Make no mistake. There is a battle right now between autocracy and democracy around the world. Countries are lining up on either side. And that is really what is going on, at this stage, with Ukraine.
This is literally a battle for the 21st century order. For the way the people of the world, the entire planet and all its resources, will ultimately be run and used.
It could determine whether our world will be ruled by a small number of morbidly rich autocrats and their factotums, or whether it will be ruled by the people themselves through politicians freely and fairly elected.
Whether climate change will be challenged, or fossil fuel oligarchs will continue to ruin our planet. Whether democracy will succeed, or recede into history and we will enter a new feudal era like the way most of the world was run for the past 7,000 years.
This war in Ukraine is not just about deciding the fate of the region for the next few years or even the next few decades because every autocrat in the world — from tinpot dictators to China’s Xi — are watching carefully. The outcome of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine may well define the fate of the world for the next century.
Multiple foreign policy experts have recently publicly suggested that if Ukraine falls to Russia, China’s President Xi Jinping will take that as a green-light to invade Taiwan. On the other hand, if Ukraine successfully backs down Russia, it will discourage Xi from his aspiration to take Taiwan, and could thus help avoid what might otherwise have become World War III.
This war has the potential to be as consequential to the shape and future of the world as was the American Revolution. If Putin demonstrates that an autocrat can take down a democracy simply by murdering and bombing its people into submission, the world will soon be a very different place.
American fascists correctly realize this simple fact: it’s why they constantly invoke the Founding Fathers when describing this moment in history and their own efforts to side with Putin and/or overturn American democracy. It’s why they refer to “globalists” and Ukraine in the same sentence.
And it’s why we must think in those terms, too.
Given the stakes, Russian President Vladimir Putin has come up with a new message to entice American Republicans and European neofascists to turn Ukraine over to him.
He has started heaping hate on queer people and proclaiming he must continue bombing Ukraine because God says only straight married couples constitute legitimate families. And it appears to be working, as investigative reporter Greg Palast pointed out.
Fox “News” hosts are loving it, Republican members of Congress are suddenly outspoken against US aid to Ukraine, and public opinion among the fascist base of the GOP is moving quickly toward ending democracy in Ukraine and strengthening strongman rule in Russia.
Their argument is simple. Ukraine is part of the globalist elite that accepts gay marriage and racial minorities, but Russia now represents the same values as the Republican Party: xenophobic, racist, straight white male power.
Claiming that the real mission of Ukraine was to pollute the Russian people with the West’s acceptance of homosexuality, something so terrible it required his declaring a war to stop it, last Tuesday Putin gave a speech in which he laid it out:
“The elites of the West are not hiding their goals. … They also have to take into account that it is impossible to defeat Russia on the battlefield. So they increase their information attacks and of course they are targeting our young generation. And of course they keep lying here. They’re twisting historic facts. They’re going against our culture, against our religious organizations.”
That Godless West, Putin says, is coming for Russia’s youth, trying to corrupt them. His invasion of Ukraine was just about helping the children:
“Look at what they’ve done to their own people. They’re destroying family, national identity, they are abusing their children. Even pedophilia is announced as a normal thing in the West. And they’re recognizing same sex marriages.”
And same-sex marriage, Putin announces, is blasphemy. It contradicts scripture. After all, who would Jesus bomb?
“However, we need to tell them, but look at the scriptures of any religion in the world. Everything is said in there. And one of the things is that family is a union of a man and a woman.
“But even the sacred texts are subjected to doubt [in the West]. Anglican Church is planning to consider the idea of a gender-neutral God. What can you say here? Millions of people in the West understand that they are being led to spiritual destruction. Elites are going crazy and this cannot be cured it seems.”
But in order to rescue the children of Russia from the curse of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, it requires the complete destruction of Ukraine to stop them from being a conduit for perversion from the West. His next sentence:
“But our duty is to protect our children. And we will do this. We will protect our children from degradation. It’s obvious that the West will continue trying to destabilize our society. They’ll be using our traitors, who’ve been throughout the ages, have the same attitude to their own people, hatred for their own nation.”
