The Single-Legged Stool of the Horseshoe Left’s Apology for Putin

All too often, both the Putin-apologist horseshoe left and some good faith members of the anti-war left have adopted a single frame to think of Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine: NATO.

In the sloppiest versions, the idea is that Bill Clinton provided “guarantees” to Putin that NATO would not expand, and since NATO has expanded, the US bears all the responsibility for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

NATO is undoubtedly a big part of Putin’s grievance. Fiona Hill describes that this moment has been coming since 2007.

Hill: I think there’s been a logical, methodical plan that goes back a very long way, at least to 2007 when he put the world, and certainly Europe, on notice that Moscow would not accept the further expansion of NATO. And then within a year in 2008 NATO gave an open door to Georgia and Ukraine. It absolutely goes back to that juncture.

Back then I was a national intelligence officer, and the National Intelligence Council was analyzing what Russia was likely to do in response to the NATO Open Door declaration. One of our assessments was that there was a real, genuine risk of some kind of preemptive Russian military action, not just confined to the annexation of Crimea, but some much larger action taken against Ukraine along with Georgia. And of course, four months after NATO’s Bucharest Summit, there was the invasion of Georgia. There wasn’t an invasion of Ukraine then because the Ukrainian government pulled back from seeking NATO membership. But we should have seriously addressed how we were going to deal with this potential outcome and our relations with Russia.

But it’s not just NATO. For years, Putin has portrayed any popular uprising for democracy as a CIA plot, a claim that many anti-imperialists championed, thereby denying those calling for democracy any agency. And the 2014 ouster of Viktor Yanukovych (which more complicit members of the horseshoe left claim was simply a coup led by Nazis) set off a concerted plan that incorporated support for Brexit, an attack on US elections in 2016, all conducted in parallel with relentless targeting of Ukraine.

This invasion is the continuation of not just the annexation of Crimea and persistent war in Ukraine’s East, but also the hybrid attacks on Ukraine’s power grid and, via NotPetya, on anyone paying taxes in Ukraine and therefore any international business doing business with it.

Russia’s efforts to cultivate Tories in the UK, populists in the EU, and the Trumpist right, including a good deal of disinformation capitalizing on Trump’s narcissism, was always closely connected to Russia’s closer goals in Ukraine (and, indeed, involved the participation of some of Trump’s closest allies, starting with Paul Manafort and Rudy Giuliani. in Ukraine).

The horseshoe left can’t acknowledge this, of course, because it would amount to admitting that they have been lying in Russia’s service since 2016, conflating their own manufactured “RussiaGate” for Russia’s real attack on US democracy in 2016 and afterwards, debunking the former while repeating Russia’s lies about the latter. Because the horseshoe left can’t admit they were duped into being mouthpieces gleefully attacking democracy, they have real incentive to ignore the ways the Ukrainian invasion is not just a reaction against NATO, but also an attack on democracy, on a rules-based order, on the European project that always aspired (however imperfectly) to improve on the hypocritical liberal aspirations of the United States.

The thing I don’t understand, though, is how little of the horseshoe left’s criticism is about Neoliberalism. If you’re going to attack Bill Clinton, why not attack the way the US pushed shock therapy on former Soviet states, including Russia?

To be sure, Putin is not unhappy with the results of that, and so is not complaining about the imposition of a form of capitalism that allowed Oligarchs to loot the state, and through them, Putin to accumulate power. Putin has made the most of the organized crime that filled the vacuum of the state.

But as the EU has moved with remarkable (though selective) swiftness to pressure Putin through those networks of Oligarchs, as Germany, Italy, and Cyprus took steps it wasn’t clear they would take, a critique of American-led failures of capitalism is especially important, not just to ensure that the Oligarchs do get sanctioned and in hopes that the UK begins to wean itself of Russian dirty money.

Ukraine, with Europe, needs to survive this attack, find a way to rebut the invasion and build a path forward.

But whatever else this moment has done, it has made it clear how easy it was for Russia to pervert democracy in the places proudly claiming to practice it with the least little bit of Oligarch cash. Having ripped off the bandaid of Russian influence, Europe (at least) has the opportunity to formalize protections against purchased influence.

Such lessons, of course, extend beyond Russia to America’s own failed imperial catastrophes, most notably in Afghanistan, where US-backed corruption made it easy for the Taliban to regain credibility by comparison. US hegemony is on the wane because of Green Zone thinking about capitalism, which fostered the kind of corruption that made Putin powerful.

Such lessons extend, as well, to America’s own fragile democracy, subjugated in recent years to endless supplies of corporate cash, which led in 2016 to the election of a man who aspired to impose a kleptocracy every bit as corrupt as Putin’s.

Vladimir Putin has gotten a large swath of anti-imperialist American leftists to parrot a claim that he invaded Ukraine because of NATO, and only because of NATO. Not only has that made them willful apologists for the kind of imperialism they claim to abhor, even while ignoring the direct assault on democracy and the greater aspirations to human rights adopted by Europe. But it has led them to ignore an obvious critique of US and Russian power that would be a necessary component of building a new, more resilient order if we survive this war.

147 replies
  1. Just Some Guy says:

    “Such lessons extend, as well, to America’s own fragile democracy, subjugated in recent years to endless supplies of corporate case…”

    Presumably meant to read “corporate cash.”


      • Just Some Guy says:

        No, thank you. Your writing and insights are invaluable.

        It is beyond ironic that Putin’s whining about NATO expansion for decades is now used as an excuse for the Russian invasion of Ukraine– as a result of the latter, it’s a very real possibility that Sweden and Finland will join NATO. I actually hate to describe it as “beyond ironic,” but no description really fits. As a result of Putin’s ill-advised war, there are a myriad of ways in which the result will be — and already is — far more harmful to Russia’s perceived interests prior to it.

        • Raven Eye says:

          As far as traditional means, Russia has continued the “play” in Swedish waters started by the Soviet Union, and I’m sure there are regular Russian activities on and through Finnish territory.

          I suspect the intelligence services of both those countries have also seen an uptick in asymmetrical activities. Swedish and Finnish observation of the experiences of the former Soviet Baltic states is likely changing from lessons learned to a record of their own events.

          Putin’s mind can probably find some historic “truths” over the previous millennium that would form the kernel of his rationalization to nibble at a bordering nation and nations along critical sea lanes.

  2. Badger Robert says:

    Your excellent post deserves expansion.
    To me, NATO was always a distraction. (President Clinton may have been wrong about viewing everything through a Cold War lens.) Its democracy, the EU and probable Ukrainian prosperity that are the real threats to Putin. Some part of Ukraine is likely to survive. The EU may to decide how to produce prosperity in that surviving part.

    • emptywheel says:

      I don’t think it’s entirely a distraction. NATO has overstepped its bounds and done so in some ill-considered ways.

      Ideally, one thing that will come out of this would be a non-contiguous European defense and a different kind of NATO. Even more, some better thinking about how to defend democracy and humanitarian goals without imperialism.

