Tucker: Defense of Ukraine's democracy has led to an erosion of our own

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No sane American approves of what Russia has done in Ukraine. We certainly don’t and we don’t know anyone who does.  

On Twitter, you see Democrats pretending that their political opponents are responsible for the invasion and somehow support it. So, Joe Biden and his staff so mismanaged the world that Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine after Biden told us for months he could prevent that from happening, and yet all of it is your fault. So, that’s a slanderous lie.  

In this country, virtually everyone understands that the invasion of Ukraine is bad. It’s bad for us and for the world and Vladimir Putin is bad too. So, effectively in America, those are settled facts. We can stop debating them. The question is: What do we do next? Vladimir Putin’s badness doesn’t absolve us of our responsibility to think clearly about how to protect this country and the rest of the free world, in that order.  


Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu at the Kremlin, in Moscow on February 14, 2022. 
(Photo by ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)

In fact, Putin’s badness makes wise decision-making in the United States more important than ever and yet at the same time, it makes wise decision-making harder to achieve. It’s not easy to see the long view when you’re angry. A writer called Tanner Greer wrote a piece this morning, which you should read. It’s entitled, “Pausing at the Precipice.” Greer began by pointing out that Russia has obviously earned our content. Most Americans now despise Vladimir Putin, and that’s understandable. They’re outraged, but moral outrage is not enough. Moral outrage is not a foreign policy.  

In fact, Greer writes, moral outrage can be counterproductive. It’s clarifying, but here’s the downside. “A righteous reaction may be a dangerous one…In the field of power politics, it is outcomes, not intentions, that matter most. Failure to slow down and examine the assumptions and motivations behind our choices may lead to decisions that feel right in the moment, but fail to safeguard our interests, secure our values, or reduce the human toll of war in the long run.”  

Exactly. Nicely put. Another way to express it would be this: Our leaders could easily turn this tragic and volatile moment into a historic disaster. They’ve done it before. As of tonight, here are the two main things we ought to be worried about going forward: First, and most obviously, this war could get much worse than it already is. We could see many Americans die.  

Joe Biden is telling us he will not commit American troops to Ukraine. Biden also claimed he opposed vaccine mandates. So is he telling the truth? Even if he is telling the truth about his intentions in this case, Biden can’t see the future. Biden has no idea what will happen tomorrow or next week, much less next year. Nobody does.  

We do know that already many in Washington are pushing for a hot war with nuclear-armed Russia. They’re demanding a no-fly zone over Ukraine. That means American forces would shoot down Russian jets in Ukrainian airspace and also take out radar installations and other facilities within Russia itself. Not surprisingly, the Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is on board with this. Why wouldn’t he be? He’s asked Joe Biden for an American-enforced no-fly zone, but as we said, many in Congress are for it, too. Here’s Adam Kinzinger:  

REP. ADAM KINZINGER:  I think this is time where we need to, at the invitation of Ukraine, declare Ukraine a no-fly zone enforced by NATO and the United States. We certainly have the capability to do that. The airspace is still contested by the Ukrainians and we could certainly shut down Russian air operations even if we don’t directly engage Russian troops on the ground.  


“We can shut down Russian air operations even if we don’t directly engage Russian troops on the ground.” So that’s a lie. It’s hard to overstate how dishonest Kinzinger’s claim is. Shooting down Russian planes and taking out radar installations would, by definition, entail engaging Russian troops. If Vladimir Putin is even half as evil and crazy as they tell us he is, and he may be, that could easily spiral into nuclear conflict. 

 So, you would only suggest that if you had nothing to lose, and Adam Kinzinger, of course, he doesn’t. His political career is over. He’s disgraced. He has literally nothing to lose. But many of us have a lot to lose—our country. We have children. So, we should pause before we do that, but no pausing allowed.  

Adam Kinzinger thinks you’re a traitor if you’re worried about where this might go. “This breathlessness over nukes is mind-blowing,” Kinzinger wrote over the weekend— nothing bad will happen. And maybe nothing bad will happen, but something very bad could happen, and it could happen fast.  

Adults know that. Anyone with experience knows that. Watch any war in history. And yet tonight, amazingly some of those adults, and they are adults, favor this anyway. Two former Supreme allied commanders of NATO, Wes Clark and Philip Breedlove are pushing for armed confrontation with the Russian military.

 In an interview with Foreign Policy Magazine, Breedlove was honest enough to acknowledge that a no-fly zone would amount to “an act of war,” and it would. Thank you for saying so out loud, but Breedlove said he’s for it anyway. OK, so this is the moment when a functioning news media would step in and start to ask basic questions about what happens next. War with Russia, fine.  

