The American Left Go Full Neo-con!

I always expect the neoconservatives like Bill Kristol, Max Boot and Jennifer Rubin, none of whom ever met a war in which they did not want American involvement, to be pushing to fight, fight, fight, but I’ll admit to some to surprise in seeing Salon’s Amanda Marcotte going full-neocon!

Zelenskyy visit exposes a GOP rift — between actual fascists and everyone else

Too many Republicans still refuse to stand up for Ukraine — and for democracy — against their MAGA brethren

by Amanda Marcotte | Friday, December 23, 2022 | 6:00 AM EST

It’s perhaps telling that Amanda Marcotte’s Twitter biography photo was taken in a bar.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is widely popular, both in the U.S. and around the world. You’d have to be the most churlish asshole alive not to feel moved by his resolve to protect his nation’s sovereignty against the egomanaical supervillain impulses of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has been waging an unprovoked war against Ukraine for nearly a year. Zelenskyy’s Wednesday night speech before a joint session of Congress wasn’t just moving. It was also persuasive on the brass tacks arguments. Military aid to Ukraine is “not charity,” he argued, but “an investment in global security and democracy.”

I’ll admit it: I checked Miss Marcotte’s Salon archive on December 26th to see if she’d written yet another “I hate Christmas” screed. When she wrote, in 2019:

For me, it’s personal. My family is mostly a bunch of Trump voters, sucked up into a vortex of propaganda and lies, unable even to admit basic facts about the world that run contrary to what their tribal politics dictate. That sort of thing is stressful on a normal day, but makes a mockery of the idea of familial love and harmony.

I just shook my head, because the idea that I’d simply give up my family over politics is simply beyond my understanding.

Oh, well, back to the original:

As Fred Kaplan at Slate argued, the speech “was a resounding success” that circumvented Republicans who previously had made noises about cutting aid to Ukraine. The Senate approved $44.9 billion in military, humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine on Thursday afternoon, as part of a $1.7 trillion government spending bill that passed 68-29, and is expected to pass the House as well.

Zelenskyy’s argument that Ukraine’s victory is necessary to protect global democracy is hard to argue against. Especially in recent years, Putin has not hidden his contempt for Western-style democracy or desire to see it collapse around the globe. Even with all the caveats and nuances one could possibly inject into this, the “bad guys” and “good guys” are crystal clear in this scenario.

Winston Churchill famously said, “If Hitler invaded hell I would make at least a favourable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.” But perhaps, just perhaps, a ‘favourable’ reference is all the difference.

Except, that is, to some Republicans in Congress and a number right-wing pundits. That world is not just anti-Zelenskyy, but imbued with such vicious sentiments that even the most jaded political watchers were shocked. This isn’t just about arguments over whether aid to Ukraine is being well spent, or about whether Ukraine is strategically crucial to U.S. interests. This was about full-on vitriol, to the point where even Republicans who are open to cutting aid to Ukraine were made uncomfortable.

There’s one major reason things got so ugly so fast. The debate over Ukraine, at least among Republicans, is a stand-in for the largely unspoken but very real debate that’s roiling the party: Do they still believe in democracy? A faction in the GOP has decided that they don’t, and now supports authoritarianism, or the F-word. Many other Republicans feel uneasy about this direction, but don’t seem able to stand up to the fascist faction.

It has to be remembered: Mr Zelenskyy is President of Ukraine only because legitimately-elected President Viktor Yanukovych was deposed in the so-called Революція гідності, “Revolution of Dignity,” in 2014, in large part because he opposed joining the European Union and NATO. But, for Miss Marcotte, it’s the evil reich-wing Republicans who don’t believe in democracy, and who now support authoritarianism.

There follows another several paragraphs of mixed and questionable assertions, which you can read for yourself; I cannot simply quote every one of Miss Marcotte’s 1,370 words.

Most Americans support Ukraine, with 65% agreeing that the U.S. should send arms to Ukraine and 75% supporting sanctions against Russia, even as those have driven up oil prices around the world. This onslaught of pro-Putin propaganda on the right has softened conservative support for Ukraine, but even so 55% of Republican voters are in favor of military aid.

This tension between America’s overwhelming pro-Ukraine sentiment and the far right’s caustic hatred was reflected in the behavior of congressional Republicans at Zelenskyy’s speech Wednesday night. Most Republicans, even those who have expressed doubt about more funding, at least showed moral support for Zelenskyy, standing to applaud his speech and telling reporters they believe in his cause.

There has been a whole lot of World War II thinking applied to the Russo-Ukraine War — or perhaps I should call it Russo-Ukraine War 2.0, considering Russia’s seizure and annexation of part of Ukraine in 2014 — with the logic that pushed the United Kingdom and France to declare war on Nazi Germany two days after the Wehrmacht rolled into Poland, but that is such superficial thinking that I am amazed no one has realized it. In that event, the UK and France could not and did not actually do anything to liberate Poland; the liberation of Poland came in 1944, when the Red Army pushed out the Germans, and ‘liberation’ by the Soviet Union hardly freed the Poles.

