Hontz: The Ukraine invasion shows how fractured U.S. conservatism is

%28Graphic+Illustration+by+Falyn+Sebastian+%7C+The+Collegian%29

(Graphic Illustration by Falyn Sebastian | The Collegian)

Chase Hontz, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

On Feb. 24, the Russian militarily initiated an unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Orders for this invasion were delivered by longtime Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ad

Putin, an autocratic leader who’s known for ruling with an iron fist, is no stranger to orchestrating unprovoked attacks on neighboring territories. In fact, the Russian military has conducted a number of similar operations in recent years. Such operations include the country’s invasions of both Crimea in 2014 and the country of Georgia in 2008.

As for Putin’s latest abuse of power, the reckless invasion of Ukraine has mustered an impassioned and wide coalition of devastating sentiments and condemnation from all around the world.

Nevertheless, while virtually the entire international community has voiced collectively overwhelming disapproval toward the actions of Putin and his military, one former United States president has swayed against the international community by openly expressing his admiration and support for the Russian leader and his inhumane militaristic tactics.

Reacting to Putin’s initial deployment of troops into Ukraine, former President Donald Trump went as far as to describe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as a “genius” plan and further credited the murderous autocrat as being very “savvy.”

Normally, such support from a former president would be every bit as shocking as it is disturbing. However, in the case of Trump, these comments are just the latest in a long line of mind-boggling compliments aimed toward a wide array of authoritarian world leaders.

Eric Fattor, a senior professor in Colorado State University’s political science department, specializes in matters of international security, political theory and the politics of global media.

“I cannot know what is in Donald Trump’s head, but if I have to speculate, there are two things going on,” Fattor said. “One, Trump admires Putin’s ability to make decisions with little or no dissent or pushback. Related to this is the way Putin goes about crushing his enemies, … so it may be less about Putin and more about admiring autocratic leaders and the style of rule for which authoritarianism provides a space.”

It must be noted that Trump has largely walked back his praise for Putin amid heavy criticism both globally and within the United States.

“(The) majority of the Republican party condemned Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. With that being said, while it’s still a minority opinion within the Republican party and the conservative media community, it’s immensely concerning that any member of the GOP or mainstream media would openly show support for a global adversary and lethal autocrat such as Putin.”

Having said that, Trump’s supposed change of heart did not come quickly enough to prevent a number of his political cronies from following in his steps and expressing their own support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This group of prominent figures who’ve openly expressed support for Russia includes former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon and more.

Ad

In addition to the praise provided by the aforementioned group of prominent Republicans, some far-right media personalities have chosen to offer their own outspoken support for Russia as well. Such media personalities include Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, Candace Owens and others.

“Putin and Russia are rivals of the United States, and being a good patriotic American means supporting your country and its national interests in the face of this rival,” Fattor said. “Yet in today’s world, ‘liberals’ are now cast as the greatest threat to the United States by hyper-partisan conservatives, which may be another reason why you see them not eager to condemn Putin.”

“The fact that there’s any discourse whatsoever within the Republican party on a conflict that feels so black and white should be deeply disturbing to all Americans.”

Once again, it’s important to emphasize that the majority of the Republican party condemned Russia for its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. With that being said, while it’s still a minority opinion within the Republican party and the conservative media community, it’s immensely concerning that any member of the GOP or mainstream media would openly show support for a global adversary and lethal autocrat such as Putin. This is especially the case when a former U.S. president impulsively chooses to do so.

Those within the Republican party and conservative media who have strongly opposed Putin throughout Russia’s invasion of Ukraine are deserving of praise from all sides of the political spectrum.

However, the fact that there’s any discourse whatsoever within the Republican party on a conflict that feels so black and white should be deeply disturbing to all Americans. Furthermore, the fact that this discourse was largely initiated by a talking head of the party and former president of the country is a troubling testament to the fractured nature of conservatism in America.

Reach Chase Hontz at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @HontzCollegian.