We Must Stop the Putin-Worshipping Republicans From Undermining US Support for Ukraine!

Until a few days ago, the small, whiny Presidency-seeking autocrat who has repeatedly shown his contempt for democracy and for nearly all of his Florida constituents had suddenly joined other far-right Republicans in spouting newly convicted war criminal Vladimir Putin’s talking points on Ukraine.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis last week called Russia’s genocidal assault against Ukraine a “territorial dispute” that the US should not be engaged in–certainly not supporting Ukraine. It’s not in America’s interests, he claimed.

DeSantis did so on Tucker Carlson’s Fox TV program. Carlson, who has also shown contempt for truth and democracy–as well as for his viewers–had the gall to call President Zelensky a corrupt “antihero” who dresses “like the manager of a strip club.”

So DeSantis threw in his lot with Carlson, Donald Trump, and members of the House Insurrectionist Caucus–as well as a few Ted Cruz-type Senators (including Ted Cruz). All are siding with the Russian war criminal instead of the widely admired Ukrainian president whose bravery in fighting for his country’s democracy has proven inspirational to millions of people worldwide.

But apparently the donor class and some Republican hawks whom DeSantis needs didn’t like his original stance, so he reversed himself in the name of correcting a “mischaracterization.” His new position is that he doesn’t want US troops there “but the idea that I think somehow Russia was justified” in invading is “nonsense.”

So DeSantis is proving to be quite the failure on the larger stage. But his initial stance sure seems like what he thought he needed to say for the Republican base, and that’s a worry.

I like Vice President Harris’s response when she was asked to comment on DeSantis’s Carlson show-suitable remarks. You can see it below in her exchange with Stephen Colbert.

I find it frightening–not just for Ukraine, but also for the US–that these distorted “America First” characters are bolstering Putin at such a critical time. It is also ironic, as they claim to be strongly anti-China–just as China’s President Xi visited with Putin to talk mutually beneficial strategy, dictator to dictator.

And my heart breaks when I think about Zelensky and the Ukrainian people, who have defied so many odds in fighting for their country while Putin throws Russian soldiers and vast amounts of ammunition at them day after day. Life is difficult enough, but they must increasingly worry that their most stalwart democratic ally is being undercut by anti-democratic politicians who define freedom in vastly different terms from those most Americans believe in.

Polls do show some softening among Americans’ support for Ukraine, so I thought it would be useful to revisit how the Russian assault on Ukraine looks now. I have heard recent assessments of the war from several Americans with strong foreign policy experience: Alexander Vindman, retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel and National Security Council Director for European Affairs; Michael McFaul, former US Ambassador to Russia; James Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO; Barry McCaffrey, retired US Army general; and Ben Rhodes, former Deputy National Security Advisor in the Obama administration.

Every one of these knowledgeable individuals says that if the US and allies give the Ukrainians everything they need–ASAP–there’s a good chance the Russians will be compelled to withdraw. The longer the war goes on, the more difficult it will become.

It’s apparent from the more effective weapons that the US and our allies are now sending that they are aware, as Zelensky said in January, “…We have to make time our weapon. We have to speed up events, speed up supplies and open up new weapons options for Ukraine.”

When Admiral Stavridis was asked this week about the Ukrainians’ remarkable speed and mastery of the US Patriot missile system that they’re now being trained to operate, he described them as“the MacGyvers of the battlefield. They can take a tin can opener and use it to take down a Russian tank, it seems. They are extremely creative.”

Stavridis has so much confidence in the combination of their intense motivation to save their families and country with this military strength and capability that he said: “I don’t like Putin’s hand at this point.”

But there’s no hope for peace talks, despite the charade about their feasibility from Xi and Putin. Such talk is simply a delaying tactic to give the faltering Russians time to regroup. And if Putin gains territory in Ukraine, he will continue into NATO countries in the near future. The US will then have to pay a much higher price than we are now paying: to go to war to defend Poland, for example.

