

Last edited 2 years ago by Ian Stewart
David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Hitler declared war on America. Hardly “nothing”.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

I think this article fails because it tries too hard to make the basic facts fit the narrative.
Sure Putin is a despot, no one would deny it. But that does not immediately mean there is no rationale behind his illegal aggression. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t also provoked and that a portion of the blame – a not insignificant portion of the blame – for this debacle attaches to the Western political forces who have systematically isolated and humilitated a nationalist Russia (I won’t go into the whats and wherefores, simply read Glenn Greenwald’s substack if interested). This nationalist Russia is something beyond Putin, just as the energy and momentum that made Blitzkrieg possible went far beyond the leader who came to represent all its evils.
What populists want is not a dismantling of the liberal order. It is the dismantling of the globalist corporate illiberal order, which Mr Putin’s regime also happens to oppose.

Bruce Luffman
Bruce Luffman
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Agreed. I think this article does fail for the reasons you give. Trump was, in many ways, was being ironic – bit of an oxymoron perhaps – but Tucker is doing much the same and recognising that the type of anti woke sentiments that Putin has is good, does not mean that one agrees with his actions in Ukraine.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Maybe a non-nationalist Russia wouldn’t have needed isolating and humiliating?
As it is, it looks like Russia will cease to be a significant power, or even a unified power.
Sad…

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Oh I have no doubt you’re right on the first point. A non-nationalist Russia would have been absorbed into the globalist world order.
As to the second point, I am much less sure about that. It seems unlikely to me that a country with the largest surface area, the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and (very close to) the largest reserves of fossil fuels will so quickly cease to be a significant power. But hey, I’ve been wrong before!

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Russia may finally learn that its security cannot be attained through denying the security of others. Bullying its neighbours and poisoning people in other countries only creates enemies. Russia’s future is dire.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Most of your comment is the core of the argument put forward by the Putin regime to legitimize Russian imperialism. You call it ‘nationalist’ Russia but it isn’t, it is imperialist. Crimea was part of the Russian empire, never part of Russia. Huge tracts of Siberia and areas towards Kazakhstan are also imperial holdings and not Russia. What you are saying, I presume, is that it is ok for Russia to pursue its imperial goals because NATO and the EU are globalist wokies. I would argue that it is not. The people who live in Crimea, Ukraine and many other places would like to live without a large Russian foot on their necks, which I would support.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Lale

What you are saying, I presume, is that it is ok for Russia to pursue its imperial goals because NATO and the EU are globalist wokies.”
There’s no need to presume anything of the sort, because I use very plain language and say exactly what I mean to say. I will say it again, in a slightly more elaborate way:
Russia is a nation; a proud nation with a powerful and beautiful language, and a long history of culture, art and technical accomplishments. These are the things that define the community of ‘nationhood’, and this thing has been deeply wounded in its pride. This explains much better the rationale behind the invasion of Ukraine than the idea that Putin is a maniac in the last throes of a brain fever, and that his whole command structure and all the powerful men who could overthrow him are simply following along blindly, shaking their heads behind closed doors.
That is one thing you may presume I am saying.
The fact that Western ‘populists’ are prepared to recognise the dangerous folly of bruising Russia’s nationalist ego in this way is due to a greater proclivity to criticism of the globalist world order that has committed the folly. But that recognition does not make the populists into Putin apologists.
That is another thing you may presume I am saying.
As for imperialism and whatever that means in this context, this is simply a red herring. It’s nice to call your enemies imperialists, I guess.

Mathieu Bernard
Mathieu Bernard
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

“Russia is a nation; a proud nation with a powerful and beautiful language, and a long history of culture, art and technical accomplishments.”

Quite true, but 70 years of Soviet oppression of its own people, not to mention decades of the same in Eastern Europe and particularly Ukraine, has resulted in possibly more death and destruction than any other authoritarian regime in history. Thanks to leftist revisionism and Marxist sympathies, this inconvenient era has been largely ignored by the West. But the people of Eastern Europe and Ukraine haven’t forgotten. Which is most likely behind their willingness to flock under the umbrella of NATO.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago

I certainly wouldn’t disagree with that.

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Both Putin and Xi are imperialists. They aim to re-establish their historic empires, the same ones that they decried in their past communist, ideological rhetoric.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

The British were imperialists. The Americans are imperialists. Heck, give the Luxemburgers half a chance and they too would seek to expand their ridiculous dialect of frenchified rhinelandish German to the four corners of the Earth.
All ‘imperialist’ seems to mean is human nature, mixed with a little bit of geopolitical muscle.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

It is just the narrative ordered out. It isn’t based in reality. Putin doesn’t rule in a vacuum. He is under political pressures himself. The Putin as all powerful dictator isn’t true. In fact his response was seen as weak in 2014. The hawks wanted him to take stronger action than. He only did the bare minimum. Bring Crimea in. Putin would have been kicked from power and Crimea taken anyways. Westerners have no understanding of this. So the hawks much like the Iranian hawks after the nuclear agreement feel justified in their political criticisms of the leadership. You can’t really argue with that. If Russia had taken the Donbas and maybe the land along the Azov sea there would have been less reaction and possibly a better negotiating position. The Ukrainian had time to reform, arm up, and dig in around the Donbas region. This actually was the published Rand corporation plan for destabilizing Russia. Putin just upset the applecart. Rand specifically states they don’t wide a wider conflict because that changes their analysis and Russia has more advantages but hey.. it is all about social media feelings. Who cares about the realities on the ground?
https://www.lewrockwell.com/2022/03/no_author/how-to-destroy-russia-2019-rand-corporation-report-overextending-and-unbalancing-russia/

Last edited 2 years ago by Dennis Boylon
Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

I wasn’t convinced by the arguments here as some inconsistencies were plain. I listen to Farage and anti-lockdown has not been his main message. He has spent a lot of time on the illegal Channel crossings.
The other inconsistency was the framing of Brexit voters. It sounded like an example of “remainsplaining”. The main thrust of leaving the EU was to regain control of our country from people we had not elected and who made the majority of the legislation which we had to follow. Immigration was one consequence and not a sole reason.

Last edited 2 years ago by Peter LR
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

Interesting point. I recognise (and share) the frustration of being goverened by what amounts to a foreign organisation (for all each country has a vote and a veto). But is that not a matter of culture, of nationalist feeling? Is he not right to say that global, free-trading Britain and the riches it can get does not resonate outside a section of the Conservative party?

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Rasmus, the voting changed to qualified majority and we were often outvoted. The veto only applied to treaties.
It was a trope that Leavers did not understand what the issues were. Matt Ridley remarked at how impressed he was at how informed Leavers were; in fact more informed about how the EU worked than Remainers. I always think there is a difference between patriotism and nationalism, the latter having a hostility towards other countries.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I agree with a lot here. I actually found it personally offensive the way the EU and the ECHR (I know, different organisation, but same principle) keep taking it on themselves to decide over the head of the member countries. Even though the UK is not my country. And even though I think most of the ECHR judgements actually make sense, and most of the rest are 50:50. In practice it makes little difference whether you can prevent prisoners from voting, or remove citizenship from people who have never been to the country and have another passport anyway, without a detailed individual valuation. It just pisses me off because it is none the their bloody business. The trouble is that this is the only EU we have, and you are either excluded or you fit into the EU that all the other nations want.

