To the Editor: In praising Putin, Trump leaves supporters straddling a gap

As the brave Ukrainian people fight to protect their homes against Russian invaders, Donald Trump has praised Putin and refused to condemn his naked aggression. Russian state television is even quoting Trump and his lapdog, Tucker Carlson, in support of the war.

A widening crevice is opening beneath the Republican party and Trump supporters. Simply put, they can side with Trump and Putin, or they can side with the Ukrainian freedom fighters. Trump’s claim that he would have prevented the invasion is absurd. If he were in power now, NATO would be less united, sanctions would be weaker and Putin would be emboldened to not just grab Ukraine, but also assert control over other former Soviet republics. China, which has made no secret of its desire to subjugate Taiwan, would be encouraged to follow Putin’s example.

Efforts by Republican leaders to straddle this growing chasm are pathetic. They want to condemn Putin but not offend Trump. Typically, many of them say nothing or blame Biden for not doing more, while giving Trump a free pass as he aids and comforts the enemy of democracy. But this gap will not close. The longer the Ukrainians hold out, the more the world witnesses their courage and suffering, the starker the choice becomes. By supporting Putin, Trump is forcing his followers to make an existential decision. They can stand with Trump, Putin, and the law of the jungle, or they can support the Ukrainians, freedom, democracy and the rule of law.

William P. Dunkel
West Townshend, Vt.

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  1. Jonathan Otto says:

    Thoughts on Fighting for Peace in Ukraine

    ‘Kill for Peace’ is a sad contradiction;
    Seems that conflict’s a lethal addiction.
    When under attack
    Most people fight back,
    Faced with death we’ll respond with conviction.

    Russia’s war in Ukraine is not sane.
    With no logic that they can explain
    They’re bombing their cousins,
    Who die by the dozens.
    Will the world this great evil constrain?

    To rebuild Russia’s empire of old
    Is a folly that needs be controlled.
    That era’s long ended,
    Peace must be defended.
    Our response should be swift, strong and bold.

    All great powers have blood on their hands,
    Viet Nams and Afghanistans.
    These horrors cost lives
    Kids, husbands and wives.
    No excuse now, as this war expands.

    Sacrifice is the price of real peace;
    Compromise may help warfare to cease.
    First, fighting must pause;
    That’s key, just because
    Trust grows only when bombings decrease.

    Ukraine’s courage provides inspiration;
    Its survival’s our shared obligation.
    Freedom hangs by a thread,
    Better days are ahead
    If we pitch in without hesitation.

    Wars kill dads, mothers, sisters and brothers;
    Reduce conflict, when given your druthers.
    Yes, fight for what’s right
    But keep Peace in sight.
    Pray the day we’ll all play well with others.


  2. Don Dalton says:

    Tim Roper asks how it can be that the Ukrainians are fighting Putin yet I say that eastern Ukrainians are largely on Putin’s side.

    The answer is that the eastern Ukrainians in the Donbass region (Donetsk and Luhansk) have been fighting the western Ukrainians for some eight years now, so it’s these western troops, and not the Donbass people by-and-large, who are fighting against Russia. Those in the Donbass region identify as Russian and would be happy to be free of the yoke of western Ukraine.

    If one looks at maps of ethnic divisions in Ukraine (– beginning about the five-minute mark) one sees a divided country with the east largely identifying as Russian and the west identifying with EU ideals. We might also note that these western areas have had problems with Nazism since WWII since, unlike Germany, Ukraine never disavowed that ideology.

  3. Tim Roper says:

    I’m wondering how you currently feel about this statement you made here earlier, Don Dalton.

    “The eastern half of Ukraine speaks Russian and is essentially on Russia’s side; that leaves only western Ukraine to fight a superpower. Those who say that the Russians are being held back are mistaking a tactical positioning of forces for weakness.”

    Given that the Eastern Ukrainians are contesting every foot of the mighty Russian military’s advance, it seems clear that they greatly prefer remaining citizens of their own country rather than submit to the world’s latest madman.

  4. Don Dalton says:

    Correction: Victoria Nuland is currently Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. During the Maidan protests she was Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs.

  5. Don Dalton says:

    Everyone wants to bash Putin, understandably to a degree. But the central issue for Russia was NATO expansion into Ukraine, which Secretary of State Blinken reaffirmed as likely prior to the invasion and which has always been a red line for Russia, and well-known to the West, for decades. (first 4 mins bad audio.)

    Consider also that a major player in Ukraine since the 2014 Maidan protests has been current Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, arguably a neocon and warmonger whose husband was a founder of the neoconservative Project for a New American Century. What’s she doing in the Biden administration as a central player in Ukrainian policy?

    My suggestion is that we might not be getting a completely accurate picture of the events in Ukraine. To pursue war, and defend Ukraine, borders on insanity: Ukraine has no hope against Russia and those who say that Russia might stage an internal coup in protest of the war are in la-la land. Russia will not back down. If NATO interferes, that invites WWIII. The eastern half of Ukraine speaks Russian and is essentially on Russia’s side; that leaves only western Ukraine to fight a superpower. Those who say that the Russians are being held back are mistaking a tactical positioning of forces for weakness.

    Now things have gone too far, as we earlier blundered our so-called “negotiations” to prevent war by refusing to acknowledge the threat of NATO expansion: Putin is now demanding Ukrainian neutrality and Crimea as conditions for peace (the Russian Black Sea fleet is based in Sevastopol, hence Russian troops have always been in Crimea. In addition, the population voted in a 2014 referendum to become part of Russia.) Yes, now it gets down to appeasement (but note, Putin does not demand Ukraine join Russia, only that Ukraine is neutral.) So what are the choices? Peace, the destruction of Ukraine, or WWIII?

  6. Kate Matracia says:

    Thank you, Mr. Dunkel, for your well-thought and clear points. It seems Republicans have forgotten our own country’s fight for democracy in the Revolutionary War. Their party would not even exist if it weren’t for the freedom fighters in America at that time. This grasping, greedy grab for power must stop both in Ukraine and here at home.