I'm responding to this editorial from the local English language paper last week which kinda pissed me off, and I felt inspired enough to run my mouth back their way a bit. Really hoping they'll publish my response, but it's anybody's guess at this rate. Thanks for reading! :D
Generally speaking, I find your “Ukraine’s Friend & Foe of the Week” section to be exceedingly simplistic and unnecessarily provocative. The first few times I read the column, I was unsure as to whether it was satirical in nature; with your decision to honor John McCain, I no longer have doubts.
At this time, many involved with Trump’s campaign are accused by the FBI, CIA, NSA, and Treasury Departments as well as countless mass media outlets of colluding with Kremlin officials during the 2016 presidential race, and maintaining illegal financial ties prior to and after his stupefying election victory. Bearing that in mind, I can understand the primeval desire for people in Ukraine to feel an affinity for this prominent veteran senator from the ruling party who not only bucks this trend, but pays homage to the original breadbasket of Europe. I get it—it’s nice to feel remembered sometimes. That being said, I urge you to rub the stardust out of your eyes and consider his greater economic motives and policy platforms in a long-term, pragmatic fashion. Let us not mince words: Senator McCain is a master politician and a neoconservative war hawk at the core of his very being. He paints himself the original Republican maverick in the senate, speaking out against Trump and his ‘Alt-Right’ lackeys after their most insidious-sounding utterances, while voting in favor of every last cabinet pick he put forth with hardly a second thought. In addition, for all intents and purposes, McCain has never come across a military conflict he didn’t see fit to get involved in, escalate, or even initiate as a general principle. Lastly, he remains unwilling to consider the idea that the Cold War ever ended—that the game remains, only the players have changed. His mindset is far from unique among military men of his era from both sides of the iron curtain, but that does not make him a reputable source on achieving long-term peace, freedom and stability. His eagerness to bypass international negotiations and apply military force as a first resort could very well mean the death of us all.
There is nothing noble or insightful about calling Obama’s position on Russia “too soft.” Kremlin shills the world over complained endlessly and without irony about how the economic sanctions he imposed were in equal parts crippling to Russia’s domestic economy and ineffective as they encouraged greater domestic production. I talked to many a teen and senior citizen in Moscow (those typically either too young or too old to be skeptical about mainstream propaganda news) that Obama was a bully who wanted to destroy Russia’s structural integrity. While I generally don’t take much stock in respectability politics, his claim that Russia is “a gas station masquerading as a country” is all-around crass and counterproductive. The Russian economy’s close interconnectedness with global oil prices has proven highly problematic in recent years given its volatility, and that’s no laughing matter. Millions of people suffer the consequences. Yes, Putin was in the wrong for not initiating greater efforts to diversify the economy before oil prices plummeted, but as much could be said for any oil-rich nation who relies on its natural reserves to generate revenue, including the various Gulf States which McCain holds in high esteem. Such a degree of shameless hypocrisy and schadenfreude is a nasty blemish on the quality of his character.
Never forget that Senator McCain has advocated for United States military involvement in at least fifteen countries in the past thirty years, none of which as a form of direct retaliation for attacks made on American soil. While each area of conflict has its own unique reason for existing (though most relate to natural resource scarcity and/or misappropriation, including that in Ukraine), the correlation between when the US government follows through on McCain’s interventionist vision and and a given country’s mass destabilization is exceedingly hard to deny. Of course, correlation and causation are not exactly interchangeable terms, but an even vague respect for the precautionary principle is enough to create ample cause for concern. In blunt terms: McCain is no one you want paying you particular interest if long-term peace and stability is your goal.
Before you accuse me of otherwise, let the record stand that I am no fan of Putin’s. His despotic methods of consolidating power within Russia by silencing and eliminating all viable opponents troubles me. Furthermore, his violent disregard for Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is positively criminal in its own right. I have no sympathy for United Russia’s ham-fisted ruling style within Russia, or the destabilizing influence Putin’s Kremlin has on neighboring countries such as Ukraine. Frustration borne out of a perceived sense of inaction does make emotional sense. That being said, the long game is ours to consider. Putin is waiting for the US/NATO to engage in military intervention, after which point he can claim we fired first, and so his massive and deadly retaliation would be somehow “justified.” I disagreed with Obama quite a bit about foreign policy (most particularly in his liberal use of drone bombing in seven different countries concurrently), but his commitment to not escalating conflict in Ukraine is highly commendable, and most certainly saved lives. A neocon like McCain who appears eager to ignite World War III in our own backyard deserves no such praise.