“Gas stations are now running out of fuel after this Russian-linked cyberattack that shut down America’s biggest pipeline,” Sean Hannity blustered on his Fox News show. “Joe, what are you going to do about Vladimir Putin?” the once-tolerable host egged on, as Democrats used to do to President Trump.
“The implications [of] this for our national security cannot be overstated,” said Sen. Bill Cassidy, Louisiana Republican. He then cheerfully said, “And I promise you this is something Republicans and Democrats can work together on.”
One reciprocating Democrat was Rep. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri: “You will find, I hope, Republicans and Democrats alike outraged at the audacity of a foreign actor trying to disrupt our economy.”
Both were featured in a bipartisanship-showcasing clip by Fox News anchor Trace Gallagher, who, in his dispassionate way, was stoking the embers when he asked his panel, “What if we find out that this is closer to Moscow than anybody thinks right now?”
Former Biden campaign surrogate Kevin Walling replied, “Then heaven help Putin and the Kremlin in regards to this attack.” Former Bush White House Chief Information Officer Theresa Payton joined the kumbaya for war with this staple: “Even if … not connected to Putin, he’s probably not disappointed to see American infrastructure struggling.”
The only semblance of reason seemed to come from President Biden himself. Usually a chest-thumper when it comes to Eastern European straw men, Mr. Biden said, “I’m going to be meeting with President Putin, and so far there is no evidence … that Russia is involved, although there is evidence that the actors’ ransomware is in Russia.”
It was a deft straddle. One discerns a bit of guidance from Barack Obama, whom journalist Glenn Greenwald recently reminded had been subjected to “a huge bipartisan pressure campaign … to send lethal arms to Ukraine. … Russia was almost twice destroyed in the 20th century, [so you] see the crucial importance of Ukraine to Russia, but Obama’s point was correct, which was it has no crucial importance to us, so why would we want to risk a confrontation with a nuclear power over Ukraine?
“And I think the reason people don’t question it is they’re afraid that if you stand up and say, ‘It’s not worth U.S. lives, U.S. treasure … to protect Ukraine from Moscow, you get accused of … serving Russian interests, and that’s become a very powerful political weapon that shapes our discourse and is affecting all aspects of our policy.”
So far, Mr. Obama’s elderly protege seems to be rebuffing Ukraine’s latest request for weapons. NBC.com reported on April 22 that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba “said it was urgent that his country receive further military assistance from the U.S. before it was too late. Ukraine has also asked for more intelligence-sharing. … A U.S. defense official said there had been no decision to provide Ukraine additional weapons or other military aid.”
The fact that our deployment of two destroyers to the Black Sea was turned around — at which point Russia announced the end of the “drills” at the Ukrainian border that left Western officials “scrambling to decipher what Moscow might have been planning” (self-defense against our “drills” nearby?) — is encouraging. As is Mr. Biden’s opting for expanded sanctions over war and an invitation to Mr. Putin for talks next month. (The latter “has been hinting very strongly that he wants negotiations,” Stephen Bryen affirmed in Asia Times.)
Less encouraging is that we’ll be deploying an additional 500 troops to Germany, thereby reversing the planned withdrawal under the Trump administration of thousands of troops. As is the administration’s sudden dropping of the Wilson Center’s Matthew Rojansky, whom Mr. Biden had “planned to bring on board [as] a very senior specialist on Russia … after outcries from the anti-Russian mafia in Washington and from the anti-Russian Ukrainian political community in the U.S.” that he’s too soft on Russia, Mr. Bryen said.
It won’t be the first time that ethnic lobbies persuaded America to fight rivalries in the motherland while getting Congress to convince Americans that being against it is “anti-American.” Recall the triple war of the 1990s that we signed on to, thanks to Croatian, Bosnian and Albanian lobbies and campaign contributions despite the persistent World War II fascism problem each of these had.
Herewith, an uncannily parallel Jewish Telegraphic Agency item this month: “Hundreds of Ukrainians attended marches celebrating Nazi SS soldiers, including the first such event in Kyiv. The so-called Embroidery March took place … on April 28, the 78th anniversary of the establishment of the 14th Waffen Grenadier Division. … The marchers held banners displaying the unit’s symbol. … Such actions were taboo in Ukraine until the early 2000s, when nationalists demanded and obtained state recognition for collaborators as heroes for their actions against the Soviet Union. … [T]he collaborators’ popularity has soared following the 2014 war with Russia.”
Speaking of embroidery, it all happened no sooner than Foreign Minister Kuleba wove a tale of two systems. He said the recent Russian buildup was “taking place not only along the border of Ukraine, but along the border of the democratic world. … This is the struggle that is taking place — between democracies and authoritarianism — and in this struggle the support of the United States is absolutely crucial.”
As the latest frame-up of Russia dissolves and we look for the next one — the one to finally be that “spark” that will give our frothing generals their release — what’s to stop the Pentagon from using the tried-and-true method of a false-flag scenario? The summit is still weeks away. At the rate we’ve been going, we could squeeze in at least a few.
• Julia Gorin was a child refusenik, and is editor of the humor volume “Hillarisms: The Unmaking of the First Female President.”
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