EDITOR’S NOTE: Op-Eds detail the views of their writers and are not necessarily representative of the stance of the paper. Publication of Op-Eds is not tantamount to an endorsement of their content.
Trump bowed down to Putin, and now Biden has to reckon with his treason!
What?!?! Biden has done nothing but sit idly by as Putin marches toward world domination! Trump wouldn’t have allowed this to happen!
And so on. If you’ve been on social media at all since last Thursday, chances are you’ve seen this exchange play out in some form. It’s a consequence of the trend of hyper-partisanship which has rapidly taken hold of American political discourse since 2016. Misleading, hyperbolic, and/or downright false statements have abounded on social media. To make matters worse, vanishingly few of them are actually relevant.
There are a great many people who stand to benefit from some added perspective. My remarks are by no means meant to serve as comprehensive rebuttals of the claims below. I merely set out to provide food for thought for those tempted to examine current events through a partisan lens. I encourage my readers to turn a critical, rational eye to everything they read in the coming weeks.
Trump withheld crucial military aid from Ukraine. They’d be in a completely different situation if he hadn’t.
Trump’s first impeachment in late 2019 came on the heels of a House Intelligence Committee report implicating him in the suppression of Congress-mandated military aid to Ukraine for personal gain. Whether or not you believe that impeachment was justified (I have linked the Committee report and the transcript of the phone call between Trump and Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for those who wish to conduct their own research), to claim that the delay in aid allocation had disastrous long-term effects on the Ukrainian military effort is disingenuous. A scant two months after the notorious phone call, Ukraine received the aid it was promised.
Trump appeased Putin throughout his presidency! He was an enabler!
As President, Trump constantly waffled on his support for Putin. CNBC chronicled this fence-sitting back in 2018. One day, he’d contradict his press secretary regarding the White House’s official position on Crimea; the next, he’d hold Russia responsible for Syrian atrocities and threaten them with missiles. His non-committal front was absolutely frustrating – maddening, even – but it also meant that it was impossible to say one way or the other where he really stood. At most, his support for Putin was inconsistent.
Putin didn’t start a war like this when Trump was in office! Biden is soft on Russia!
This position ultimately stems from the widespread mischaracterization of the present conflict as a sudden, opportunistic land-grab. The truth of the matter is that Russia has set its sights on the seizure of sovereign Ukrainian territory pretty much since they lost it. What happened Thursday was the culmination of decades of geopolitical tug-of-war, escalating largely independently of American influence. As for the second point, Biden announced within hours of the invasion that he would be authorizing draconian sanctions on Russian exports and banks, as well as the pre-emptive mobilization of US forces to countries neighboring Ukraine. Hardly a “soft” response.
Hunter Biden has –
— nothing to do with this. Nothing at all. As the story goes, Biden, in order to get his son Hunter out of legal trouble, leveraged U.S. assets to coerce the Ukrainian government to fire Viktor Shokin, the prosecutor investigating Hunter’s oil company for corruption. It is true that this leveraging occurred, but it was actually carried out because Shokin’s unscrupulousness as an officer of the law was internationally acknowledged long before Joe Biden’s intervention. The investigation never involved Hunter Biden at any point; in fact, it began before he even joined the company. Furthermore, as Vox notes, no ranking Republicans raised any objection to Biden’s maneuvering, when you’d expect the contrary had there been even the slightest suspicion of partisanship.
When it comes to discussion in a free society, nothing should be off the table. But the talking points currently making the rounds on social media are indicative of misplaced priorities. Partisan mud-slinging at a time like this is shameful and unhelpful (even if some of it is pretty hilarious.) It would be hypocritical of us, as would-be advocates for world peace, to allow ourselves to be consumed by petty domestic infighting.
It is imperative, with so much at stake at home and abroad, that we tell it like it is and know our enemy. Let’s set the record straight. Right now, our enemy is not “Drumpf.” Our enemy is not “Sleepy Joe.” And our enemy is certainly not the Russian people, who have assembled against the belligerency of their leaders at great personal risk. Our enemy – our ONLY enemy – is the man who has launched a war of aggression under phony pretenses, who has decried the imaginary war crimes of his enemy even as he dismisses his own, who has pointed his nuclear arsenal at every corner of the globe and dared them all to blink. And don’t you forget it.