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You don’t have to be a Putin shill to believe it’s time for us to stop pouring billions of dollars into this quagmire.
You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but don’t be alarmed.
Tucker Carlson’s interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin must rank as one of the most surreal moments in internet history. A dissident journalist sits down with the leader of a country we’re ostensibly at war with to discuss his side of the story and explain why your government has been lying to you, broadcasted on X. The internet remains undefeated.
Unfortunately for the Ukrainians, kinetic warfare defeated sanctions and tweets.
Your eyes may have glazed over when Professor Putin delivered a 20-minute lecture about Ukrainian history stretching back to 862. Even Carlson seemed bored. But that history is crucial to understanding the present war. I’ve traveled in that region, and history is essential to Russians in a way that’s hard for Westerners to grasp. It’s not stories in a book or some statue; it’s an indispensable tie to their ancestors and land.
The broad outline Putin sketched is correct, although he painted a rosy picture of Soviet behavior toward Poland in the run-up to World War II. You don’t need to be a Russian scholar, however, to understand that the current conflict is much older and more complicated than Americans realize.
Kyiv and the region are tied to the central founding of the Rus people. Crimea has been historically Russian territory since Catherine the Great defeated the Ottomans in 1783. The modern borders of the country include millions of ethnic Russians. The CIA overthrew the pro-Russian government in Kyiv in 2014, and NATO expansion has been viewed by Russia as an existential threat. These are historical facts.
One big psyop
It doesn’t matter whether Russia was or wasn’t justified in invading Ukraine. That isn’t how geopolitics works. A nuclear power felt threatened by a neighbor it viewed as being in its sphere of influence and decided to act. Historians a hundred years from now will have to determine whether it was prudent.
What is becoming more apparent is the digital psyop we’ve been living under for two years. One can only speculate how, in the course of a week, Americans went from being unable to find Ukraine on a map to having every Twitter bio and yard in the country draped in yellow and blue.
Everywhere you turned, you were inundated with propaganda extolling you to support the plucky Ukrainians in their fight against the evil Russians. The Ghost of Kyiv shot down 27 Russian jets in one sortie. One doesn’t need to be Alex Jones to wonder if our war-crazed intelligence services working with Big Tech had something to do with it.
Regardless, a narrative took hold that Putin was Hitler 2.0, except worse, and if we didn’t give one of the most corrupt countries on earth $100 billion in cash and weapons, Russian tanks would be rolling through Germany in no time.
A lot of well-meaning but naïve people fell for it. The mainstream media never bothered to ask if involving ourselves in a ground war in Eastern Europe with a nuclear power was a good idea. How was Ukraine going to defeat Russia? Was spending hundreds of billions of dollars to liberate Donetsk a wise use of treasure when we had just lost a war and Americans were struggling to afford groceries? Everyone asking these questions was called a Russian agent.
Instead, we were promised that money and swarm warfare would destroy this paper Siberian tiger and restore sacred democracy. How exciting! Instead of Americans dying, we could all just tweet and send our hard-earned tax dollars and watch all the gory GoPro war footage online.
A network swarm attack is a modern tactic emerging from the information age. Once called into action, it mobilizes individuals, networks, companies, and governments in a digital hive mind to take down a target. Free of geographical and bureaucratic constraints, this decentralized organizational structure is a fearsome weapon. It promised the ability to confront and defeat a nuclear power without getting our hands dirty.
The cultural, financial, military, journalistic, and academic elite all reached the same conclusion immediately: Defeat Russia.
Unfortunately for the Ukrainians, kinetic warfare defeated sanctions and tweets. A year ago, I reported on how the sanctions against Russia were fake and, 92% of Western companies never stopped doing business there, and Russia was able to continue selling its oil and wheat. From that piece:
Lindsey Graham and the other armchair generals seem determined to fight to the last Ukrainian. However, it might be wise to look to Russian history. Whether they’re fighting the Wehrmacht, Charles XII, Lundendorff, or Napoleon, Russian wars have followed a pattern: horrific logistical disasters resulting in catastrophic casualties in the first year, followed by an overwhelming counterattack of men and artillery. Russia just announced a new draft to expand to 1.5 million soldiers.
As Stalin once quipped, “Quantity has a quality all its own.”
Peace with honor
It’s time we recognize that the war is over and Russia won. Maybe pretending a corruptcomedian was the reincarnation of Winston Churchill was a mistake. Unless NATO invades, the tattered remnants of the Ukrainian military aren’t going to dislodge entrenched Russian armor and artillery on the open steppes of Eastern Ukraine. The United States will return Alaska before Russia gives up its warm-water port in Crimea. The war will end with a negotiated settlement — the way almost all wars conclude — or it will end with nukes.
This entire misadventure has been an embarrassment for American foreign policy. It has accomplished nothing other than the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and hundreds of billions of your hard-earned tax dollars evaporating into Swiss bank accounts and Raytheon’s coffers.
There were some comedic moments, too. Jon Stewart gave an award to an Azov soldier with a visible Nazi tattoo at Disney World, and Sean Penn gave his Oscar to Volodomyr Zelenskyy. Who said empire couldn’t be funny?
On the other hand, the ghouls running our government are at this moment trying to give Zelenskyy another $60 billion to keep the war going. Why? To protect the sanctity of democracy and the Ukrainian border? Please.
If democracy has brought you a government run by people intent on gelding your sons and opening our southern border to millions of third-world invaders, one must wonder about the benefits of the institution. You don’t have to be a Putin shill to believe it’s time for us to stop funding this quagmire.
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Managing Editor, Return
Peter Gietl is the managing editor for Return.