The end of the Cold War must have been confusing or perhaps Vladimir still has some KGB connections from The Nation’s fellow traveling days because no sooner did Putin invade Ukraine than its editor, publisher and godmother, Katrina vanden Heuvel, came out banging the drum for Vlad the Invader.
Katrina vanden Heuvel’s twitter feed quickly filled with rants about Republican warmongers and various justifications for Putin. Heuvel’s husband, Stephen F. Cohen penned an article for The Nation accusing the media of targeting Putin.
James Kirchik described Cohen’s piece as “one of the most slavish defenses of Putinism.” It might equally be described as “Leave Putin Alone!”.
In the grand style of the old Commie apologists, Cohen wrote, “In August, Putin virtually saved Obama’s presidency by persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to eliminate his chemical weapons. Putin then helped to facilitate Obama’s heralded opening to Iran. Should not Obama himself have gone to Sochi—either out of gratitude to Putin, or to stand with Russia’s leader against international terrorists who have struck both of our countries?”
It’s that last line that is telltale Russian propaganda and out of place in The Nation, which is favorably disposed to international terrorists.
Meanwhile Katrina vanden Heuvel was dividing her time on Twitter between shrieking about Arizona’s religious freedom bill as homophobic and urging the US to work together with Putin on the Ukraine. If Katrina saw anything contradictory about it, she wasn’t letting on.
Former Amb.Jack Matlock/” So far as violating sovereignty is concerned,Russia could point out that the U.S. invaded Panama 2 arrest Noriega”
— Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) March 2, 2014
Do these armchair interventionists really want West to take ownership of Ukrainian economy on brink of collapse?
— Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) February 28, 2014
These rightwing rodeo warmongers don’t have principles. They arerank hypocrites re intl law & intervention– always ready to take down Prez.
— Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) March 4, 2014
Then she repeatedly tweeted a link to her old article justifying Putin’s invasion of Georgia because at least The Nation is consistent in supporting Moscow dictators and their invasions of foreign countries.
Finally Katrina penned a Washington Post op-ed which put the blame for Putin’s invasion on Obama. Apparently Putin’s KGB cred still makes him redder than Obama despite his lack of allegiance to the left’s economic agenda.
Let’s all take a deep breath before we commit our limited treasure and prestige to an unknown and still unsettled leadership in a country on Russia’s border, harbor to its fleet, that has had a fragile independent existence for barely 20 years.
Only 20 years. Why it’s not even a real country. Hint, hint, say no more. It’s a familiar pretext considering that it’s how Molotov justified Stalin’s invasion of Poland.
The more things change, the more The Nation stays the same.
Some history would also serve us well if we’re to understand fast-moving developments. The United States is reaping the bitter fruit of a deeply flawed post-Cold War settlement that looks more like Versailles than it does Bretton Woods, and that settlement was made even worse by the United States’ violation of the settlement by deciding to enlarge NATO and pursue other triumphalist policies aimed at isolating Russia and ignoring Russian interests.
If you believe the left, Putin isn’t the real villain here, NATO is.
Americans across the political spectrum will not be eager to send billions of dollars to Kiev while we are starving investment in education, Head Start and other vital programs here at home.
I’m sure that Katrina feels the same way about sending billions of dollars to Pakistan, Jordan and Brunei. Oddly the left’s foreign aid critiques are rarely universal. When it’s convenient, they suddenly want to keep the money here.
In a Western media culture that largely disdains context or history, Putin has been made the villain in the piece. But Russia has legitimate security concerns in its near-neighbor. The Russian fear is far less about economic relations with the European Union (Russia is a major source of energy for the Europeans) than about the further extension of NATO to its borders. A hostile Ukraine might displace Russian bases in the Black Sea, harbor the U.S. fleet and provide a home to NATO bases.
Putin isn’t the villain here. He’s just terrified that the Yankee Devils will invade Moscow. Who can blame him?
Neoconservatives, politicians and frustrated Cold Warriors filling armchairs in the outdated “strategic” think tanks that litter Washington will continue to howl at the moon. But U.S. policy should be run by the sober. The president would be well advised to investigate whether the European Union, Russia and the United States can join together to preserve Ukraine’s territorial unity; to support new and free elections; and to agree to allow Ukraine to be part of both the European Union and Russian customs union, while reaffirming the pledge that NATO will not extend itself into Ukraine.
It’ll be just like Yalta. Speaking of which… let’s take a little flashback to The Nation’s past.
In 1936, as the Great Purge was underway and the Moscow Trials were getting started, the leftist magazine had declared that “[t]here can be no doubt that dictatorship in Russia is dying and that a new democracy is slowly being born.”
In 1946, after even much of the American left had broken with the Soviet Union, Walter Duranty used The Nation’s pages to describe Stalin’s latest purge as “a general cleaning out of the cobwebs and mess which accumulate in any house when its occupants are so deeply preoccupied with something else that they have no time to keep it in order.”
When the Soviet Union began to gobble up Eastern Europe a second time, Kirchwey said that America should accept the fall of Europe into darkness. “Peace and prosperity will be more than secure in America if we accept the process of revolution in Europe and the East instead of subsidizing resistance to it.”
In the 70s, Chomsky’s denial of the Cambodian genocide appeared in The Nation. “In the first place, is it proper to attribute deaths from malnutrition and disease to Cambodian authorities?” he asked.
And staying true to totalitarianism to the last, when Chavez died, an article in The Nation suggested that “the biggest problem Venezuela faced during his rule was not that Chávez was authoritarian but that he wasn’t authoritarian enough.”
Communist regimes may fall, but The Nation never changes. If it can’t have Stalin, The Nation tries to make do with Putin.