Who Really Wants Forever War in Ukraine? Our Rulers, and We Have No Say In It
Last week Tucker Carlson interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin. (Here’s the lengthy transcript.) The usual suspects on the Left went after him for it. CNN’s Chris Wallace & company compared Carlson to World War II’s Japanese propagandist Tokyo Rose. Hillary Clinton called him a “useful idiot.” Former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson (on whom more later) attacked Carlson as a “traitor.” The White House had preemptively condemned the interview.
But even some conservative outlets disapproved. The Telegraph accused Carlson of fostering Putin’s “historical fan-fiction.” Tucker’s old employer, Fox News, tried to ignore the whole thing. It ran one story on the interview, never even mentioned him in the headline, and buried his involvement down at paragraph four. (Here’s a pithy recap of other major media treatment.) Kudos to FNC’s Greg Gutfeld for outspokenly defending his old colleague.
Putin’s Major Points
Dozens of takes on this 120+ minute “conversation” (mostly a Putin monologue) have already been done. Probably the most fair-and-balanced was by this site’s Jason Jones and John Zmirak. Allow me to do a somewhat different analysis, as follows. I have tried previously to lay out the world as Putin sees it. With Carlson, he elaborated on those broad positions, in eight major points.
Ukraine as Seen from the Kremlin
Putin Claim: “Ukrainians are part of the one Russian people.” And “Ukraine is an artificial state that was shaped at Stalin’s [and Lenin’s] will.”
CIA is the Bad Guy
Putin Claim: The CIA helped engineer a “coup” in Ukraine that brought anti-Russian leaders to power there. These then started attacking Russians in the east. Also, there are literal Nazis in Ukraine that need to be rooted out.
Orthodox Christianity is an Issue
Putin Claim: Russia and Ukraine are both majority Orthodox Christian, but “Ukrainian authorities [are] dismantling the Ukrainian Orthodox Church” and trying to replace it with their new Orthodox Church of Ukraine. The former is affiliated with the Patriarch of Moscow. The latter is under the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople.
Fact Check: True.
Putin Reads Toynbee
Putin Claim: History is cyclical. Great powers stride forth, last for awhile, then decline and fall. (The great historian Arnold Toynbee argued this.) The primary example is Rome. The difference today is that “all the processes of change are happening at the [sic] much faster pace than in Roman times.” America’s time is waning, and China’s is arriving.
Fact Check: As a historian, this is largely my position — but it’s not exactly amenable to fact-checking.
Tucker Tried to Help a Jailed Journalist
Putin Claim: Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich was spying for the U.S.
Putin says he’d like to see him return to his homeland, which Tucker pressed him on. But that is a matter for negotiations between “special services” in Russia and America.
Doesn’t the US have Enough Problems?
Putin Claim: The U.S. has enough problems, like its own border and $33 trillion in national debt. (Actually, over $34 trillion.) Why does it obsess about Ukraine? Putin said he hasn’t spoken to Biden in a year. Russia is willing to negotiate an end to the war. But the West won’t discuss it.
Fact Check: True. Boris Johnson, while still British PM in 2022, “pressured Zelenskyy to ditch peace talks.”] Just last Friday the Biden Administration once again rejected peace talks with Russia. And now we learn that Senate Democrats, along with their Republican enablers, want to make it an impeachable future offense to stop sending funds and weapons to Ukraine.
Putin Claim: the U.S. blew up the Nord Stream pipeline.
Fact Check: Probably not true, although Russia didn’t, either.
NATO is Seen as a Threat
Putin Claim: After the collapse of the USSR in 1991, “Russia expected that it would be welcomed into the brotherly party of civilized nations.” But “nothing like this happened. You tricked us” by breaking the “promise … that NATO would not expand eastward.”
Fact Check: This requires some explanation. There is no doubt that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has greatly expanded, mostly to the east. In 1949 it had 12 members. Now it has 30. (Here’s a time-lapse video thereof.) Three of them — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania — border Russia.
In 2021, the Biden Administration said that the door is open for Georgia and Ukraine to join. Both of course border Russia, as well. Did the West/US promise not to do this? It certainly appears that the first Bush administration did. Even if it wasn’t formalized in writing.
Bear-baiting might have been good, bloody sport in Shakespeare’s time. But it’s not very smart, now, when the bear has rafts of nuclear weapons. And imagine if Russia or China signed mutual defense treaties with Latin American countries, including Mexico. We wouldn’t stand for it. Just as JFK didn’t when the Soviets tried to put nukes in Cuba — which doesn’t even border the U.S.
NATO now borders Russia; and it’s mostly true that that our government lied to Boris Yeltsin, Putin’s predecessor.
