Regardless of what Putin-apologists will tell you, the situation in Ukraine is simple. Ukraine is a sovereign nation. Russia invaded them.
Russia had no good or decent reason to invade Ukraine, and any part of any situation in Ukraine that would have warranted another nation intervening, the Russian government was not morally qualified to be the actor.
But a surprising number of influential Americans have spoken otherwise, standing up for Putin, or putting down Zelensky in a way that applauds Putin.
Take for example Tucker Carlson, Fox New’s star anchor.
“Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?” he asked back in January.
As usual, Carlson pretended to ask a question as if the answer was obvious, when he actually asked because he was confused.
He was confused about the difference between immigrants crossing a border and tanks crossing a border.
He was confused as to what kind of democracy Putin led and what kind of democracy Zelensky led.
Of course, nobody in America knew who Zelensky was until we found out Trump called him up for a favor: find some dirt on Biden. Even then, most Americans wouldn’t remember the guy’s name. Just Ukraine. In fact, as an example of his own pettiness as a leader, Donald Trump withheld $400,000,000 in military aid from Ukraine, hoping to get some “dirt on Biden” in return for aid. Imagine Ukraine now if it had never come through.
So what kind of man is Zelensky? Certainly imperfect. He has a law degree and a showbusiness career, which qualifies him about as much as some combination of Trump and Obama. He has missed opportunities to reform his young democracy, he’s not popular with everybody, and he arguably didn’t stand up to Putin too well before the invasion. But as an example of his character, here’s a quote from his inauguration speech:
“I really want you not to hang my image in your offices. Hang photos of your children there, and before every decision, look them in the eye.”
Would Putin have said something like that? Or taken a photo of himself riding a bear?
What Putin did was lie about a genocide in the Donbas region to justify invading all of Ukraine, which obviously has plenty of national resources and had been occupied by Russia in the past.
So as to Carlson’s original question, it’s not about loyalty. It’s about values. But rather than care for values, Tucker speaks the language of loyalty. Namely, loyalty to a certain image of a country, and sometimes, yes, loyalty to Trump.
Then Carlson called Ukraine “strategically irrelevant to the United States.” He went on, “No rational person could defend a war with Russia over Ukraine. Nobody thinks a war like that would make America safer or stronger or more prosperous.”
As if the only two options are to morally stand with Ukraine or jump straight into war against Russia.
And notice he didn’t say anything about safety and freedom. Only strength and prosperity.
See, it’s all about prosperity and strength for Americans, never about the principle of democracy. But in the past we invaded countries for less. Invading Viet Nam didn’t make us safer. Invading Iraq didn’t make us stronger.
So here we have a man who is paid huge bucks on a huge network—a man whose job is to inform us with information—who speaks as if the only thing he knows about Ukraine is that it is a country that is foreign and so is Russia.
And what kinds of things do you say when you’re that ignorant? Well, you say what Trump wants you to say. You blame everything on Joe Biden, and you kiss up to Putin.
And that’s exactly what Carlson did. He supported Putin’s assembling troops at the border, as if it was only about protecting his own side, not invading the other. And he chided Biden for being strong on Putin, unlike his predecessor, who sees Putin as a genius and loved hanging out with him.
Last November, Carlson asked, “If you’re looking at America’s perspective, why? Who’s got the energy reserves? Who’s the major player in world affairs? Who’s the potential counterbalance against China.”
In other words, we shouldn’t think about who to stand up for in principle when a conflict occurs elsewhere. No, never. What we should stand up for is who can be a major player with us. Sorry, Ukraine, but the mostly former Soviet Union has got cooler stuff.
It wasn’t until a little over a week ago that Carlson finally admitted “we” (meaning he) were wrong. He was surprised, though there was no reason to be, that Putin was—shocking!—amassing troops in order to invade Ukraine.
The Fox anchor finally saw the light, in a way. Problem is, that’s too late. He failed at his job. And Tucker failed because he himself is an authoritarian. Like Trump, he looked up to Putin, and was surprised at his inevitable behavior. See, according to Fox’s star anchor, Putin was a good guy, because he never called Tucker a racist. That’s the standard, apparently. How petty of a news anchor to make it all about himself rather than his viewers, the people. But authoritarians only appeal to people until they have what they want.
And even as he sees the light, he blames Biden, as if Trump could have prevented all this. Did Biden withhold aid over his opponent?
Tell your friends and family who watch Tucker Carlson to stop doing it. Educate them on how the situation in Ukraine is actually very simple. Russian soldiers should not be there. Period. And if they disagree, persist. If they are preachers, investigate their beliefs and compare them to scripture. You cannot afford these people running your churches. It’s a waste of your money, and more importantly, it’s a waste of your spiritual investment in Christ-like leadership. Spiritual leaders who side with the power-hungry tend to themselves be power-hungry.
You can tell a lot about a person—or an institution—by whether they support Vladimir Putin in most any context.
Take Mike Pence, for example, VP to Donald Trump. Regardless of how much praise Trump gave to Putin while in office, a little over a week ago Pence condemned Putin apologists. So here’s an example of a conservative who served under Trump who knew now to play cozy to Putin.
The Russian Orthodox Church has long supported Putin. Why? Because he keeps promising them that he stands for their values.
Makes you wonder what their values are.
Well, we know what Ioann Burdin’s values are. That’s the name of the Russian priest who spoke out against the invasion and was arrested for it. So be like Burdin: even when the rest of your tradition stands with a tyrant, you stand against him. Don’t be like Carlson: tote the party line of your institution because it pays you big bucks, and act like you’re getting picked on when someone criticizes your colonialist values.
Russia invaded Ukraine and they shouldn’t have. As complex as a lot of things are right now, we should at least understand how simple this is. It’s just that sometimes it’s hard for an American to accept how wrong it is to just up and invade a smaller country.