The Culture War in Ukraine – Oliver Williams 4/5/23


The rationale for America’s participation in the proxy war in Ukraine rarely articulates itself with the language of national interests or security concerns. Instead it’s sold as a war over “our values” and the maintenance of a “rules-based liberal international order”. In the words of Joe Biden, “We are engaged anew in a great battle for freedom. A battle between democracy and autocracy. Between liberty and repression.” Rather than a regional territorial dispute, it’s a cosmic struggle for freedom and democracy. But in this grand battle, democracy might not mean what you think.

Ukraine is a deeply corrupt country that has banned rival political parties, shut down television news stations, and passed a law to drastically limit press freedom. The very meaning of democracy has been silently reconceptualised. If once it meant non-fraudulent voting and a free press, now it means something altogether different. Italians voting, democratically, for Giorgia Meloni, was viewed by President Biden as a threat to democracy:

Democracy is at stake… You just saw what’s happened in Italy in that election. You’re seeing what’s happening around the world. And the reason I bother to say that is we can’t be sanguine about what’s happening here either.

Biden expressed a similar view about Poland and Hungary while giving an assessment of then-President Trump’s foreign policy: “You see what’s happened in everything from Belarus to Poland to Hungary, and the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world, and as well, this president embraces all the thugs in the world.” This way of speaking of Poland and Hungary is far from unusual in the English-speaking media.

Democrat Congressman Jamie Raskin summed up what’s being fought for in Ukraine. Accusing Moscow of being “a world center of antifeminist, antigay, anti-trans hatred, as well as the homeland of replacement theory for export” he concluded “In supporting Ukraine, we are opposing these fascist views.” Framed in this way it is unsurprising that the proxy war finds its most rabid adherents among Democrats. Homosexuality is entirely legal in Russia and yet Western liberals will use gay rights, trans rights and feminism to foment a surreal new jingoism that bolsters support for spending billions to fund a proxy war against a nuclear-armed power. “Nation building” means teaching Afghans about the artistic merit of latrines, “democracy” means trans rights, and “a rules based international order” means America doing whatever it wants….

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