What’s more, a China expert who was asked what is the most likely factor that would prevent China from invading Taiwan answered: “Ukraine stopping the Russians.”

Every day, President Zelensky speaks to his people, those in the battlefield and everywhere else, to keep their spirits up. The video below from one day last week, which is slightly less than six minutes long, reports on a “good day,” which includes the news that Denmark has confirmed a defense package for Ukraine and has set up a $1 billion fund. Zelensky called this move “extremely significant; extremely necessary” and thanked the Danish government, its Parliament, and the Danish society “for speeding up the return of peace to Ukraine and security for all of Europe.”

He had earlier addressed the British Conference of the Society of Editors, whom he called “leading media professionals in the UK” who are “authoritative educators, people who have dedicated their lives to freedom–freedom of speech.”

“I urged them to spread the truth even more actively about Russian aggression, about our people whose lives are being destroyed by Russia, about our defense, which is returning freedom and security to Ukrainians and all Europeans.”

He pointed out that:

“…the free media of Ukraine and the world have done a lot during this war to make Russian terror lose. To make Russian propaganda lose. And I want to emphasize they did it simply by spreading information about what is happening here. And now in Ukraine, in Europe, in the world they were just speaking the truth. This must be continued. The Kremlin will never defeat the truth. Neither will it defeat Ukraine.”

I compare his words, his excruciatingly painful daily reality, and the strength it takes to continue making the case to all his vital constituencies at home and abroad, with the loose verbiage from cowards like Trump, DeSantis, Tucker Carlson, and others.

And I am deeply saddened and appalled that this dreadful strain of Americans is forcing the Ukrainians and our allies to question America’s commitment at this critical and delicate time.

Please, if you’re tempted to think enough US tax dollars have gone to Ukraine, consider what the Ukrainians are doing to protect themselves, and all of us–even the traitorous Republican elected officials who think Putin’s vision of the world is somehow preferable to Biden’s.

And think about the inevitable course of Putin’s power lust, which we’re more likely to have to contend with later if we don’t continue to support Ukraine now.


43 thoughts on “We Must Stop the Putin-Worshipping Republicans From Undermining US Support for Ukraine!

  1. The new authoritarian, religio-nationalist strain of Republicans will always viscerally sympathize with Putin, because his regime — authoritarian, patriarchal, repressive to gays and to cultural pluralism, hostile to global openness and to the free flow of information and ideas — is exactly what they ultimately want for the US. It’s the same as how many American communists during the Cold War supported the Soviet state.

    DeSanitize shows every sign of being an authoritarian religio-nationalist of the same ilk. Even if he backed off from his pro-Putin stance for the moment to appeal to more traditional Republican leaders, he can’t be trusted.

    There were isolationists like this in the US during the 1930s as well, some of them Nazi sympathizers, others merely convinced that events in Europe were irrelevant to the US. At least back then, given the far shorter range of the military technology of the time, they had some excuse for holding the latter belief. There can be no such excuse today.

    Expansionist dictatorships are like fires — the longer you wait to stamp them out, the bigger and more difficult the problem gets. Notice that Ukraine’s most vociferous supporters are Poland and the Baltic states. They’re next in line geographically. They know that if Ukraine is overrun, once Russia’s military has had a chance to recover, this threat will assert itself next against them.

    Ukraine now is bearing the entire burden of the fighting, as the British did between Dunkirk and Barbarossa. Back then, too, the US helped by supplying weapons. Today, unlike back then, no one is seriously suggesting that the US should become an active participant in the war. So far from being a burden on us, the opportunity to weaken and perhaps neutralize a dangerous adversary at the cost only of supplying arms — without any Americans being put at risk — is a golden opportunity we would be fools not to take full advantage of. I really doubt DeSantis is stupid enough to be unable to grasp this. His heart is with Putin because his character and vision align with Putin’s, not with those of the embattled Ukrainian democracy.