      • Badger Robert says:

        I am looking forward to you expanding these ideas.
        But to me, NATO is a relic.
        The EU is the expansionist federal entity.
        If the Ukraine survives, Russia may gain its freedom too.
        Having NATO succeed is a partial goal. Making it obsolete, because the Cold War is really over, would be an immense achievement for Europe and mankind.
        Ukraine cannot free Russia with bullets and rockets. But it may have other tools.

        • Scott Johnson says:

          Part of the NATO project (and the EU) remains keeping European powers from going to war with each other.

        • skua says:

          If China has been aiming to become the global superpower then it is ontrack to have Russia become significantly Chinese-owned. A secure northern border, a compliant trading partner, a reliable source of resources, a supporter in international politics …
          A weakened Russia that is more isolated from the West would AIUI suit China very nicely. But maybe not the longer term interests of the West in terms of maintaining and strengthening democratic and human rights values.

  3. darjeeling says:

    pedantic: typo in penultimate para at “endless supplies of corporate casH”

    long time reader, first post. will try to offer more meaningful commentary next time.

    • emptywheel says:

      Welcome. I look forward to your more substantive participation, but always appreciate the proof reads!

      • JamesJoyce says:

        WWII’s worst fear was…
        Nazi with nukes….

        We now have a Soviet KGB Stalinist Nazi with nukes who is actively engaged in a war crime just like the Nazis, in Ukraine 🇺🇦.

        Putin should be disrupted, as he disrupts others, because he can’t take the competition,’ on or off the ice 🧊.

        He is a world class coward going after a comedian, Al Franken?

        Putin a fascist now scratches Trump’s fascist back while CPAC and Trump scratch Putin’s back.

        Oil 101 Folks…
        Slaveowner’s did same…

        Fraud and Gaslighting to maintain fossil fuel energy monopoly.

        Speaking of corporate cash?

        How are all those energy pipelines doing in the Ukraine 🇺🇦 Vlad?

        Never mind Yom Kippur OPEC.

        Talk about being conned and essentially “effed”for the 3rd or 4th time, America by heirs obvious of Standard Oi?

        This is a stool alright…

        Putin a global “turd”needs a plasma beam💩..

        • gmoke says:

          “We now have a Soviet KGB Stalinist Nazi” reluctantly aging and perhaps suffering from “‘roid rage,” if the rumors about his possible illness and steroid consumption are accurate (see Fiona Hill interview), with nukes.

  4. John B. says:

    Yes, this is a very important distinction…it’s a thriving free democracy on Russia’s border that is the real threat to Putin’s mob and cronies in the Russian Federation government. Yes, of course NATO expansion threatens him but now with this invasion of Ukraine more countries not in NATO see the value of belonging to what is essentially a defensive pact allied against the Russian Federation. I don’t see anyone trying to get out of Ukraine and moving east towards Russia and Putin’s only allies at this time are governments beholden to him or threatened by him. I’m not counting China at this time as time will tell how much they are willing to support this madness by the Russian war criminal.

    • Zirc says:

      “I’m not counting China at this time as time will tell how much they are willing to support this madness by the Russian war criminal.”

      Everyone gives the Chinese credit for thinking about the long game, but they are also opportunists. They will drop Putin like a hot rock should they see an advantage to be gained.


      • JohnC says:

        Putin has invaded Ukraine now because Russia will be protected by China’s economic, political, and military, clout. Both Russia and China are too big economically for the world to ignore for long, so Europe and the US will acquiesce to Russia’s (ultimate) annexation of Ukraine.

        Russia will get its buffer area from invasion by Europe. Putin will be remembered for reuniting Russia. China will get a study of a dry run for its reunification of Taiwan and also a friendly source of raw materials for its economy.

        • Scott Johnson says:

          Such is possibility, but…
          * China, so far, hasn’t done squat for Russia other than abstain on a few UN votes. (Notably it hasn’t voted in Russia’s defense)
          * China, by itself, is too big for the world to ignore economically. Your comment reminds me of the time former Chicago Bulls player Stacey King remarked after a game, “I’ll remember this as the night that Michael Jordan and I combined for fifty points”. (Jordan had 48 of those 50).

          Russia might end up as China’s client… but China doesn’t care who winds up with Ukraine, and isn’t going to risk good relations with the West so that Putin can fulfill his imperial ambitions.

          • JohnC says:

            “Russia might end up as China’s client… but China doesn’t care who winds up with Ukraine, and isn’t going to risk good relations with the West so that Putin can fulfill his imperial ambitions.”
            That’s just it. There is no risk to China’s relations with the West — and no long-term risk to the Russians — because it (and even Russia) are too big economically for the West to ignore. And China will study the West’s reactions to the invasion of Ukraine to better prepare for countering Western histrionics when China “reunites” Taiwan, which is indisputably part of China

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        From Business Insider:

        “5 professors from top Chinese universities wrote an open letter condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, marking a departure from China’s pro-Russian online sentiment

        Top Chinese historians and university alumni have spoken up against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
        Their anti-war messages contradict the Chinese government’s ban on criticisms of Russia.
        China continues to avoid calling Russia’s attack of Ukraine an invasion.
        “In the midst of all the noise, we felt the need to make our voices heard.”

        That’s what a group of five Chinese historians wrote in an open letter condemning the invasion of Ukraine. They number among the growing anti-war voices in China breaking ranks with their government’s ban on criticisms of Russia.

        The letter was signed by five history professors from top Chinese universities: Nanjing University’s Sun Jiang, Peking University’s Wang Lixin, Hong Kong University’s Xu Guoqi, Tsinghua University’s Zhong Weimin, and Fudan University’s Chen Yan.

        “As a country that was once also ravaged by war … we sympathize with the suffering of the Ukrainian people,” their letter read, per US-funded nonprofit outlet Radio Free Asia (RFA). Calling for an immediate end to the fighting, the letter warned the invasion could spark a “massive, global war.”

        The historians did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

        The letter was censored hours after it was posted on social media platform WeChat on Saturday, according to BBC Chinese, although copies of it can still be found online.”

        • RMD says:

          ….the NYTimes is reporting that China asked Russia to hold off invading until after the Olympics ended.

    • madwand says:

      Actually there were 127,000 from the Donbas urged to evacuate east into Russia, as to voluntarily or not I’m not aware, but probably because they had been convince to believe the world (code for indiscriminate and lethal bombing) was about to descend on to their heads.

  5. klynn says:

    Thank you for this post. Really well stated.

    I usually point out to my Putin-apologist horseshoe left and some good faith members of the anti-war left friends a few items.

    When Rachel Scott asked Putin in 2021, “What are you so afraid of,” his answers pointed to BLM and the January 6 arrests and prison sentences as a way to frame his case of disorder, destruction and law breaking.

    While he tried to frame democracy as a horrible sphere, in the moment, Putin did answer Scott’s question between the lines. He’s afraid of democracy.

