When Hitler raided his neighbors in Europe eighty years ago, he found an ally in the US, said William Saletan in The Bulwark (Washington, DC). That ally was Charles Coughlin, a popular radio host who defended the Nazis and opposed America’s entry into the war, arguing that the US enlistment movement was a Jewish conspiracy. “Today a new demagogue has taken Coughlin’s mantle: Fox News host Tucker Carlson.”
The current leading conservative pundit had previously – repeatedly – downplayed Russia’s aggression and insisted it was none of the US’s business. This from the same man who called Canada “abolished democracy” by arresting some anti-vaccination protesters, Max Boot said The Washington Post.
Unfortunately, Carlson is not alone. His views are shared by many other America Firsters, including Donald Trump, who was still praising Vladimir Putin when Russian troops invaded Ukraine last week, calling his moves “brilliant.”
Those conservatives might as well have pinned “I’m with Vlad” badges to their lapels, said David Corn Mother Jones (San Francisco). Consumed by hatred of Joe Biden and him confronting Putin, they feel compelled to defend Putin and trash-talk Biden — insisting that Trump would have handled this crisis far better.
That’s an absurd claim given the record of Trump’s cowardly interactions with the Russian leader and the way his divisive approach undermined NATO. When the Kremlin launched a covert attack on the US election in 2016, Trump made no fuss. In fact, he encouraged Russian hackers to target Hillary Clinton. And since then he has hardly spoken a critical word against Putin.
Trump’s praise for Putin’s “clever” tactics in Ukraine is shameful, Rich Lowry said in the New York Post. But perhaps he was right when he claimed that the Russian attack on Ukraine “never happened” during his tenure. It is certainly notable that Putin’s two invasions of Ukraine – in 2014 and today – occurred during the tenure of Trump’s Democratic predecessor and successor. “Trump’s unpredictability and sensitivity to slights and threats would certainly have made Putin think twice before attempting his current move.”
For all his heartfelt words, Trump took a pretty tough approach to Moscow during his tenure. He armed Ukraine, which the Obama administration refused to do; he railed against the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Germany; and urged Europeans to spend more on defense – “none of which were welcome to Putin”.
There’s an argument that at times like this, people should put party politics aside, Dan McLaughlin said in National Review (New York). I disagree: there is nothing wrong with denouncing the failure of leaders to deal appropriately with bad men. Our history of the Second World War is “full of criticism of people other than Hitler, without for a moment absolving Hitler of his moral responsibility”.
But the sad truth is that few US politicians emerge well from our dealings with Putin, dating back to his 2008 war with Georgia. One who is doing well is Republican Mitt Romney. When he ran for president in 2012, he described Russia as “without a doubt our number one geopolitical enemy.” For this he was greatly mocked. “The 1980s are now calling to reclaim their foreign policy,” Barack Obama said, “because the Cold War has been over for 20 years.” Romney referenced this phrase in his statement on the Ukraine crisis last week, saying, “The 80s have called and we didn’t answer.” Romney certainly has “a claim to his I-got-it-it-it-it-it-it-it-it-it-it-it-it-it-I- said”.
https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/world-news/us/955955/im-with-vlad-who-are-the-us-conservatives-praising-putin ‘I’m with Vlad’: who are the US conservatives praising Putin?