Putin and my ‘terrorist extremism’

It isn’t only because Russia has branded me a “terrorist and extremist” that I return this week to the subject of Ukraine and the urgent necessity that America supply substantial aid to prevent Moscow’s tyrant, Vladimir Putin, from winning his imperial war.

The inability of congressional Republicans to disentangle Ukraine, Israel, border security, and the whims of former President Donald Trump has led to weeks of abject misgovernment and presents a picture of U.S. dysfunction to the rest of the world. That said, there is more to this than is dreamt of in the accepted narrative that GOP electoral cynicism alone killed the Senate legislation.

Yes, it was just as cynical as President Barack Obama’s identical decision in 2012 not to deal with the migrant problem so he could beat up Republicans on the issue in the election that year. But this time around, there was also a compelling reason not to pass the latest border “reforms,” which left far too much discretion to an utterly untrustworthy President Joe Biden and would probably have done little but dole cash to Democratic constituencies while leaving unchecked the influx of often hostile and always illegal entrants into our inundated country.

No such complications exist, however, in assessing the merits of arming Ukraine against Russian aggression, which has put Putin within sight of winning the war, threatening Europe, tottering the rule of law internationally, and eroding the liberal democratic dispensation that the U.S. has led since World War II. If Washington fails to replenish Ukraine’s rapidly depleting armory and hold Putin back, our federal government will sacrifice a huge chunk of America’s international credibility and clout, and signal to despots from Beijing to Tehran that we are too weak and vacillating to resist them.

It is therefore vital that Republicans listen not to Trump and his ineffable pilot fish Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and instead recognize that making America great again involves asserting its benign global authority. It must not duck the duties it has shouldered so magnificently for the past three-quarters of a century.

Putin invaded Ukraine nearly two years ago, and it is 22 months since I wrote that Biden should escalate the war to help Ukraine win it. Several years before that, Tom Rogan, a senior commentary reporter, wrote an article, which I published in the Washington Examiner, calling on Ukraine to destroy a bridge across the Kerch Strait to Crimea, which Moscow had annexed four years earlier, in 2014.

In response to this article, Russia launched a criminal investigation into Rogan and me for inciting terrorism. If either of us now travels to Russia, we’ll stand a good chance of being detained. Family members might be harassed. Bang goes the long weekend in St. Petersburg!

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Russia’s list is an extensive and capricious one that, for example, includes Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram. So it is ludicrous. But it is also ironic and illuminating. Branding journalists as terrorists and extremists is intended to intimidate them into silence. Instead, it eloquently makes the case that they should continue undeterred to advocate resistance to the tyrant.

This minor absurdity is not why Congress should approve aid for Ukraine. But it’s an additional personal reason why I hope it does.

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