Are Critics of Putin’s Invasion of Ukraine ‘Warmongers’?

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


Concerns Grow In Ukraine Over Pro Russian Demonstrations In The Crimea Region

James Delingpole launches a rather unfair attack on Frank Gaffney and gets it wrong on the Ukraine. After 8 paragraphs of aimless juvenile snark, he gets around to making his point.

“Fast forward to the present and does anyone, anywhere in Western Europe or North America, seriously imagine that Putin’s Russia poses a threat even remotely comparable to the one once offered by the Soviet Union in the bad days of the Cold War?”

Let’s not beat a strawman too hard around the bush. Putin isn’t Stalin, but neither is he the obscure bit player with no relevance to our lives that Delingpole tries to make him out to be.

Russia is an enemy, aside from the espionage, it encourages its allies to engage in conflicts with the United States and sees itself as locked in a global power struggle with the West. Delingpole can sneer about Red Dawn all he likes, but it doesn’t change the reality that Putin sees this as a zero sum game and that he views the UK and the US as enemies.

The idea that a malicious world power should be disregarded when it invades another country in order to expand its empire and that anyone who feels otherwise is a warmongering buffoon is leftover rhetoric from Cold War lefties.

That doesn’t mean we should be going to war, but it is a topic that is at the very least worth taking seriously.

And if Delingpole really thinks Putin is irrelevant to his life, he might want to follow some of the polonium trails that Vladimir left around London back in 2006.

I believe they turned up a few in Heathrow Airport.

“What has suddenly possessed them to decide that the integrity of an independent Ukraine is of such paramount importance that the leaders of the free west should be prepared to hazard all to prevent the wicked Putin sending any more of his troops into thingummyjig and sealing off the airport of wotsisname?”

Or the integrity of an independent Czechoslovakia or Poland.

No one seriously believes that Putin is going to stop at his latest invasion point. Is there anything short of London that Delingpole does believe should merit an armed response?

Aside from the moral principle that small countries shouldn’t be gobbled up by large countries, especially large nasty totalitarian countries that are declared enemies, there are more practical considerations.

As Frank Gaffney has pointed out, Putin is trying to reconstruct a version of the USSR via the Eurasian Union. That’s not of minor relevance to us considering that a Eurasian Union would further escalate its conflict with the US and UK.

And for various historical reasons, Russia sees the UK as a bigger enemy than the US. Choosing to ignore that fact will not make it go away.

On Breitbart Radio last night, the admirable Frank Gaffney – a former defence adviser to the man who did more than anyone to bring about the end of the Cold War, Ronald Reagan – was ramping up the rhetoric about global conflagration…

… which might suggest that maybe Gaffney knows what he’s talking about.

  • A Z

    I like James Delingpole. He has written many a column as a AGW skeptic, but as DG points out he is wrong on this one.

    Just for starters Russia supplies 25% of Europe’s of or gas imports. In the past Russia has cut supplies to Ukraine. Russian can make winter very hard on the Europeans. Britain would also be affected.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      His AGW stuff is good, so I’m baffled as to where this came from.

  • 11johnmac66

    I agree with near most of the stuff that Daniel Greenfield writes, but I differ on this and the true placement of the Crimea as Ukraine territory when it was only handed over to the Ukraine in the 50s by the then soviet president without of course any reference to the people who are indeed Russian. Historically, culturally, spiritually. Should they not be given a choice to secede from the Ukraine.
    ( I also consider those borders that were artificially constructed in the creation of the Czechoslovakia and indeed Poland post ww1 to have been errors. )

    • Daniel Greenfield

      The question isn’t who should get Crimea…

      …though in practice allowing every area to secede because it has a different national majority would make Europe an even bigger mess than it is…

      …but the larger implications of Putin’s invasion which isn’t going to end there.

      • blert

        The Sudeten Crimeans are a tastes of things to come.
        Right now this is playing out like the annexation of Austria.
        Eastern Ukraine the Donbas/ Donets Basin will play like the Chech border lands.
        Kiev will play like Prague.

      • 11johnmac66

        There is much talk of the integrity of the sovereignty of the Ukrainian borders. What should be up for question is the phony construct of that integrity when it was put together by a soviet dictator who never envisioned the collapse of the USSR. In short the architect of the current national territory of the Ukraine has no credibility.
        The implications of Putin’s occupation of the Crimea may very well end there or give way to setting something right as regards the will of the Russian people of the region. Their right to self- determination that was denied them under the USSR. If you want to make an analogy with Czechoslovakia that is fine…see how that too was an artefact that did not hold together due to its want of true integrity.
        The Sudetenland was German…and only removed by means of punishment to Germany for ww1. ( A blame that is very questionable when one considers the hair trigger alliances that kicked that off ) As was East Prussia. ( and what never gets discussed is the attacks there on the ethnic Germans by the Poles prior to Hitlers invasion…something he did simultaneously with Stalin, and of which everyone remembers as Hitlers invasion that set off ww2 but ironically gave it over to Stalin by the end.

        • quousque

          If my memory does not fail me here; attacks on ‘ethnic Germans’ in the days/ hours leading to beginning of the hostilities between Poland and Germany in September 1939, were well staged and bloody provocations thanks to Abwehr or German military intelligence. Hitler would start the war with or without them.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          Ukraine itself is not the issue. The issue beyond that is where is Putin going to stop and what will his Eurasian Union mean for the US?

