I would usually be the last person on Earth (particularly given my twitter handle) to suggest that Russian President Vladimir Putin was doing something incredibly stupid (as opposed to, you know, evil or otherwise Macchiavellian). But with the brazen seemingly all-out military assault on Ukraine in the last 48 hours, Mr. Putin has effectively flushed virtually any and all moral authority he had. He had some good “moral authority” arguments to respond to what the West would claim as his prior aggression, to wit, that the people of Crimea wanted to leave Ukraine and join Russia (and overwhelmingly voted so in a referendum), or that perhaps the people of the Donbas (incorporating Russia’s recognition of the Donetsk and Luhansk “republics”) favor Russian rule rather than Ukrainian, or the same might be said of Russia’s ongoing occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, lying within sovereign territory of the Republic of Georgia because the people there want it. Or maybe even that the US and NATO broke a deal to stop eastward expansion of NATO, let alone, what the US would do were a Russian (or Chinese) base to be built in Canada or Mexico near the US border, or in Cuba for that matter.
Anyway, Putin is welcome to flush moral authority if he wants to; he is, after all, a KGB Colonel who made his bones in Russian politics after crushing Chechnya and after the mysterious explosions of some apartment buildings in Moscow and of course, the accusation (still “controversial”) of Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential election in the US. But his past transgressions have been situations such as those outlined above– where he could hit and run and take what he wanted with very little resistance (particularly after the United States blew its own moral authority, especially in Ukraine, and opened the door for Putin).
So back to that 2016 election and the shit-head who GOT elected, whether from Russian interference or more likely Democratic Party ineptitude (as noted by… me), which gave us a certain Donald J. Trump as President for perhaps the most uncomfortable four years of American history not involving a Civil War, culminating in a now two years of plague (and counting). Lord knows I have wasted a lot of my mental space (and the space on this blog and even in my twitter space) on said Mr. Trump. But I want to go back to that combination of stupid, and flushing moral authority, at once– that is analogous to Mr. Putin’s brutality in Ukraine.
And that of course, takes us to Mr. Trump and his attempted coup in order to hold power despite handily losing the 2020 presidential election, culminating in the January 6, 2021 insurrection/riots against the U.S. Capitol while a joint session of Congress was taking place to certify that election. The attack was ugly and messy, with property destruction at the Capitol, and the deaths of police officers and insurrectionist traitors. Well, it was obviously stupid. But what moral authority did Trump have?
I’m glad you asked. The summer of 2020 marked what amounted to, in terms of sheer numbers of protestors, the largest public protests in American history following the brutal murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers. Of course, a major (and effective) right-wing trope was that there was looting and other violence in the course of these protests. By contrast, despite often bringing automatic weapons to their protests, the right-wing tended to be far better behaved overall– at least in terms of property damage, anyway. At least, so went their reputation… until January 6th, an all-out assault on the American seat of government in what was an orchestrated effort to overturn the result of a democratic election.
But Y’All Qaeda and Trump’s merry band of right-wing traitors and terrorists flushed that alleged moral authority once and for all time. AND FOR WHAT? The same question could be asked about Putin and his blitzkrieg into what he will find to be heavily defended Ukraine, manned by its own well-trained and motivated patriots: what do you think you’re going to get? Even if you win, you are staring at crippling sanctions, certain military set-backs along the way, and the unpredictable outcome of occupying a hostile nation of 40 million. Both events reflect the hubris of men who aren’t at the top of their mental game– Putin because he is (possibly) suffering from Parkinson’s and God knows what else, and Trump because he is, as former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to him as, a fucking moron.
Either way, these two political BFFs have each done something insanely stupid during the respective winters of their discontent. And together, we can say, quite comfortably, that they form… the Axis of Stupid.