Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Right and Segments of the Left Unite on Ukraine - From different directions - WARNING: This Post is a long and winding road

Before I even get into this issue, what pisses me off the most is how easy it is to keep spending billions on the war without a peep about pay fors from Dems and Republicans. Like where is Manchin, who strenuously objected to Medicare paying for my teeth, eyes and ears. Like we can't have Medicare for all because we can't pay for it but we can pay for endless arms to Ukraine.

Also - if you want to hear a rational discussion on Ukraine, check out the May 31 edition of Breaking Points where Krystal and Saagar get down to issues you never hear in mainstream media. They point out how easy it would be for the missiles we give Ukraine to find themselves landing on Russian territory. Don't forget the nukes.  That Ukraine has a motive to keep us outraged and engaged. Must see on you tube: And in this segment they talk about the possibility Putin has a terminal illness:

So here is an interchange I had after posting a Tiabbi comment on ICE list:

Matt Tiabbi: Putin the Apostate: We thought he would be our bastard. Then, he became his own bastard. Feb 28 ---

Response: Wow hard to read anything from Matt (Taibbi) after he laughed and dismissed an invasion into Russia. Sorry to knock down your hero there norm, but Matt and greenwald are the darlings of the right for a reason ....
The above interchange represents a split on the left over Ukraine and Putin. So let me state right out front, I am disgusted by the Putin invasion -- he is a right wing thug and this is Russian imperialism. Some on the left focus on American imperialism -- a very real thing -- and explain the rest of the world as reactions to what we do. Now this is not a simple discussion as there are real facts on both sides.
This is a quandary when you see the outrage of the invasion. As you will see below, the right wing Putinists and Orbanists have no compunction about saying let it be. Isolationists from the same strain that opposed our entering the war against Hitler.

The left is more complicated. Remember, the Stalinists opposed our entering the war from the Soviet/Germany non-aggression pact of 1939 until Germany invaded them in June 1941, then suddenly switched gears. This was the major hit the Communist Party USA took -- exposing clearly how they functioned as agents of Stalin.

Here is a must listen historical frame of reference where artist Edwin Sorel recalls how his parents were Stalinists to the end -- True Believers.
Brian Lehrer interview with artist Edwin Sorel:

But there is the reality that the more we arm Ukraine the longer the war goes on and more people die. Our war hawks in both parties don't really care much about that as the goal is not to save Ukraine but to undermine Russia - plus keep up the enormous profits of the military industrial complex. 

The reality is that if Ukraine ceded some territory, the war may end. The argument that Putin will keep taking is not crazy but without an open war with Russia - as we seem to be heading there -- that is the only choice. And let me point out that the entire Dem party is now the war party - while there is a Trump wing of the Republican party that is against us giving support.

Wednesday, June 1, 2022

GOOD MORNING, UKRAINE. I got a call from an old lefty ICEer who wanted to talk organizing. We avoided talking Ukraine because he reps a segment of the left that is vehemently opposed to Ukraine involvement. He and others from the old ICE crew put the blame on American imperialism and while condemning the Putin invasion, also justify it in some ways due to NATO expansion, the profit-making American war machine - military industrial complex, what they term as a 2014 CIA led coup in Ukraine and other factors. 

Fact is, there's a lot of there there. The left has always seen the truth of the CIA in fomenting coups and FBI in disrupting the left. Die hard Stalinists claimed he had to create a buffer zone around the Soviet Union and even make a deal with Hitler because from the day of the 1917 Russian Revolution, there has been a cabal to kill off the Soviet Union. Is that 100 year old idea still operating -- like Bolsheviks may rise from the dead unless we put a dagger through the heart of the Russian state?

I've known this stuff since my history classes at Brooklyn College in the 60s when I had an anti-communist prof refugee from the Hungarian Revolution backed by the CIA but he was fair and had us read both sides -- I was shocked at the left defense of Stalin and didn't agree but it made me think. 

The liberal Dems have always been anti-Russia even after the wall fell. Why push NATO to their borders? The size and the nukes of Russia kept up the aggression and encirclement. Imagine Russia missiles in Cuba? Oh, been there done that. How about Mexico? Would we invade Mexico? Oh, been there done that.

Have we claimed a sphere of influence since the 1820 Monroe Doctrine? Have you read the NYT stories of Haiti and our invasions and take-overs? If you complain about Putin invading Ukraine over supposed claims they have been there for centuries -- see Israel claims to the lands around them.

But the tendency to only view things through the lens of American imperialism and not Russian imperialism can distort the viewer. They often act like Russia is still a leftist nation instead of a hard core right wing bordering on fascist country.