    So unfortunately it’s not realistic to hope that this pro-Putin strain will disappear from American politics. The goal must be to help Ukraine win the war before November 2024 (hopefully long before that), so that the issue will be resolved before DeSantis or someone like him is in a position to do serious damage. If Putin falls, that will be the best way to weaken the similar authoritarian strain here (and in Brazil, Hungary, India, etc). And, as that China expert said, Ukraine winning is the best way to prevent Xi from invading Taiwan and triggering a real bloody disaster.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. That frankly seems unlikely. If the war drags on like this for another nineteen months, both sides will pile up casualties in such staggering numbers that one country or the other will either collapse or suffer a popular uprising against continued fighting. It’s also hard to imagine the war decreasing in intensity to a sustainable state of attrition, since the Ukrainians wouldn’t accept that — they want to liberate their remaining territory, not just keep fighting in place indefinitely.

        Even if the war does somehow continue into the next presidential term, the odds are against a Republican winning the presidency in 2024, but the risk is there. If it happened, serious cuts to support for Ukraine might follow, shifting the burden to the European countries and emboldening Putin. It would certainly be an abdication of American leadership. If it resulted in Russia conquering and absorbing Ukraine, one possible result would be Poland building its own independent nuclear deterrent, likely followed by Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan doing the same, since they would know the US was no longer a reliable ally against future Chinese aggression.

        Even though a Republican is unlikely to win the presidency in 2024, it’s almost certain that Republicans will win Senate control, which would give them some power to obstruct aid to Ukraine, among other things. Senate Republicans are much more sober and disciplined than the ridiculous clown show we’re seeing in the House. There are fewer authoritarian religio-nationalists among them, but they’d be more effective at asserting whatever consensus on policy they arrive at.

        We need to give the Ukrainians the weapons to end this war as soon as is feasible. They’ve already suffered horrendous destruction and loss of life. Every day the war drags on makes it worse.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. “We have to make time our weapon. We have to speed up events, speed up supplies and open up new weapons options for Ukraine.” That quotation from Zelensky in my post sums it all up, I believe.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Infidel: Thanks for adding this historical perspective. Of course the parallels to pre-World War II have been apparent even before the blatant use of “America First.”

      I don’t seriously think we can “stop” the Putin worshippers. I do think we must do more to counter their messaging among Americans who have begun questioning how long this war can go on, how the Ukrainians can possibly keep going, and why the Biden administration isn’t encouraging the Ukrainians to enter into what would be impossible “peace negotiations.” I’d like more of Ukraine’s supporters on the national scene to describe our “golden opportunity” to “weaken and perhaps neutralize a dangerous adversary…” as well as you have. That was my motivation for including the views of the foreign policy experts I cited.

      And of course, I don’t trust anything DeSantis says. It’s too bad he’s sinking so fast, though, because I was hoping he and Trump would destroy one another. It’s beginning to look like we’re just going to have to hope that Trump self-destructs without wreaking much more havoc. He seems to be moving rapidly in that direction.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The Democratic party has plenty of resources for getting messages out, especially with Biden holding the “bully pulpit” of the presidency. It should be easy enough for them to get across (a) the fact that the resources we are committing to the Ukraine war are small compared with the gains potentially achievable (weakening or collapse of Russia), and (b) why allowing Ukraine to be defeated would almost immediately place the US in a far more dangerous position. To anyone who understands history, the analogy withe the 1930s is obvious — if France and Britain had firmly supported Czechoslovakia during the Sudeten crisis, rather than forcing it to surrender strategically-vital territory, Hitler could have been forced to back down and, if he chose to fight, defeated much more easily than in the war we later actually had to wage. In this case, Ukraine’s defeat would mean an emboldened Putin on the borders of several NATO countries. If China invaded Taiwan and the US had to commit most of its forces to that fight, we might be unable to respond effectively to a Russian invasion of, say, the Baltics without immediately escalating to nuclear weapons, a disastrous dilemma to face. These things aren’t beyond the comprehension of average voters.

