In 1942, answering a pacifist opponent of British involvement in the Second World War, George Orwell replied that “pacifism is objectively pro-fascist.” There have of course been many times in human history when opposition to war has been morally justified, intellectually coherent, and, in the end, vindicated. But the war to defeat fascism during the middle part of the past century was simply not one of them. “This is elementary common sense,” Orwell wrote at the time. “If you hamper the war effort of one side you automatically help that of the other.”
Eight decades later, as a fascistic Russian regime wages war against Ukraine, a motley collection of voices from across the political spectrum has called upon the United States and its allies to adopt neutrality as their position. Ranging from anti-imperialists on the left to isolationists on the right and more respectable “realists” in between, these critics are not pacifists in the strict sense of the term. Few if any oppose the use of force as a matter of principle. But nor are they neutral. It is not sufficient, they say, for the West to cut off its supply of defensive weaponry to Ukraine. It must also atone for “provoking” Russia to attack its smaller, peaceful, democratic neighbor, and work at finding a resolution that satisfies what Moscow calls its “legitimate security interests.” In this, today’s anti-war caucus is objectively pro-fascist.
To appreciate the bizarrely kaleidoscopic nature of this caucus, consider the career of a catchphrase. “Is Washington Fighting Russia Down to the Last Ukrainian?” asked the headline of a column self-published in March by Ron Paul, the former Republican congressman and presidential candidate. It was a strange question for Paul to be posing just three weeks into President Vladimir Putin’s unjustifiable and unforgivable invasion, especially considering the extraordinary lengths to which the Biden administration had gone to avoid “fighting Russia.”
Even stranger than Paul’s assertion that the U.S. was goading Ukrainians into sacrificing themselves on the altar of its Russophobic bloodlust, though, has been the proliferation of his specious talking point across the ideological spectrum. [Continue reading…]