It is a fateful congruence that our countrymen’s intentions for us rational folks, the non-woke, have been laid bare just in time for the potentially nuclear war that their president has escalated by sending two warships to the Black Sea last week to confront Russia over Ukraine.
“The price [Russian President Vladimir Putin’s] going to pay, you’ll see shortly,” promised our very own Uncle Joe during a George Stephanopoulos interview last month. President Biden was responding to Mr. Stephanopoulos’ question regarding a report released by the director of national intelligence that day, “saying that Vladimir Putin authorized operations during the election to denigrate you, support President Trump, undermine our elections, divide our society.” Instead of doing something journalistic, like asking the president how much confidence he had in the report, given the inaccuracies, fabrications, leaps and wildly speculative assessments on this subject by our politicized — and vested — intelligence agencies, Mr. Stephanopoulos demanded, “What price must he pay?”
Moments later, the war-baiting “journalist” (a breed proliferated during the administration he served in the 1990s, in the other Western-stoked Eastern European wars) famously lubricated this administration’s way toward Mr. Putin’s impending demise at NATO’s hands: “So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?”
“Mm-hm,” came the closed-mouth response, which body language and speech experts might have found interesting because it’s indicative of a qualified “yes.” The president adjusted, quickly adding, “I do.”
In a standard move, Moscow recalled its ambassador. Less standard was Mr. Putin’s clever challenge to the American president: an invitation to hold a live public conversation. The response from the White House, of course: Mr. Biden was “quite busy this weekend.” And really, an airing of the facts, or lack thereof, would defeat the whole purpose of the bellicose rhetoric: war. Which Washington, London, Paris and Berlin-Brussels had already decided on decades ago. All the “election interference/cyberattacks/human rights abuses/bounties-on-our-soldiers” accusations have been just working backwards to prime the rest of us.
On the war to end all wars, be prepared for “total bipartisan consensus,” a la Syria and Yugoslavia bombings, a term talk show host Tucker Carlson correctly has said should make us very nervous. As happened 22 years ago, an American conservative finds herself again nodding to articles found on, of all things, World Socialist Web Site (having strange bedfellows is perhaps the bright flip side of the total-consensus coin). On April 10, WSWS’s Clara Weiss wrote, “In March, shortly after Joe Biden took office and reaffirmed that ‘Crimea is Ukraine,’ the Ukrainian government of Volodymyr Zelensky announced a strategy to ‘recover Crimea’ and the Donbas.
“The Crimea … was annexed by Russia in 2014 following a U.S.- and German-backed coup in Kiev. … The announcement of an offensive to retake these territories was tantamount to declaring that Ukraine is preparing for war. … Ukraine and NATO have announced joint military exercises. Last Friday, Mr. Zelensky met virtually with U.S. President Biden, who assured him of full U.S. support against Russia. In response to these provocations, Russia has amassed troops on the borders to Ukraine, announced military exercises and is reinforcing its navy in the Black Sea.” Yet the Pentagon — and France — wants Russia to “explain” its troop movements.
The article notes that this “is a deeply unpopular war in Ukraine” (the Kremlin has offered Russian passports to all Ukrainians who want one), and “a significant number of troops and militias … are affiliated with the neo-Nazi Azov Battalion and similar far-right formations, which have been systematically built up by the Ukrainian state and the U.S.” (Our “defense” establishment rarely has any better ideas than to ally with Nazis: See Croatia, Albania, Bosnia and all the World War II Nazis we imported in the name of fighting communism.) So, build up fascists around the world, but shut down conservatives here as fascists, while nurturing a Marxist takeover of America.
Americans should find themselves at least as unwilling to be dragged into the War of Wars as they are to be dragged into the violent socialist utopia that all of our little Biden-Harrises are giving succor to. For their part, right-leaning and other sane Americans seem wary only of the latter, sometimes even joining the chorus against Russia (as Washington’s country club Republicans do across the board). By doing so, we’re allowing ourselves to be recruited into a war against ourselves, for whom Russia is a proxy target. Ann Coulter broke it down in 2017: “[Liberals] could never forgive Russia for giving up communism. To add insult to injury, Putin embraced the … Church! This was deeply offensive to fiercely Christophobic liberals. Russia’s descent into insanity and madness was clear when Putin refused to allow LGBTQ marches through Red Square. … That’s how liberals became born-again John Birchers, seeing Russians under every bed.”
It’s no coincidence that Russia became the tool by which to delegitimize a Republican president. Or that official reports tend to mention Russian “mischief” in the same breath as White supremacists being our top domestic concern. Russia as the great external threat is the parallel lunacy to right-wingers as the great internal threat. Notice that among Russia, Iran, North Korea, China or even Venezuela, Mr. Biden and our woke military establishment have chosen to move against the White one. (As Bill Clinton did with Yugoslavia despite China and North Korea flaring up even then, and after not answering the 1993 World Trade Center attack.)