And there’s that biggest of differences: no one in Europe, or anywhere in the world, had in 1939 what Russia has now: a strategic and tactical nuclear arsenal. As he was losing the war, Adolf Hitler tried everything he could, used every weapon he had, but, other than the V-1 and V-2 terror rockets, had no power to strike at his enemies. We do not and cannot know what Vladimir Putin will do if, in the end, he sees Russia really losing RUW 2.0, but we do know that he could cross that nuclear threshold, and use tactical nukes against Ukrainian troop concentrations and other targets. And once that nuclear threshold is crossed, who can know when things will stop? And if the United States and NATO nations are supplying Ukraine from bases in Poland, how are those bases not legitimate targets if Russia has the weapons to reach them . . . and Russia does.

We have had proxy wars with the Communists since the 1950s, in Korea, in Vietnam, and in Afghanistan, but in none of those wars were we fighting Russian troops, nor was there any danger of strikes into the USSR itself; Ukraine has already struck inside Russia during this war. The New York Times reported, “The United States and Ukraine have agreed that Kyiv will not strike targets in Russia with American-provided weapons,” but that does not mean that Vladimir Putin will care about that distinction. If Ukraine can strike targets inside Russia, than Russia can strike targets outside Ukraine which are supplying the Ukrainians. War and escalation have their own logic.

Skipping to the end of Miss Marcotte’s article, we find:

One could quibble over whether supporting Ukraine and believing in democracy are the same thing, although Putin’s behavior tends to override any effort at nuanced debate. But within Republican ranks, there’s no doubt that the issue of Ukraine’s independence and self-determination has become is a proxy for the party’s internal debate over American democracy. Even the most stalwart authoritarians in the GOP know better than to come right out and say they’re against democracy and it’s time to do away with it. So they gaslight the nation instead, clumsily repackaging Donald Trump’s desire to be installed as a dictator as a narrative about a “stolen” or “rigged” election, and concerted efforts to undermine democracy as measures to ensure “election security.” Rooting against Ukraine is a way to advance the anti-democracy agenda, without quite openly embracing it.

Ironically, all the Republican game-playing on Ukraine only ends up reinforcing the argument Zelenskyy made in his speech on Wednesday: Protecting his country against Russian tyranny is ultimately about protecting democracy. Whatever criticisms could be made of his leadership or his imperfect nation, Zelenskyy’s biggest opponents in Congress hate him because they hate democracy.

Philadelphia’s transplanted Texan is honest enough to tell us her real message: the left must attack Republicans, and RUW 2.0 is just a vehicle with which to do that. Honestly, I expect no wider-range thinking from her. But in doing so, she has made arguments pretty much indistinguishable from those of Mr Boot.¹ Mr Boot, who dearly loves having American troops all over the globe and has been a student of military history and strategic studies but has never served in the military himself, fretted that it would be a disaster for the United States to pull out of Afghanistan, though what more could be accomplished in that fetid and festering sewer that we hadn’t been able to accomplish in the 19½ years we had already been there he could not articulate.

Even the Editorial Board of The Washington Post went full neo-con on Ukraine. But, as is the case with Miss Marcotte, all I see is a tremendous desire to be anti-Trump in all of this. President Trump raised the legitimate question of European participation in NATO, and how the European nations were not paying their fair share of the burden of maintaining the alliance. I went further, and asked if Americans really like the idea that the North Atlantic Treaty would require us to go to war with Russia if Russia sent the tanks rolling into Riga. Just how many American cities are worth defending the Baltic States? And Ukraine isn’t even a NATO member.

Miss Marcotte was very much opposed to our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even though we were actually attacked by al Qaeda, which was hiding in Afghanistan. Those wars, of course, were started under George W Bush, a Republican President, so there’s that. But today, she’s conflating an attack by Russia, on a non-NATO nation, with Republicans in the United States, and telling us we have to fight, fight, fight Vladimir Putin and Russia, to preserve democracy in the United States. #TrumpDerangementSyndrome has managed turn so much of the American left into the new neo-cons.
¹ – Mr Boot, whose parents fled a strongly antisemitic regime in the USSR under Leonid Brezhnev, once said, “I would sooner vote for Josef Stalin than I would vote for Donald Trump,” even though the USSR under Comrade Stalin might well have sent Mr Boot and his family to a concentration camp; the Soviet leaders really didn’t like Jews very much.
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2 thoughts on “The American Left Go Full Neo-con!”

  1. “…Zelenskyy visit exposes a GOP rift — between actual fascists and everyone else…”

    It is apparently lost on Ms. Marcotte that both she and Vladmir Putin think if they call those with whom they disagree “Nazis” or “Fascists”, then they can do anything they want to them without experiencing negatice consequences.

  2. It takes a lot of something for Ms Marcotte to trash most of her family, for not believing what she does. It would be a perfect opportunity for her to do a bit of self reflection as to why that is the case.
    Ahh. Maybe it’s just more of that “Girl Power” nonsense. She is that superior being. Yeh, I’m laughing while typing this. She seems to be the one doing all the mocking.
    Maybe she should divorce herself from her family, since leftists can do things like that. That’s part of the reason they are a miserable lot.
    I wonder if, while writing her bio for twitter, in the bar, she put her phone number on the napkin?

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