    Putin has been on this train for a long time of framing NATO expansion as a threat. In 2005 Putin described the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the twentieth century. But never once owned the Soviet lies about Chernobyl as the advancing cause of the collapse. Chernobyl was the greatest environmental, human and geopolitical catastrophe but he never would admit to the lies, lies that impacted NATO and NATO friendly countries to this day. And today, he continues in the same vein as his Soviet Russian predecessors, lying, shutting down media while killing Ukrainians. Only this time, it is not due to lies about human error and bad engineering designs. It’s about his power-powerless thirst for control through oppression. It’s his personal imperialism driving this war. This is not the aggression desired by the average Russian.

    Putin’s Munich Speech in February 2007 at the Munich Security Conference was his foundational anti NATO speech. What he failed to realized is that Russian Soviet behavior 21 years earlier along with a history of human rights violations, set the stage for former Soviet republic members to potentially desire an alliance with NATO. The US had nothing to do with Chernobyl or the Soviet history of oppression aside from shining light on both.

    The only Imperialism of influence on Ukraine at this moment is Putin’s. His extending his power with military force over Ukraine is a text book definition of imperialism.

    Any former Soviet states desiring both EU and NATO membership has been due to Putin’s imperialism shaped in him by his mentors and a romantic vision of Russian greatness.

    What Putin is doing today is not fully about NATO and his feelings or Russia being militarily threatened by the potential of NATO at Russia’s borders. This is about the risks of a thriving, free, economically successful democracy on his border and the Russian people visiting friends and family in Ukraine and seeing Ukraine having a better life. Which brings us to his other fear, his people.

    I usually close my talks with my anti-war and apologist friends with a few questions. If Putin is doing this because of geopolitical influence of NATO then why the propaganda campaigns about his military actions in Ukraine? Why the shut down of media sources? Why the arrests of Russians who protest after discovering the reality of the war being carried out?

    Because. Putin is afraid of democracy and the Russian people.

    I am not sure Rachel Scott realized the full scope of her question in 2021. However, she asked the correct one.

    • eskimo says:

      thanks for adding these rich nuances to marcy’s typically sharp insights … could there be more to say perhaps about developments in the firtash extradition case and the mogilevich penumbra seen through characters like cohen, sater, abramovich, or kolomoyskiy? ukraine kind of has it all … resources, talent, historical depth, skilled engineers … these are some of the most sophisticated quandaries the world has ever known.

    • Rayne says:

      his answers pointed to BLM and the January 6 arrests and prison sentences as a way to frame his case of disorder, destruction and law breaking.

      Whew. The gall on that one, after he ratcheted up tension in the US about race/gender/sexual identity and fed anti-government sentiment with active measures through social media since 2014 and earlier.

      He was only able to do that because of our First Amendment right of free speech, weaponized against us. As you said, he’s afraid of democracy; he couldn’t handle it being used against him.

      • Savage Librarian says:

        I think Putin is confounded that his attempt to use “denazification” did not achieve the same level of propaganda that his racism campaign in the US did. But it looks like he is making a concerted push to “educate” the Russian people about it.

        In fact, just as the US has a problem with white supremacists, fascists, neo-nazis, etc., so does Ukraine. But, theirs have actually fought against white separatist Russians. So, it’s more complicated. And, consequently, a propaganda target for Putin. And to further confuse the issue, some American fascists may have tried to join forces with a Ukrainian fascist militia. Putin will continue to propagandize this.

        • Rayne says:

          Given 73% of Ukraine voted for a Jewish president, I think I’ll let Ukraine sort out their neo-Nazi Azov problem. It’s clear looking through Twitter that the Azov regiment is a subject of Russian (and horseshoe left) whataboutism; apparently to Putin you can act like a Nazi if you’re deploying an invasion but you can’t actually say you’re a Nazi if you’re with the resistance under a Jewish president.


    • Terry Mroczek says:

      Your last two paragraphs capture the points I make to friends about this as well. Additionally, if he was rational, why would he attack a country on his border who is NOT in NATO. And, why should any sovereign nation be required to subjugate their desire to protect themselves because it might hurt the feelings of a unstable dictator who has demonstrated time and time again, the tendency to do the exact thing they are trying to protect themselves from?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      I don’t see a lot about why Putin would consider NATO the EU existential threats. The supposition seems to be that they have no function but to serve as Trojan horses for the US. That explanation, while true, seems superficial and inadequate.

      They would be threats because they put at risk the things Putin values: his unrivaled lifetime of hegemonic control within Russia, which includes his status as the oligarch of oligarchs. (He used his KGB status to become his government’s supervisor of state assets – in the midst of post-Soviet privatization – before becoming head of the FSB.)

      Ukraine seems to be a perfect example. Its movement toward openness and democracy was a model for his own hated domestic rivals and critics. Its independence was a model for the loss of the Soviet-era satellite states – an empire of resources and power, not just territory between him and Western armed forces.

      Putin feels encircled by things he hates. Those include Western ideas and practices, not just Western tanks and alliances. In the 1950s, one might have called that global-threatening paranoia.

      • klynn says:

        Oh no doubt. However, Putin is the one using NATO as his justification for war to hide his power based motives. He is trying to walk the Russian people down a path of justified war. He would not be imposing a nationwide NATO history lesson upon the youth tomorrow otherwise.

        It is important to keep dialogue about his fears and power-powerless strategies driving him in constant dialogue in democratic countries, in order for those points to make an impact on his Firehose of Falsehoods.

    • gmoke says:

      I know nothing but have a suspicion that Putin is more afraid of economic success in Ukraine than democracy, although I’m sure he’s also afraid of democracy. An economically successful Ukraine would be an awful comparison for Russia’s kleptocracratic kakistocracy.

  6. Joe Sommer says:

    Actually, it’s a two-legged stool. The horseshoe types also like to mention Bush II’s unprovoked invasion of Iraq. In a week or so, they’re likely to mention Kennedy’s assassination of Diem and replacement with Ky. Whataboutism is a helluva drug.

    • Just Some Guy says:

      I don’t think the “unprovoked invasion of Iraq” is of concern to merely “horseshoe types.” Despite the nuttiness of some of the latter, GWB’s “unprovoked invasion” AND subsequent occupation has been used as an excuse for many terrible actions by all types of odious authoritarian regimes in the decades since. For many of us opposed to GWB at the time, the consequences down-the-road were just as much reason to oppose invading Iraq as was the violation of Iraq’s sovereignty on false pretenses. And as we see with Putin’s calls for “de-Nazification” of Ukraine, an utterly shameful falsehood, I still think that opposition to GWB was the correct call.

    • madwand says:

      HMMM. so if you find fault with both the Bush Administration invasion of Iraq which blew up the Mideast and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, that makes you some sort of horseshoe type. Give me a break, the Kennedy assassination of Diem was a direct predecessor of my own involvement over the course of 7 years. One would have to be ignorant not to see parallels between the pretexts used then, in Iraq and now in Ukraine. In case you’re wondering they’re all bullshit.