When Russophobia was justifiable and had to do more with communism than nationality, we were told, “Oh you just fear what you don’t know.” Now they’re instructing us to hate Russians as such: for what makes them familiar to us. Spying a glimmer of self-recognition by American conservatives toward Russia, libertarian columnist Cathy Young quickly tried to cut it off at the knees with a 2013 Boston Globe article titled “Vladimir Putin is no ally for the right.” Despite her best efforts to fit in, within 24 hours of Mr. Biden’s inauguration, libertarians became a target too: “Members of the Biden team … are now moving in laserlike fashion,” former CIA director John O. Brennan said in an MSNBC interview, “to try to uncover as much as they can about … an unholy alliance, frequently, of religious extremists, authoritarians, fascists, bigots, racists, nativists — even libertarians.”
Sadly, these days non-left Americans have adopted the left’s pat language on Russia, using phrases such as “This is a victory for Vladimir Putin,” as when President Trump wouldn’t jump on the latest blame-Russia bandwagon or missed a chance to wreak more havoc in Syria. This month, the simpler among rightists are balking that Mr. Biden “won’t do anything” in response to Russian and Chinese warnings on Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively. They are victims of a slow process the Soviets used to call “ideological subversion or active measures, or psychological warfare,” a KGB defector named Yuri Bezmenov explained back in 1985. It means “to change the perception of reality of every American to such an extent that despite an abundance of information no one is able to come to sensible conclusions in the interest of defending themselves, their family, their community and their country.”
Will conservatives let themselves get coopted into another self-defeating war, as everything that hails from the left eventually becomes “bipartisan” (climate control, Syria, Bosnia, Kosovo, COVID-19, to name a few). The man whose first act was to flood this country with cartels, ISIS and human traffickers is going to “protect” Americans from Russia. The only Americans losing sleep over Russia are those wracking their brains over how to dismantle it. Objecting to a war against Russia just on its own lack of merit, an old radio repairman in Boulder City, Nevada, told me, “If being conservative means wanting a war with Russia, count me out.”
How does one opt out? Well, it’s happening all around us. To again quote Mr. Carlson, “The country is a lot less free than it used to be, but some states are trying hard to remain American. The biggest of them is Florida. Florida’s leaders have managed to protect for the most part their constituents’ constitutional rights even during the pandemic.” He said the White House domestic travel restrictions the White House was unprecedentedly considering imposing on Floridians “singling out specific states for punishment.”
Other states feeling the federal government’s thumb too heavily are asserting themselves as well. Georgia may have lost the All-Star Game, but it saved its democracy by passing the election integrity law that so infuriated the MLB and assorted celebrities. Texas did as much. Last month, Gov. Tate Reeves saved girls’ sports in Mississippi from the Biden administration by signing a bill banning transgender athletes on them. More recently, Arizona’s governor signed a bill to defy any new federal gun control laws, while Gov. Pete Ricketts declared Nebraska a “Second Amendment sanctuary state.” Further blunting attacks from the federal government, Arizona and Montana are taking legal action against new ICE-arrest regulations, as Texas threatened to do in January. And when Gov. Greg Abbott was asked to aid with COVID-19 testing of migrants, he refused, saying, “We won’t make ourselves a magnet.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, meanwhile, has taken the extraordinary step of penalizing the handmaidens of totalitarianism, the big-tech companies, for unlawful practices such as their election meddling that got us here.
President George W. Bush used to say of Islamic terrorists, “They hate our way of life.” But now that the gloves have come off at home, we know for sure that our countrymen also hate our way of life. They’re even erasing our history to prove it. And what they pretend to fear about us turns out to be true of themselves: Fellow Americans are more dangerous than jihad; they’ve imposed their vision on us more rapidly.
While canceling everything we once knew — from Dr. Seuss books to Clarence Thomas documentaries to PBS’s Juan Williams (for working with Fox News), all while a two-tier justice system takes root (one for Democrats and the other for Republicans), their president wants to make healthier states subsidize nuttier ones now in shambles (what spurred Yugoslavia’s dissolution in the first place, when Melania Trump’s native Slovenia got tired of footing the bill for Kosovo).
Sound-minded states need to start strategizing with other majority-sane states on how to form a more perfect union, or at least flee this sinking ship one by one. This is no more and no less than what we’ve abetted, over and over, elsewhere on the globe, creating small states that are more vulnerable to conquest by larger powers. For all the borderlessness-lovers’ hatred of the nation-state, they’ll have inspired up to an unwieldy 50 more.
One oft-cited con of breaking up the country is the resulting reduction of our might as a military power. But if one considers how destructive our recent engagements around the globe have been — how misused our military — a more humble foreign policy wouldn’t be the worst thing, especially as we get taken into the most self-destructive war yet, by a madman bent on proving his mental virility.
• Julia Gorin was a Soviet refusenik who came to the U.S. in 1976. She is editor of “Hillarisms: The Unmaking of the First Female President.”