, 10.18.2022 10:49 AM

My latest: the new Neville Chamberlains

Remember the good old days – you know, when conservatives unambiguously opposed Russian aggression and tyranny?

And, for that matter, remember when progressives deeply cared about the fate of the oppressed people of the world?

Ronald Reagan, who conservatives used to venerate, once said that Russia was “the focus of evil in the modern world” – and that Russia “runs against the tide of human history by denying human freedom and human dignity.”

Remember those days? And then, remember the time that Reagan stood at the Berlin wall, and demanded that Russia’s leader tear it down – and how, not long afterwards, it actually was torn down? Remember that?

Even progressive champion Pierre Trudeau, who was too cozy with the former Soviet Union for too much of his life, in 1980 ordered Canada’s boycott of the Moscow Olympics – to protest precisely the tyranny and expansionism about which Reagan had warned the world.

Announcing the boycott, Pierre Trudeau said it was “the clearest and most effective way available” to condemn the Russian invasion of Afghanistan.

Anyway. That was then, this is now. Nowadays, Russian warmongering and human rights abuse are met with a shrug by too many on the Right – and, still, some on the Left.

Just this week, video of unelected Alberta Premier Danielle Smith was discovered online, in which Smith falsely claims Ukraine possesses nuclear weapons – and that it should be “neutral,” even after Russia invades it and rapes and murders its citizens.

Smith also seemingly suggests, in a now-deleted post, that Ukrane and NATO are to blame for the war. Said she: “I think the only answer for Ukraine is neutrality.”

Smith’s extraordinary statements – which are deeply cowardly and wholly immoral – were immediately condemned by pretty much everybody, including the Alberta branch of the Ukrainian Canadian Congress. Said Orysia Boychuk to Global News: “[Smith’s] comments were misinformed. Russia invaded Ukraine, not because of NATO and what Ukraine did or didn’t do…Russia invaded Ukraine because it seeks the destruction of the Ukrainian state and the annihilation of the Ukrainian people.”

But Smith is not alone in her craven Neville Chamberlain-like servility. Around the same time Smith’s video was discovered, the People’s Party of Canada issued a fundraising appeal – and demanded the end to any support for Ukraine.

Wrote the PPC leader, Maxime Bernier: “We must stop sending money and weapons to [Ukrainian president Volodomyr] Zelenskyy.” Bernier went on to describe support for Ukraine as “crazy,” quote unquote, and “virtue signalling.”

When this writer tweeted that the PPC position was disgraceful, I was bombarded for days with suspiciously-similar bot attacks on Twitter, calling Zelenskyy a Nazi (he is Jewish) and calling the war a money-laundering front (tell that to the 15,000 Ukrainians who have been killed, tortured or wounded by Russia).

This appalling indifference to Russian tyranny and expansionism would have never been tolerated by Ronald Reagan or any U.S. president – until 2016, that is. In 2016, however, Donald Trump came to power – and his victory only came after “multiple efforts from Russian-affiliated individuals to assist the Trump campaign,” the Mueller Report found.

Thereafter, the talking heads on Fox News and other Republicans took up Trump’s pro-Russia refrain. As the New York Times reported in front-page story on Sunday, Republican candidates “are embracing anti-interventionist military and foreign policies that…have been associated more with the Democratic Left.”

And, yes, there are still some on the Left who sound like Smith, Bernier and Trump. The leader of the Quebec Green Party has called Putin’s demands “reasonable” and – like Bernier – demanded the end to Western support for Ukraine. Similarly, progressive Toronto-area municipal candidate Alejandra Bravo has said she is “terrified” Canada is “training neo-Nazis in Ukraine” (we aren’t) – and that everyone should “stand against the war” (sorry, not until Putin is defeated).

So, yes, some on the Left continue to be unmoved by Russia’s war against the Ukrainian people, and the destruction and death that has attended it. But, increasingly, it is some Trumpist-style conservatives who are the ones who are most visibly unsympathetic to the documented carnage and murder.