        The Democrats also need to face the difficult task of trying to persuade some who are not already in their camp. That’s one thing I’ll say for Buttigieg — he understood the need to appear on media like Fox, to reach people who never watch or read media Democrats are more comfortable with. Many Fox viewers are unpersuadable, but not all.

        I wouldn’t count DeSantis out yet. It’s still nearly a year until the first primaries. Politicians are always going up and down in the polls because of one thing or another. If Trump is arrested and faces trial for his more serious crimes, as seems likely in the coming months, a lot of his supporters will regretfully conclude he’s non-viable as a candidate — and right now, DeSantis is still by far the most likely figure for them to rally around. The danger he presents is still very real.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. The things you mention may not be beyond the comprehension of the average voter, but there’s a lot of noise out there, and I don’t think most people tune in. I follow a few Ukrainian people on Twitter who say, in effect, “please don’t tire of us; we need you.” I’d like the administration to have a point person–maybe VP Harris–giving regular updates, but to be affirmative, rather than reactive. And yes; there should be more Buttigiegs.

        As for DeSantis, I think there are two overwhelming negatives. One is his lack of retail political skills (there’s a video of a friendly interview with Piers Morgan in which he’s obviously trying to be more jovial–he’s laughing in the most artificial way). The other is that if he’s ascending and Trump is still breathing, Trump will destroy him. Several of DeSantis’s former staff are on Trump’s campaign, and they’ve threatened to tell all sorts of ugly stories. But I agree he’s still a huge danger–even if he just continues doing what he’s doing.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I don’t want to go off on too much of a tangent here, but I’m not very reassured by DeSantis’s alleged terrible campaign skills. He did, after all, manage to win his last election for governor of a large and diverse state by 60% to 40%, a huge landslide by American standards. Whatever he’s doing wrong, he’s capable of winning elections. And I doubt that whatever dirt is available to dig up on him is any worse than what came out about Trump in 2016, yet the latter still won. Finally, Trump’s ability to “destroy” anyone in 2024 will be limited if he’s in prison and cut off from social media. I think the odds are against any Republican winning the presidency in 2024, but as I’ve posted on my own blog, I consider DeSantis so dangerous that any possibility is a serious concern.

        The administration has the means to cut through the noise. Any high-profile, formal speech by a sitting president gets tremendous coverage, for example. Obama and earlier presidents were able to use such speeches to make their case on some major issue directly to the people. Biden can do the same with Ukraine, and explain the issues, if he chooses to make it that high of a priority.

        It would be a disgrace to “tire of” the Ukrainians. They’re doing the fighting that keeps the threat at bay from the West. That, too, is a point that needs to be made from the highest level.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I share your belief that DeSantis is a danger no matter where he is. I am appalled when I hear discussions about him as though he’s a better alternative to Trump. I’m willing to leave the discussion there.

        Your final paragraph contains both my motivation for writing this post and the primary message I intended to convey.

        Liked by 2 people

      5. Last week I was at the grocery checked out with no wallet. I asked them to hold it for me and on a whim I approached a truly lovely young woman whom I had only met for the first time an hour before asked for and received $200 cash. DeSantis is a cypher certainly not to be trusted around children. To the rest remember when Hills and Drump were judged to be equally bad quite liberally, good times.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Every time I look for monsters I find people just like me. So funny in the good people often come looking for me.


