It’s not impossible to dislike Joe Biden and despise Vladimir Putin at the same time. In fact, this is—or ought to be—the default conservative position as we witness the horrors the Russian strongman is unleashing on Ukraine while Biden makes Jimmy Carter look like a successful president.
Putin can blame “neo-Nazis” and “drug addicts” all day but the fact is, he instigated the troubles in Ukraine’s east that he is now using as a pretext for unprovoked war on a people who have enjoyed more and more freedom since the Soviet Union’s collapse. His “little green men” troops instigate instability in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.
Ukraine looks to the free West both because we represent genuine human rights (unlike Russia) and because they remember what Russians have done to Ukraine over the centuries. They know about Stalin’s Holodomor. They know Russia as a giant bootheel poised to crush their freedoms and lives.
Putin started this war, which he had been planning to do since at least 2013, according to Russia experts. This is simply a fact. Anything Putin says now is an excuse or a lie, or both.
You don’t need to be a neocon collecting pieces of John Bolton’s mustache to recognize what Putin is.
We can debate why he struck now, but I believe the evidence supports the position that Putin invaded Ukraine because Joe Biden has spent his first year in office being weak and weakening the United States. He reduced America from energy independence to dependence by canceling the Keystone XL pipeline and pausing oil and gas leases on federal land. Then when gas prices spiked Biden went, hat in hand, to OPEC and Russia begging them to pump more oil. Biden has insulted American history and sent the military off on divisive witch hunts for “extremists” while both Russia and China rise to challenge the United States. Biden is keeping the federal government’s and woke capital’s boot on the neck of U.S. energy producers. All of that is true and it has weakened America.
The Kremlin watched Biden’s “Reno 911!”-style evacuation of Afghanistan.
Putin saw this, and he decided now is the time, the United States will never be weaker in his lifetime than it is right now, and he invaded Ukraine without justification.
He has no justice in mind, no purge of actual threats. Vladimir Putin is an old Soviet hand from the worst old days when the KGB was a genuine international threat. The Soviet Union may be gone, for now at least, but it never died in Putin’s mind. Screaming “America First!” on repeat doesn’t make that fact untrue. Experts on the Russian dictator concur that, first, he’s a ruthless and brutal thug who heads a mafia-style government. From a Western and especially from a conservative point of view, Putin truly has no redeeming qualities. Sure, every once in a while he’ll call out the woke, but that’s a psyop, not what he really thinks. He’s just trying to design appeals to divide an already divided America and create confusion.
So far, he can’t manage a lot. Under his corrupt, authoritarian, paranoid leadership, Russia is bogged down in Ukraine battling against what is, on paper, an inferior military force. Ukraine’s military is chewing up Russia’s armor and infantry, though, doing the world a favor while it also saves its people. Putin cannot rebuild the old Soviet Union if he can’t even cross Ukraine. If Russia wasn’t so deeply and hopelessly corrupt, and if Putin hadn’t elevated mafia cronies such as Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to his government’s highest positions, he might have already won in Ukraine.
Let’s discuss Shoigu for a second. Putin installed him atop Russia’s military man, but Shoigu has no military experience. He was a minor paper-pushing functionary in the Communist Party during the Soviet days who won Putin’s trust and is now installed into power because Putin wants him there. Like Putin and the other members of his paranoid claustrophobic inner circle, Shoigu wants to see the Soviet Union restored. The invasion of Ukraine is an attempt to start that. Just a reminder to my conservative friends who weren’t there, the Soviet Union sucked. It was truly awful. Our hero, Ronald Reagan, called it the “evil empire” for good reason. He was right.
Putin wants it taken off the ash heap of history and restored to its former menacing glory. He wants to dominate at America’s expense. No one should twist themselves into an intellectual pretzel to make excuses for Putin in his Ukrainian misadventure, even if you think Biden is a dummy.