TURES COLUMN: Our bipartisan unity on Ukraine is being challenged by pundits

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, January 26, 2022

During the post-World War II era, scholars have defined the bipartisanship in opposing the USSR as the “Cold War Consensus” in Congress. We’ve now had that spirit of standing up to Soviet aggression challenged by some pundits who excuse Vladimir Putin’s rebuild of that Soviet Empire by unleashing hell on Ukraine. It’s time to return to the era of Republican and Democratic cooperation on foreign policy, instead of giving in to support for authoritarianism.

When it has come to aid for Ukraine, that old spirit of consensus has returned to Washington DC.  A large bipartisan group has pushed for more military aid for Ukraine to defend itself and has approved of President Biden’s decision to send troops to the region and support sanctions.

Yet, there are those who still insist that we take Russia’s side in the dispute. As MSN writes  “Carlson said NATO only exists ‘to torment Vladimir Putin,’ and that the authoritarian leader ‘just wants to keep his western borders secure.’”

Carlson went on to insult GOP Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa as “ignorant” for supporting sanctions on Russia and defensive aid to Ukraine. He also argued with GOP Rep. Michael Turner of Ohio, insisting we take Russia’s side. “Who’s the potential counterbalance against China, which is the actual threat? Why would we take Ukraine’s side? Why wouldn’t we be on Russia’s side? I’m totally confused,” Carlson said.

How quickly Carlson forgot about extensive Solar Winds hacking, the Cyber Pearl Harbor, the longtime post-Cold War cooperation between Russia and China, and the likelihood that the ex-KGB agent won’t be any more satisfied with Ukraine than Hitler was appeased by the Sudetenland.  If Putin has his way, we’ll be talking about Poland, Scandinavia, the rest of East Europe, and West Europe the same way soon.  Neville Chamberlain would be proud.

Another pundit, Patrick Buchanan links Putin’s attempt to dominate Ukraine with U.S. and Chinese policy, in a sort of whataboutism. 

“Yet, great powers have always established spheres of influence. Chinese President Xi Jinping claims virtually the entire South China Sea that is bordered by half a dozen nations. For 200 years, the United States has declared a Monroe Doctrine that puts our hemisphere off-limits to new colonizations.” 

He likens Putin’s actions to our threats to Cuba in 1962.  He also claims “During the Cold War, America never insisted on the independence of Ukraine.”

Mr. Buchanan omitted “Captive Nations Week,” which began with President Eisenhower and has been continued by every President, from both parties.  Ukraine was definitely on the list.  A son of Ukrainian immigrants, Ambassador Lev E. Dobriansky, helped craft the original document, while the U.S. built a monument to a Ukrainian freedom fighter in the 1960s.

Buchanan calls Ukraine “a country 5,000 miles away that shares not only a lengthy border with Mother Russia but also a history, language, religion, ethnicity and culture.” 

But as World Atlas notes, less than 18 percent of Ukraine speak Russian.  More than 75% speak Ukrainian, have their own church, and have their own culture, and don’t want to see it dictated by Russia.

Some of us remember the 2000 election too, and what Buchanan wrote, according to CNN. 

“In his book, ‘A Republic, Not an Empire,’ Buchanan maintains that Germany was not a military threat to the United States after 1940. He also wrote that guarantees by Western governments to defend Poland helped start World War II.”

There’s more at stake here than just defending the freedom of a nation once brutalized by Stalin and the Soviets. American liberals and conservatives are finally uniting on an issue, with the potential for more cooperation.  We should choose this bipartisanism, not authoritarianism.