      • Scott Johnson says:

        Criticising the US for its misadventures in Iraq is fair game; such criticism is not just a product of the “horseshoe left”. While there were some lefties back in the 80s who would occasionally portray Saddam (then a Soviet client) as some sort of working class champion, nobody thought he was a nice guy in 2003, just that an invasion on false pretenses to oust him was a bad idea, which it was.

        However, “the US has no right to criticize or restrain Putin, because Iraq” is a profoundly stupid argument.

        • Leoghann says:

          In the Seventies and Eighties, Saddam was a client of both Russia and the USA. He would do business with anyone who allowed him to improve and develop his country and line his own pockets–there were always new palaces to build.

          • skua says:

            Saddam was bad. And his power base was a coalition of ethnic and reilious minority groups who since Saddam’s removal have been destroyed/exiled/persecuted. This needs to be factored into evaluations of the G.W. Bush disaster-Presidency..

  7. Greg Hunter says:

    “…America’s own failed imperial catastrophes, most notably in Afghanistan, where US-backed corruption made it easy for the Taliban to regain credibility by comparison. US hegemony is on the wane because of Green Zone thinking about capitalism, which fostered the kind of corruption that made Putin powerful.”

    Sebastian Junger covered this topic in detail in his lament about why we lost in Afghanistan.

    I wrote Sebastian Junger an email pointing out that we lost Afghanistan because the USA did not learn the lesson that Prohibition should have taught the USA. He responded that he agreed with what I wrote.

    Dear Mr. Junger,

    I have followed the events in Afghanistan prior to 911 and it appears to me that the major miss that the Political and Military leaders fail to address when it comes to corruption is the actual longest war; The Drug War. The chattering class never seems to make the connection between America’s largest crime wave caused by Prohibition and the corruption it caused when it exported crime to the world when America began its War on Naturally Occurring Plants.

    It was clear in April of 2001 when America paid the Taliban 44 million dollars because they destroyed the Poppy crop, that the USA cared more about the Drug War than the people of Afghanistan. Afghanistan could have been won if the Military and Political class would have realized winning hearts and minds should start with the Poppy farmers and an honest discussion about Drug Policy in America.

    I find it appalling that as the USA continued to foster the corruption caused by the Drug War in Afghanistan, it allowed the Sacklers to hook people on a more lethal form of Opium than those produced by the farmers in a country that we were at war with. It is my opinion that the USA would have been far better off legalizing naturally occurring plants 150 years ago instead of waging a Drug War that has decimated America and the World.

    • gmoke says:

      Nail hits head.

      There are very, very few references in USAmerican policy people or media that I see about what the results of decriminalization of drugs in Portugal has accomplished over the last 20 years. Everybody talking about USAmerican drug policy should just be saying, “Portugal, Portugal, Portugal” until the message sinks in.

      I remember a talk at MIT a couple of decades ago about Afghanistan and the poppy crop. Turns out that poppies are about the only cash crop that allowed a farming family to pay for a dowry and wedding for their daughters and there was no banking infrastructure that would allow them to take out loans instead. Or so I recall.

      As for the Sacklers, the business model of late stage capitalism is addiction (also known as “branding” for customers, you know, like cattle) and they are the prime example. Anne Wilson Schaef’s When Society Becomes an Addict explains quite a lot about USAmerican culture, economics, and politics.

      • Greg Hunter says:

        Thanks and it is clear the Drug War has failed but it is also clear that BigPharma wants it to continue due to fear that Americans may learn to self medicate responsibly. Just watch Joe Biden ask for a little concession on insulin as a treatment while continuing to back BigPharma solutions for every other ailment. No media outlet can afford to lose the drug companies as sponsors, so no outlet will push this solution.

        • gmoke says:

          Watching the news on TV, I’ve wondered what would happen to their income stream if we had universal healthcare and all those drug commercials went away.

  8. bawiggans says:

    The whataboutism employed by the Horseshoe Left, along with so many other cynics and sociopaths, depends for its paralyzing effects on its targets being susceptible to shame and averse to hypocrisy, while they have either convinced themselves of their own moral superiority or their vulnerability to shame is absent or withered. We may all have logs in our own eyes but that cannot be allowed to destroy the legitimacy of setting norms, rules and laws for the way we behave towards one another and judging and being judged when these are being violated. This we must hold onto in a zone that is continually being flooded with shit.

    • Joe Sommer says:

      Word. But there is more than cynicism or sociopathy that motivates it, at least among the horseshoe left. A number of its practitioners are morally frozen at about age 10, when they first learn that we are not a nation of pure paladins. Grownups learn to cope with this, but many of the horseshoes haven’t gotten over the distinction between “perfect” and “better.”

      • Scott Johnson says:

        Now now, be fair. They’re college freshmen morally, as most of them were no doubt subject to all sorts of patriotic rah-rah through their childhood, before being exposed to leftist critiques of the US in university.

        • gmoke says:

          EO Wilson on his own college freshman attitudes from Naturalist: A Graphic Adaptation adapted by Jim Ottaviani and CM Butzer 9Washington: Island Press, 2020 ISBN 9781610919586):

          “I was in my late-teens radical period and anxious to see the world rise to meet my own empyrean and wholly untested moral standards.”

      • Leoghann says:

        They aren’t interested in anything short of “perfection.” But any kind of scrutiny of their versions of perfection reveals that it isn’t based on anything realistic. It doesn’t take human nature into account, or environmental reality, or anything, really, except their own juvenile and hypocritical senses of moral superiority.

    • snarkhuntr says:

      While there are certainly those who engage in whataboutism, it is certainly not that to point out that we lack an effective international mechanism to prevent these conflicts precisely because the US does not want such a mechanism to exist. Or rather, it wants such a mechanism to exist but not to restrict its own adventurism and imperialism.

      This has been the US’s policy for decades – to tout the importance or international order, norms and rules *for everyone else to follow*. So no systems exist. The ICC is a joke, because the US refuses to accept that any foreigner could be allowed to judge the legality of the actions its soldiers commit overseas. The UN is a joke, because the US keeps it neutered so that it cannot check the US, or its clients, military adventures.

      It is perfectly possible for those of us on the left to hold a consistently anti-war position, to blame Putin for his decisions to invade sovereign countries while also pointing out that the ease with which he is doing it is a direct consequence of the US also wanting to be able to invade sovereign countries on a whim.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        That it’s possible does not make it so. That last paragraph, for example, does not describe the horseshoe left. It seems largely blinded by American (and British) hypocrisy and excess, and seems unable to see those traits in other countries, like Russia.

        GG, Carlson, Trump, and the GOP agree, for example, that Putin’s really the good guy, acting for legitimate reasons of “self-preservation,” and that no country with the foreign policy past that America has could legitimately criticize him or support those at whom he takes aim.

