Cognitive Dissonance, Demonstrated

Poland, which has a much clearer picture of what is happening to Ukraine than any other Western nation, since it is happening on their doorstep, and since they know from horrible experience that their turn to face the same fate will be coming soon enough, has done the unthinkable in today’s climate, namely step outside the echo chamber of concerned posturing and actually propose a meaningful and immediate action in support of Ukraine. For their dignified troubles, the Poles have been slapped down by the condescending simpletons of the United States Federal Government.

Specifically, Poland has proposed delivering its American-made fighter aircraft to Ukraine right now. And the American government’s response from the Pentagon?

It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it. We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland’s proposal is a tenable one.

No substantive rationale. Not tenable. Continued consultation. Each day, Ukrainian civilians are being massacred by a tyrant with global ambitions and the resources and manpower to overwhelm his neighbors by sheer inhuman brutality and relentless attrition. The American position today, consistent with its approach since the outset of the invasion, is equivalent to scheduling a meeting for next week to discuss what to do about the car accident that just happened in front of you, leaving several people lying on the road with life-threatening injuries.

With each passing day, most of the West, and most glaringly the NATO alliance, pretends to want to help while deliberately dragging its heels and stalling its way through strategy sessions as the carnage continues. It is all too obvious at this point that NATO, and most obviously the United States, was hoping — yes, let us be as honest as we can in the midst of all this bureaucratic doublespeak — was hoping that Russia could pound Ukraine into surrender within the first week, so that the West’s obfuscation and duplicity would not become so glaringly apparent to everyone, i.e., so that they could make their big show of “unity” and “sympathy with the Ukrainian people,” and then get back to business as usual, working with Putin on “shared interests.”

However, as Ukrainian bravery and Russian ineptitude conspire to drag the fighting on and on, and to deepen the catastrophe unfolding before our eyes, the situation has become downright embarrassing for the West. How long can “further discussions” function as a semi-reasonable justification for passively watching a Western-friendly people and nation being extinguished by a tyrant who has given every possible indication that he intends to repeat this process in other countries, and will not stop his aggression until he is stopped?

Will Putin be angry if he perceives a more direct intervention from NATO? Yes. Will this precipitate even more extreme behavior and aggression from Putin? Very likely. But such is the nature of the situation the world now faces, and no amount of wishful procrastination can make it not so. Having turned a blind eye, or even given a few tacitly approving winks, to Putin’s totalitarian ambitions for years, the West now has to confront the full reality of what they have invited upon themselves. It is here now, whether they want to admit it (or confess their responsibility for it) or not. Let us put aside the fantasy that the “world order” might eventually return to normal without the rest of the world having to get involved — or that the nature of the involvement will somehow become lighter if Putin is allowed to advance his ends undeterred beyond this point. Let us come to terms with the reality that avoiding upsetting Putin is no longer a reasonable goal, let alone a noble one. You cannot defeat an aggressor without opposing him, and you cannot oppose him without upsetting him. Getting along with Putin is a euphemism for appeasement of tyranny and surrender to destruction.

And let us reject once and for all the pro-Putin moral equivalency arguments of the likes of Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald (all moral equivalency arguments are rationalizations for evil), not to mention the typically American myopia of conspiracy theories about how this is all a deep state scheme to whip up a useful distraction for the Democrats before the midterm elections. Contrary to the money-making delusions fostered by Fox News and talk radio, the world beyond U.S. borders is not merely a TV production concocted by CNN and the Council on Foreign Relations to create useful propaganda for U.S. domestic purposes — everything isn’t about American electoral politics. There really is a world outside, and the lives and deaths and threats in that world really exist, they are really about issues unrelated to today’s American news cycle, and their long-term effects are really more likely to land in America’s lap as long as Americans prefer to bury their heads in the comforting dream that Vladimir Putin’s aggressive rebuilding of the Soviet empire, at the expense of millions of Western-friendly people and in mockery of the lives and blood of millions of Americans and Europeans who suffered through so much to defeat that empire such a short time ago, is all just a Democratic Party publicity stunt. A word to Fox News viewers and talk radio listeners, my former friends: The outside world, in all its painful ugliness and life-stunting danger, is all too real. It is American electoral politics that is the illusion.

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