But when it comes down to the things that actually make a difference to people’s lives, EU membership makes little difference at worst and is helpful at best. The UK is not going to get the power to overrule its neighbours and main trading partners and get things its own way, just because it leaves the EU. So it is a difference between adapting to the EU because you are member, adapting because you want to trade and they are stronger, or refusing to adapt and paying a heavy price for the privilege. The advantages of leaving I can see are 1) intangibles, culture and feelings (what else is patriotism)? 2) The opportunity to lash out at the people responsible for things not going to your liking, whether it has anything to do with the EU or not, 3) Letting yourself be convinced that you really *can* have your cake and eat it, if only you vote for Boris Johnson.

What would you say the issues were?

Jane Watson
Jane Watson
2 years ago
Reply to  Peter LR

I spent a lot of time arguing with Remainers pre and post the Brexit vote. They were almost all completely clueless about the morphing of the EEC into the EU as is (and, more importantly, as it wished to be). Most weren’t particularly interested. Leavers were vastly more informed and often had historic reasons for having engaged with the issues. I, for one, voted to remain in the EEC in 75? (first time I voted) having been assured it was designed solely to promote trade within Europe.

N T
N T
2 years ago

I don’t recall Trump saying anything “warm” about Putin. I did hear him say things that I took more as a backhanded slap at the power elite in the US. You can say “That dude has big brass knuckles,” for instance, but not mean it as a compliment toward that person. It is more of an observation, and, in this case, a critique of the leadership, here (they lack big brass knuckles).

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago
Reply to  N T

…exactly. I think Eric is really pointing to the risk, that you first have to clearly call out Putin for what he is. Otherwise, as is already happening, the Left’s narrative is you are pro-fascist-Putin-etc, etc.

Last edited 2 years ago by Bernard Hill
Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Which Trump will never do, because he thinks criticizing Putin, after praising him, makes him look “weak.”
Like an unruly child, Trump will never give in to pressure.
Which is why he lost, and will lose again.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

…zigackly. As important as if was for Trump to become POTUS, and to interrupt the drift towards a global socialist imperium, his personal flaws are likely to prevent the consolidation of center-right policy, were he to be re-elected. And his re-election does not look likely for the same reason. Better that he would settle for being the ‘Shogun’ in the background, attacking the Left in his unique way. But his ego seems too bruised from the 2020 result for that.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago
Reply to  N T

https://mobile.twitter.com/_BarringtonII/status/1496939053123440645
Have you seen this? Watch it all and listen to what Trump says. Have you heard the reports of Germany increasing its defense spending. LOL. The left is so brain dead lost they can’t handle this. Share this and keep sharing it every time a leftist opens their mouths about Trump. They are so pathetic, petty, and ridiculous.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago

The popularist right is anti-foreign interventionism, as was the traditional left (eg Greenwald). They make a strong critique of the US State Department and US foreign policy as exacerbating and muddying international relations. We wouldn’t be here, except for the continual US need to meddle, and mis-reading of other countries affairs.
On the other side, Clintonian progressives threw their hat in with Bushian neo-conservatives to support overt and covert operations to ‘flip’ countries, nominally based on values like human rights and democracy, but also for US interests. Regime change also brings good pickings for hedge funds and money men so interventionism also brought financial and money into party coffers. Wars were good business and progressives added a colour tinge of ‘justice’ as justification.
For adults, there should be no problem critiquing both US foreign policy, which in many ways turned Putin into a bogeyman and to call out Putin for being the bogeyman he now is. One doesn’t prevent the other. Being anti-Putin shouldn’t close your eyes to the disaster of American interventionism over decades now.
Up until 2012 Russia was supporting Nato (use of Ulyanovsk). Putin was rewarded with the Olympics and World Cup – relations were under control. But Libya and Maidan turned Putin into today’s enemy; to which was added five years of anti-Russian hysteria – an amount of which was made-up wholesale by Democrat operatives to try to bring down Trump. Bridges have been burnt, not built.
The challenge is how to get out of here with the minimum number of lives lost, and then what sort of uneasy resolution is possible. That requires realistic diplomats and hard trading with a Putin that distrusts the US for failed promises, as much as the US distrusts Putin. He is our enemy, but we don’t want ‘that’ war.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Well said. Although I would quibble that Putin is not our enemy but our bogeyman, reinforced by at least 6 years of Russia, Russia, Russia in the Washington DC swamp.
Here’s another very interesting article on the matter: https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/tell-me-how-ukraine-ends/ by Peter van Buren.
A fundamental mistake of the Western elites, including this article in Unherd, is condescension. The West, and the US in particular, believe they can do no wrong. They can interfere in other countries, overthrow regimes and install western friendly regimes, fund weapons biolabs illegally, and push eastward, encouraging Ukraine to seek and get NATO and EU membership, etc…. Oh yes, the biolabs were considered pure Qanon conspiracy theory fomented by Russia and CCP misinformation, until last week Victoria Nuland, Deputy Undersecretary of State who was central to engineering the 2014 Maidan revolution/coup) admitted inadvertently under oath, when questioned by Marco Rubio, that yes indeed there were bioweapons labs in Ukraine funded by the US and they were worried these would fall in Russian hands. (She wasn’t supposed to answer in the way she did and Rubio was expecting her to fully deny the existence of such labs.)
And now, the US and the West have instituted sanctions of such severity that they will find it almost impossible to walk back from. (And these sanctions can be regarded as nothing less than full fledged, total economic warfare; basically the economic equivalent of carpet bombing). That’s really smart on our part because that sure doesn’t give Putin any way out but to continue, given that he has nothing to lose, but everything to gain. Further, the hysteria has gone so far as to ban the teaching of Dostoyevski at various US universities, cancel performances of Tchaikovsky, cancel performances at the met by one of the greatest sopranos of all time because she happens to be Russian and refused to condemn Putin (although she condemned the war)- and who can blame her given Putin’s record of assassinating any opposition or putting them in Gulags.
All I can say is what a mess, and a plague on all houses. Let’s just hope that the US under the leadership of the walking deadman doesn’t inadvertently do something stupid that ends up with WWIII and the complete incineration of many of our cities. Perhaps it’s time for cooler heads to prevail and take things down a notch.
Now there are those on Unherd who will accuse me of being a Putin apologist but that’s complete nonsense. Rather it’s that I’ve learned from recent history, especially the 2003 Iraq invasion and subsequent 20 year war – I had thought, naively at the time, that removing Saddam Hussein would lead to democracy and of course democratic countries are generally peaceful, but look how that turned out (never mind Syria, Lybia, Afghanistan). There’s no doubt that Putin is an autocrat, a dictator and a thug. There is no question that war is horrific and of course it would have been better not to resort to this. But there are always two sides to every story, as indeed there were in the prelude leading to WWI in 1914. And to quote one of the comments in the American Conservative Article cited above, it’s worth remembering the following:
“”War is the continuation of politics by other means.” –Carl Von Clausewitz, Russia tried, diplomatically, for long eight years, to resolve the crisis in Ukraine created by Washington’s 2014 coup d’Ă©tat which overthrew the country’s last democratically elected government. Russia sought, not domination of the country, but only autonomy for the Donbass and neutrality for Ukraine, but these efforts were rebuffed time and time again by Washington. Why? Because Washington wanted to, tried to, turn Ukraine into an anti-Russian, NATO armed, bastion on Russia’s western border. In the end, Russia did what any great power would do, she went to war.”
On the western/US side, resolution of the current impasse is going to require a president of Lincoln-like wisdom. Unfortunately the current White House occupant has neither the wisdom nor the mental wherewithal and capacity.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johann Strauss
Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Might want to actually look at the facts:
1) Russia’s military is incompetent, so much so that it is asking China to bail it out. That’s very unlikely, so Ukraine looks like a quagmire far more dangerous to Russia than Vietnam ever was to the US;
2) When sanctions hit, Russia’s economy will essentially regress to the 90s, if not worse;
3) Putin’s “clever” manipulation of oil has so frightened the EU that they will wean themselves off it. Since Russia’s western Siberian gas can’t be shipped anywhere else, that’s another hammer blow to teh economy.
Whether this is “fair,” or part of an international elite conspiracy, really doesn’t matter.
Better start thinking what comes after Putin.
Or what comes after Russia.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

