March 26, 2023

Putin and the Right’s Potency Problem. Read Paul Krugman’s column – International

Democracy – imperfect like all nations, but aspiring to be part of the free world – is being invaded by its much larger neighbour, an infamous dictatorship that commits mass atrocities. Contrary to expectations, Democracy fends off an offensive that was expected to succeed within days, resists steadfastly, and even regains control of territory during the months of brutal fighting that follow.

How could any average American, a citizen of a nation that defines itself as a beacon of freedom, not be rooted in Ukraine in this war?

It continues after the announcement

But even so, there are important factions in American politics — a small group on the left, a much larger bloc on the right — that not only oppose Western aid to Ukraine, but also want to see clearly. Russia Wins. And my question about The first anniversary of the Russian invasion Is: beyond the support of the right Russian President Vladimir Putin?

Alexander Nemenov/AFP

Many people on the right equate being strong with being an arrogant tough guy.

And Putin is not the only foreign despot the American right loves. Hungarian Victor Urban He became a conservative icon and keynote speaker at meetings of the Conservative Political Action Committee, which even organized one of its conferences in Budapest.

But the conservatives’ admiration for Orbán, I’m sorry to tell them, makes sense given the aims of the right. If you want your country to become a bastion of white nationalism and social illiberalism, democracy on paper but a one-party state in practice, the transformation that Orbán brought about in Hungary Provides a roadmap. And that, of course, is what many members of the modern Republican Party want.

But Orban, as far as I know, is not the subject of a right-wing personality cult. How many American conservatives know your personality?

By contrast, Putin is very much the subject of a personality cult not only within Russia but also within the American right — and for many years. And this cult is very scary in this sense. For example, in 2014, a columnist for National Review compared Putin riding a shirtless horse to the then-president’s golf outfit. Barack Obama.

Until the invasion of Ukraine, Putinphilia went hand in hand with excessive praise for Russia’s supposed military effectiveness. The most famous of them is in 2021 Ted Cruz A video has been released comparing a Russian military recruitment ad that featured a muscular man doing macho things with an ad highlighting diversity among recruits in the US military. “Maybe a weak, tattered soldier isn’t the best idea,” Cruz declared.

What is the basis for this poutine praise? I would argue that, for many people on the right, being strong means being an arrogant macho who scoffs at anything — like openness of mind and respect for diversity — that might get in the way. Putin was his ideal of what a strong man should look like, and Russia, with its strong military vision, was his ideal of a strong country.

It should have been clear from the start that this worldview was completely wrong. National strength in the modern world is mainly based on economic strength and technological ability, not military strength.

But then came the invasion, and it turns out that unmimicking and anti-nursing Russia isn’t even good at waging wars.

Why did the Russian army fail so spectacularly? Because modern wars are not won by muscular men flexing their muscles. They are won primarily by logistics, technology, and intelligence (in both the military and the ordinary sense)—elements that show Russia weak and Ukraine surprisingly strong. (Not only thanks to the West’s weapons, though they are amazingly effective; the Ukrainians have also shown a real knack for “MacGyver” solutions to their military needs.)

Just to be clear, wars are still an infernal thing and cannot be won, even with the use of superior weaponry, without tremendous courage and perseverance – qualities which Ukrainian men and women alike have shown to possess in remarkable abundance.

Speaking of courage, am I the only one who is struck by the contrast between the President’s bold visit Joe Biden To Kiev and the way the former chief was Donald Trump You ran into the White House bunker in front of unarmed protesters in Lafayette Square?

But let’s go back to the war. The key to understanding the right’s growing anger at Ukraine is recognizing that Russia’s defeats not only show that the leader they handed over has feet of clay, but also that their whole macho view of the nature of power is wrong. And it is difficult for them to accept this.

This explains why some of Putin’s top supporters in the United States continue to insist that Ukraine is indeed losing. Tucker Carlson claimed on August 29, days before Ukraine’s many victories, that Putin was “winning the war in Ukraine”. There is still a lot of talk about a large-scale Russian offensive this winter. However, the truth is that this offensive is already under way, but, as one Ukrainian official put it, has made so little progress that “many people don’t see it.”

None of this means that Russia will not be able to eventually invade Ukraine. However, if that happens, it will be in part because Putin’s American fans will have to cut back on crucial aid. And if that happens, it will be because the American right doesn’t support the idea of ​​a world where sleazy doesn’t mean weak, and men with macho attitudes are, in fact, losers. / Translation by Guilherme Rousseau