    • playasurf

      i agree 11johnmac66, another parallel can be drawn with tito allowing thousands of albanians into kosovo and seperating it from serbia by calling it an autonomous state. by all rights it is historically serbian land and from the history i have read by all rights crimea is russian.

  • Smoking Hamster

    Saying that modern Russia isn’t as dangerous as the USSR is like saying pot isn’t as bad as alcohol.

    It means nothing because both are bad and should be opposed. I’m still going to object to being killed with a gun even if it isn’t “as bad” as being torn apart by wild animals. You are dead either way.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Yes, a Eurasian Union would get even more aggressively into the business of trying to undermine the US by aiding our enemies and stirring up fights.

  • blert

    In raw economic terms, Putin has already annexed the Near-Abroad.
    Ukraine is the missing jewel.
    What weakness he has is due to his macro-economic destruction.
    In that sense, Putin is putting on the poverty.
    This leads Russia and Ukraine to abort a staggering percentage of prospective babies. The common Slav can’d afford them while Putin & Coy clean out the nation.
    Those mega-yachts carry that blood-price.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      Very true

  • quousque

    Be careful what you wish for. The huge swath of land from White Sea to the Black Sea is the turf on which roughly 20,000,000 (that’s 20 millions) Russians paid with their lives in the defense of their ‘motherland’ and it is not accidental that they call it that way. In 1812 they sent Napoleon packing and they take their allegiance to their country very seriously. And by the way; an ‘adversary’ on the global stage of affairs is NOT right off the bat an ‘enemy’ and that’s where I would put Putin over the last several years. Putin’s struggle with violent Islam would put him more in our camp and that’s where Gaffney makes his intellectual blunder. We as a nation got very deeply conditioned to see Russia as a perennial adversary / enemy. and in my modest opinion this is incorrect.The thought of starting a nuclear conflagration over Crimea or even the whole of Ukraine, gives me creeps.

    • Daniel Greenfield

      They paid for their lives in large numbers because Stalin sent Russians out to die often with rifles that didn’t work and with no credible plan of battle.

      Lives were wasted in huge numbers.

      Putin is not struggling with violent Islam. He’s struggling with Islamic groups that refuse to recognize his authority and he supports violent Islamic groups that are aligned with him and at war with the US.

      • quousque

        Children of Beslan would beg to disagree. Also, I agree on technicalities of why such a stupendous human losses. I love your columns and we probably sailed from the same parts of the world separated by few generations. On the global scale where the long range survival of the western civilization hangs in the balance; Ukraine, Crimea, Putin and the rest of it, are just minor blips. Help me with the following; where is the ‘raison d’etat’ for the US to go to war, for the is none? Will you support sending GIs or Marines into the environment by which ‘frozen Chosin’ would appear to be cake walk in a park? We cannot stop invading hordes crossing the southern border, we cannot complete nation building in Iraq and/or Afghanistan and for the same reason. We don’t have official language because of it. Even American English does not have provisions for that friggin French term straight from XVIII or XIX century diplomacy. Please, don’t tell me that ‘national interest’ is it because it does not cut it. The left will fight the very concept tooth and nail. I support Ukraine independence, I do not like Putin. But Putin is a nationalist and he has ‘raison d’etat’, while we do not. His global aspirations and vision are a totally different matter.

        • Daniel Greenfield

          Putin’s pet imams call for Jihad against America. So there isn’t much room for disagreement.

          I did not call for war with Russia.

  • rbla

    “And if Delingpole really thinks Putin is irrelevant to his life, he might want to follow some of the polonium trails that Vladimir left around London back in 2006.
    I believe they turned up a few in Heathrow Airport.”

    What Putin ordered done on British soil in pursuit of his enemies is truly disgusting. But what the British elite have done to millions of their own countrymen is even more so. Norwegian anti-jihadist writer Fjordman notes the following in a recent column:

    “Andrew Neather, a former adviser to Tony Blair, later admitted that without consulting the country’s citizens, Blair’s Labour government had decided to flood Britain with immigrants, in order to make the country more Multicultural.

    Some years later, Islamic Jihadist terror supporters pose a constant threat to British citizens. Meanwhile, Muslim so-called grooming gangs have raped and sexually abused thousands of young British girls and children. People such as Tommy Robinson, the former leader of the English Defence League (EDL), have led street protests against this. Robinson is now in jail whereas Tony Blair, who seriously damaged his nation, walks free and has well-paid international jobs.”

    • Daniel Greenfield

      One doesn’t change the other.

      I’ve written extensively about the immigration Jihad and the left’s political agenda for national replacement.

  • Habbgun

    Screw Socialism is right. Funny how the antiwar types aren’t that worried and nobody else is worried about the Ukraine. No the Ukraine is not “important” in the geoglobal realpolitik sense but it has the capability of being a Democratic free market success story (though it would be tough to get there) and countries need to be able to tell other countries thats enough. Obama hates American power even when its use was forced like in WW II. You would think he’d understand limiting power politics. Certainly the Europeans talk a good game about the evils of power politics but that only applies to the Americans and Israeli self-defense.

    As far as I can tell this is just an expression of traditional European disdain for the slavs the same way antizionism is traditional European disdain of Jews.