You are living in lala land and have been seduced by Ukrainian and western propaganda. I would advise caution in believing everything you read. Let’s be honest, it is very hard to know exactly what is going on militarily. But do recall that Ukraine is about the size of France, and that it took us (the US largely) 3 weeks to get to Baghdad with next to no opposition.
And the analogy with Vietnam suggests you are clueless. The north Vietnamese have an entirely different mindset from both Ukrainians and Russians whose mindset is European as opposed to asian. The US had zero cultural or historical affinity to the Vietnamese. That is not the situation between Ukraine and Russia.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

Unlike Johan Strauss you are at least worth arguing with. But, surely, the point of Maidan is that Putin was counting on making Ukraine into a Russian puppet state by political machinations (much like he has succeed with Belarus). When that project failed, he opted for war instead. The question to you and your friends is whether you think helping Russia to subjugate Ukraine is a price worth paying – and if so, whether you are honest enough to say it publicly, where the Ukrainians can hear it. Or, more positively, what would you offer Putin, if not full control of Ukraine?

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Rasmus, may I suggest you actually read carefully what I had to say rather than just dismissing this out of hand.
Incidentally on matters COVID, where we had numerous exchanges where you simply parroted “The Narrative” and “The ScienceTM” with little understanding, knowledge, or critical thinking, it is quite clear from how things have changed that I was right all along.
Further, may I suggest that warmongering and war hysteria is not necessarily the best approach to a very delicate and potentially existential threat to human existence on this planet, even if it is emotionally satisfying. What is required is considerable wisdom which seems to be in very short supply among our leaders and elites. And in even shorter supply when it comes to Zelensky. Sometimes one has to know when to fold and take the best deal possible.
Let’s be clear. Ukraine is not and has never been a western democracy. And it is still one of the most corrupt countries on earth. It is also a country where our great president Biden engaged in a good deal of corruption via his son Hunter, and where Western capital has sought to make money and launder money.
There are no good guys and bad guys here. Both sides, Russian and Ukrainian, are pretty bad. The Ukrainians played a very dangerous game and they are paying for that in blood and needlessly lost treasure. And for what? A country that will be devastated for years to come, and an Iron Curtain II. Is that what you really want?
Perhaps time for you to listen to a little bit of street smart common sense from Russel Brand.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johann Strauss
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

I had read it. Seen from where I stand, that long post was chock-full of false assumptions and irrelevancies, too much to take on at once. As I have said before, we live on different planets.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Perhaps we do live on different planets. But the question is who is living in reality and who is living in a world of make-belief.
My post contained no false assumptions and no irrelevancies. More importantly, your views are precisely those that may well end up getting is in a nuclear holocaust.
So I simply ask you the following. Are you prepared to be incinerated for the territorial integrity of Ukraine, which had been effectively part of Russia for as long as the US has been in existence. Further, are you prepared to be incinerated because the Ukrainians and the West had been playing a very dangerous and disingenuous game. The Ukrainians are paying dearly in the short term, while we in the West are sitting comfortably in our living rooms sipping cups of latte. But continue on this trajectory, irrespective of what happens in Ukraine, the sanctions imposed by the US and the West are very likely to implode in our faces long term. That’s especially so when the sanctity of the dollar can no longer be regarded as the international currency, and an alternative is put in place by the Chinese, the Russians and subsequently used in the 3rd world.
And by the way, when you say that something is too much to take in all at once, it simply suggests that you are not a serious person and are incapable of truly critical thought regarding a situation that could very easily spiral completely out of control with one tiny misstep. It’s time to step back from the brink.

Martin Logan
Martin Logan
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Fact is, nothing Putin has done since 2014 has helped either him or Russia.
He now officially leads an ex-great power.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

Yup the Norwegian Blue has shuffled off this mortal coil. It’s an ex-great power.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

An ex-great power with a large enough nuclear arsenal to blow us all up to kingdom come many many times over! Think about this a little bit more carefully.

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago
Reply to  Martin Logan

True. Putin should be looking east and the danger that his Chinese friend poses.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

What did you disagree with?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

OK, that I can do:

  • Russia, Russia, Russia in the Washington DC swamp.” I doubt the claim and refuse to accept the validity of ‘swamp’
  • They can […] fund weapons biolabs illegally,” AFAIK there are no bioweapons labs, nor illegally funded labs, in Ukraine.
  • Undersecretary of State who was central to engineering the 2014 Maidan revolution/coup)” AFAIAC there was no coup, and whatever there was was not engineered by the US.
  • the economic equivalent of carpet bombing” I might let that one pass in other contexts, but given that Russia is engaging in real carpet bombing and killing people I refuse to accept the equivalence of economic sanctions and mass killing.
  • the US under the leadership of the walking deadman” Give it a rest. Biden is neither dead, nor dying, nor gaga. He is just not a particularly good president – though a lot better than some I could name.
  • ”Russia tried, diplomatically, for long eight years, to resolve the crisis in Ukraine created by Washington’s 2014 coup d’état which overthrew the country’s last democratically elected government.” Russia did not try diplomatically, but by military conquest in Crimea and the Donbas; the crisis was not created in 2014, but existed well beforehand; Washington did not create it; there was no coup d’etat; the current government is perfectly democratically legitimate.
  • Russia sought, not domination of the country, but only autonomy for the Donbass and neutrality for Ukraine,” Highly unlikely – and anyway only a psychic or a mind-reader could tell what Putin’s goals are. The most likely story is that Russia would accept nothing less than complete domination of Ukraine, in the same way as they now dominate Belorus.
  • “Because Washington wanted to, tried to, turn Ukraine into an anti-Russian, NATO armed, bastion on Russia’s western border.” Why on earth would Washington want to do that? As long as Russia stays inside her borders and does not try to take over unwilling neighbours, everybody is perfectly happy to leave her alone. Ukraine as an ally and fellow democracy, yes. As a forward base for starting WWIII, forget it.