Graham Greene once wrote that we must sometimes choose sides. Said the great British author: “Sooner or later, one has to take sides. If one is to remain human.”

Ukraine is the side of democracy and decency. Those who choose the other side risk losing much – their humanity, for starters.

Were he still with us, Ronald Reagan would agree.


  1. Derek Pearce says:

    Well said, all of it. Also, just how fucking naive are these people? When you back down in the face of this kind of aggression all you do is encourage more of it– there is only “peace” as long as the bully/dictator gets their way, continually.

  2. Gilbert says:

    I’m not defending President Putin. His invasion was unjustified. However, did NATO not promise Russia it would not advance eastwards? Are the oil corporations, bankers and arms manufacturers not making a lot of money from the war? Is President Zelensky not just a western puppet and does Ukraine not have a lot of bio labs? There are many questions.

    • Gilbert,

      In order: NATO and more specifically George H.W. Bush made verbal representations to that effect to Gorbachev and Yeltsin but nothing was ever formally put down on paper. Kind of shady.

      Yup, they sure are just like in any justified or unjustified war.

      Zelenskyy is a western puppet just like Yanukovych, was Moscow’s puppet.

      And finally, Ukraine is corrupt today just as it was under Yanukovych. But both governments/regimes fail in comparison with the RF. Now, that’s the epitome of corruption on earth with Putin literally stealing billions.

    • Sean says:

      NATO, money, puppet regime… these are cheap talking points for silly talk shows… even if true, none of that justifies tens of thousands of KIA / casualties – often teenagers or young men from both sides… or 8 million refugees.

      • Sean,

        Bingo! You said it right there.

        War is the ultimate obscenity. People imagine war crimes are perpetrated only by the enemy but sadly, they are inevitably also committed by the good guys but usually as individual and isolated incidents rather than as formal policy or a quite deliberate objective.

        The theatre of war offers licence. Most behave honorably as they did in civilian life but for those who didn’t…

    • Doug says:

      NATO is a defense alliance. It poses no threat to anyone other than expansionist regimes that actually try to expand. Russia has no legitimate concern to oppose NATO

      • The Doctor says:

        How anybody can spin that “blame NATO” crap is beyond my comprehension if you have any knowledge of Putin’s unhinged speech that preceded the invasion. Putin said flat out that Ukraine was not a real country, never had been, does not to exist as a real country and is properly part of “Russky Mir.”

        If you’re not aware of this, then you have no business posting anything about the Ukraine war anywhere.

      • EsterHazyWasALoser says:

        If NATO is a “defense alliance” why was it involved in the war in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan? I don’t recall either of those countries attacking a member of NATO?

  3. ted says:

    1. “The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.”

    That’s the first clause of the agreement Ukraine and Russia both signed when Ukraine agreed to denuclearize. Smith is ignorant, full of shit, and 100% aligned with the Trump wing of the GOP.

    And that honestly is just the tip of the iceberg. Check out Justin Ling’s newsletter today (free one) to read more if you dare.

  4. Cary Billey says:

    I knew that eventually Trump conservatism was going to cross the 49th parallel. Racism and fascism has always been popular in the west but it stayed in the closest more or less until Trump, he gave it a voice. As a middle aged white male I see the entitlement and hatred for anything that doesn’t fit the Christian Anglo-Saxon mold. This is 1930’s Germany all over again but on a much larger scale and from the people that fought against fascism and the Nazi’s. Conservatives in all parts of the world don’t want to share the riches they have grown accustomed with anyone that doesn’t think or look like them. A storm is coming and people are not going to be able to sit on the fence anymore, Democracy and freedom or Fascism and no choice.

    • Cary,

      Those who believe those terrible things are in for a fight, if necessary. If it comes to a civil war in each country than so be it. If Canada is headed that way then Canada no longer deserves to exist if they “win”. Same for all the other nations. So, it may soon be stand up and be counted time. Start by voting these types out of office and then take it from there. But if it’s a fight they want then most assuredly it’ll be a fight they’ll get. Count me in, if it comes to that.