  2. I continue to lament the lack of historical understanding on the part of a huge swath of American citizens. Even prior to our world becoming so interconnected, we saw the results of our semi-isolationist foreign policy following WW l with the rise of Hitler in the 1930’s. Had we joined the League of Nations (even though I have my doubts about many such international organizations) and provided the kind of aid to Europe’s democracies that we ultimately did so with the Lend-Lease Act, Hitler might have been stopped in his tracks.
    Bullies operate pretty much the same; they pick on the weak until someone stands up to them. Ukraine has done done exactly that against the odds. We must give them all the support to enable them to stand tall against the odds. To do less will haunt us going forward.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Steve: Thanks for this additional bit of history. I agree. In retrospect, it appears that the US/EU response to Putin’s annexation of Crimea only emboldened the Russian bully. When we commemorated the one-year mark of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainians reminded us that they’d been fighting since 2014.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Unfortunately I was born a liar and a thief and after a rocky start I improved my talents. This has made for a difficult daily path through hypocrisy. In their defense lying per se is not a sin. Yahweh was rather terse (stone is hard to write on). His “Thou shall nots” are usually followed by a single word, not so pavarication. Only a single type of lie is a sin so most lying is socially acceptable until caught.
    These morons, after lives of constant lies drawing humanity into pointless war, now look to lying to draw us out of another! I often wondered why cognitive dissidence did not drive them insane. I now see that it did. No honest man can “see” the Russian argument so it can only be made by liars who must revel themselves and their BS. This is a good thing and my Ukrainian friends find us admirable, to many Kurd’s have taught them not to put all the eggs in one basket in regards to our reliability. I predict that Ukraine will not be surrendering anytime soon.
    I find myself, dear lady, often on the other side of the good/bad divide with you. I think the depth of their treason, their total self centeredness, their total lack of empathy is now reveled for all to see and that I think is a very, very “good” thing.
    “In the end you don’t so much find yourself as you find someone who knows who you are.”–Robert Brault. Is “bad news” really “bad” if something “good” comes of it? I was poisoned at birth and judgement is my fate not my path, but for those that can judge, the judgement of Carlson, DeSan and the orange pustule will not be kind. They are not winning, Ukraine is.
    I learned a valuable lesson from SoundEagle today. Today is not tomorrow, worry won’t get you there. We will win in the end! We might not be there.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m always happy to receive an optimistic take, Richard. I was just so infuriated by DeSantis’s cavalier switcheroo, and I check on the brave Zelensky’s almost daily missives on Twitter. The one I included in this post moved me deeply. I felt it might be helpful to advise people who don’t follow these events as closely as I do that the Ukrainians continue to do amazingly well. Our support remains critical to that continuation.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Probably not note worthy as to how often a Cincinnatus, a George Washington, an FDR or a Zelensky appear at just the right time.
        I have no doubts that the aid will continue until Ukraine says it no longer wants it. Which I believe will be when there are no Ukrainians.
        Not to say that we shouldn’t be vigilant. Treasonous snakes are no easier to spot than benign ones.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. Or several Putin-like figures would contend with each other for power, paralyzing the regime. Even a single successor figure might face difficulties asserting his power across such a huge country, if local authorities here and there chose to challenge his legitimacy and assert their own autonomy. Assassinating Putin would definitely transform the situation.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Hi, Neil. It would have been karma if he had had an accident in Mariupol, site of dreadful Russian atrocities that he disgustingly visited recently in his phony efforts to show that the Russian forces are in control.