Do you see what I mean, Lesley? This is like reading Pravda. Before you can even get to the current discussion, you need to dig through a mountain.of tendentious language, unwarranted assumptions, and controversial claims presented as obvious truths. There is no point in trying to argue out all these points at once, and you can get nowhere if you simply accept his starting position.

A man like John Mearsheimer (linked to above) can make some good arguments that really make you think, whether you agree with him or not. Mearsheimer lives on the same planet as I do. Johan Strauss does not.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

….actually, I appreciate the comments both you and Herr Strauss have made. Are you sure you are both not arguing about angels and pinheads?

Last edited 2 years ago by Bernard Hill
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

You really do live in a world of make-belief. “No swamp in DC.” Well I live and work in DC, and there is no question it’s a swamp. “No biolabs in Ukraine.” Is that why Nuland was so worried they would get into Russian hands. “Russia literally carpet bombing.” Are you insane. If they wanted to carpet bomb, every town they bombed in Ukraine would look like Dresden following the allies carpet bombing in WWII (which I happen to think was fully justified in the circumstances).
By the way, I trust you are equally exercised by the war in Yemen, the civil war in Syria, and the treatment of the Uyghurs in China. I suspect you’re not and I suspect the reason is really very simple. The people involved don’t like like us so you really don’t care. Be honest at least because that’s what this is all about.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

If you mean that Washington DC is a mixture of waterlogged ground and small lakes this is a claim of fact – and false. If you mean something else, it is just a smear, just like all those left-wingers who insist on calling people like you and me transphobes. Unprovable, and blocking any sensible discussion.

There is a difference between a biolab and a weapons lab.

Carpet bombing? Point to you. They are not carpetbombing, they are just systematically shelling cities full of civilians. I got carried away in my wording, but the main point stands.

On the other wars you are clearly borrowing from the woke debating tactics. My stance on Ukraine does not become wrong because I have a different (and possibly wrong) stance in other cases. But OK: I am also exercised by the Uighurs and the war in Syria. A little less by Yemen, because I do not understand what it is about and it seems one of very many civil wars in that region. Yes, I care more about people closer to me. I care more about my family than about your famiy, and more about Europeans than Chinese. The Chinese see it the other way around. Human nature, nothing to be ashamed of. Other factors: For the Uighurs, there is nothing we can do, regrettably. For Syria I think a stronger intervention would have been a good idea – maybe pushing for a partition, but at the moment there is nothing we can do. In Ukraine there are things we can do, if not very effective ones. But, most of all, Ukraine meay well be just the first of the wars of Russian re-expansion. We could be next, some countries more than others. Which gives not only a strong reason for empathy, but a vital interest in deterring future wars.

Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Maybe you should listen to this video by Representative Tulsy Gubbard in response to Senator Romney calling her treasonous: https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2022/03/14/tulsi_gabbard_to_mitt_romney_please_provide_evidence_that_my_warnings_about_ukrainian_biolabs_are_treasonous_lies_or_resign.html
It’s not like the existence of the biolabs is being denied, that they are working on very dangerous pathogens including anthrax and botulism, and that the US has been funding these biolabs (46 in all) to the tune of $200 million since 2005. It’s not also as if Ukraine is some biotec hub either.

Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

I have no desire to help Russia subjugate Ukraine (a childish insult that is beneath you), but your reading of Maidan to be very 2016+ not based on source material from the time
Prior to Maidan, Yanukovych was horse-trading between the EU, who were being demanding and bureaucratic, and Russia, who had a vision of an ex-Soviet trading bloc, and were offering big financial benefits to keep Ukraine in their sphere, but not necessarily as a puppet state.
Then Euromaidan happened, encouraged by US actors, and Putin reacted to defend what he saw as strategic interests. I believe Nato and the US thought Putin was ‘controlled’ opposition and were caught cold by unexpected military annexation of Crimea.
However, this time isn’t a reaction. It’s an unprovoked attack, with some foreshadowing last year when Russian military was also at Ukraine’s border. Putin has become the demon and I don’t understand at all, how he expects this to play out. So if we assume he’s not mad, what are the possible end-games available?

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

I’ll accept ‘encouraged by US actors’. But then, I regard it as a proven fact that the Trump election victory was ‘encouraged and assisted’ by the FSB. That does not mean that the result is illegitimate, or that the same thing would not have happened without foreign interference – in either case.

I’d say it is very much a question how much independence would have been left Ukraine once it was firmly ‘in the Russian sphere’. My guess is that the end result would have been like Belorus today – and that an Ukrainian president beholden to Moscow would have made sure of that. That is why I am asking: If Russia had moved to get complete control (as I expect they would have, given the chance) what would you have done to stop them? If Ukraine had refused to play ball, as they are now doing, which side would you have helped? What would you have offered Putin that might have convinced him to leave Ukraine uncontrolled? If you think that an Ukraine as, essentially, Russian property is unavoidable without taking unacceptable risks, fair enough. But if so, at least say it openly.

For now, I’d say it is a good guess that Putin assumed that a quick operation against Kyiv, uncommitted defence by the Ukrainian military against the fearsome Russian army, and a lack of willingness to die for the artificial nation of Ukraine would have given him a puppet government and a fait accompli in a few days. ‘Anschluss’, remember? He probably regrets that now. But that leaves him with the choice of flattening and conquering a nation that now hates him deeply, or accepting defeat with all the consequences for his reign that follow. And it leaves us with the choice of driving Russia into the arms of China and helping prolong the carnage (at best) or risking a big war (at worst). Or letting him get his victory, and take home the lesson that we dare not oppose him and he can keep going to war to further his aims. Maybe a bloody Russian victory and a new cold war is actually the least bad achievable option.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Saul D
Saul D
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

