One country, ruled by a thuggish oligarch from the KGB with a long history of butchering masses of people to achieve his personal expansionist ambitions, and poisoning or imprisoning dozens of domestic critics who get a little too influential, has attacked a non-aggressive, non-threatening neighbor whose only “provocations” were to express disapproval at having its territory invaded by that thuggish oligarch eight years earlier, and to express a national will to align itself with its non-aggressive, non-authoritarian neighbors to the West.
There is no moral equivalency to draw here, and therefore no way to seek a “balanced” or “non-judgmental” approach to the two countries’ respective claims, interests, or accounts of what is happening. One side is a tyrannical invader; the other is not. To claim that siding with Ukraine is biased, whereas a reasonable person should stay neutral or keep an open mind toward both sides, is to commit an intellectual atrocity against the concepts of bias and reasonableness.
All the usual suspects from Trumpworld, which on the international scene is merely a euphemism for Putinworld – from Michael Flynn to certain Fox News monkeys to Tulsi Gabbard to QAnon — are taking this moral equivalency position now, where they are not overtly choosing Putin over his victims (as do Tucker Carlson and his favorite Trump administration subversive, Colonel Douglas Macgregor). But there is little to distinguish the overt Putin propagandists from the implicit apologists at this point. To play the “balanced approach” or “nobody’s perfect” game in this situation, is effectively to defend and rationalize expansionist tyranny, global aggression, and mass murder, while simultaneously and necessarily dismissing or denigrating the right of self-defense and the claims of national sovereignty.
Let us put this point another way, so that even one susceptible to the “two sides” confusion being fostered by the moral equivalency crowd might grasp it. If every bit of pro-Putin propaganda about Ukraine – from the Nazification to the biological weapons labs to the child sex-trafficking operations – were true, none of these claims, individually or collectively, would justify what Putin has ordered his military to do to that sovereign country and its civilian population, either this year or over the past eight years since the occupation began in Crimea. Which leads me to conclude that the Western mouthpieces repeating these claims on Putin’s behalf are not actually trying to justify Putin’s aggression on its own terms, but merely to muddy the waters by casting aspersions on his victims, much as O.J. Simpson’s lawyers in the civil suit in which he was found liable for his ex-wife’s death based its defense on an effort to present Nicole Brown Simpson as an immoral woman — as though this claim, if true, could somehow excuse or relativize the fact of O.J.’s invading the woman’s home and cutting her head off.