        As a critique of the media, apart from its abject blindness, that line of argument seems designed to keep its proponents, rather than the topic, at the center of attention. It’s all me, me, me, click, click, click, and money, money, money.

    • RMD says:

      Vox: “[…] If you follow politics at all, you know how exhausting the environment is. The sheer volume of content, the dizzying number of narratives and counternarratives, and the pace of the news cycle are too much for anyone to process.”

      “One response to this situation is to walk away and tune everything out. After all, it takes real effort to comb through the bullshit, and most people have busy lives and limited bandwidth. Another reaction is to retreat into tribal allegiances. There’s Team Liberal and Team Conservative and pretty much everyone knows which side they’re on. So (most) stick to the places that feed (them) the information (they) most want to hear.”

      “It was distilled almost perfectly by Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News and chief strategist for Donald Trump: ‘The Democrats don’t matter. The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit.‘”

      ~ Political Wire

  9. Alan says:

    Fiona Hill points out we have trouble learning from our past mistakes:

    “Sadly, we are treading back through old historical patterns that we said that we would never permit to happen again,”

    With that in mind it is worth reading Orwell’s planned preface to Animal Farm. A different Russia run by a different monster but even then we were repeating old historical patterns:

    “The servility with which the greater part of the English intelligentsia have swallowed and repeated Russian propaganda from 1941 onwards would be quite astounding if it were not that they have behaved similarly on several earlier occasions. On one controversial issue after another the Russian viewpoint has been accepted without examination and then publicised with complete disregard to historical truth or intellectual decency.”

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Orwell was writing in the immediate aftermath of WWII, when Stalin remained in power and before the left was able to take in and admit his lethal excesses. Millions around the globe were able to reassess that after Stalin’s death in 1953, including the leadership of Soviet Russia.

      He is also reminiscing about Depression-era 1930s, when the promise of Soviet communism (not its reality) was a mental life preserver to some of those sinking in the destructive sea of the West’s unregulated capitalism.

      • Alan says:

        I don’t disagree with your points but I think his main targets were the British elites who knew or should have known better. His argument is with publishers, newspapers, journals, intellectuals and the silencing of unpopular opinions. The British elite were and are exceptionally good at this.

        The link I inserted above appears to be broken. Here’s a link to the text:

        “The British press is extremely centralised, and most of it is owned by wealthy men who have every motive to be dishonest on certain important topics. But the same kind of veiled censorship also operates in books and periodicals, as well as in plays, films and radio. At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed that all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to say this, that or the other, but it is ‘not done’ to say it, just as in mid-Victorian times it was ‘not done’ to mention trousers in the presence of a lady. Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          I agree with his observations. I doubt that much has changed since he wrote that. If anything, media ownership is more concentrated and connected to the powers that be, quite a feat in itself, who effectively silence contrary opinions that threaten to gain traction.

  10. Alan says:

    Highly recommend the recent exchange between Fiona Hill and Mark Blyth at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs. There’s discussion of Ukraine and Putin but, they start by discussing de-industrialization and the destruction of communities and livelihoods in the UK (she grew up in a mining community during the Thatcher era), Russia and the US and the political consequences.

    • Molly Pitcher says:

      I am curious why Fiona Hill is not in the current administration ? Her brilliance shone like a beacon in the impeachment trials. Or is she now too high profile to quietly work behind the scenes ?

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        And Alex Vindman.

        Hill’s family witnessed first-hand the consequences of Margaret Thatcher’s war on the miners and other unions, and through them, the Labour party. She also witnessed the destructive discrimination that arises from England’s class-based system, and its attendant misogyny and racism. Rapaciousness knows no geographical bounds.

        • Molly Pitcher says:

          Yes, I should have mentioned him as well, but Hill was quoted several times upstream. I am glad to see that in the absence of an administration position, he is making some money from MSNBC

  11. Sara McIntire says:

    I haven’t the knowledge or expertise to comment intelligently. But I’m grateful for these posts, the comments, and the least I can do is donate.

    • Ddub says:

      You might be surprised. My Mother always claimed she couldn’t make art. You should see her quilts.

  12. Oldguy99 says:

    Marcy, thanks very much for this insightful piece. I was particularly struck by your recognition of the symbiosis between Western financial and regulatory institutions and the rise of the oligarchs with their subsequent outsized role in shaping current day Russia. I spent a lot of time in Russia and the Baltics between 1989 and 1995, and saw first person the chaos that followed the breakup of the Soviet Union. Two things that were obvious at that time were that there was an absolute vacuum of institutional control internally in Russia and the republics, and that there was a race to establish financial control over fungible state assets. The rise of an industry in the West that essentially participated in the looting of State resources is a sin we are currently living with, and which in my mind has not been adequately documented in our mainstream political commentary. If one result of the current invasion is a movement toward transparency in financial regulation, at least something good will have come of it.

    • Gee says:

      They were documenting it almost 25 years ago :

      Sachs has since come around to admit the naivete of his thought process then, at least to some extent, though I’m not making any apologies for him. But overall, the Harvard economics types (surprised it wasn’t Univ of Chicago!) unleashed a monster (oligarchs and kleptocracy), and it grew to take over the globe. (Hi Larry!!) Grrrrr. A multi-decade looking the other way at dirty money, and massive failure to clean up the banking systems and tax havens facilitated it. Was kind of nice to hear Biden address that a bit last night. It’s way past time. I mean, we get these big Panama papers releases, and its two days of news, then shrugs, then back to the looting.

      • gmoke says:

        Jeffrey Sachs is focused on sustainability now at Columbia Univ and I have some doubts myself whether he has well and truly learned his lessons from his Russian experiments. From what I’ve seen he hasn’t done anything egregious but I suspect the same tendencies are still there.

  13. Molly Pitcher says:

    The hollowing out of newsrooms and the shallow research behind most reporting has led to an echo chamber of NATO as the sole boogeyman spooking Putin to action. The shrinking length of people’s attention span is a major contributing factor as well.

    Issues are complicated and nuanced and most people barely make it thru the headlines, much less thoughtful analysis. This makes the task of those seeking to obfuscate so much simpler.

  14. harpie says:

    From: Francis Scarr [@francska1]
    In Moscow with @BBCMonitoring watching Russian state TV so you don’t have to.
    10:23 AM · Mar 2, 2022

    Russia’s Education Ministry has said that tomorrow it will hold a nationwide open lesson on the “liberation mission in Ukraine”

    “Listeners will be told the backstory to today’s events, and the danger posed to our country by Nato will be explained.” [screenshot]

    • klynn says:

      Ah got it. Soviet old school control the message through children. Instructing students to report their parents for opposing the war will clearly be included in the lesson.

  15. SVFranklinS says:

    Insightful, thank you for your thoughts.

    Too much chatter out there still blaming this on NATO (which is a factor, for sure, but…) and Putin’s own blather about the unified Russian peoples and how Ukraine is “not a country” anymore show that NATO is more of an excuse to execute than a cause; I find much more credibility in the threat he perceives from an independent, democratic country having his kind of people, and the threat to him for the example it poses for Russians.