Could the CIA have institured a coup in 2014 in Ukraine? I'm shocked. How about this one just revealed in the NYT great series on Haitian history:

It was Feb. 29, 2004, Before dawn, Luis Moreno, a senior American diplomat, had driven through the large gate of the president’s walled compound and climbed the steps to the front door, accompanied by security officers from the State Department. Mr. Moreno had helped Mr. Aristide return to Haiti after the military ousted him a decade earlier. Now, the opposite was happening: Mr. Moreno greeted the president — and asked for his resignation letter. Minutes later, Mr. Aristide and his wife were taken to the airport, where an American-chartered plane flew them into exile. France’s ambassador to Haiti at the time, Thierry Burkard, said in an interview that France and the United States had effectively orchestrated “a coup” against Mr. Aristide, and that his abrupt removal was “probably a bit about” his call for reparations from France, too. “It made our job easier” to dismiss the reparations claims without Mr. Aristide in office, Mr. Burkard noted. “The threats were clear and direct: ‘Either you resign, or you can be shot!’” Mr. Aristide later said of the meeting. advising him to leave office to avoid a fate like Salvador Allende’s, the Chilean president who died in 1973 as his presidential palace was overrun by the military.
This was only 18 years ago. How many coups can you count that we fomented? If using fingers, you need to take your shoes off. Here are a few posts from my lefty friends.

Here are recent posts from my left pals:

In February, BLM and "In This House We Believe (in everything but a rising minimum wage)" lawn signs were immediately replaced by "We Stand With Ukraine (and the Azov Battalion)" signs... which is probably just as well, since Patrice Cullours is likely to be indicted in the coming months... Advertising their moral vanity is one thing that liberals excel at...
Aaron Mate is a leading proponent, along with his partner Katie Halper on Useful Idiots. Matt Taibbi who preceded him is also a skeptic.
"Funding the Ukraine proxy war, Sanders and the Squad abandon progressives and peace" Aaron Mate 
Now here is an interesting point charging the Squad with joining the usual Dem war party -- like where is Bernie pointing out how billions are spent without payfors?

American progressives join the War Party 

Some leftist commentators can barely conceal their enthusiasm for American involvement in the Ukraine war
US representative Alexandra Ocasia-Cortez is among the Democratic Party members to vote in favor of a Republican sponsored Ukraine war bill. Image: 

 And now we finally get to the right wing pro-Putin wing:

Why the Once-Hawkish Heritage Foundation Opposed Aid to Ukraine

May 27, 2022

WASHINGTON — Hours before the House voted this month to approve $40 billion in military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine, lobbyists affiliated with the Heritage Foundation, the prominent conservative think tank, were privately pressing Republicans to oppose the measure.

In a move that seized the attention of conservatives across Washington, Jessica Anderson, the executive director of Heritage’s lobbying operation, released a searing statement — its headline blaring “Ukraine Aid Package Puts America Last” — that framed the measure as reckless and ill-considered.

“America is struggling with record-setting inflation, debt, a porous border, crime and energy depletion,” Ms. Anderson said, “yet progressives in Washington are prioritizing a $40 billion aid package to Ukraine.”

The Heritage Foundation’s position helps explain why 57 House Republicans ultimately voted against the package, in the strongest show of opposition in the party’s ranks to Congress’s deepening support for Ukraine’s effort to fend off the Russian invasion. It reflected the increasing potency of the “America First” impulse in the Republican Party, and how thoroughly it has trickled up to the thought leaders shaping its policy worldview.

And it previewed the growing challenge confronting the party’s leaders, who have toiled to keep the anti-interventionist forces in their ranks at bay should the war drag on, as U.S. officials believe it will, prompting the Biden administration to seek approval of another tranche of aid in the coming months.

In an interview, the group’s president, Kevin Roberts, pledged to “fight” any similarly structured bill “every step of the way.”

The stance also reflects a profound shift at the Heritage Foundation, an organization that conservatives have long considered an intellectual and policy guide star.

For years, the group advocated a hawkish foreign policy, enthusiastically backing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and, more recently, criticizing President Barack Obama for “always” seeking “to find the absolute minimum level of military power he can get away with.”

But more recently, its lobbying arm has embraced the anti-interventionist fervor that defined President Donald J. Trump’s foreign policy and has swept the Republican Party.

On Thursday, Mr. Roberts published a podcast interview with Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, one of only 11 Senate Republicans to oppose the Ukraine aid package and the author of a recent op-ed entitled “No to Neoconservatism.”

“Neither you, nor we, intend any opposition to an aid package to be dismissive of the heroism that we’ve seen in Ukraine,” Mr. Roberts told Mr. Hawley. “But I can at least speak for Heritage and say, ‘We’ve had enough of business as usual.’”

The core tenets of the organization have long been grounded in promoting free enterprise, limited government and strong national defense. But it has increasingly fed off the rising populism in the party, first during the ascent of the Tea Party and then during the Trump administration, stocking some of the most prominent members of Mr. Trump’s cabinet and boasting that nearly two-thirds of its ideas had been carried out or embraced by his White House during his first year in office.