      Far right Conservatives can go fuck themselves.

  5. EsterHazyWasALoser says:

    It should be noted that during the Munich crisis, PM Chamberlain asked his critics “So you say I should make deal with the Soviet Union to defeat Nazi Germany? If we do that, how then do we get the Russians out of Eastern Europe?” I think we all know the answer to that. I think that it is also worth noting that notwithstanding all of the jingoism we here from south of the border about “the new Hitler”, at the time of the last (i.e. the “real” Hitler), the Americans only became involved in WW2 when they were attacked by the Japanese on Dec 7th, and when Hitler declared war on the (Dec 11th). With respect to the current conflict, President Putin is undoubtedly at fault. The world will be a better place when he goes. However, he also has the world’s largest arsenal of nuclear weapons, and I do not doubt for a minute that when pressed into a corner, he will use them. So it is in everyone’s interest (including Ukraine) to negotiate an end to this war. Cynical politicians are using this proxy conflict for crass political gains. Crimea and the Donbas have large populations of Russians, and in all likelihood they want to remain part of Russia (fighting has been going on in the Donbas since 2014 (after the Maidan coup). My modest proposal is to continue with sanctions and press for a diplomatic solution. Enough blood has been spilled.

    • Derek Pearce says:

      The Ukrainians will never agree to this. And I don’t blame them.

      • EsterHazyWasALoser says:

        They will when they start to lose.

        • The Doctor says:

          When is that? When Dewey beats Truman?

          When Bobby Riggs beats Billie Jean King?

          Or perhaps when Donald Trump repays Putin for all the love . . .

          • Doc,

            Here’s a novel idea: maybe Trump could wiz in Putin’s bed to show his undying gratitude. Ah, silly me. Seems to me that one has already been taken. Apparently, the video is just nifty!

          • EsterHazyWasADoozer says:

            This will become a war of attrition, and that favours the nation that can take more casualties. That is how the Russians beat Hitler.

            PS: Russiagate was fake news (guess you missed the memo).

  6. Doug says:

    One can’t project statements made while hosting a talk show along with the ensuing social media presence to political life. I occasionally listened to Smith’s talk show. Effective talk show hosts try to incite both sides to the debate, which Smith did frequently. She also cultivated a personality of being a Contrarian and seeking a Libertarian audience, probably to differentiate herself from the competition.

    That being said, she has yet to demonstrate any tangible policy that either aligns or moves away from the values she projected in the past. I’ll reserve judgment until she passes a budget, which is an actual declaration of values rather than the guilt by association narrative pushed by political strategists.

    Comparisons to other politicians are always lazy. Doing so to Trump is actually Trumpian: i.e. comparing someone to someone controversial to get an immediate emotional reaction without any appreciation for context or nuance.

  7. Doug says:

    I’m waiting for the “Liberal Party Increasingly Unsympathetic to Ukraine’s Plight” headline on something like this: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/trudeau-says-russia-s-war-in-ukraine-speeds-up-energy-transition-1.1834392

    Politicians of all stripes are out of their depth when using the war to push their own agendas.

    • Scot says:

      You will wait a long time pal. Don’t have to wait with the Conservatives though.

      • Scot,

        Talk is cheap. How about some proof that the CPC is soft on Ukraine cause we ain’t, not one bit.

        • Scot says:

          Seems to me the Ukraine nay sayers are mainly on the right, so far. You are swimming against the tide with the cons Ronald. They are going maga. Should bail before they corrupt you. Just some friendly advice 🙂

          • Scot,

            You know what I like about Liberals generally? The have the ability to focus the mind on power. You know, winning is everything. My party needs to focus the mind like a laser the same way. That’s how we’ll win. Politics is ruthless at its best. But that’s how you win.

          • I don’t mind them taking me on. So many have already tried but most weren’t even close to being in my league. But some in the past and others in the here and now went after not just me. Big, really big mistake. That’s when I move heaven and earth to bring those governments down. So far, I like my track record.