    However, a friend retweeted a thread from “JAKE @USMC_Liberal” on Feb. 28 with a map showing oil and gas deposits in Ukraine, which seem to concentrate around the Black Sea near Crimea, and in the east, by Donetsk and Luhansk. Just, “coincidentally”, where Russia has made its territorial claims.

    I would not agree with his conclusion that “it’s all about oil and gas”, since Russia doesn’t need more oil and gas, but there is the thought that these discoveries could put Ukraine on a faster track to independent prosperity, further removed from Russia, and can see how Putin couldn’t abide that.
    It may be a factor in why these territories, and why now.

    But this is just one set of comments I saw; I haven’t seen it mentioned anywhere else. Anyone else seen any mention of this?

    • Rayne says:

      At one point in the not-too-distant past, as much as 80% of EU’s natural gas supply was piped from Russia through Ukraine.

      It’s difficult to sever energy security and interest in NATO for Ukraine and other former USSR satellite states; Nordstream 2 could be seen as a means to wrap an energy noose directly around Germany bypassing Ukraine, creating a risk to NATO.

      In retrospect I should have covered Nordstream in the post I published in 2019 about Ukraine; Russia’s attacks weren’t just about NATO and democracy but economic power through control of energy. Of course when I started writing that post in 2017 and finished in 2019, I didn’t envision we’d be looking at a full-blown Russian invasion. Call it cognitive dissonance my part.

      • gmoke says:

        Russia and Ukraine have been battling over natural gas (methane) and pipelines for decades as this piece by someone familiar with the history points out:

        All of it, if we are serious about the climate, should stay in the ground but I doubt that prospect will be brought up by those in power. Even with the new dire IPCC reports (Gawd, they really need someone who knows how to edit and format their work so simple mortals can read and understand it).

  16. klynn says:

    A little OT but related:
    I recommend following Maksim Chmerkovskiy, from Dancing With The Stars, on Instagram.

    His post before making it out of Poland is a must watch. He makes some very personal but important points.

    He is forever changed by his experiences. It will be important to continue hear his voice going forward.

    • Tracy Lynn says:

      Back in the day I watched Dancing with my mother, who was a former ballroom dancer. Her fav dancer was Maks. We watched him teach Leila Ali (Muhammed’s daughter) how to dance. Since then, my mother has passed and I got disgusted with DWTS’s repeated efforts to normalize and rehab the reputations of really repulsive Republicans (i.e., Tucker & Sean Spicer, among many).

  17. BobCon says:

    “The thing I don’t understand, though, is how little of the horseshoe left’s criticism is about Neoliberalism. If you’re going to attack Bill Clinton, why not attack the way the US pushed shock therapy on former Soviet states, including Russia?

    To be sure, Putin is not unhappy with the results of that, and so is not complaining about the imposition of a form of capitalism that allowed Oligarchs to loot the state, and through them, Putin to accumulate power. Putin has made the most of the organized crime that filled the vacuum of the state.”

    I think the second paragraph answers a lot of the questions in the first.

    I also think a piece of it is that the horseshoe left doesn’t have much interest in general in economic issues helping average people — their pro-Sanders campaign disappeared when he started pushing to defend Obamacare and then moved to his alliance with Biden for BBB.

    And also, they’re fundamentally a reactionary movement, which also explains why they never mobilized on behalf of Democrats and against the GOP for things like START or the test ban treaty, which would have advanced their supposed goals. They aren’t really interested in attacking things that the GOP cares about, and spending a lot of time attacking neoliberalism would be like spending a lot of time attacking GOP tax policy — it might spawn a movement like the single payer movement that could lead followers to have a separate agenda from simple anti-Democratic Party contrarianism.

  18. ernesto1581 says:

    “…Russia doesn’t need more oil and gas.”
    Perhaps it’s rather about the price of oil & gas which, at over $113/barrel and climbing, is functioning as Putin’s private ATM.
    EW’s remarks about the severity of shock treatment administered post-USSR breakup and the unintended consequences which allowed Putin & Co to loot the state and stash the proceeds is right on. Nor have I seen it mentioned else.

    • Gee says:

      And dont forget, since 2016, Putin is part of OPEC plus, and a Russian is one of the co-chairs. They have come out and said yeah, we’re good with the paltry output increase we announced months ago, and dont plan to do anything differently. So yeah, Russia had a breakeven oil price of about $45, so the $112 or so now will definitely help, which is why they will try to find buyers at a 20% discount, which is still FAR above what they need. (not to say this fixes all the other problems)

  19. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Elegant writing, superb summation. A virtual state of the union about the left’s – and the media’s – errant criticism and how we might better go forward globally to address these wrongs. Thank you.

    • Scott Johnson says:

      A highly authoritarian faction of the left that has more in common with fascists than with the democratic center, and frequently makes common cause with them.

      While not the same as the Right (in particular, the horseshoe left is generally not motivated by various flavors of xenophobia), they share a desire to “smash the system”, a flagrant disregard for the collateral damage that would result, and a distaste for consensus/democratic politics, preferring a strongman who will smite their enemies and put balls to walls.

      And another longstanding tradition of the far left is greasing the skids to fascism, out of the belief that fascism will lead to a system collapse that will enable the Revolution (and a corresponding view that social democrats, which seek to ameliorate the suffering of the people within the system, are in fact the greatest enemies of the working class). During the Weimar Republic, Nach Hitler, uns! (after Hitler, us) was a common rallying cry of German Marxists. (And I suppose they were correct as far as East Germany goes, thanks to the Red Army).

  20. Jenny T says:

    Hmm, not sure the term “horse shoe left” to describe Greenwald and Mate does much for me. Not sure why those disingenuous trolls are given the time of day. Who gives a sh1t what they think?
    But to the point of Putin’s motives – what surprises me is that no one really talks about the natural resources under Ukraine. Putin and the oligarchs are driven by $ – (Putin is prob also interested in former glory) but others I’m sure want to control the gas fields – which run from Kyiv to the south East. Apparently, there is a lot of Neon – or some element that is needed for semi-conductor technology. Ukraine is currently one of the main producers of it on the world market. Who wouldn’t want to control that in this age of high tech? And heck, didn’t Biden mention something about semiconductors in the SOU address last night? Plus, Ukraine is the “bread basket” of Eastern Europe – sure Putin wants all those sunflowers showing up in my FB feed too , lol. Kidding about the sunflowers, but not the arable land and definitely not about those gas fields. It’s not just about NATO, it’s about the $ & control of course. I will say In support of the NATO argument though, from a strategic, military point, if I was Putin, I would also want to control all of that Black Sea frontage on Ukraine’s southern border . There is A LOT to gain from controlling Ukraine, and I’m sure all of the above plus others (pipeline routes, etc) played into his decision to invade – he needs a puppet in there

  21. The Hang Nail says:

    I’m sure that if you were to ask Greenwald, Taibbi, and all the other contrarians on the left they would say they are critical of Putin. When push comes to shove they argue that they really do not like the hypocrisy of the left and the amount of attention the left gives to certain stories. But it gets tiring because in their zeal to police leftist consistency they ignore the right’s own inconsistencies and hypocrisies. They have made contrarianism into a brand to promote their own independent journalism. I see a role for that but I fear they have not figured out how to institutionalize the role without becoming patsies to the right. The right is laundering their talking points through them.