An election is different from an uprising. Ukraine had an elected government and president at the time, and Euromaidan was an uprising to overthrow that elected government that included deaths and violence. The take over, by the pro-European section of Ukraine, is then what led to the breakaway of the pro-Russian section of Ukraine in the Donbas. This wasn’t ‘mere’ meddling in election with $100k of Facebook ads but US backed groups looking to flip the country, and being openly thanked for their help in the aftermath.
Ukraine, is much too complex to unpick from afar, or to attempt to proscribe a theoretical answer to the myriad of interests at play, that include crooks, gangsters and war-lord type figures. From the fall of the USSR, has been a bitter battleground from oligarchs looking to control assets via political parties, with dark and vicious factions in the background. There’s no ‘nice’ solution – it has to be resolved locally, and that includes taking into consideration baronial power, and neighbourhood relationships.
My reading was that Putin was doing something the British Empire used to do, which is attempt a quick assertion of military might, then negotiate terms in return for getting out – so not an anschluss – but I can’t read his mind. Whatever, it seemed an unnecessary and irrational plan from the start.
The result is that Russia has lost face. It is an international outcast. And China will bide its time to make the most of Russia’s isolation. At this point, the fastest and cleanest solution would be for Ukraine to agree to neutrality, and to stop the war on the Donbas in return for Russia leaving. But I don’t think the Russians will agree until they’ve disarmed the Ukrainian army, and Ukrainians will keep fighting.
The worry is the aftershocks around the world – lorry drivers on strike due to fuel prices, so shops run empty of food, combined with hair-raising inflation and lack of basic commodities and energy. For all parties, stopping the war should be the top priority, rather than piling on.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

So your post cleared the moderators, finally. This all sounds very convincing – and thanks for your informative posts. It sounds like we mostly agree (I have clearly been bad at giving that impression).

You are right (and I was wrong) on Anschluss. Making some deals from strength and ensuring a friendly government that could be trusted to keep them sounds like a more likely plan than incorporation, yes. And I totally believe you on the murky and non-nice nature of Ukrainian politics – which has indeed been rather underemphasised in recent debates. My minimal reading (and your posts) have also given me a clearer idea of Yanukovich. Rather than being a Russian stooge from the start, he tried for the best deal from both sides, wanted to sign the EU association agreement, but changed his mind when Russia hit the Ukraine with a devastating trade boycott (if they signed) and offered money if they did not. Nothing sinister about that. And, yes, EuroMaidan was an uprising that included violence – though it looks like it was more a huge demonstration than a rebellion and most of the killing was done by or for the government.

I would still argue – to paraphrase you – that choosing the Russian deal is ‘what led to the rupture with the pro-Europe section of Ukrainian society and the uprising’. And point out that there has been two democratic elections since 2014 to legitimise the result. It does look like the pro-Europe groups (which seem to add up to over 50% – you cannot blame that on the CIA) simply refuse to accept the Russian option. I do think it is doubtful whether there could be a solution that both Putin and the western half of Ukraine can accept. Once Ukraine was firmly in Russia’s economic orbit, with a Moscow-friendly government, how much freedom would be left?. It fits with Russia wanting not only neutrality, but defeating the Ukrainian army. The most obvious reading is that Putin wants Ukraine to be powerless to resist any future demand that Russia might make of it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Rasmus Fogh
Johann Strauss
Johann Strauss
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If you think that Trump’s election was aided by the FSB you are completely off the deep end, and really do believe the nonsense put out by the US intelligence agencies, just as no doubt you believed that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. The report from the US agencies was interesting because well over 2/3rd delved on Russian Today. Since the viewership and readership of Russia Today approximates zero in the US, it is quite clear that this was complete nonsense. You should no better. Trump won, because Clinton was arrogant and thought she had it in the bag and didn’t have to campaign in key states. It’s as simple as that. And I suspect, given that I live in the US, am a dual citizen, and work in DC, I probably have a better feel of what really went down than you do sitting somewhere in the UK, probably in London listening to aunty BBC.

Last edited 2 years ago by Johann Strauss
Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Johann Strauss

Trump won, because Clinton was arrogant and thought she had it in the bag and didn’t have to campaign in key states

That is probably true. There were a few more things, like all those leaked emails, and a decision to reopen investigations into her email servers at at *very* strategic time. But Trumps win was certainly no less legitimate than lots of other presidents’ – as the Democrats have indeed accepted. It is not the Democrats who talk about stolen elections, is it?

But as for the FSB helping him, who do you think leaked all those emails? The US intelligence agencies, whom you seem to hate so much?

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago
Reply to  Saul D

I would apply many of my own criticisms of Putin to the America of Obama and Hillary Clinton, who went on a rampage of ‘regime change’ in the middle east to the joy and delight of the same people now screeching against Putin for doing the same thing in Ukraine.

Paul K
Paul K
2 years ago

Rather than viewing the problem as a western cultural-Left worldview which repudiates national tradition and elevates a cult of victimhood, we are treated to conspiratorial musings about the “Great Reset” and elites in Davos, Geneva or Brussels. My limited experience, having given talks at some of these institutions, is that the more international the organisation, the less woke it is. Yes, western high culture permeates global institutions, but these are nodes rather than the epicentre of the problem.

Some good points in this essay, especially about the disturbing defence of Putin by some. But this para here highlights a blindspot. The agenda of Davos man – which is to say the global economic elite – dovetails very well with what the author wants to fight (‘post-national wokeness’). It’s not a ‘conspiratorial musing’ to observe that both the woke elites and the global economic elites are pursuing a borderless, post-national world made safe for transnational capital. There’s a good argument to be made that wokeness is simply the ideological window-dressing on this product.
As for the Great Reset – again, it’s not a ‘conspiracy’, it’s a programme, and a very open one, pushed by the WEF, which has its tentacles in many cabinets around the world, and many corporations too. A future of monitored, controlled, digitised, globalised (and undoubtedly woke) capitalism is openly on the agenda. If and when it arrives it will be a much greater concern than some people throwing a statue in the river. But you can bet the same people will be defending it.

Last edited 2 years ago by Paul K
Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
2 years ago

Maybe I’m still tired. I struggled to concentrate and toiled through this wordy essay
. then found myself googling sacralisation. I gleaned that it is anti Trump – I clicked on a l link which referenced something said in 2017. I’ve abandoned it and am waiting for my fellow readers to do the hard work and then comment.

Peter LR
Peter LR
2 years ago

Yes, I found it a slog without much building on a clear foundation. Maybe it was a rushed job. Much preferred Dominic Sandbrook’s analysis on Saturday.

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
2 years ago

It’s essentially saying that too many who claim to be conservative are nothing of the sort, they’re simply contrarian. Rather than having a coherent set of political beliefs and opinions, instead they simply swing to the complete opposite end of the spectrum to the mainstream opinion or those they’ve labelled their opponents even if this means they’re siding with authoritarian tyrants such as Putin

David Bell
David Bell
2 years ago

Unherd is also Unedited, unfortunately. Brevity is an alien concept both among its writers and commenters.

Norman Powers
Norman Powers
2 years ago

Hmmm, I also had to break off and come back to it later but I think that’s simply due to an unusually high density of ideas and points. I was left feeling very “full” in the mind after reading it – it’s this sort of writing that I associate with Unherd. Yes, some parts I think are wrong. Farage is hardly the flagship of libertarianism, is he? His “libertarianism” was mostly a gut feel “EU seems bad to me” kinda approach, not something he ever explicitly argues for, which is why once Brexit happened he switched to other topics that aren’t particularly libertarian.
But overall it’s this sort of article that prompted me to become a subscriber. Every sentence was a challenging viewpoint, intellectually.

