I admit it, I admire Russia’s leader Putin. He seems the only major Western leader who rises any where near the category of Statesman.
This may seem strange for one who was raised during the height of the Cold War, but I am not alone in my admiration. In elementary and middle school in the 1950s we were taught to expect a Russian nuclear attack any time. Russia was the great beast behind everything bad. Ludicrously, fifth graders were told to shelter under their desks in case of such an attack.
Strangely, we were not taught much about why Communism was so evil. Some of the biggest haters of Russia, although they were not alone, were Trotsky Communists who were later to emerge as Neoconservatives and are still today preaching war against post-Communist Russia, doubtless for their own reasons. Nobody really explained why Russia had become so great an enemy in the 1950s after being our “great democratic ally” in World War II.
When I was growing up Communism was for many a true obsession. It was not something to be sensibly countered, but an unearthly evil that had to be actively destroyed. The atmosphere resembled the hysterical, fanatical hatred of the South that dominated much Yankee mentality in the 1850s. Our rulers went so far that they had a plan to massacre Americans and blame it on the Cuban Communists.
I don’t pretend to have any expert authority over Cold War history, but when the rulers are not interested in defending their own people but involved in international gamesmanship, you know something is seriously wrong.
It was also curious that the Establishment suppressed patriotic efforts to expose the Communist spies in its own membership who did so much to strengthen the Communist regime in Russia. See two excellent recent books: Stalin’s War by Sean McMeekin and American Betrayal by Diana West.
But then came the great civilizational triumph of the fall of the Soviet Union. What a great moment for mankind! Russia could now be welcomed back into the fraternity of free nations, join the West economically and culturally to the enrichment to both sides, and the greatest threat to peace be gone.
It didn’t happen. I never saw my “Peace Dividend.” Instead, Washington did everything it could to loot Russian resources and keep up an air of hostility and suspicion. The leaders of the U.S. have too big a political and economic investment in a gigantic defense establishment to welcome peace. That establishment supposedly is required to defend “democracy” around the world. The U.S. is now more aggressive and projecting more military power over previously untouched areas than it was in the Cold War. They have launched massive costly defeated wars in the Mideast on the pretext of fighting terrorism. Terrorists are best dealt with by very good Special Forces, not huge invasions.
The U.S. Establishment is now fighting a proxy war and whipping up hate against post-Communist Russia. A border dispute between Russia and the criminal regime of the Ukraine is not a grave international crisis---unless we make it so. It is not a world class threat to democracy. The ignorant American press and public has no idea that Washington has repeatedly rejected Putin’s reasonable requests for negotiations. And unlike the U.S. leadership, Putin has resisted provocation to make the conflict bigger. He has all along tried to achieve friendly relations with a West that refuses to treat Russia as a fellow. Unlike the American elite, he actually believes in and defends Western civilization.
Putin may well have made some mistakes. But unlike the Western elites, he actually has a statesmanlike vision and actually does what he thinks is best for his country and people.
I wrote in his defense and voted for him, although without much enthusiasm. What else were those of us to do who want to preserve the fragments of democracy and Christian society we have left, who I like to think are still numerous? I would probably vote for him again if he gets the nomination and the Democrats put up a candidate who is just as evil as Biden but more destructively competent.
Trump has courage and is the only big voice against the Evil Empire. He still has, it would seem, considerable grassroots popularity. His present campaign, however, looks rather too personal. He wants to right the wrong of a stolen election. A good issue, but we must have a lot more.
A successful general needs more than courage and the support of his troops. He needs to fight smart, know his enemy, know what to do to defeat him, and do it. Trump’s administration was a major failure in this regard. Is there any evidence that he has learned how to fight better? I don’t see it. True, he was backstabbed by his own party and got the most lying press that any President has ever suffered.
Much attention is being given to Governor DeSantis. He talks the talk. But unlike Nixon, Reagan, etc. he actually seems to be walking the walk. He is doing in his State what opponents of the Evil Empire that governs us should have been doing all along. Doing what Trump should have been encouraging in every suitable State. But now it appears that self-referencing Trump only regards DeSantis as a rival to be put down. This is not good.
The failure of the red wave (which Brion McClanahan amusingly calls the “red ripple”) has put the next presidential election in a new light. The poor Republican showing is given different explanations. Some blame it on discontent with the Supreme Court anti-abortion decision or revulsion at Trump. Another explanation might be that the Republican grassroots has finally discovered (although more than half a century too late) the dishonesty of their leadership.
Suppose Trump gets the nomination. Who among the empty suits of the Republican party can stop him? But they are certain to keep backstabbing him in the election and in office. The Democrats have perfected the technique of election stealing. To overcome that he would have to have the very active support of the Republican leadership, and that he will never have.
There is also talk of a Trump/DeSantis ticket. This would be a mistake for the Governor, likely to drag him down with Trump. He should maintain his own independent stand as a new and refreshing leader.
Clyde Wilson is a distinguished Professor Emeritus of History at the University of South Carolina He is the author or editor of over thirty books and published over 600 articles, essays and reviews