    • MB says:

      Maybe they just don’t care to “figure out how to institutionalize the role”. Far as I’m concerned, they are already full-fledged patsies to the right. That way they can enjoy “owning the libs” just as much as their newfound right-wing pals are.

      Even Viktor Orban has now criticized Putin, much to Tucker Carlson’s chagrin. Lotsa people out there with no discernible principles, short of “being popular”…

      • Scott Johnson says:

        A lot of these folks are these days on Substack, which provides a convenient way for bad actors to launder payments (“subscriptions”) to friendly propagandists in a way that gives everyone deniability.

        It seems the folks making the most bank on Substack are either right-wingers, or members of the dirtbag left. Is this because they are in fact the most popular and most read writers, or because someone’s troll army has susbscribed many times?

        At any rate, this is a dubious model of funding journalism.

    • Scott Johnson says:

      I don’t think that Greenwald has ever been a creature of the Left; his past agreements with the Left have been around reining in the police state (particularly the natsec apparatus that expanded greatly during the regime of Bush the Lessor), and back in the day, on gay rights issues. But he’s always been more of an economic libertarian; not someone with any interest in class struggle or any of that.

    • gnokgnoh says:

      Greenwald is not “on the left.” Taibbi is confused. I am forever amazed at their certainty about bad and good actors. Arguments that start with the words, “Deep State,” are designed to relegate government to the bad column. Who does Greenwald hang with online? Tucker Carlson. Ever see Chomsky or Naomi Klein on that show?

    • gmoke says:

      Taibbi has done at least a mea culpa tweet about how wrong he has been about the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

      • boulderado says:

        that he sent to his subscribers, but never tweeted or amplified in any significant way.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      At this point, their entire income depends upon it. In A.S.S.’s case, that’s well over a million a year.

  22. WilliamOckham says:

    I’m a card-carrying member of the anti-war left. There’s nothing I find more nauseating than the those who claim to the mantle of anti-imperialism while offering their full-throated support to a foreign empire. It’s worse than having lunch with Henry Kissinger and watching him eat crispy tacos with a knife and fork (seriously, that’s a thing I experienced).

    At least war criminals like Kissinger are obvious about who they are. And I can understand (and hope to help cure) the patriotic blindness of folks that ignore their home country’s imperial ambitions. However, those people who wrap themselves in a sanctimonious cloak of fake anti-imperialism to excuse vicious warmongering autocrats are just too much to take.

    • Scott Johnson says:

      There is, I think, a phenomenon that stands in opposition to American exceptionalism. I don’t have a name for it, but some on the left have internalized the claim that the US is the foulest, most rapacious and most vicious empire in the history of the world, an uber-villain that transcends all others, and is the fountain of human misery in the modern world; and that opposing US foreign policy is the way of the angels, no matter what that entails.

      And that foreign adversaries like Putin, or even domestic fascists like Trump (who sought to co-opt the national security state for its own ends, but in doing so posed a grave threat to its current beneficiaries) are better than the status quo, regardless of which “neoliberal” party (their opinion, not mine) happens to be in charge.

      A mindsight that is every bit as juvenile and simplistic as “my country right or wrong” jingoism.

      • WilliamOckham says:

        Yep, that’s it. Although I would describe it is just another form of American exceptionalism, I agree that you’ve nailed it.

      • Rodney says:

        The name I would give it is something like “parochialism”. It’s the view that only America has agency in world affairs and other countries are just cameo performers to America’s protagonist. It’s a sort of convergent point between the American right and the useful idiot left. Here’s an insightful article that fleshes out the idea in the context of the Russian invasion:

        [Welcome to emptywheel. Please use a more differentiated username when you comment next as we have several community members named “Rodney” or “Rod.” Thanks. /~Rayne]

  23. stethant says:

    Another great post and discussion – can’t find this anywhere else. At least I can’t.

    Off topic: can smarter people help interpret these news reports of an FSB tip-off that helped foiled a Chechnyan assassination attempt on Zelensky? If true, sounds like Putin has some problems. If propaganda, how do we disentangle from real news?

    • Rayne says:

      There’s very little I’ve been able to find about the tip-off; most content online is second- or third-hand. English-language version of The New Voice of Ukraine reported,

      The elite squad of Chechen troops that was tasked with assassinating Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky, has been eliminated by the country’s armed forces, National Security and Defense Council’s Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said on March, 1.

      During a live broadcast by the Rada TV channel, Danilov said that certain sources in Russia’s FSB security service oppose the war Moscow wages on Ukraine, gave Kyiv critical intelligence that led to Ramzan Kadyrov’s “elite” squad being eliminated.

      “They were divided in two groups, we were tracking them,” said Danilov.

      “One group was handled near Hostomel, the other one is in our sights.”

      “We won’t give up our president, our country; this is our land, begone.”

      Note the use of the word “sources” which suggests more than one, but this in itself could be a means to obscure what Putin’s security personnel must look for to pursue a leak.

      But I have to be honest and tell you if I found anything closer with more detail, I wouldn’t disclose it here. :-)

  24. obsessed says:

    I hate Glenn Greenwald with the heat of a thousand suns, but could someone please explain the origin of the term “horseshoe left”? That’s a completely new one to me. Did I miss an episode during one of my attempts to stop following all this madness?

    • Rugger9 says:

      Apparently it’s something of a trap too. The part that is worrisome is how much Putin will overreact when the guerrilla ops start and descend into further bestiality. Apparently the Russians don’t have enough night-vision goggles and so have to sit tight overnight.

      • TooLoose LeTruck says:

        I’m guessing Putin and his fellow oligarchs stole the rubles earmarked for those too…

      • madwand says:

        A trap, that would be nice, and it would be great to see them hunkered down at night also. I initially thought the 40 mile convoy did just that movement to contact at night consuming a lot of command and control. However now they are citing regrouping, logistical and maintenance problems and resistance, I like the last one especially.

        What is most likely happening also is that Russians are trying to set up a set piece battle. If that happens am hoping the Ukrainians can hold on fighting block to block like the Warsaw Ghetto, where they held on for a month before the Wehrmacht reduced it. That will provide a lot of time for bad news to filter back to Mother Russia.

