From the New European
Yes, folks, it’s time for a rant…
There’s nothing I can say in response to Russia’s Vladimir Putin-orchestrated invasion of Ukraine – at the time of writing in its 16th day – that hasn’t been said already by decent-minded and properly-informed people the world over. The invasion has been brutal and wholly unjustified and by masterminding it Putin has shown himself to be a vile, despotic thug. Although the evidence for that summation of Putin’s character had been overwhelming already.
Yet, over the years, Putin has acquired in the West a faithful coterie of groupies, toadies and sycophants. And now, post-invasion, no matter how hard they try to backtrack and dissociate themselves from him, they shouldn’t be allowed to escape their status as Putin fanboys and fangirls. Instead, they should be treated with the contempt they deserve. Though even if Putin hadn’t existed, I’m sure they would have developed into horrible people anyway.
Let’s take a look at some of them.
When it comes to Putin worshippers, where else can you begin but with that human slough of venality, mendacity, crassness and pig-ignorance Donald Trump, 45th president of the United States and, sadly, quite possibly its 47th one in 2024 too? The romance between Trump and Putin was always one-sided. Basically, Trump wanted to have Putin’s babies, whereas it was obvious to everyone (apart from Trump himself) that Putin regarded Trump as a contemptible but highly useful moron.
Donnie and Vlad first became an item in 2013 when Trump was lined up to host the Miss Universe competition in Moscow. He tweeted: “Do you think Putin will be going to The Miss Universe Pageant in November in Moscow – if so, will he become my new best friend?” Puke. According to the dossier compiled by British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, while Trump was in Moscow Russian intelligence spied on and recorded him romping with local prostitutes. If this actually happened, then Trump became Putin’s new best friend whether he wanted to or not.
After that, Trump’s sycophancy towards Putin was relentless. In 2014, he enthusiastically backed Putin’s annexation of Crimea. Putin, he claimed, was “absolutely having a great time.” By 2015 he was nosing around for a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. As president, in 2017, he reacted to news that Putin was forcing a cut in personnel at the US Embassy in Moscow by commenting jocularly: “I want to thank him because we’re trying to cut down on payroll… I’m very thankful that he let go of a large number of people, because now we have a smaller payroll.”
Meanwhile, according to former White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham, Trump envied Putin’s ability to kill off his critics and opponents. Thanks to checks and balances in the US constitution, Trump wasn’t allowed to do this himself, though of course if he gets a second crack at the American presidential whip in 2024, those checks and balances might not exist much longer. Grisham has stated her belief that Trump “admired him greatly. I think he wanted to be able to kill whoever spoke out against him.”
Trump’s starry-eyed attitude towards Putin and Russia contrasts with his attitude towards Ukraine. When the Russians were widely accused of meddling in the 2016 presidential election that brought him to power, his former campaign manager Paul Manafort glibly turned the accusations on their head and blamed the Ukrainians for hacking into Democratic National Committee computers. In 2019, Trump delayed sending Ukraine 400 million dollars’ worth of military aid, which had been approved by Congress, because he wished to exert pressure on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. He wanted Zelensky to dig up dirt on Hunter Biden, son of his presidential-election foe Joe Biden.
And late last month, when Putin’s forces rolled across the Ukrainian border, Trump was initially awestruck in his response. “I went in yesterday and there was a television screen, and I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine… Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful.”
What a bawbag.
Of course, Trump’s grovelling before Putin is representative of the American far right, who see Putin as a virile embodiment of values the West has sadly lost and should be aspiring to regain. After all, the super-manly Vlad hates gays and transexuals, believes a woman’s place is at the stove, goes to church regularly (but obviously pays no attention to that wimpy, hippy New Testament stuff about loving thy neighbour and the like), has black belts in judo and taekwondo, is pals with Steven Seagal, wrestles with bears, and poses for totally non-embarrassing photo shoots on horseback naked from the waist up.
No wonder that at a recent American white nationalist conference, which was also attended by Republican Party nutjob Marjorie Taylor Greene, white supremacist commentator Nick Fuentes implored the crowd: “Can we get a round of applause for Russia?” Other far-right American brown-nosers of the Putin derriere have included Ku Klux Klan leader David Dukes (Russia is the “key to white survival”), Ann Coulter (“In 20 years, Russia will be the only country that is recognisably European”) and Steve Bannon (“Putin ain’t woke…” Well, bully for him, Steve!)
One malignant thread that’s woven through the rancid tapestry of American right-wing thought is the QAnon conspiracy theory. Predictably, QAnon’s adherents have swiftly incorporated Putin, Ukraine and the invasion into their warped belief systems. Putin, they’ve claimed, is really on the side of the angels. His forces in Ukraine are trying to take out biolabs that the US has placed there. And in these biolabs, the US President’s Chief Medical Advisor Anthony Fauci, Dr Evil himself, is attempting to create a new, deadly virus that’ll replace Covid-19. I don’t so much despise people who buy into the QAnon cult as feel sorry for them, though I feel sorrier for their unfortunate families. But I feel sorriest of all for the mild-mannered Dr Fauci. The poor guy’s had to put up with garbage like this for the past two years for the sin of simply trying to do his job.
Finally, there’s the ultra-right – which isn’t the same as ‘ultra-correct’ – American broadcaster Tucker Carlson, who’s been so enthusiastically pro-Putin that TV outlets like Russia 1 and Russia Today have aired his ravings to the Russian public as evidence that lots of Western folk actually approve of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine. In one plea for Putin tolerance, Carlson lamented, “Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years? Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity?” Supposedly, the answer to these questions is ‘no’, which makes him fine in Carlson’s eyes.
Tucker Carlson, who appears on Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News network, is what in American television parlance is called an ‘anchor’. He’s also something that rhymes with ‘anchor’. Come to think of it, he’s something that rhymes with ‘Tucker’ too.
More ranting will be done in a future post, when I move onto the topic of Putin’s British pals.