Putin Blames Elites, not Presidents, for the new Cold War
Putin Claim: Putin floated, to both Presidents Clinton and Bush II, that Russia and the West/U.S. cooperate on defense matters. While both initially expressed support, the idea went nowhere. Why not? They were rejected by their national security staffs. Carlson asked how this could happen. Putin: “it’s not about the personality of the leader. It is about the elite’s mindset.” Carlson pressed him on this issue.
Why the continued antagonism toward non-Communist Russia? Putin referred to “excessive production capacities” from the Cold War. During that time “many centers [were] created, and specialists on the Soviet Union, who could not do anything else. They convinced the political leadership that it is necessary to continue chiseling Russia, to try to break it up … .”
Fact Check: Putin perhaps exaggerated. But our Defense Secretary has said Russia needs to be “weakened.” Our President said that Russia’s President “cannot remain in power.” And American geopolitical analysts keep on predicting Russia’s fragmentation.
We DO have a Nefarious Deep State
We cannot know for sure whether Putin is telling the truth about what he said to Clinton or Bush. I suspect he is, since neither of them has come out and disputed his version. As for his contention that the Deep State undercuts American Chief Executives — and in fact may go beyond that, into actually making policy? Well, that’s hard to dispute.
We know that federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies pushed — indeed, helped create — the anti-Trump Russia “collusion” hoax. The FBI targeted Catholics. The Treasury Department had banks search for transactions by Trump and MAGA supporters. The NSA spied on virtually all Americans. No one at CIA was ever punished for spying on the U.S. Senate. These agencies have convinced our senile President that white Americans are the greatest threat to America. Little wonder that, as far back as 2018, 74% of Americans believed that the “Deep State controls government policy.” It’s undoubtedly higher now.
Trying to Enshrine Ukraine Aid in Law
Why would our federal legislators, in a bipartisan effort, try to manacle future Presidents by frankly unconstitutional means into funding the Ukraine war indefinitely? To support a policy that, even six months ago, a majority of Americans already opposed? Why, as many conservatives have noted, does the Uniparty care more about Ukraine’s border with Russia than America’s lack of one with Mexico?
Here are some major reasons:
- Ideological, ignorant spite. Democrats’ Russia “collusion” lies painted them into a corner where anything Russian is evil. Republicans’ love of Reagan and Cold War clarity blind them to the fact that Russia is not the Marxist USSR.
- That root of all evil: the love of money. The U.S. is by far the world’s largest arms dealer. So conflict is lucrative. And its weapons manufacturers spend massive amounts lobbying politicians of both parties.
- The need for a bogeyman. Although there are plenty of jihad-driven Muslim leaders, not one of them is powerful enough to serve as the face of anti-Western hate. Not even Iran’s reigning Ayatollah. So Putin gets the nod, with his 5,000 nuclear weapons, KGB training, and well-earned ruthlessness against opponents. Despite the inconvenient truth that Muslim fundamentalists, not Russians, kill Americans. And frankly, the CIA is more comfortable going back to the future in this regard than admitting the truth about the intrinsically violent nature of Islam.
- More money. Ukraine was funding Hunter Biden — and by extension the entire family. Also, Ukraine’s has legions of lobbyists in D.C. Russia doesn’t.
- Hubristic globalism. Ukraine hosts LBGTQ+ rallies, while Russia is non-gay-friendly, Orthodox Christian, and nationalist. Since the former are held up as “universal human rights,” Western elites will go to the mat for them.
Putin Correctly Diagnoses American Problems
None of this is to defend Russia invading and brutalizing Ukraine. But it does show that our self-styled elites share some of the blame for that war being launched. And perhaps even more for its continuing. As I’ve said before, Vladimir Putin may be a “swaggering, overbearing, tin-plated dictator with delusions of godhood.” But he’s clearly not stupid. He exposes the fault lines in America and, yes, exploits them. Especially the ones between the elites’ Deep State and the rest of us. But he can only do so because they are real.
Blame Tucker? Or Thank Him?
So you can blame Tucker Carlson for letting Putin propagandize. Or thank him for helping pull back the curtain on America’s bipartisan burlesque show by interviewing the elites’ bête noire. Either way, you’re probably better informed. And that’s what journalism is supposed to do.
Timothy Furnish holds a Ph.D. in Islamic, World and African history from Ohio State University and a M.A. in Theology from Concordia Seminary. He is a former U.S. Army Arabic linguist and, later, civilian consultant to U.S. Special Operations Command. He’s the author of books on the Middle East and Middle-earth, a history professor and sometime media opiner (as, for example, on Fox News Channel’s War Stories: Fighting ISIS). He currently writes for and consults The Stream on International Security matters.