Two weeks before an election is no time to be a columnist. EP is a long way from Washington, D.C., but Edward Luce, of the Financial Times, is there in the thick of things. Friday, in America’s Brittle Consensus on Ukraine, he wrote “In the Republican quest to make a scorched earth of Biden’s presidency nothing will be sacred, including Ukraine’s military pipeline.” The “pro-Putin wing” of the GOP is still a minority, Luce added, but “almost every Republican will back McCarthy’s likely effort to impeach Biden and hold the US debt ceiling hostage to their demands.”
That much, at least, remains to be seen. The presumptive Speaker will settle on his plans only after the election results are known and thoroughly construed. Until then there remains a possibility that McCarthy’s Trump-based agenda will dissipate in a mood of grudging forgiveness following what may turn out to be a nobody-knows-anything election.
The fact remains, however, that fifty-seven House Republicans and eleven senators voted against Biden’s $40 billion Ukraine aid package earlier this year. And though it hasn’t yet sunk in, Russian president Vladimir Putin took an active hand in the US election Thursday when, in an important speech, he asserted there were
[T]wo Wests – at least two and maybe more but two at least – the West of traditional, primarily Christian values, freedom, patriotism, great culture and now Islamic values as well – a substantial part of the population in many Western countries follows Islam. This West is close to us in some things. We share with it common, even ancient roots. But there is also a different West – aggressive, cosmopolitan, and neocolonial… a tool of neoliberal elites [embracing what I believe are strange and trendy ideas like dozens of genders or gay pride parades].
He might as well have identified them as being, in his view, Republicans and Democrats.
Putin believes this is the basis for his war on Ukraine. It may be MAGA’s view as well. I don’t believe it is McCarthy’s. It certainly is not mine. But it will take time to work out the distinction. Ten days before a very important election is no time to try.
Meanwhile, EP has been reading Not One Inch: America, Russia, and the Making of Post-Cold War Stalemate (Yale, 2021), by M.E. Sarotte; Macroeconomic Policies for Wartime Ukraine (Centre for Economic Policy Research, 2022), by Kenneth Rogoff, Maurice Obstfeld, and seven others; Warfare without the State, Adam Tooze’s recent criticism of the CEPR plan; and Russia’s Crimea Disconnect, by Yale historian Timothy Snyder; and Johnson’s Russia List, more or less daily.
A truly unhappy Halloween!