In the run up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many in this country either supported Russia or wanted the United States to stay out of it. They included commentator Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, and Donald Trump. Ingraham, when interviewing Trump, was mocking Ukrainian president Zelenskyy for making what she thought was a pathetic speech. Carlson argued that “These people [U.S. officials who provide military aid to Ukraine] are so ghoulish…
Of course they’re promoting war, not to maintain the democracy that is Ukraine. Ukraine is not a democracy. It has never been a democracy in its history, and it’s not now. It’s a client state of the Biden administration…Democrats in Washington have told you it’s your patriotic duty to hate Vladimir Putin. It’s not a suggestion. It’s a mandate. Anything less than hatred for Putin is treason. Many Americans have obeyed this directive. They now dutifully hate Vladimir Putin. Maybe you’re one of them. Hating Putin has become the central purpose of America’s foreign policy. It’s the main thing that we talk about. Entire cable channels are now devoted to it. Very soon, that hatred of Vladimir Putin could bring the United States into a conflict in Eastern Europe.”
Trump had been saying how clever and smart Putin is, taking over a country with only a bunch of sanctions. “I’d say that’s pretty smart. He’s taking over a country -- really a vast, vast location, a great piece of land with a lot of people, and just walking right in… I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine - of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”
Both Ingraham and Carlson have since changed their tune. Carlson even admitted that he was wrong. The Trump base, which was isolationist, has had a change of heart. A CNN poll conducted shortly after the invasion found that 83 percent of Americans backed sanctions against Russia. A Reuters/Ipsos poll released a few days later found that 71 percent wanted the U.S. to send weapons to Ukraine. Eighty percent of Republicans think that Biden should be tougher on Russia. The swiftness of this shift is probably unparalleled in American history. It took almost two years for Americans in World War II to decide to support the British in an active manner.
I think the biggest change is because of social media. Back then, there were a few war correspondents who at the end of the day would send videos that were shown as newsreels. Now, every person with a phone is a war correspondent. We see the carnage in real time and up close. There is even bipartisan support for prohibiting the import of Russian oil, even though it will increase already-high gas prices.
One of the right-wing Jewish papers had an article about how Israel should navigate the fact that it has good relations with the United States and Russia in dealing with Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Israel had gotten some criticism for not coming out forcefully about the Russian invasion. I do not think it is proper for American Jews sitting in the comfort of their homes in the United States to tell Israel how to conduct its foreign policy. I have another problem with the article.
The question was formulated as follows: Should the Jewish state support a diminishing world order lead by the United States and Western European powers or an emerging world order in which China and Russia led axis now seeks to dominate international affairs?
The question is based on a false assumption that the Western democracies are on the decline while authoritarian regimes are on the rise. This sounds like something that could have been said in April 1941. The two strongest nations were the USSR (Communist Russia) and Nazi Germany. Great Britain looked like it was on the ropes and the United States looked weak and afraid to get involved. It is no surprise that the America First organization was formed and reached its power at that time.
What it does show is that it is mistaken to count out democracies. Putin made this mistake when he invaded Ukraine. NATO has shown its resolve in supporting Ukraine. Instead, Russia has shown its weakness as a world power. Countries are now clamoring to try to join NATO. I would not call that a diminishing world order.
Those who are dismissive of the Western democracies learn the hard way that we stick together in tough times.