Judy Englander
Judy Englander
2 years ago

Thank you for making the clear distinction between ‘procedural liberalism’ (ie classic liberalism) and American progressivism which unfortunately they also call liberalism. As we can see, in its latest ‘woke’ iteration there’s nothing liberal about it.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
2 years ago

No idea why ‘the right’, the phrase itself a label, deserve to be called ‘populists’ as if they’re any more popular than ‘the left’whoalso carry the misnomer ‘liberal’.

Francis MacGabhann
Francis MacGabhann
2 years ago

How has it come to it that when an article is tagged as having been written by an academic, you just know not to bother?

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

I think that both sides are using Putin as a stalking horse.
Because in politics there is always an enemy. For the populists the global elite is the enemy; for the globalists, the populist nationalists are the enemy. And that’s what matters. Not Putin.

Thomas Tiahrt
Thomas Tiahrt
2 years ago

Has Mr. Kaufman heard or read of the Monroe Doctrine? Was Kennedy wrong to demand that the USSR remove its missiles from Cuba? If China set up a puppet client state in Mexico, would America be wrong to invade? Strangely, Mr. Kaufman accepts Mearsheimer’s realism but his dignity is affronted by the response of Tucker Carlson, J.D. Vance, Steve Bannon, et alia. The reasoning of all of them is consistent – the war could, should, and would have been avoided by explicitly excluding Ukraine from NATO and ensuring that it adopt a neutral foreign policy. If somehow Putin were defeated in Ukraine, does Mr. Kaufman believe he would suddenly decide to show restraint? Or would he launch a nuclear attack. It would be better not to find out.
Mr. Kaufman’s argument:
What lies behind this bizarre empathy toward Putin’s thuggish regime?
can be applied to him.
What lies behind this bizarre empathy toward Ukraine’s corrupt and thuggish regime?
Ukraine is the money launderer for the corrupt Clinton and Biden grifting. It was ground-zero for the Steele Dossier. Zelensky jailed political opposition just like Putin.
The western response will not save Ukraine, but it has destroyed the dollar as a reserve currency, and driven Russia into an alliance with China. Moreover, as Trudeau has demonstrated, the same tactics are coming for any political opposition in the US.
If the US establishment and NATO wanted the war to end, they would begin negotiations immediately and give Russia its security buffer. Putin is in too deep to stop with less, and Ukraine is too weak to stop Putin.

Helen Hughes
Helen Hughes
2 years ago
Reply to  Thomas Tiahrt

I would really like to hear Mr Kaufman’s response to your turning the question around, as it is a really important one. If we don’t step right back from this conflict and see the emotional shenanigans going on on ALL sides we are going to get into deeper and deeper do-do.

Douglas Proudfoot
Douglas Proudfoot
2 years ago

Am I the only one to notice that the Russia Hoax, 4 years of fake Russian connections to Trump fabricated by the Clinton Campaign and sold to corrupt FBI, DOJ and CIA, basically projected weakness and disorganization to Putin? Consider that Putin was in a unique position to know that the whole thing was a hoax from day one. Now think about how he would view the perpetrators of the Russia Hoax, who are currently in power.

Further, consider how much more cash Putin has with oil at $100 a barrel than he did at $45 a barrel. Trump was a drill baby drill president. Biden is a don’t even think about drilling president. Which do you think Putin prefers?

Then we get to the canard that the right, or at least elements of it, admire Putin. That’s objectively false. The right takes Putin seriously, more seriously than trans rights in the army, or the phantom menace of man-made global warming. The left won’t pump one barrel more of domestic oil, even if that means Putin can kill thousands of Ukrainians with the munitions he buys with his oil sales at inflated prices. The left will expell experienced soldiers who think a person with a d**k is still a man, even if he says he’s a woman. The left thinks wokeness is more important than military readiness. Putin obviously doesn’t. That’s the contrast the right is making. Putin is serious. Biden and the left are not. It has nothing to do with admiration. It just takes an enemy seriously.

Leftists who identify as journalists, like you Eric, purposely misconstrue Trump’s, and the right’s, position on Putin so that they can claim nobody would have stopped Putin. That’s obviously false as well. Trump stopped Putin for 4 years. Obama and Biden both failed to stop Putin. Green New Deal policies enable Putin. All out energy production in North America, facilitated by pipelines to transport oil and natural gas to market, weaken Putin. It’s that simple.

Last edited 2 years ago by Douglas Proudfoot
Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago

Thank you for your post. Couldn’t agree more.

Bruno Lucy
Bruno Lucy
2 years ago

Nobody is excusing Putin for invading Ukraine
..however, let’s not forget the west arrogance and blindness that led to this.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

I get bothered by all the pigeon holes these days. Neo this and “populist” that. Why does every opinion have to have a label or camp identification these days? It’s like trying to keep score at a cricket match.

Bryan Dale
Bryan Dale
2 years ago

I would call them rationalists rather than populists. As with covid, truth has been the first casualty of the war in Ukraine. Instead we’re seeing a rush of irrational emotional responses.

Gordon Pearson
Gordon Pearson
2 years ago
Reply to  Bryan Dale

The trouble with so much of the writing in this area is the ambiguity of terminology eg liberal, wokeness, populism, etc etc. The result is that sentence after sentence is subject to alternative meanings or critical nuances. Much better in my view to avoid such ambiguity or be specific about definition.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
2 years ago

In a recent interview Trump said he had sent Angela Merkel a white flag – indicating she had given into Russia by accepting their gas. Europe made itself dependent on Russia energy and failed to see the consequences.

Karl Juhnke
Karl Juhnke
2 years ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Like The West has made itself dependent on cheap labour.

Warren T
Warren T
2 years ago

I wonder what would happen if Putin suddenly came out to support transgender rights, just to mess with the virtue signal crowd. The sheer moral perplexity demonstrated by the media would be fun to watch.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago

Just when I think Unherd articles can’t get any worse they release something like this. Wars are not won or lost by unengaged loud mouths in non participating countries. Syria already proved that. The Russians have made it very clear they are willing to separate with the West at this point. So these hand wringing articles about support for the forced narrative isn’t going to solve your perceived crisis. Just like SAGE and SPI-B didn’t solve the covid crisis. It made some self important people feel better but I would hardly call that a success. Andrei Ravesky recently stated that Amateurs think strategy, generals think logistics. War is won or lost based on:P1.- Logistics P2.- Will to Fight. At this point in time the brave Ukrainians are winning articles seem to be disappearing. The anti Russian rhetoric has elevated to unbelievable levels but there seems to be a touch of reality creeping in just underneath the surface thin narrative. The training base near Poland was blown up with stand off weapons over the weekend. Probably killing Western military trainers. If you haven’t seen the pictures of that you should go look at them. This is what Russia could send to NATO airfields if they try to enforce a no fly zone. These missiles can not be defended against with current air defenses.The US and Nato are not enforcing a no fly zone because they aren’t tough enough or brave enough. They are not enforcing a no fly zone because they can’t. They don’t have the capability to enforce it with Russian missiles on standby. They will not win that battle. This may come as a shock to nearly every Westerner but I am not joking. Russia has supply lines. The majority of the Ukraine’s armed forces are surrounded and running out of supplies. This is reality. This is why they are losing. The US can again refuse to negotiate and begin another cold war. This seems to be the path that has been chosen. Our leaders are more corrupt and less forward thinking than after WW2. The West has less support in the world. We might not win this new cold war. Our diplomacy has been non existent. Replaced by an arrogance reinforced by propaganda and iron handed control over the popular narrative. We’ll see how far this gets us.