What does that mean, exactly? How far is the United States and its population, who would fight that war, prepared to take this conflict and to what end? Once we start bombing Russia, will Putin withdraw his forces from Ukraine? What will be left of Ukraine by that point? How are we sure that Putin, who we say is deranged, won’t go nuclear if a war with him begins? And then, among many other questions, what will China’s role in this war be?  

Thanks to the efforts of the Biden White House, China is now Vladimir Putin’s strongest ally. The Chinese have just signed a long-term energy deal with Russia. They now have skin in the game. Russia will be powering China’s economy going forward. Good job, Biden White House. But because that’s true, how sure we that the Chinese will stay out of a war?  


Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 1, 2018.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gives his annual state of the nation address in Manezh in Moscow, Russia, Thursday, March 1, 2018.
(AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

How do we know they won’t take down our digital infrastructure, which they seem to some great extent to control in this country… etc? You can think of many questions, but reporters aren’t asking any of them. Asking questions is now immoral. Richard Engel, who knows better, he’s the chief foreign correspondent at NBC, is now demanding that American troops fight the Russian army. It’s a moral imperative.  

“A massive Russian convoy is about 30 miles from Kyiv, the US/NATO could likely destroy it, but that would be direct involvement against Russia and risk everything. Does the West watch in silence as it rolls?”  

And of course, the answer is implied. We can’t watch in silence. That would be immoral. If you’re a good person, you will support a war that could very easily turn into a nuclear conflict. Again, this is moral blackmail. No one in America takes pride at the sight, feels anything but revulsion at the sight, of Russian troops within Ukraine. It’s wrong. It’s destabilizing to the world. It is, in fact, against our values, but how we respond is the question. Thoughtfully, has to be the answer unless we’re prepared to risk massive consequences.  

Now Richard Haass, who is the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, would under normal circumstances, be exactly the man you would go to for a wise and reasoned perspective on what to do next. That’s his job. Whatever you think of the Council on Foreign Relations, and we don’t think much, they’re not a radical organization. Their job is to think through the consequences of action. But not anymore. Richard Haass is foursquare in favor of a hot war with Russia. He’s calling for “regime change in Moscow” because no doubt they’ll greet us as liberators. What could go wrong? Here’s Richard Haass: 

RICHARD HAASS:  We need now a response of necessity to his war of choice and there’s got to be to raise the economic costs at home, to raise the military costs on the ground. I hate to be so blunt, but the most vulnerable thing that…Putin’s vulnerable to is dead Russian soldiers. So, we have to make sure Ukraine has the means to…resist.  

When did a guy that irresponsible take over the Council on Foreign Relations? And of course, that’s not his real job, the Council on Foreign Relations, his real job is being a cable news pundit, and that’s kind of the problem with the level of discourse around this war. The problem is that when real people with jobs that convey actual authority start talking like cable news guests, things could go sideways very fast. “Dead Russian soldiers.” 


So it’s hardly a defense of Vladimir Putin to point out once again that a shooting war with Russia could have massive consequences for us because it’s not just Russian soldiers who would die. Americans would die too, potentially many of them. And, by the way, it’s not all certain we would win that war. Sorry, it’s not. Ask anyone who’s familiar with the current state of readiness of the U.S. military. Is victory a foregone conclusion? Is this the roll into Baghdad? No, it’s not. This is not Saddam Hussein we’re talking about.  

So again, the point is, are we ready for all of this? We’re moving down a path that could result in the destruction of the United States. Americans may be mad at Putin, understandably, but they’re wary of where our leaders are taking this next. A new CNN poll, for example, shows a strong majority of Americans, speaking of democracy, oppose direct military action against Russia. Are they all traitors? Are they all pro-Putin? Probably not.  

At the very least, they would like, and we could use, a sober national conversation about the potential consequences of where people like Richard Haass are taking us now. That’s the opposite of what we’re getting. Instead, we’re getting buffoons like Adam Kinzinger sitting in his office making bellicose noises on social media. Just the other day, Kinzinger posted images on Twitter of Ukrainian Air Ace called the Ghost of Kyiv. He downed Russian MiGs left and right.  

Well, turns out the whole thing was a hoax, but of course, Adam Kinzinger had no idea because he knows nothing. “The #ghostofKyiv has a name and he has absolutely owned the Russian Air Force,” he tweeted. Imagine a sitting member of Congress tweeting about a war like it’s a cable news segment.  

Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, listens during a business meeting of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. 

Representative Adam Kinzinger, a Republican from Illinois, listens during a business meeting of the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2021. 
(Sarah Silbiger/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

“He absolutely owned the Russian Air Force.” Really? Get some respect. People are dying, buffoon. Kinzinger then attached an obviously photoshopped image of the comedian, Sam Hyde, sitting in the cockpit of a fighter jet. Sam Hyde, for the record, is not a Ukrainian fighter…he is, once again, a comedian. That was Adam Kinzinger. These are the people pushing us toward a new world war.  

