The West’s—and the Right’s—shame


World War II ended less than two decades before I was born, yet I’ve always felt that it belonged to much more distant age—set off from modern existence by its different ways of thinking and doing, different patterns of speech and dress, grander scale of horrors and heroism, even the monochrome of its newsreels. The bad things, especially, seemed mostly unrepeatable in the world where I grew up.

American isolationism is a good example. Conservative Americans, for the longest time, didn’t want to help Britain, or Western Europe, with their struggles against Hitler and Mussolini. The USA had helped out Britain and France in 1917-18, and felt that they shouldn’t have to do anything like that again. Let Europeans sort out their own problems, they said.

That was part of their public reasoning, anyway. Another part of it seemed much more instinctive and tribal, much more driven by the false logic of “the enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend”—their enemy being FDR, of course, their new friends being the Axis dictators.

It might seem facile to criticize the American isolationists of 1939-41 from our postwar perspective, but really they should have known better just from the information available at the time. In any case, it’s always striking now to read and hear the things they said. Here, for example, is aviator Charles Lindbergh, on September 11, 1941 (Europe conquered, Britain under siege, Wehrmacht nearing Moscow etc.), blaming the British, Roosevelt, and “the Jewish,” for pushing America towards war:

The Pearl Harbor attack, less than three months later, embarrassed the America First movement into silence. Lindbergh himself spent much of the war trying to get into combat to redeem himself, and eventually succeeded—in getting into combat, not at redeeming himself.

But anyway, here we are again, with the same kind of geopolitical setup (armed dictator on the prowl abroad, liberal Democrats in control at home), resulting in the same strange mindset on the part of American conservatives.

By the way, in case this is the first essay of mine you’ve read, I’m pretty conservative too (notwithstanding David Goldman’s swipe at me, below, as a “neocon/GlobLib”). Yet the fellow conservatives who, in defiance of recent history, have started talking up Putin and talking down Ukraine, the US and the Western alliance, are now as alien to me as DEI consultants.

I’ve already set down my own anti-isolationist, fight-the-bad-guy thoughts on Putin and Ukraine, a month ago on this site. Here I just want to record, mainly out of sheer amazement and chagrin, some of the sentiments I’ve been reading in recent days from elsewhere on the American right.

To keep things manageable, I’ve focused mainly on two prolific and very widely followed commentators, Goldman and Richard Hanania, and I’ve organized their comments by their major themes.

“Ukraine is a corrupt and backwards place that isn’t worth defending—or invading”


“Ukrainians are So Dumb”


“It’s All NATO’s/Neocons’ Fault for Expanding NATO and Threatening Russia”


“Putin is Smart and Will Win”


“The Woke are the Real Enemy—not Putin”


(See also “No Viet Cong Ever . . .“)


“You Neocons are So Dumb”


“Love Ukraine = Hate America”



“We Should Cut a Deal With Putin”


“Our NATO Allies Won’t Help Us—In Fact, NATO will collapse”


“We’ll Be Better Off When Russia and China Have More Power”


“Enough with the World War II Analogies!”


“And Now For Some Other Clever Ideas”

I’m aware that, as readers go through all these posts, they might find themselves agreeing with the sentiments expressed. But, as I post this, the long-awaited Russian offensive to conquer (presumably) Ukraine is just starting. It’s unlikely to be as dramatic for Americans as Pearl Harbor was, especially since it’s an attack on Ukraine, but modern electronic media, and weaponry, are going to be amplifying factors. I hope it will shock many of the Putin apologists and associated naysayers into rethinking their attitudes.