This is mother’s milk for Christo-fascist Republicans. Ukraine is the international equivalent of Comet Pizza in Washington, DC, where they think Hillary Clinton drained tortured children’s blood to get high on their adrenochrome.
Of course they must be utterly shattered, with the remnants brought under the strong control of a godly man who rides bare-shirted on horseback.
Interestingly, Putin’s sales pitch has evolved over the years.
Back in 2008, he was arguing that Ukraine wasn’t even a country, simply a breakaway territory of Russia, much as China sees Taiwan.
As TIME magazine noted:
“In April 2008, a source told Russia’s Kommersant newspaper how Putin described Ukraine to George Bush at a NATO meeting in Bucharest: ‘You don’t understand, George, that Ukraine is not even a state. What is Ukraine? Part of its territories is Eastern Europe, but the greater part is a gift from us.’”
That didn’t seem to work very well: Bush didn’t respond in any way, as far as the record shows.
Thirteen years later, in July of 2021 —seven months before he invaded Ukraine —Putin doubled down on his argument that Ukraine isn’t an independent nation (ignoring the fact that it has been recognized by the United Nations since that organization’s inception).
In a 21-page screed published on the Kremlin’s website listing Putin as its sole author, the Russian dictator opens with these two paragraphs:
“During the recent Direct Line, when I was asked about Russian-Ukrainian relations, I said that Russians and Ukrainians were one people – a single whole. … It is what I have said on numerous occasions and what I firmly believe. …
“First of all, I would like to emphasize that the wall that has emerged in recent years between Russia and Ukraine, between the parts of what is essentially the same historical and spiritual space, to my mind is our great common misfortune and tragedy. … But these are also the result of deliberate efforts by those forces that have always sought to undermine our unity.”
In the next sentence, Putin argues that the only reason the world has recognized the nation-state status of a sovereign Ukraine is to essentially torture Russia.
“The formula they apply has been known from time immemorial – divide and rule. There is nothing new here. Hence the attempts to play on the ‘national [Ukrainian nationhood] question’ and sow discord among people, the overarching goal being to divide and then to pit the parts of a single people against one another.”
Following that, he builds a step-by-step case that Ukraine is not now a nation, never has been, and never will be. He starts in the year 882, when Oleg of Novgorod seized control of Kiev and built it into a mighty city:
“The throne of Kiev held a dominant position in Ancient Rus. This had been the custom since the late 9th century. The Tale of Bygone Years captured for posterity the words of Oleg the Prophet about Kiev, ‘Let it be the mother of all Russian cities.’“
He manages to overlook the fact that Oleg was a Viking from Sweden, not a Russian.
The rest of the article essentially reiterates his point, repeatedly, that Ukraine isn’t a real country but simply a rogue state, including a long rant about how Ukraine’s 1918 proclamation of independence led to an Ukrainian alliance with Germany against Russia in World War I:
“For those who have today given up the full control of Ukraine to external forces, it would be instructive to remember that, back in 1918, such a decision proved fatal for the ruling regime in Kiev.”
Thus, right up until 7 months before his invasion, Putin was arguing — exclusively — that Ukraine didn’t have the historic right to exist.
NATO is only referenced in a single paragraph, suggesting it’s part of a larger conspiracy by the West to steal Ukraine’s resources. Projection, much?
“This is also a disguise for the takeover of the rest of the Ukrainian economy and the exploitation of its natural resources. The sale of agricultural land is not far off, and it is obvious who will buy it up.”
While tankies on the left have repeatedly insisted that the US and EU “drove” Putin to invade Ukraine by “expanding NATO,” Putin himself doesn’t make that claim.