So, at the very least, let’s pause and think this through. That seems fair and as we do that, it is also worth considering what’s happening here in the United States, concurrent with this war and justified by this war and by that, we are speaking of the assault on civil liberties now underway. It would be ironic if a defense of democracy, on the other side of the world, led to an erosion of democracy here and yet that seems to be where we’re heading. 


You’ll notice that the moment that Russian troops rolled across the border into Ukraine, Democrats wasted no time in attacking not just Putin, but their political opponents in this country. What did they have to do with it? Isn’t war the moment for unity? We’re all in this together, but they leverage this war and the human suffering that inevitably entails to make partisan points.  

One MSNBC regular, in one of the stranger moments you’ll see on television (MSNBC has had a lot of those recently) said the whole conflict was the result of a plot engineered by Vladimir Putin’s mole, who happened to be the former president of the United States.  

SARAH KENDZIOR, PHD: Trump was installed as the president of the United States in order to weaken the alliances that were preventing Putin from achieving his goals— alliances like NATO, our relationship with our European partners, our relationship with Ukraine. Trump was put in as a bulldozer.  

OK, so we spent maybe three years holding up the lunacy of the Russiagate people and the lying as evidence that maybe they shouldn’t have a meaningful effect on our national conversation about politics and yet somehow, through a very unfortunate confluence of events, those very same unbalanced people are now having a measurable effect on our foreign policy and if you think we’re overstating the lunacy, try to follow the logic here. This is what she just told us.  

So Donald Trump, that would be Putin’s man in the White House, tells Europe not to become dependent upon Russian oil, as he did, and to pay more for their own military defense, which he also did and was scoffed at, by the way. And yet, for some reason, Putin then waits to invade Ukraine until his man in the White House is gone and playing golf in Florida and now it is Donald Trump’s fault that Europe is dependent on Russia for energy. It was all part of Putin’s plan. Republicans wanted this to happen all along.  

You can imagine MSNBC viewers, the ones sat through years of this, nodding along “yes.” Now the pee tape makes sense. What’s scary about this is that it’s not confined to MSNBC. The overlap between MSNBC guests shouting nonsensical partisan talking points and true conspiracy theories and Democratic policy-makers is profound. So Democratic lawmakers now pretending there’s a large and dangerous fifth column in the United States working for Vladimir Putin, which there is not. And as always, they’re talking about themselves.  

 Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) delivers remarks during the House Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 7120, the "George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020," on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2020 in Washington, DC.

 Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) delivers remarks during the House Judiciary Committee markup of H.R. 7120, the “George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020,” on Capitol Hill on June 17, 2020 in Washington, DC.
(Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)

Eric Swalwell, for example, he recently took the maximum possible campaign donation from a lobbyist for Nord Stream 2 AG. Now that’s the company making the pipeline that will give Russia greater control over Europe’s energy grid and from which the Russian government profits.  

So. Eric Swalwell is taking money from the Russians and by the way, this is a guy who had sex with a Chinese spy. Has he had sex with Russian spies? We don’t know, but you’ll notice the one guy who probably shouldn’t be calling other people traitors, as he takes money from Russian energy interests, is whipping around and accusing everyone else of rooting for the Russians. 

ERIC SWALWELL: We have Republicans who are rooting for Russia and that makes it very hard for President Biden to get the whole country to go along when Donald Trump, Mike Pompeo and Tucker Carlson are rooting for Russians and that’s being replayed on Russia TV to rally Russians for this cause.  

You know, it’s such an awful thing to say. We hesitated even to play that. It’s very common. You hear it every day. The question is: Why are they saying that? It doesn’t make sense, but it makes political sense. It is an effort to cover their own tracks. Our Foreign policy establishment failed to constrain Vladimir Putin.  

To bring you back to ancient history like a week ago, they were telling us that sanctions and arming the Ukrainian military would prevent a Russian invasion. Now, they were wrong about that. They’ve been wrong many times, most recently in Afghanistan and in fact, now that we’re casting blame, if there is any single American who deserves scorn and yes, blame for the invasion of Ukraine, it would be Joe Biden. 

Of course, it was his job, self-described job, to prevent it. But of course, they won’t admit that. Instead, they’re attacking you and they’re doing it with partisan goals in mind. Democrats plan to use the Ukraine invasion, this would become very obvious in the last three days, in the very same way they used January 6th.  

So bad event takes place. No one really is for it. No one defended the riot on January 6th. We certainly didn’t. But history is written immediately for partisan ends. So then you take the hysteria ginned up over that event, some of it legitimate, by the way, people have a right to be upset, and you use that to purge the country of the Democratic Party’s political opponents. 

