What's with all the Putin Love?
Tucker Carlson's Kremlin fawning has some surprising followers
I have done my best not to watch Tucker Carlson’s paean to Furry Life starring Vladimir Putin. I figured people would see it for what it is: Carlson’s sad attempt to worm his way back into relevance after his defenestration from Fox News. Defenestration is also one of Putin’s qualities—ask any of his generals. What I didn’t count on is the number of people who fell for it.
For example, Pastor Mark Driscoll tweeted “No matter what your thoughts are on Putin, I think we can all agree we need a leader who loves this country as much as he loves his.”
I don’t know quite where to begin here. Maybe I can start with what “we can all agree” means, because I don’t think Driscoll has a clue what he thinks he’s agreeing to. But I think I’ll start with “loves his country,” because Vladimir Putin does not love the Russia he rules as a dictator. He doesn’t love it; he doesn’t even like it a little bit. What Putin loves is the USSR, and he has made it his life’s mission to recreate the former superpower that created him.
Sadly for Putin, putting the Soviet Union back together has quite a few major difficulties, chief among them NATO. Specifically, NATO Article 5, meaning any attack on one NATO country is considered an attack on all NATO countries. In the history of NATO, this section has only been used one time, and the recipient was the United States after 9/11. The U.S., despite keeping troops in Europe continuously for 80 years, has never had to fight a war there in defense of a NATO country under Article 5. We lost more troops fighting under the NATO flag in Kosovo than we have in Germany “fighting” the Soviets.
The reason NATO was created was to contain the former Soviet Union. After the fall of the USSR in 1991, perhaps, if the Russian Federation, then Russia, had decided to remain part of the law-abiding world, NATO could have been disbanded. In the heady days of max-EU-hype, it seemed like NATO was an anachronism that was no longer needed. But as all things tend to do in the world, Russia retreated to a baseline and fell in, first with a drunken clown, then a Tsar.
In 1992, Boris Yeltsin led a 20-month war to occupy Transnistria, then a part of Moldova. There’s not much left in Transnistria, and the Russians still occupy it, which means there’s been nothing done to improve the place in the last 32 years. Only two other places in the world even recognize Transnistria—South Ossetia and Abkhazia, themselves unrecognized breakaway regions of Georgia (and both occupied by Russia).
Yeltsin moved on from occupying breakaway regions of Georgia to Chechnya, which was a much harder nut to crack. Russia lost between 5,000 and 14,000 troops between 1994 and 1996 before signing a ceasefire. In 1999, Yeltsin once again tried to quell independence for Chechnya, but he resigned on December 31 of that year, handing the government over to the current Tsar, Putin. Once again, Russia lost between 7,300 and 14,000 troops in a 10 year war, laying waste to Groznyi and finally achieving control.
As Chechnya was winding down, Putin turned his eyes on Georgia, launching from the occupied South Ossetia and Abhkazia regions. In 2014, Russia’s “little green men” faked a plebiscite where Crimea’s populace decided to cede itself to Russia from Ukraine. The U.S. and NATO watched, doing nothing. In 2015, Russia assisted the butcher Bashar al-Assad to lay waste to entire cities in Syria, as the Arab Spring overthrew strongmen in other countries. With Russian support, al-Assad held on to power, and rules the place to this day.
And of course, in 2022, Russia launched a massive assault on Ukraine, to take the rest of the country. All these moves have been in an effort to put the USSR back together again, oblast by oblast. If you see a pattern here, it’s because there is a definite pattern. Russia takes a small bite, occupying one or more so-called “breakaway” republics. Then, using those as a base of operations (and after replacing the local population with loyal Russians), it swallows the whole. Concepts like international laws governing warfare, avoiding civilian casualties, or not laying complete waste to population centers are cast aside as polite niceties unsuited for Russian warfare.
Russia, under Putin, plays the long game. A 10-year war with Ukraine isn’t outside their timeline, and even if Putin dies, he has hand-picked successors ready to continue the war. There’s no shortage of former KGB and other revanchists who pine for the days of the mighty Soviet Union. Communism, not so much, but communism was always merely a means to an end—the glory of the Russian Empire, under the red flag of the Soviet Union.
In the midst of this war, the U.S. and other NATO countries (specifically, financial aid, training, ammunition and weapons systems) have been a major thorn in Russia’s side, forcing it to take massive casualties just to hold the land it now occupies—a giant swath of Ukraine, including the Donbas. But warfare is fought by more than just conscripts thrown into the grinder. Disinformation is its own domain. Putin got to tell his carefully crafted story directly to the American public, aided by Tucker Carlson, who went with the blessing of his new boss Elon Musk—the same Elon Musk who cut Starlink service from critical parts of the Ukrainian battlefield because he suddenly caught Peacenik fever.
The “sincere” lies were piled, high and deep. and people here are falling for it. Enter Mark Driscoll, who seems about as good as any random celebrity among the evangelical set.
About Driscoll: in 1996 he founded Mars Hill Church in Seattle, from which he was forced to resign in 2014 due to allegations of him being a toxic leader in a toxic workplace. Driscoll has published around 32 books, many of which became bestsellers due to his celebrity (and feeding that celebrity). When challenged on his take regarding Putin’s love for his country, and our need for that kind of leader, he answered that he’s “on my way” to move to Moscow. Moscow! Apparently that’s where love of country and American conservative values now lives. What in the world is going on?