          • The Doctor says:

            I expect the CPC will never go as batshit as the US Republicans on Ukraine because of the massive influence of the Ukrainian diaspora in Canada. Including most notably in Alberta and Saskatchewan, two provinces that are filled with Ukrainians.

            I agree that the pro-Putin nuttery has made its way North, unfortunately — thus Danielle Smith and the batshit chat groups she apparently likes to frequent. But I just don’t see it getting the same penetration as in the US.

          • Doc,

            From your keyboard to God’s ears. Amen to that.

  8. william shakesfeare says:

    Past is Prologue.
    This material especially the antisemitism is well covered in the PBS series by Ken Burns “The US and the holocaust” and by Rachel Maddow in her 8-part podcast “Ultra.”
    Both are very well done and teach us historically this road is well traveled by the latest merry band of Fascists every generation.

  9. Robert White says:

    NATO inclusion was changed to interlope adjacent to the Russian Federation. You neglect to mention promises made by Reagan to not interlope onto Russian Federation borders as Thatcher was brokering the breakup of the USSR.

    NATO is using Ukraine as a proxy to foment war with
    the Russian Federation in an antagonistic manner devoid of diplomatic tact.

    I don’t side with the Russian Federation aggression or antagonism. NATO is unethical too in my book. I do appreciate the lecture you deliver on the whole debacle though and your words do deliver a significant blow to the corollary viewpoint that current Republicanism is promulgating with the Orange menace still in a leadership position in the run up to 2024.

    I’m anti-war so I never support anything NATO does and I’m ideologically Marxist at heart via political & economic perspective. NATO is anti-Marxist theoretically.


    • Scot says:

      NATO never started a single war. They are a defensive organization. Russia signed a non aggression with
      Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nukes. Then they invaded Crimea. Get your facts straight.

  10. Robert,

    “NATO is using Ukraine as a proxy to foment war with
    the Russian Federation in an antagonistic manner devoid of diplomatic tact.”

    Of course we are and so we should. Absolutely, how much more proof do people need to see that the demon seed needs to meet the ash heap of history?

    Chechnya, Georgia, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine. How many more examples do people need? Jesus. The only place Putin will end up is in The Hague, unless he gets lucky and drops dead, or is shot by his entourage or armed forces.

    • Robert White says:

      I cannot defend the ex-KGB midget. I agree that he is
      mentally ill, but so too is NATO and the Pentagon imbeciles.

      Neither side employs diplomacy via their negotiations.

      You can’t fix stupid or stupid’s adversaries.


      • Scot says:

        Classic both sides bullshit.

        • Robert White says:

          When I was a young kid growing up in Ottawa my best friend’s stepfather Professor Emeritus Joseph Levitt University of Ottawa Canadian History was a heavy influence vis-a-vis Communism & Canadian Politics.
          He was an NDP supporter and his best friend was Ed Broadbent. Moreover, Joe was a UofT grad with a doctorate in Canadian History.

          He was also a Second World War veteran of the D-Day Normandy Beach Invasion and was wounded in action on that fateful day in history. Joe was anti-war as a veteran and founding member of Venteran Against Nuclear Arms-VANA.

          Joe was a giant of a man at 6′ 3″ tall. He walked with a limp due to the WW2 battlefield injury and he was a nice person concerned about the great divide between Communism and ‘Capitalism’.

          Because of Joe’s influence in all manner of politics I, for one, am no arbiter of war or proto-Fascist behaviour run amok into wars.

          You call it bullshit and I call it pragmatism.


          • Robert White says:

            Veterans Against Nuclear Arms-VANA.

            Sorry about my keyboard errors in spelling. I have too many ashes from cigarettes in my keyboard. I have to
            dust it out, frankly.



          • The Doctor says:

            Pragmatism is seeing a dangerous mass homicidal sociopath for what truly he is and doing what needs to be done to prevent that person from running completely amok, unopposed. And realizing that there is no easy, painless way out when you’re confronted with that.

            So in that sense, Churchill was pragmatic. Chamberlain was not.

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