      Liked by 1 person

    3. This is an easy thought to entertain. It is the path to true darkness. The evil is not in sending men to die it is in sending them to kill. “Which is better–to have laws and agree, or to hunt and kill?” ― William Golding, Lord of the Flies
      A bad man can not be killed by a good man. The Zulu believed that banishment from the tribe a far worse fate then death.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Trump, DeSantis, Cruz, Tucker Carlson, Marjorie Taylor Greens, etc., are so morally degenerate that I find it pure torture to look at or listen to any of them. It’s beyond belief that tens of millions of Americans have been taken in (whether by gullibility, ignorance, or willfully) by such morally despicable characters. We are becoming an America that is going off the cliff.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I still think it’s the Griftingly Oppressive Party —not America—that has already gone off the cliff, mm. We need the kind of all hands on deck citizen effort we had in 2022; I’m counting on GenZ to help us through.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Excellent post, Annie, and very timely. You make numerous valid points. People go all out at first when they are faced with an abomination like Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but after more than a year, the momentum wanes. But, as you note, if Russia is allowed to take Ukraine, Putin has no intention of stopping there, but will move next into possibly Poland and other NATO nations, leaving the U.S. no choice but to become deeply committed in more ways than one. People have short attention spans, and it is good to keep reminding them of the stakes … the stakes in humanity, in world peace, in … the future of the world.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Honestly, there are days I am tempted to hold my head in my hands and quietly weep, which is a change from my usual go-to of gnashing teeth in frustration. Loved the VP clip. So elegant, so precise in her language.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. So much of the Republican playbook is simply about being adversarial that it’s hard to know where they really stand. Unfortunately, I’m not convinced that giving Ukraine everything they want can bring about a swift end. Richard Haas has been making the case that Russia is in it for the long haul and that they have the manpower, determination (Putin’s), and resources to withstand horrific losses.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Based on what the experts I cited have said, it’s clear Putin is depending upon the West’s losing the patience to sustain its continued assistance to Ukraine—a serious possibility if the war drags on. He has no compunctions about sending soldiers to their certain deaths. And he’s certainly trying to affect our 2024 elections already. But he’s running low on both soldiers and supplies: World War II tanks are making their way to Ukraine, and when he starts to conscript those who’ve been protected so far, things may very well get ugly for him at home.

      No one knows, of course. The US is experiencing its own ammo shortages, reported yesterday’s NYT. But the Ukrainians continue to surprise. They were encouraged to let Bakhmut fall and turn resources elsewhere; yesterday the Russians stopped their offensive push there.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wars of attrition are hard for me to enthusiastically get behind. There’s so much uncertainty and opportunistic arms dealers can put massive resources into convincing us that their destruction machines are the only hope. I don’t want us to turn our backs on Ukraine but I’m skeptical of the argument that Russia is running out of soldiers or that their population is on the verge of overturning Putin’s rule. Here’s an interesting idea from the Opinion Page of the Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2023/03/20/transfer-russian-frozen-assets-ukraine/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Carol, I certainly agree about wars of attrition. There are very, very few wars I can get behind at all, let alone enthusiastically. But the horrors of this one–the depravity–as well as the serious potential threats to our own national security and the incredible bravery of the Ukrainians make me feel very invested in it.

        Thanks for the Washington Post article. I had actually written about this idea when Laurence Tribe wrote about it nearly a year ago. https://annieasksyou.com/2022/04/23/should-the-us-provide-frozen-russian-assets-to-ukraine/

        I think both Tribe and his co-author and Summers, et al, make very strong cases.

        Liked by 2 people

  8. Having been born during the Cold War era and observed the various American administrations of various stripes react against the USSR in their long shadow dance it should amaze me how the current swath of Republicans have cast aside their traditional wariness of Russia.
    Then reading the sometimes ignorant, sometimes naïve statements the truth strikes home.
    This shabby crew of White Hypocritical Privilege are only pro-Russian because the Democrats have retained the USA’s tradition of that wariness (nothing new with large competing powers there). In short if the Democrats are for it then the Republicans are against it and if the Democrats are against it the Republicans are for it- knee jerk reaction . Thus as potential leaders of a large nation they are useless, devoid of any sense of how to keep their nation secure.
    From my perspective in the UK the great ironic joke being that these folk who scream ‘socialist’ at every twist and turn, when it comes to Russia are in complete alignment with one Far Left wing of the UK socialist movement.
    They would be comic like cartoon villains if the welfare of a nation was not at stake.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Roger. I certainly agree , but I also think it’s clear that these Republicans are enamored of what they perceive is the strength of autocratic leaders who don’t have democracy’s messy strictures against blatant abuse of power—but do have their contempt for LBGTQ people and their reliance on white nationalists.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. What these folk don’t see is that autocratic leaders do not like large swaths of their populations having firearms of their own…annnnnddd would crack down on ownership, including handing in of guns.
        Betcha, they never thought of that one!


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