Sane, thinking people are puzzled and dismayed.
My former colleague when we wrote for The Resurgent, Gabriella Hoffman, tweeted she’s “getting Walter Duranty vibes here” about Carlson’s continual stanning for Putin, even while Carlson pretends to deny it. Here’s an example of the hot garbage coming out of Carlson:
Later, the propagandist told how he liked Moscow and compared it to American cities: "It was a shock to me that Moscow, where I had never been before, the largest European city with 13 million people, was much nicer than any city in my country. I had no idea about that. It is much cleaner, safer, and prettier aesthetically. Its architecture, food, services are better than any city in the United States."
Hoffman, who is Jewish, and from a family that fled the Soviet empire, has caught quite a bit of hate from the Putin lovers. It all makes sense that those who embrace Putin’s style of “love” don’t share it with Jews.
In his monologue with Carlson sitting alongside, Putin spent an hour spieling about 800 years of Russian history, which at times evoked the memory of Rocky and Bullwinkle’s Fractured Fairy Tales, weaving a story of Russian victimhood encompassing all the nations he now wants to conquer. He expertly mixed just enough truth in with a bucket of lies to perk the ears of conspiracists eager to satisfy their own crooked beliefs.
Anyone with even a modicum of knowledge about World War II and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact can easily refute Putin’s assertion that somehow Poland was collaborating with the Nazis (to destroy their own country). If you can possibly find a better-armed, more ferocious foe against Russian expansionism than Poland, you would have to look at Finland, I suppose. But none of that really matters, because Putin’s play is against Americans who think he’s conservative and supportive of the same values they have.
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They are so wrong, but again, that doesn’t matter, because the King of the Know-Nothings, Donald J. Trump, wants to be president again, and is just fine throwing shade to America’s European allies while giving Putin a thumbs-up. USA Today reported Monday:
“One of the presidents of a big country stood up and said, ‘Well sir, if we don’t pay and we’re attacked by Russia, will you protect us?’ I said, ‘You didn’t pay? You’re delinquent?’ He said, ‘Yes, let’s say that happened.’ No, I would not protect you."
Trump then added: "In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want."
First, NATO doesn’t work that way. There’s no “dues,” only a target obligation for nations to try to spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense (against Russia!). Russia spends 4.1% of its GDP on its military—that’s a bigger chunk than either the U.S. or China. The Russians intend to spend $160 billion on their military somewhere between 2023 and 2024—they stopped publishing budget numbers in mid-2023.
A couple of other things that don’t work the way Trump says (and he was POTUS for four years, so he should know). First, NATO doesn’t really exist without the United States. Russia has nuclear weapons, lots and lots of them. The U.S. is the only nation on earth (not even China) that can mount a reasonable deterrent against Russia should a war not go Putin’s way. Russia possesses thousands of low-yield battlefield nukes. If the U.S. wasn’t backstopping NATO as an Article 5 partner, very little could stop Putin from exercising nuclear blackmail and hegemony.
Also, America is the only nation on earth that possesses long-range logistics to project power anywhere in the world, and quickly. There is literally no hot spot we can’t reach. Without America, NATO is an empty shell. Oh, it can fight without us, but without America, it’s reduced to a one-front-at-a-time army.
Should Trump get in to power and act on his threat, to “encourage them to do whatever the hell they want,” that would essentially mean NATO is dissolved. Once dissolved, the ties that bind nations like Turkey to the U.K., or Germany to Estonia will not be restored. Putin could roll right in to Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. He could cut off Poland from the Baltics and Belarus from the Russian stronghold of Kaliningrad. And there would be no Article 5 to stop him.
Before even that happens, Putin might win (ahead of schedule) a ceasefire or treaty in Ukraine, due to the lack of American support that our Congress—specifically Republicans in the House of Representatives—refuse to provide. This would free up an enormous amount of Russian equipment and troops from that front, allowing them to deploy elsewhere. Even Poland may not be able to survive a renewed Russian army, if NATO was not there to support them.
So when Putin speaks his lies about Russian history, and the unification of Slavic people under the Russian flag, and a large number of American people believe it, or at least believe he’s being sincere (a KGB officer is never sincere), that creates an incredibly dangerous situation for Europe. You may not think you care about Europe’s fate, but you should. Putin, or whoever succeeds him, with access to the breadbasket of Ukraine, and free navigation in the Black Sea, buttressed by friendly relations with Turkey, which identifies more with Putin than the West, is nothing less than the recreation of the halcyon days of the Soviet Union’s Sputnik glory.
And if you think Russian dominance of Europe is a good thing, then the ghosts of Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard M. Nixon, Gerald R. Ford, and Ronald W. Reagan will haunt your life. (Jimmy Carter still lives or he’d join them.) The consequences of America’s pull-out will be world-altering and terrible.
Germany will have to make its own deal. Poland will be threatened. And the nuclear armed resurgent superpower will be a threat to our nation—a threat we spent decades defeating. Thirty years of Russian war tells us exactly what will come.
Why do people listen to Putin? Why does Tucker Carlson think he’s accomplishing anything good here? Why is Elon Musk jumping on the conspiracy bandwagon? Who in their right mind wants to join the Putin Love movement?
Apparently, a lot of people do. It’s time we killed off this poisoned love affair.