Instead, over the past year, Russian propaganda has largely confined itself to asserting that Ukraine — whose president is a straight, married Jew who lost family members in the Holocaust — is run by “Nazis and homosexuals.”
He repeated his “Ukraine isn’t a real nation” but is run by Nazis rant just a week before the invasion, and The New York Times called out his historical inaccuracies on February 21, 2022 (the invasion was three days later on February 24th).
Somehow, lost in all of this is the actual history of the very real commitments the US, UK, and Russia made to Ukraine and each other on December 5, 1994.
Ukraine had inherited from the old Soviet Union a massive collection of nukes, including almost two thousand SS-19 and SS-24 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs). Between 1991 and 1994, Ukraine had the entire world’s third largest nuclear weapons arsenal.
Each of those thousands of missiles had warheads containing nuclear bombs in the 400-550 kiloton range: each missile’s warhead was 27 to 37 times more powerful than the weapons we used to destroy Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
This Ukrainian stash of nuclear weapons was six times the size of what China has today, capable of destroying — both because of the missiles’ ranges and the size of the warheads — every town and city in the United States with more than 50,000 people, as The Brookings Institution notes, “three times over, with warheads left to spare.”
Most were pre-targeted at the United States, but these missiles — and the long-range jets and nuclear bombs Ukraine had as well — could just as easily have been repositioned to take out Moscow and every major population center in Russia, or every consequential city in Britain and continental Europe, with plenty of firepower left over.
The US, UK, and Russia — on behalf of the United Nations and the world — really, really wanted those nuclear weapons secured.
Ukraine was more than willing to give them up — particularly after being so traumatized by the meltdown of their Chernobyl nuclear power station in 1986 — so they entered the Budapest negotiations in good faith with only three simple demands.
- First, they wanted an absolute assurance from, at least, the US, UK, and Russia that their territorial integrity would be both respected by those three nations and defended in the event of an invasion by a third party.
- Second, Ukraine wanted some financial help to safely dig the missiles out of their bunkers and transport them to Russia for decommissioning and destruction. The job would cost more than Ukraine’s economy could bear at the time.
- Third, they still had 15 functioning nuclear reactors operating in Ukraine, a legacy of the Soviet nuclear power program (which also provided some of the materials for those 1900 nukes), and the nuclear material in the warheads could be reprocessed into high-quality fuel for Ukraine’s power stations. They wanted an equivalent amount of nuclear fuel from the US, UK, and Russia so they could provide themselves with low-cost electricity for a few decades.
The three nations negotiating with Ukraine agreed to all the terms:
- Russia took most of the responsibility for moving and decommissioning the ICBMs and their nuclear warheads, and providing Ukraine with nuclear power-station fuel.
- The US and the UK kicked in around $3 billion cash to cover the costs.
- And all three nations kicked in to an additional $3 billion fund to pay for a modern Ukrainian military and promised to never attack Ukraine — and to defend its borders if anybody else did.
Ukraine, trusting our and Russia’s word that their borders would never be violated, gave up their nuclear weapons. All of them. (The entire Budapest Memorandum is reprinted at the end of this article.)
Between tankies on the left and fascists on the right, Ukraine has reason to worry. But to both, hopefully this simple message will eventually get through:
If you really want the war to end, force Putin to stop bombing Ukraine.
It’s really that straightforward. Although, tragically — in an echo of so may wars before — it’ll probably take a military defeat or stalemate for Putin to reach the point where he stops his murderous terror campaign.
If Russia stops killing Ukrainian citizens and engaging in terror attacks against apartment buildings, hospitals, schools, and power stations, the war ends. It’s that simple.
If, on the other hand, the West abandons Ukraine, Ukraine ends. And other wars against democracies around the world will almost certainly begin.
DC Stock Photography, Ben Von Klemperer, and Fellow Neko
© Thom Hartmann, used with permission. Originally published on The Hartmann Report as Did Godless Gays Cause the Ukrainian War? Is Putin Right?
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