So what do they really hate? Well, listen to them. They hate populist politics. They hate populist politics in this country far more than they hate Vladimir Putin. So they’re using this opportunity, this war in Eastern Europe, to shut down domestic dissent in the United States and you’re seeing it as always in our allies first.  


Several of them, including Canada, have banned journalists who don’t agree with their view of the war. Again, if we’re going to protect democracy, that should start at home and democracy is defined, literally defined, by the tolerance of the regime for dissent. But no dissent is allowed. So they’ve pulled RT off the airwaves in Canada, we did that long ago, and that led Mother Jones Magazine to ask this question today:  

“Both RT and Sputnik air in the United States, too.” Untrue, but whatever they don’t know. “Will Biden follow suit and crackdown on pro-Russia disinformation? If he does, U.S. cable companies will also need to scrutinize media outlets like Fox News, whose shows— Tucker Carlson’s in particular— have parodied pro-Russia talking points.”.

OK, so Putin invades Ukraine, self-evidently a tragedy bad for the United States, and we’re using that as a justification because we care so much about democracy to shut down any news organization, any journalist who questions the Democratic Party? OK. How did we get here anyway? How corroded have these people become that they’re calling for government censorship of dissent and telling us their defenders of democracy? That’s just the beginning. Anyone who supports voter I.D. laws is a Kremlin agent, too. You’re seeing how they’re going to use this? Here’s Nancy Pelosi and Barbara Lee to explain:  

SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI: We talked about the fact that the invasion, the assault on Ukraine, was an assault on democracy. Barbara took the time to talk about assaults on our democracy in our own country.  

REP. BARBARA LEE: The fight for democracy is taking place throughout the world. It’s not only in Ukraine, but it’s in our own country, and we’ve seen this through the campaigns of misinformation and disinformation. We see this happening in Ukraine. The fact that now we see those at times take away the voting rights of people of color, of African-Americans, of young people, of seniors, of the disabled.  

On, February 18, Nancy Pelosi  speaks at the Munich Security Conference in Bavaria, Munich.

On, February 18, Nancy Pelosi  speaks at the Munich Security Conference in Bavaria, Munich.
(Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images)

You know, it’s not even worth parsing the logic of something like that. You can only feel deep sadness that the people you just saw represent you in our Legislature, but by the way, as long as we’re punishing people who are allied with hostile foreign interests, just to restate the obvious, China is now Russia’s strongest ally in this war and that has real implications for people like, I don’t know Nancy Pelosi, whose family has gotten rich from China or the entire American financial sector, or Hollywood, or all the people who are now profiting from Vladimir Putin’s closest ally. Will they divest of those investments?  

We’ll see. But in the meantime, you should be very aware that there are partisan forces trying to use the war in Ukraine to accomplish political objectives here domestically and gain more power for themselves. It’s not just about voting rights or shutting down Fox News.  


It’s about shutting you up personally, your ability to express yourself and if you doubt that, you should know that Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia just wrote a letter to his donors, the tech monopolies demanding that they, “restrict the spread of Russian propaganda.” 

He did not define the term “Russian propaganda” and as a show that has been accused of disseminating it repeatedly, we can tell you we’re all sensitive on the topic and you should be too. So, Warner went on television recently to report that his donors and Big Tech quickly complied with his demand. 

DAVID IGNATIUS: You sent letters on Friday to our leading social media companies: Meta, which runs Facebook, Alphabet, Reddit, asking them to take action to prevent Russian state media, Russian propaganda operations, from appearing on their platforms. When I ask, have you received any responses yet to your request that they take that action?  

SEN MARK WARNER: Well, David, the short answer is yes. Virtually every one of these platforms has taken down some of the Russian activity or demonetized, so they’re not making money off of RT or Russian ads on real time during the platforms. That’s good. I commend these…platforms.  

So, contrast that with MSNBC. MSNBC is when dumb people do propaganda and tell you that Russia invading Ukraine is somehow about racism in the American South or something. I mean, it’s nonsensical.  

Sen. Mark Warner is when smart people do propaganda. You’ll notice that Ignatius said Russian state media or Russian propaganda. To just be completely clear, Warner is not talking about banning Russian state media. He’s talking about banning Russian propaganda, a term that he gets to define. He’s talking about censoring the opinions of Americans.  


Now, to be clear, that is not allowed in a democracy. In a democracy, citizens who rule have an absolute right to have any opinion they want. Period. That’s not an ancillary freedom. That’s not just some random thing that we have as an added bonus as Americans.  

That freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, is the central freedom we have. It’s the whole point of the country and there is no point in supporting Ukraine if our leaders ignore our own bill of rights, and we should demand that they respect our Bill of Rights before they take a single step forward in defense of any other democracy. Period.  

This article is adapted from Tucker Carlson’s opening commentary on the February 28, 2022 edition of “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”


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