• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Trump says he’s been indi…
    William on Trump says he’s been indi…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on Trump says he’s been indi…
    Propertius on Trump says he’s been indi…
    Propertius on Trump says he’s been indi…
    Propertius on “Why should you go to jail for…
    Propertius on “Why should you go to jail for…
    thewizardofroz on Trump says he’s been indi…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on “Why should you go to jail for…
    riverdaughter on “Why should you go to jail for…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on “Why should you go to jail for…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on “Why should you go to jail for…
    Ivory Bill Woodpecke… on “Why should you go to jail for…
    campskunk on Ping me when there’s news
    William on D-Day -1
  • Categories

  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    February 2023
    S M T W T F S
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

  • Top Posts

It’s a sunny Presidents Day in Kyiv

Oh yeah, Biden went there. Literally.

That’s an air raid siren in the background about halfway through that clip while cameras are clicking. They just continue to stroll through Kyiv. Amazing.

Russia is calling it a “demonstrative humiliation”. Well, of course it is. We aren’t seeing pictures of Putin walking the streets of Donetsk. He might be taken out by one of his own mobiks. That would be humiliating for so many reasons.

I was watching the latest interview drop from Frontline’s Putin and the Presidents series. I’d been looking forward to the Timothy Snyder interview almost as much as Julia Ioffe’s. Each interview gives a unique perspective on the war in Ukraine based on the interviewee’s subject matter expertise. Snyder’s is the motherlode. He’s studied Ukraine extensively. He knows more about Ukraine than some Ukrainians. It might be from studying that history that Snyder has also gotten into the heads of tyrants and how they operate.

This is the interview that every American should see. There are a few people I’d like to strap into a chair and hold their eyelids open ala Clockwork Orange to get what Snyder is saying past the thought stopping filters. That probably goes against everything Snyder believes but the frustration with some of our Republican fans is prompting day dreams of mandatory deprogramming.

In Snyder’s interview, we get a better understanding of how Russian leadership thinks. It’s deeply cynical and paranoid. All dictators fall, Snyder says. They live in fear of falling because they understand how to come to power by undemocratic means. And Putin and the Russian elite don’t understand Americans.

Snyder says that by using KGB tactics and psychological warfare, Putin was able to get into to minds of many Americans on Facebook and Fox News. We always knew that but Snyder breaks it down for us. It’s fascinating and frightening because each one of us has a lever and Russian propagandists know how to manipulate it. In Ukraine’s case, be very suspicious of anyone talking about Ukrainian corruption or nuclear war or Hunter Biden. Snyder says Ukrainian journalists know that the Hunter Biden laptop story is less than nothing.

But Snyder also says that Russia doesn’t get America’s fundamental decency. Yes, we have issues. Still, a slight majority really are freedom loving, sincere, decent people who saw that Russia crossed a red line in invading Ukraine. We aren’t kidding about helping Ukraine. We didn’t push Ukraine into anything. We’re not puppet masters. We’re supportive friends. We’re the kid on the playground who keeps the bully from picking on younger kids. That’s the role that we have taken on. We’re very lucky, we children of the kindly west, fortuitously situated between two oceans with friendly neighbors on both sides. We are unsullied by the kind of trauma that Ukraine has suffered through for many centuries. That means we have a greater reserve of optimism and resilience that we can lend to others in a crisis- if we recognize that crisis and have the collective will to act.

But what about Ukraine? Where did it find these qualities? It must have been there. The Maidan revolution shows that primarily young people decided to choose a pro-EU path back in 2014. Where did that sentiment come from? The source is probably dissected in detail there in one of Snyder’s lectures.

Leadership counts too. I sometimes catch myself marveling at how extraordinarily lucky the world is at this moment that so many good people were in the right places when the latest set of crises erupted. I seriously underestimated Joe Biden, who doesn’t second guess himself. There’s a core there. Pelosi masterfully got the band back together after the insurrection and displayed calm and steeliness throughout. Our NATO Allie’s and EU partners stepped up. And Zelenskyy is the Churchill of our times.

Zelenskyy was a comedian before he was president and had no expectations of rising to this occasion. His Servant of the People sitcom might have been more influential than we know. Zelenskyy plays a earnest high school history teacher whose rant about corruption in his country that was recorded without his knowledge goes viral and gets him elected president. If you haven’t seen it, check it out on Netflix. Zelenskyy displays his fundamental decency. I wouldn’t be surprised if it turns out that his humble history teacher had something to do with Ukraine’s resilience today.

So, now we have two presidents meeting on Presidents Day in Kyiv. I couldn’t imagine such a scene four years ago. Look at how much has happened since 2019. It took a slim majority of us to tap into that fundamental decency to push off the toxic miasma of the Trump years. Slowly, slowly, we are fighting back against ubiquitous propaganda undermining that fundamental decency and pushing back the forces of illiberal democracy and election denialism. It’s two steps forward, one step back. If more people understood how they have been deceived by the KGB tactics that American right politicians and media sources have embraced been using on them to grab power and corrupt the country, then this meeting in Kyiv would be recognized as the historic moment that it is. We are allies with Ukraine and it helps us as much as we help it.

The older, wiser president, walking the dangerous streets for the younger scrappier one is a image of perseverance, self-determination, freedom, optimism and decency that Americans cut their teeth on.

Washington and Lincoln would be proud.