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

I have no real military expertise, but what you say about the battlefield rings true in my ears.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Boylon

All well and good – I am not in favour of no-fly zones agans nuclar-armed enemies either. But once the Russians have won this one, what will they try after that? And after that? And at what point will we consider whether we might eventually want to do something to stop them?

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

Pity we don’t have a Treaty governing this kind of thing. Something with a catchy name…capturing the idea of a military alliance that spans the North Atlantic ocean…can’t think what…

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

One hopes that that will work, of course. But an alliance is worthless unless the participants are actually willing to fight. Russia might decide that the west was surely not going to start WWIII for Lithuania, and that it was worth giving it a try. And if that worked, what about Poland?

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
2 years ago
Reply to  Rasmus Fogh

If Russia attacks Lithuania, NATO mobilises and we counterstrike with conventional weaponry. If they escalate with nuclear weaponry, God help us all.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago
Reply to  Graham Stull

Indeed. Which is one reason to make it clear right now that we are willing to fight if threatened. Just to avoid misunderstandings, you know.

Chris Eaton
Chris Eaton
2 years ago

Author doesn’t understand that Populism and Conservatism aren’t the same thing?

Peter Beard
Peter Beard
2 years ago

I am curious as to why Kaufman states “Likewise, Brexit elites such as Boris Johnson or Douglas Carswell, with their libertarian dreams of a sovereign free-trading Britain, are strangely disconnected from actual Brexit voters, who were — like Trump voters — mainly motivated by a desire for less immigration and slower cultural change.”
Exactly how many Brexit voters has Kaufman spoken too? I am curious. In my neck of the woods the only thing I can predict about Brexiteers is that we are rather partial to a meat and potato pie, even then you enter into uncharted territory when debating whether it is best accompanied with red cabbage or mushy peas.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago

“Likewise, Brexit elites such as Boris Johnson or Douglas Carswell, with their libertarian dreams of a sovereign free-trading Britain, are strangely disconnected from actual Brexit voters, who were — like Trump voters — mainly motivated by a desire for less immigration and slower cultural change.”
As soon as I read this I realised this writer has no clue about voter motivations for Brexit. In fact worse, he quotes the left wing cliches about Brexit voters.
No point reading any more if he’s so prejudiced about Brexit that he can’t actually provide an objective analysis.

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
2 years ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

…Eric, (a Canadian) seems to me to to be a ‘useful savant’ rather than the one of the usual tools who infest the media. He seems to pitch his message at people in the underinformed middle. His other writing shows he is at pains to paint a version of the present and the way forward, which is positive in terms of ‘wokery’ not coming to total power as it expects. E.g., his 2018 book “Whiteshift”, is prescient about Asian and Latino minorities in the US moving away from automatic identification with the Democrats.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
2 years ago
Reply to  Bernard Hill

Ok – I’ll give him more of a chance, as the Asian and Latino shift was a significant change, like the vote for Brexit, that few forecast.

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
2 years ago

White nationalism is a phrase invented on the left and is no more of a threat to the polity than the KKK. The author manfully tries to straddle the divide, but moral equivalence is ridiculous and serves only the egg heads who infest the left and its useful idiots in the media. Putin is roughly as religious as Lucifer though he’s a smooth talker..

Susan Lundie
Susan Lundie
2 years ago

There is nothing that annoys me more, or is a greater turn off, than this sort of jargon spouting “intellectual” who considers he knows what my motives are.
Additionally, whether one loses sleep about what has undoubtedly been a grossly controlling over reaction to the pandemic in many governmental quarters or not, his comments about a “Reset” are rather pointless when Schwab has written a published text on it and his “young international leaders” pontificate regularly about it at Davos and anywhere else they can sneak in references.

Last edited 2 years ago by Susan Lundie
Dustshoe Richinrut
Dustshoe Richinrut
2 years ago

Lord Darlington, I think his title was, got it in the neck after the war when he lost everything after he sued some paper (that is, a newspaper) that accused him of being an appeaser of Hitler in the run-up to war. Well, perhaps not everything. But as good as, because he lost the trial and with it his respectability and the whole reason for his many private undertakings in the 1930s to cosy up to his contacts that moved high in the Nazi rĂ©gime in Germany and even in Britain – to do whatever it took to prevent another war from breaking out. The noble thoughts and feelings behind his great motivation to do whatever it took was that the horrors of the Great War were still fresh in the memory. He had been personally affected by that most recent world war (exactly how I cannot recall, but it had something to do with a plain old German friend of his). His idea of stopping another war was that he would use his magnificent great house and its grounds as a way to get the dodgy, but very well-dressed and knowledgeable invitees to his dinners and mini-conferences to cosy up to him and, in the process, in his naĂŻve and vain way of seeing himself, have them come round to his way of thinking. The trappings of art and great culture that emanated from the walls and rooms of his great house would magically transform his guests, among whom some would then take their new insight with them to relay back to the highest command in Berlin. But instead of his Lordship getting them to cosy up to him, he couldn’t help cosying up to them. The more he did so, the more carried away he got with his grand little conferences and dinners. He thus exposed himself to criticism. The respectability he would lose had been reduced to a thin veneer by his guests who gratefully rubbed the layers off him onto themselves by his largesse. They had used him. The noble thoughts and feelings of his Lordship had gradually become less significant as the Thirties progressed. In one telling moment, two young Jewish refugee maids, having been given employment in the great house by his Lordship’s housekeeper, were asked to leave. The sensitivities of future guests were to be considered most highly.

What happened to Lord Darlington, in terms of his moral depreciation (not collapse) or degradation, is what has happened to many a high-profile pundit on the Right vis-à-vis his attitude to Putin. Putin, with a doddery American President, and a clutch of irascible American TV pundits, thinks it easy to lead up the garden path a vast number of westerners. He has got away with it to a large degree. But what is strange is the worm-like vision of these pundits. Why don’t they call the woke Left’s bluff by declaring that Ukraine is fighting for Western Civilisation no less?

In one hilarious scene in The Remains Of The Day, at least in the movie version of the very good book, a tall blonde German in suit and tie, in the hall of the great house, asks his assistant to note quickly down the details of some paintings hanging on the walls above them. As if they would collect them when they later arrived in uniform.

