More Pain in Ukraine

Why this sudden return of Democrats' desire to right wrongs?

Vladimir Putin is a bad man: to begin with.  There is no doubt whatever about that.

How could it be otherwise?  So far as we are aware, history tells us that Russia has never been ruled by what one might call a "good person."

This is not to say that Russia hasn't had good rulers, as in, good and effective for the nation, which is not at all the same thing.  Peter the Great and Catherine the Great earned their monikers and left Russia far better than they found it in many objective ways, but they were ruthless in killing as many people as they felt they had to in order to reach their objectives.

If you'd asked us about Putin a few months ago, we might have put him in the same category.  Did the Vlad of 2021 kill people?  Sure he did - by ones and twos.  That's nothing compared to the hundreds of millions of Stalin and Mao, the single-digit millions of any other Communist leader, the (at least) hundreds of thousands of any of the Czars.

No doubt there have been Russian rulers with a lower death toll, but that's only because of their short tenure.  Given his length of time at the top, it's virtually certain that General/Prime Minister/President-for-Life Putin had by far the lowest average annual death toll of any ruler modern Russia has ever had.

In fact, even including the carnage of his Ukraine war, that may very well still be true.  Does this mean we like Mr. Putin?  No, it does not.

Until this year, though, there seemed to be no reason why we couldn't rub along with him.  There are vastly worse leaders than he in the world.

Pound for pound, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddaffi were much more bloodthirsty and tyrannical - yet, when the world found itself without them, it was noticeably worse off.  Perhaps monsters like Hussein and Qaddaffi are actually the least bad sort of ruler their barbaric cultures can support.  If you believe otherwise, as George W. Bush did, feel free to present the slightest scrap of evidence that you're right!  You might earn a legitimate Nobel Peace Prize.

It seems to us that Russia is somewhere in between.  Russian history, culture, geography, education, and politics don't really support being a giant version of the Netherlands.  But there's no reason they're fated to be a Stalinist genocide or African-style kleptocratic dystopia either, as Mr. Putin was well on his way to demonstrating.

He, like Peter and Catherine before him, had every opportunity to leave Russia better off than he found it - which, given the complete collapse after the fall of Communism, should have been both enough of a challenge as well as not being an impossible one.

But no, he had to go and invade Ukraine.  What, is Russia not big enough already?  Sure, Russia wants a warm-weather seaport, always has, but he stole the Crimea last decade.  Sure, nobody wants to have a large enemy on their immediate borders, but if Russia was afraid of NATO, Joe Biden's debacle in Afghanistan should have been vastly reassuring.  If we can be run out of town by a gang of goatherding savages after twenty years of fighting, there's no way we're getting involved in any other land war in Asia, much less with a nuclear-armed power.

Instead of being remembered as Putin the Great, Mr. Putin has now created a large and bitterly hostile enemy on his border.  Ukraine may not have been a Russian puppet state, but there was no particular war fever on their part until this year.  Now there's nothing but, and given the ineffective but random and extreme destruction the shockingly incompetent Red Army has visited on that poor nation, that fever will be a long time in cooling if ever.

We sympathize with the people of Ukraine who did nothing worthy of being invaded.  We sympathize with the people of Russia who don't seem to have had any particular desire for this invasion, and even now know little of what's really going on.  We admire Zelenksyy, who's turned out to be an astonishingly effective war leader and manipulator of Western public opinion, which is exactly what you'd expect and want from a leader of a smallish state being invaded by a large one.

But that leads us to a point often forgot: we, ourselves, are not Ukrainian.  While it is right for us to care, and appropriate for us to help them in the righteous cause of defending their own nation from invaders, what makes this our fight?  What vital American interests stand in the balance?

Is Zelenksyy a murderous psychopath or a Nazi?  Certainly not so far as we know.  Are he and his countrymen avatars of Mother Theresa?  No, not that either, as Joe Biden has millions of crisp green reasons to know, amply proven by the evidence on Hunter Biden's laptop now freely available to all Americans in the Congressional Record, yet still magically invisible to the FBI.

The truth is, Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, as amply reported and documented by no less an august authority than the New York Times - though they seem to have conveniently forgot their own award-winning journalism the moment a war broke out.

Does this mean that the Ukrainians deserve to be slaughtered by Russian tanks?  Of course not, but there are countless millions of human beings who don't deserve to be slaughtered by fill-in-the-blank bad guys, and we don't want to be running all over the planet righting wrongs everywhere, do we?  What is special about Ukraine in particular, other than their great generosity to the Biden crime family?

Wasn't it just yesterday that the Democrats were arguing that American wasn't supposed to be the world's police?  Why, yes, yes, it was.  How quickly times change!

If there is to be military action, it is the proper purview of the nations of Europe - not exactly poor themselves.  There's nothing wrong with us selling the Ukrainians weapons, or even giving them some of our older kit - it might even save us money by clearing it out of our warehouses.

But, contra Sleepy Joe's bladder-voiding pronouncements, America soldiers have no business in this fight.  Donate to humanitarian relief agencies, by all means; go yourself, if you're so inclined.  And if Mr. Putin sees fit to attack the United States or one of our treaty allies, we'll be glad to revisit this position post haste.

Until that time - may it never come! - the only possible result of our meddling in Ukraine would be yet more power placed in the hands of already power-mad Democrats and bureaucrats.  Because, isn't that what always happens whenever America gets in a war overseas, as Woodrow Wilson demonstrated to the everlasting benefit of his party?  Why would any conservative want that?

Petrarch is a contributing editor for Scragged.  Read other articles by Petrarch or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

Putin has actually destroyed Russia and given it over to the Chinese.
Here is how: First he took out a large loan from China to start the war. He also signed a deal to sell a huge amount of coal to China at a 20% discount. Europe wants to buy energy elsewhere so Russia will be selling gas and oil to China soon, probably again at a large discount to keep that loan afloat. Russia will come to depend on China much more than is prudent. And there is one more thing. China lacks women. Approximately 1 million Chinese have settled in Eastern Russia often marring a Russian woman. Remember, Russia's GNP is about that of Italy. China will soon completely control Russia like they control N. Korea.

April 4, 2022 6:28 AM

He COULD have been Putin the Great, to be sure, but Mr. Putin's war crimes will certainly mar his legacy even more.

April 5, 2022 3:53 AM

The swamp needs a war to take our minds off of how badly we have been misgoverned. Even lefty publications are noticing. Consider:

Why so many predictions were wrong

On February 1, 2021, just after the inauguration of Joe Biden, the U.S. had registered, according to The Economist, 178 excess deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, quite close to Britain's 166, Belgium's 162, and Portugal's 201. Fast-forward a year and those gaps have exploded. The U.S. has now registered 330 excess deaths per 100,000 - meaning our total has roughly doubled. In Britain, the excess mortality grew only 30 percent; in Portugal, it was 17 percent.

The gaps between deaths in the U.S. and countries that had done better in the first year of the pandemic, like Germany or Iceland, have gotten even bigger. If the U.S. had the same cumulative excess mortality of Germany, it would have had 600,000 fewer deaths. If it had the excess mortality of Iceland, it would have had a million fewer deaths - and would have only lost about 100,000 Americans in total.

The MSM ignored the Johns Hopkins study which showed that the lockdown had VERY little effect on covid while trashing our economy and leading to many unnecessary deaths. Can't have people thinking about that!

April 15, 2022 8:54 PM
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