FOX News’ prime time commentator, Tucker Carlson, has bounced around as one of the three most popular programs on cable news. In the most recent ratings, he dropped from number one to number two – with “The Five” now being number one.
I should say right off. I am not a fan of Carlson. In fact, I was not a fan of his occasional appearances on the morning “Fox and Friends” – from whence he originally broke into the national news. I found him to be arrogant, condescending and more provocative than informative. I found his mocking laugh to be annoying. And in many instances, I found his arguments to be flawed and too often inexplicable. He is a devotee of the non sequitur and has Trump’s propensity to say things that have folks scratching their heads – at least folks like me.
In recent shows, Carlson has taken the bizarre position that we should not only reject supporting Ukrainian democracy against Russian aggression, but we should throw in with Vladimir Putin. (See what I mean about the head scratching?)
That is so wrong that it is impossible to understand Carlson’s thinking. As best one can tell, he feels that if Russia invades Ukraine, they are going to win – for sure if we do not stare them down and provide support for Kiev. Carlson seems to believe that by letting Putin take Ukraine, we could form an alliance with Moscow and provide a unified opposition to China’s aggressive and expansive actions.
Carlson’s rationale is not only wrong morally, strategically and contrary to America’s national interest, but also downright stupid.
He seems to have not noticed that Russia and China have already formed an alliance to oppose the United States. They recently issued a joint statement calling American democracy a fraud and claiming that … (you might sit down of this shocker) – THEY represent democratic governance.
Carlson has not noticed that Russia has been engaging in one-way Cold War tactics AGAINST the United States – including disinformation campaigns and cyber-attacks. Putin is using diplomacy and his military to oppose American interests throughout the world – including all efforts to advance democratic institutions.
And that is another point. One of the fundamental tenets of American foreign policy is support for democratic institutions wherever possible. Yes, for pragmatic reasons, we do form alliances with authoritarian states – such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey – but our goals are to expand democratic governance. Even with authoritarian allies, the United States uses diplomatic pressure to expand democratic policies.
Apart from a few exceptions, America is bonded to the world’s democratic states. NATO is an alliance of democracies – except for Turkey, which has evolved away from democracy under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. America’s adversarial world is composed of authoritarian states – Russia, China, North Korea, Cuba, Venezuela, Iran and now Afghanistan.
Ukraine is an American ally that is struggling to maintain and expand democratic institutions. Abandoning that nation to Russian hegemony is to nullify the core principle upon which America is founded.
There is another more practical reason for defending Ukraine. Standing down as Russian tanks enter Kiev would be yet another signal that America’s promises to allies are worthless. Our surrender in Afghanistan, the walking away from the anti-Asaad rebels and our Kurdish allies in Syria, the failure to diplomatically support the democracy movement in Hong Kong has already cast the shadow of doubt among allies across the world as to whether America is a dependable ally – willing to keep our commitments. Losing recent wars and standing down in the face of aggression has weakened – and perhaps ended – America’s hold on world leadership.
Finally, in allowing Ukraine to become part of Putin’s new Soviet Union would transfer Ukraine’s enormous natural resources – including oil and rare earths – from America to Russia. Just as President Biden’s disastrous surrender in Afghanistan made those natural resources available to China.
In Afghanistan, America also lost critical operational military bases and intelligence networks. That will happen in Ukraine if we accede to the Putin/Carlson strategy.
Carlson seems to base his opinion on an isolationist America First policy. I am all for America first, but the Carlson form of isolationism would only guarantee that America would not be first … or second … or … worse.
So, there ‘tis.