        A piece of good news from the DOD briefing today is that 200 stingers made it through on Monday to the good guys. Stingers are good to 11000 feet AGL, so set up right that would make helicopter assaults problematic. Also according to Kirby security assistance is flowing. Death toll for Russians at the low end is 2000, about what we lost in Afghanistan in 20 years, what they lost in a week. It may be hard for Russians to sustain that along with indications of desertion, surrenders and apparently self sabotage of vehicles to avoid combat. Here’s hoping.

  25. Dutch Louis says:

    Very well written, to the point as always and recognizable. Members of my family born and living in the USA are calling themself leftwing, but are these days expressing opinions about Putin and Ukraine we hear in Europe only from the extreme right. Unhappy days.

    Wrapped in a bunch of lies and BS the main reason for Putin’s war is his fear for democracy. He loves only himself and is addicted to authoritarian leadership, just like his big example Stalin.

    A Spanish friend of mine calls his supporters quite adequately “hijos de Putin”.

  26. David B Pittard says:

    Today’s episode in Gaslit Nation’s podcast “Freedom Square” provides an eloquent description in the same vein. I recommend it.

  27. JohnC says:

    My comment was suppressed. May I ask why?

    [Welcome to emptywheel. We don’t explain in detail the site’s security measures. I’ll point out the two most likely reasons your two comments — the only ones you appear to have made at this site so far — may have been tripped by the ISP you’re using as well as potential sockpuppeting since your username is very similar to existing community members’ names. You’ll have to bear with our security. / ~Rayne]

  28. Savage Librarian says:

    If steroids are the cause of Putin’s puffy face, it does not necessarily mean he is taking them externally. The endocrine system can go wacky & produce too much cortisol all on its own. I know because it happened to me during the years I was dealing with white supremacists, their milita, arrogant bureaucrats and politicians.

    If it continues to go unchecked, it can produce hallucinations and bizarre behavior. Before I was correctly diagnosed I was drinking more than a gallon of water each day. This might be why my physical manifestations were not so obvious. But I had frequent migraines and bizarre dreams.

    One time I kicked so hard in my sleep that I landed on the floor. Sometimes I would wake myself up because of the loud, growling noises I made (yikes!) After surgery, the migraines immediately stopped. So did the bad dreams and growling, thank goodness.

    Of course, it can also be caused by overuse of authorized prescriptions. Or by unauthorized drug use.

    Cushing’s Syndrome | NIDDK

  29. Jane Lockhart says:

    My Political Ideology class from 1972 taught that far right and far left groups meet in ways that end in autocracies, intentionality aside. This impact is blunted when occurring in a decades long timeline however a lightening fast change with modern propaganda channels of non stop propaganda, absent of regulation preventing yellow journalism, has hijacked those for whom, as Hoffer says, passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. The tearing apart of democrats seen in the abysmal approval ratings of Biden ought to be a red light emergency that the far left’s intransigence on purity issues is as much a threat as far right bigots. They willingly sacrifice a generation if not democracy itself for a perceived ideal.

    • P J Evans says:

      Biden’s approval ratings are not abysmal – they’re still well above the former guy’s – but the media like to push that story line.

  30. TomR says:

    Europe poses no invasion threat to Russia. Eastern Europeans, however remember well their forcible annexation by Russia after WWII. The idea that the independent states of Eastern Europe have no right to seek protection from hostile (and facist) Russia only works if you believe that Russia has the right to control Eastern Europe.

    Certainly we need to address stupid American imperialism, but for one of the few times in decades, we are actually on the right side of a war.

  31. Molly Pitcher says:

    On IG, Occupy Democrats has posted that Alex Konanykhin a Russian entrepreneur living in America has put a $1M bounty on Putin’s head, “vowing to pay it to any Russian soldier who fulfills his constitutional duty and “arrests” the “war criminal”.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      That’s probably illegal. If nothing else, it’s arguably an impermissible interference in the foreign affairs of the United States.

  32. KathyS says:

    That “NATO thing” of “the horseshoe left” is a hoax. How would I know? I am Bulgarian. All Bulgarian ex-State Security agents from the so called “Socialist Era” have been peddling this for a decade here. “Horseshoe left” = “KGB Agent” in Bulgaria. State Security (Държавна сигурност, ДС) was “the little beloved brother of KGB”, together they killed Georgi Markov, a Bulgarian writer, in London. I personally know such ex-agents, there are a lot of public figures, even politicians, who have been agents of SS (ДС) and there are documents proving what they were doing 30 – 40 years ago. This is the “official press-release” of RIA Novosti which was prepared in advance, published on their page and later taken down. Thanks God RIA does not know what web.archive is, so everyone can see the text here – “NATO” as a motive is absent:

    • MB says:

      The references to “geopolitical stupidity” and citing the West’s “weakness” and inability to “take” Ukraine are very revealing of the byzantine mindset of Russian foreign policy. And yep, not one reference to NATO.

  33. Todd Gee says:

    “In the sloppiest versions, the idea is that Bill Clinton provided “guarantees” to Putin that NATO would not expand, and since NATO has expanded, the US bears all the responsibility for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.”

    It’s also an egregious example of “moving the goal posts” since the original promise was allegedly made by George H. W. Bush to Gorbachev. It was only after Gorbachev himself stated that this wasn’t the case (the “promise” had to do with just East Germany at the time) that the Horseshoe Folks pinned it on Bill Clinton. I’m only surprised they have yet to fixate on those cosmopolitan warmongers Hillary and Madeline Albright!

  34. Vinnie Gambone says:

    “…purchased influence….” Cheap too. Except now it is costing lives, and untold life long suffering.

    • Brad Cole says:

      Just as the Versailles Treaty sowed the seeds of WW2 so one might say that the way the Cold War ended has led to today.
      Ie, that victory was too quickly moded into unbridled capitalism is for the Greater Good. But it’s just another means of looting rather than a true social contract.

  35. surfer2099 says:

    @Marcy, one aspect that Greenwald doesn’t address is that Nato’s expansion is that the expansion is not merely a result of Nato’s desires, but a reflection of the desires of people in democracies exercising their liberty to decide which alliances to join. After all, it’s not as if Nato forced the additional countries to join them, right?

    The Ukraine war, in some ways, validates all prior additions to Nato of countries under former Soviet rule.

    • Rayne says:

      a reflection of the desires of people in democracies exercising their liberty to decide which alliances to join.

      Consent. They exercised their consent. Watch who cannot understand these democracies exercised consent to associate, their people exercising consent to authorize this association.

      Amazes me how certain people who claim to espouse libertarian values struggle with the idea of consent as both an individual and collective expression of free will.

  36. earthworm says:

    Wish more of the swinging dicks would emulate José Mujica, president emeritus of Uruguay.
    From Wikipedia: “During the last months of 2013, the Serbian film director Emir Kusturica started shooting a documentary on the life of Mujica, El Pepe, una vida suprema released in 2018, whom he considers “the last hero of politics.””é_Mujica
    Would anyone ever consider tfg as “president emeritus” of the US? Or Putin the last hero of politics? Maybe the horseshoes —

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