Peter Elstob
Peter Elstob
2 years ago

Excellent piece. I have been guilty of some these tendencies myself. I would just say (as a former and now anti-marxist who would describe himself as a national democrat and a ‘real’ liberal) that quasi-marxism is deeply embedded in most modern ideologies (although most of their proponents have a hazy grasp of Marx, if any). Just take as a trivial example within the established worldview: the distinction between ‘earned’ and ‘unearned’ income on your tax form.

William Hickey
William Hickey
2 years ago

Good article.

If you want a right-wing movement to be politically strong, keep your finger on the pulse of the majority of the people, not on the intellectual projects and paranoias of the elite right-wing punditry.

As Ann Coulter said when asked what her position was on Ukraine, “My position is ‘Close the Southern border.’”

Julian Pellatt
Julian Pellatt
2 years ago

I thought this was a rather poor article that sprays the term ‘populist’ as a sweeping stereotype. I’ve come to expect better of Unherd.
At least the author acknowledges that “… it is legitimate to make a realist case — as John Mearsheimer has done — for tempering Ukrainian demands and accommodating reasonable Russian security concerns …”
Where are statesmen of calibre (Churchill, Roosevelt, etc.) who can admit to the failures of western leadership, diplomacy and aggressive democratic imperialism and political/military expansion that has created the climate in which a dictator like Putin feels nothing about initiating a war in response? Has the West learned nothing from the excessive harshness of Versailles in 1919, the outcomes of 1930s appeasement or the global consequences of warmongering in Iraq? I hope Unherd may publish an article that examines the issues that Mearsheimer so eloquently, and presciently articulated in his 2014 article following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and to consider how the leadership of the democratic West has arguably contributed to the tragedy now unfolding.
Nothing excuses Putin’s extreme violence and grievous excesses. But other than vilifying all things Russian (including, in the UK, the cancellation of a concert featuring Tchaikovsky!), imposing sanctions (OK) and identifying Ukrainians as ‘good victims’, what is being done by our leaders to bring about peace as opposed to threatening war?

Anna Bramwell
Anna Bramwell
2 years ago

Surely Ukraine is much more populist than Russia. See Aris’s fine article in Harper’s. Bazaar (2018) where he actually goes and talks to the militias, the far right youth groups and members of parliament about what they believe in.

Chauncey Gardiner
Chauncey Gardiner
2 years ago

Here’s a different construction that many folks out here have sorted out for themselves:
There may be a lot of people in the Washington Blob and the EU Blob that are intent on getting Putin, but that’s nonsense. The problem in Ukraine has been festering for some time, and the resolution of it has been predicted and was predictable. The heart of the solution is: Render Ukraine a neutral territory between the US/EU/NATO bloc and Russia.
The deal is on the table. The sooner Ukraine’s enablers in the US and EU tell Zelensky and his people to cut a deal, Zelensky and his people will cut a deal. And it be a deal that secures and enduring peace.
This Is How Wars EndRemember the Tamil Tigers.

Franz Von Peppercorn
Franz Von Peppercorn
2 years ago

The term “ sweeping neo-Marxist conspiracy theories about a manipulative power elite.” is doing a lot of work here, but nobody needs to be a Marxist to believe there is an elite, that it is powerful and that it is manipulative. The real question is this: does this elite work in its own interests or those of the general population, or both. Both is fine, of course, and that has often been the case in history.

In my view the modern elites are mostly working against the interest of the populations they dominate, to an extent with few parallels in history. At the the end of the essay the author opines that “the anti-globalist conspiracy theorising of many needs an urgent reality check”. However the low income workers have turned against globalism because it has made them poorer, China is a world power because of globalism, Russia can cripple Europe because of naive deals that assumed history had ended.

Mikey Mike
Mikey Mike
2 years ago

Another sad lot of bold – if largely inchoate – accusations by Mr. Kauffman that never really get defended with the same intensity that they’re leveled. It’s a pretty lame piece for a Monday morning top article.

David Batlle
David Batlle
2 years ago

“Sure Putin is a despot, no one would deny it. But that does not immediately mean there is no rationale behind his illegal aggression. It doesn’t mean he wasn’t also provoked and that a portion of the blame – a not insignificant portion of the blame – for this debacle attaches to the Western political forces who have systematically isolated and humilitated a nationalist Russia.”

Liberals, who constantly brag about their “nuance” and seeing things in “shades of gray”, know this to be true. They just pretend otherwise. That’s because the American Left does not have a real foreign policy, they just have foreign affairs that they use against their domestic enemies.

Last edited 2 years ago by David Batlle
David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago

It’s certainly a tactical error at a minimum for Tucker to defend Putrid but this article is just a rather sad defense of a status quo under which conservative forces are loosing ground hand over fist.

Hardee Hodges
Hardee Hodges
2 years ago
Reply to  David McDowell

I never saw Tucker “defend Putin”. I saw him argue that we are on the verge of going to war over Ukraine. We are trying to justify that war by demonizing Putin – Bad Bear Man. We may even be trying to justify the war to change the subject over an economy that has been ill managed.

David McDowell
David McDowell
2 years ago
Reply to  Hardee Hodges

I haven’t been following it. If you are right the article is fake news and fake opinion.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
2 years ago

While it is true that Putin is not woke, that is probably one of the least important things about him. Xi isn’t woke either, but it doesn’t make him friend to any meaningfully principled conservative.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
2 years ago

Had Corbyn had the courage to tell his juvenile supporters that the Left needed to embrace Brexit to build its socialist Utopia in Britain, Corbyn would now be PM. Or more probably dead. If he had survived, he would be now offering himself as a mediator in the war between Ukraine and Russia.
Neo-liberalism’s cheerleaders may believe that people don’t care about the growing inequality in our countries. Neo-liberalism’s leaders though know differently. They equate truck drivers who mount a peaceful protest as terrorists. They decide who has the right to demonstrate. They decide what is an unacceptable view.

William Braden
William Braden
2 years ago

So the progressive left can be caricatured as pro-victim/loser and anti-winner (though, as with Plato, the winner might be okay if s/he is a wise leader (like Lenin?)) In reaction to that, some on the right celebrate the winner per se, like Thrasimachus: justice is the rule of the stronger. Traditional liberalism might say, there will always be winners and losers, sometimes by sheer luck; let’s just make sure the game is fair, so far as we are able.

Christopher Chantrill
Christopher Chantrill
2 years ago

Look, to the global ruling class, everything shames populists and conservatives. Gaia said so.

Rasmus Fogh
Rasmus Fogh
2 years ago

Great article. More Eric Kaufman, please.

Ian McKinney
Ian McKinney
2 years ago

Yes yes yes a thousand times yes! Thank you for this excellent article which clearly elucidates something that has been bothering me but I was unable to untangle.

Dan Croitoru
Dan Croitoru
2 years ago

The UnHerd folks, the neat people could be funny if they weren’t pathetic. They are anti woke and repressing the fact that woke-ism is a reaction to the failure of liberalism as was fascism a reaction to extreme liberalism (socialism). They double down on defending liberalism ignoring liberalism itself completely failed.

Dennis Boylon
Dennis Boylon
2 years ago