While we’re on the subject of Russia-Ukraine

I’d recommend reading Robert Farley’s piece at Lawyers, Guns, & Money on the strains of Putin apologia found on the far left and particular at The Nation. I don’t think the folks he’s talking about are necessarily Putin fans or apologists in the abstract, but they’re so attuned to the notion that the US is a malign force in the world (which I agree is all too often the case) that anybody standing in opposition to the US must therefore be good, at least by comparison. This is, for some, even true of Russia, despite the fact that there’s nothing about Vlad Putin’s Russia that should appeal to anyone who considers themselves on the political left, and there’s no amount of harping on Ukraine’s neo-Nazis that will change that fact.

Personally, I’ve tried to be critical of Putin’s actions and motives here while also maintaining skepticism of the post-coup government in Kiev (which is at this point brutalizing a defeated rebellion for no justifiable reason) and its American/EU backers (who have cynically used Maidan and its aftermath to deal Putin an embarrassing defeat and back Russia down economically), but I’m sure I’ve failed to keep that balance as much as I would have liked. I have a hard time swallowing the conspiracy theories peddled by either the neocon right, who would have you believe that Putin has been orchestrating this entire affair brilliantly, despite the fact that Russia comes out of this thing in worse shape than it went in, and the far left, who want you to believe that Maidan was entirely hatched by the neocons still inside the US foreign policy establishment in conjunction with Ukrainian neo-Nazis. Neither of these scenarios reflects reality so much as it reflects the worldview of the people peddling them. But between the two extremes there seems to be very little oxygen left for rationally talking about what’s actually been happening.


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