“What was so surprising about this moment was Heritage, which has always been tough on Russia, strong on NATO and guided by the mantra of ‘What Would Reagan Do?’ took a very odd turn,” said Eric Sayers, a current nonresident at the American Enterprise Institute who began his career at Heritage as a junior staff member.

The move, Mr. Sayers said, reflected the ascendancy in the organization “of more populist forces focused more on following the right than leading it.”

Mr. Roberts, who referred to himself in an interview as a “recovering neocon,” said Heritage’s stance on the aid package reflected “a real skepticism among the conservative grass-roots about the entrenched conservative foreign policy leadership.”

The nation’s financial situation, he said, was forcing “us as a movement to determine that there are a lot of heroic people around the world who will have to rely on the resources from other countries. That doesn’t mean that America shouldn’t be involved, but we need to be less involved.”

His argument echoed the one behind many of the policies Mr. Trump put forward when he complained that NATO allies were not spending enough on the shared costs of defense and argued for a smaller U.S. military footprint around the globe.

It is a position that a growing number of conservative groups are taking. Citizens for Renewing America, an organization led by Russell Vought, Mr. Trump’s former budget director, lobbied against the latest Ukraine aid measure, saying it would leave “the United States on the hook for increased involvement in the war through the remainder of President Biden’s term in office.” Mr. Vought has also lobbied against admitting Finland and Sweden to NATO.

So has Concerned Veterans for America, an advocacy group funded by the Koch network, which called it “a mistake for Congress to fast-track yet another massive aid package to Ukraine when the Biden administration has repeatedly sent confused and mixed signals about its desired end-state in Ukraine.”

But while those groups have long staked out positions against deeper American involvement in what they deem unwise military missions abroad, Heritage’s stance is more recent.

In the months leading up to the vote on the Ukraine aid bill, Heritage’s policy experts argued in favor of an aggressive American role in the conflict, including huge amounts of aid. One report said that the United States “must ensure that its massive humanitarian aid response helps the Ukrainian people to survive Russia’s war of aggression.”

Another report, published in April, declared: “A sovereign Ukraine is necessary for overall European stability, which is in U.S. and NATO interests. In many ways, the long-term stability of the trans-Atlantic community will be decided in Ukraine. The U.S. must act accordingly.”

James Wallner, a senior fellow at the R Street Institute who previously led policy research at Heritage, said the discrepancy between the tone of the reports and the group’s opposition to the aid bill reflected a situation at the think tank “where the tail starts to wag the dog” and politics, not policy principle, begins to drive decisions.

“I always raise the issue of what happens when this grass-roots army that you’re creating runs counter to the policy research,” Mr. Wallner said in an interview. “Do you just do what the grass-roots army wants? And if that’s the case, are you still a public policy organization that’s putting out cutting-edge research? I think you can’t have both at the same time, and I think that’s the challenge.”

Top officials at the organization contend there has been no shift.

Ms. Anderson framed the vote against the aid package as a protest against the “binary choice” she said Democrats had set up “between supporting the great people of Ukraine and taking care of a long list of concerns we have here in the United States.”

“We’re not in the isolationist crowd,” Ms. Anderson said. “Heritage has never been that. But we think it is completely reasonable to express caution and concern, and we’re really encouraged so many members echoed those reservations.”

Mr. Roberts insisted that Heritage was still guided by “the Reagan principle of peace through strength” and said the think tank would have supported an aid package narrowly tailored to provide the Ukrainians with weaponry.

“What I’ve found frustrating in the last couple of weeks among all the commentary,” Mr. Roberts said in the interview with Mr. Hawley, “is that somehow we’re being disingenuous by saying, ‘Why can’t we build the wall at the Southern border? Why can’t we attend to problems at home?’ People took that to mean that we were inventing excuses for opposing the Ukraine bill. It seems like awfully legitimate criticism, not just to us in the think tank world, but to the average American.”

But he also conceded that Heritage’s stance reflected a broader “evolution in the movement” that would “require us to be a lot more prudent about our more limited resources we can spend on foreign policy.”

When Mr. Roberts was selected to lead Heritage in October, he emphasized in an op-ed laying out his vision for the think tank that part of his job would be to “open up the movement to fresh American air and to the people we seek to serve.”

“It is the job of conservatives inside the Beltway to better connect with conservatives outside the Beltway,” Mr. Roberts wrote, “and not the other way around.”

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Bravo Norm on your Ukraine post! I am amazed at the bipartisan support of the US war machine while we simultaneously cannot move an inch on gun control, universal health care, gas prices, infant formula, food insecurity, equitable school funding, systemic racism, climate change. In the meantime, Tsar Putin will “liberate” Donbas and Ukraine will be obliterated.