The opening sentence of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina defines two types of families; “Happy families are all the same; Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Today politics has all kinds of unhappy families. This tragedy affects the extremes of right and left – and, surprisingly, the political center as well.
His political unease stems from Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, which has turned some time-honoured political truths on their head. The left in particular is struggling to reconcile its traditional anti-war stance with Putin’s murderous war in Ukraine.
However, Ireland’s ‘Putin Proxy of the Year’ award must go to our duo from the European Parliament, Daly and Wallace. Their default position is to blame others – mainly NATO – for Putin’s actions. You have consistently voted against EU Parliament motions condemning the invasion of Ukraine. No wonder her speeches are repeatedly played in Putin’s state media.
When President Zelensky addressed the Oireachtas and received a standing ovation, some left-wing prophets, notably Boyd Barrett and his extended political family, declined the applause. They justified this by blaming NATO for the war—an argument dangerously close to victim-blaming.
Seeing the changing winds of public opinion, Sinn Féin has recently indulged in a bit of historical airbrushing. Presumably to help itself — and the rest of us — forget the years it spent flattering Putin, the party has reportedly “simply deleted thousands of embarrassing statements from its website,” according to media reports.
Some of the “stale content” that Sinn Féin deleted was a statement from their foreign policy spokesman that NATO “must be dissolved.” That was in 2014, when Putin illegally annexed Crimea and effectively took control of much of eastern Ukraine.
Anti-American impulses are ingrained for many on the left, and their unconscious political reflexes lead to Pavlovian pro-Putin and anti-Nato reactions. Jeremy Corbyn’s Stop the War coalition typifies this trend.
The former British Labor leader claims that British shipments of military equipment to Ukraine “have no other purpose than to inflame tensions and show disdain for Russian concerns”.
While Ukrainian civilians are being murdered en masse, Corbyn’s touching preoccupation with “Russian affairs” seems remarkably callous.
Recent “stop the war” statements have even claimed that Ukraine has no sovereign right to “join NATO.” She has argued that one cause of the Ukrainian war was “major wars of aggression by the US, Britain and other NATO powers.” Such sentiments firmly place Stop the War on the side of Putin’s imperialist aggression in Ukraine.
But it’s not just the radical left’s support for Putin that is under scrutiny. Marine Le Pen – the far-right candidate in the French presidential election – supported Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and also opposed subsequent sanctions imposed by the West. Coincidentally, 2014 was also the year that Le Pen secured a €11 million Russian loan for her indebted party.
But nowhere have accusations of putting Putin in the pocket been more politically toxic than in the US.
Within 24 hours of invading Ukraine, Donald Trump called it an act of “genius”. Making matters worse, he continued, “This is the strongest peacekeeping force I’ve ever seen… Here’s a guy who’s very smart… I know him very well. Very very good.” Trump’s former strategist Steve Bannon has used his influential podcast to deride and ridicule Zelensky’s efforts to rally support for his beleaguered people. Bannon opposes the US supplying arms to Ukraine, and claims that this would only prolong the war, instead urging “peace negotiations”: effectively a surrender of Ukraine to Putin.
But the biggest dilemma created by the Ukraine war concerns Germany’s political elite. Her complicity with Putin’s regime is epitomized by Gerhard Schröder, who moved effortlessly from the German chancellery to chairman of Nord Stream 2 and onto the boards of Gazprom and Rosneft – well-paid Russian sinecures he still holds.
Germany has blocked sanctions, refused to tolerate an oil embargo and freaked out with arms sales to Ukraine. Chancellor Scholz initially claimed he was constitutionally forbidden from providing weapons and instead delivered 5,000 helmets – to which Ukrainian social media replied: “Did you forget the pillows?”
Under heavy pressure, Scholz finally agreed to send the heavy weapons requested. However, last week it emerged from documents released by the tabloid picture that Scholz had secretly removed all these weapons from the Ukrainian shopping list. Faced with a revolt by his lower-level government partners and a humiliating defeat in parliament, Scholz relented and agreed to ship the arms.
There is an unfortunate pattern in all of this. Germany, Europe’s political and economic powerhouse, has clearly gained a foothold with Putin and has now been caught cheating on a country struggling for its very survival – neither of which reflects well on Germany or the EU.
Meanwhile, Britain has bent over backwards to supply Ukraine with sophisticated anti-tank weapons (manufactured primarily in Belfast). It is an irony that cannot be forgotten that when it mattered most, Brexit Britain, a non-EU state, was prepared to unequivocally support the most fundamental of European values – the right of a state to exist.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/putin-apologists-are-only-extending-this-war-with-their-speeches-and-posturing-41626170.html Putin apologists are only prolonging this war with their speeches and antics