My friend Dave Curp, a historian of Eastern Europe and a sane conservative writes:
I devoutly wish people would stop doing this. I get the frustration at our fumbling – but we are stuck playing the grownups globally (even our President, many of whose instincts in this situation I fear are deeply wrong). It is honestly hard work to deal with such an irresponsible criminal regime as Russia (or explosive problems like Syria and Iran) – made doubly hard of course by many of Obama’s mistakes and missteps to be sure. But still, at the end of the day, Putin is creating deadly enemies all around his country – this is not statesmanship, this is folly of a high order. Every ostensible gain Putin’s Russia extorts from Ukraine will be paid for with interest.
President Obama is our Commander in Chief – we need to carefully and respectfully advocate for better policies without denigrating his leadership in international affairs. Left, right and center in this country (and also, many abroad – esp. but not only Ukrainians) – need him to get this right. There are more than enough reasons domestically to oppose the Obama administration – and also ways in foreign policy to seek to redirect US policy as necessary. But the need to denigrate the President by invidious comparisons with an aggressive imperialist are just not helping right now. The stakes are too high.
Yes, we need to draw distinctions when necessary – but give President Obama some breathing space and support right now in this and try to be constructive in criticism rather than essentially offering a kind of back-handed praise to Putin, whose collapse when it comes will startle us. The real house of cards is in Moscow and we are going to need to get it right this time when Russia once again collapses under the weight of its corruption and crimes of its ruling class.
Also there is a weird and deeply unhealthy vibe of man-love toward Putin by some conservatives that I find quite creepy. Putin’s brutality and criminality are not how you get “taken seriously” – they are how you make everyone who opposes you up-arm and spend serious time thinking about how to hurt you. Putin is not wise, not some kind of chess player, just brutal, and that is not at all admirable – nor is it going to work in the long run – there is a reason the Germans are switching to Canadian natural gas for all the extra expense it brings – b/c the Canucks are reliable business partners.
All politics is local and the Thing that Used to be Conservatism has degenerated to the point where pols like Rogers talk as though the thugs are kinda awesome if they can just make Obama look bad, as well as talking like we would be kinda awesome if we could just have “leadership” like Putin. Such overgrown adolescents should not be holding high office. Memo to FOX and the GOP, this is not marbles or chess. This is not a game. When the Ruling Class of a country becomes so incestuous and self-absorbed that it is willing to evaluate the dangers of World War III entirely on the basis of whether it makes their little tribal enemy across the aisle look bad, it’s time for a new Ruling Class. The purpose of the state is to ensure the common good, not to degenerate into an eternal struggle over who gets to sit at the Cool Kids’ Table.
Oh, and can we please get over the ridiculous notion that because Putin is hostile to homosexuals, that makes him a Second Constantine and somebody Catholics should look to with longing as a savior of the Church? Simcha Fisher warned the League of Discernment-Free Catholics about this some time ago, but with infallible anti-charism for which so many conservative Catholics are known, she was shouted down as “once reliably orthodox” in her comboxes and Putin was exalted as a hero saving us from “Mannequin Love”.