Where the Dangerous Far Left and Far Right Views on Ukraine Meet

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Issue 13, Volume 113

By Dean Hevenstone 

While leaving school on March 2, I saw a small booth with two or three people pacing and yelling behind it. The booth was laden with signs that asked, “Who elected NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and the EU (European Union) to start WWIII?” and argued that “China and Russia are not the enemies, global Britain is!” They were handing out flyers to students, trying to instill these ideas into their minds. I was totally confused. Who were they, and where did these ideas come from? Out of curiosity, I did some research.

What I found is that the far left promotes a false narrative that all U.S. foreign intervention benefits the elite and that private businesses that profit from militarization. It shrouds foreign intervention and support for Ukraine under the blanket term of “American imperialism.” There have been many instances of American imperialist interference, like the false justifications for invading Iraq in 2003. The Bush-Cheney administration had claimed that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction in order to sway the U.S. population in support of the war. Unlike Iraq, in the case of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, this is only a populist half-truth that may influence ignorant readers. The U.S. foreign intervention in Ukraine is not an attempt to interfere with another country’s politics for our own benefit. The profiting of private businesses from militarization is only a bonus of a humanitarian effort to support a sovereign country fighting against an imperialist neighbor, which also ensures the security of NATO’s borders and minimizes the global dominance of Russia. In a capitalist society, someone always profits from contributing weapons and military equipment, and this is not a valid reason to suspend military aid.

According to the far-left news organization The Intercept, “The U.S. and its NATO allies [backed Putin] into a corner he ultimately decided he would not accept,” claiming that U.S. intervention furthers this country’s imperialism. This is completely untrue. Putin has always been aggressive toward Ukraine, and NATO had no hand in that. Putin invaded and annexed Crimea, a peninsula territory of Ukraine, in 2014 without being backed into anything. Within a month of the invasion, Russia had taken control of Crimea. After that, NATO “suspended all practical cooperation with Russia.” That was after, not before, the unprovoked Russian annexation of Crimea. Like the annexation of Crimea, Putin’s current invasion of Ukraine is to no extent due to NATO provocation. It is a result of Putin’s greed, tyranny, and thirst for power.

Another argument from The Intercept is that there is a lack of debate on U.S. involvement in Ukraine and that “[e]ven the mildest effort at dissent in Congress has been ridiculed and calls for a negotiated end to the war retracted.” The entire article argues that it is right to debate foreign involvement, but it is a moot point in the first place. Many pro-Putin members of the right wing fight against the U.S. distribution of weapons to Ukraine, and many members of the center-left wing argue the opposite. One thing is certain: there is definitely no lack of debate.

The political spectrum is not a horizontal line. It may seem like it since Democrats and Republicans are vastly divided. However, as the spectrum goes farther into the extremes, there are increasing similarities in beliefs. The extreme left and extreme right become ideologically closer to each other than when compared to the figurative center of the spectrum, where political stances are intermediate and often reject the left-right spectrum. French philosopher and writer Jean-Pierre Faye called this the horseshoe theory.

On the right, Ron DeSantis, Florida’s governor and likely presidential candidate, told Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson that “helping Ukraine fend off Putin’s invasion is not a ‘vital’ security interest for the United States.” However, Ukraine is a sovereign nation and American ally fighting for their lives against their genocidal Goliath neighbor, as they are being mercilessly killed. While this alone should be a rock-solid reason to support Ukraine economically and militarily, there are even more. If Russia were to annex Ukraine, next would be Poland, or the Baltics—Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia—which are NATO territories. According to Lithuanian foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis, “If a country is eager to cross another country’s border, they’re an aggressor and they will do that again, if they’re not stopped. And they have not been stopped.” Russia is America’s current largest threat, and if Putin finds that he is able to evade NATO at little cost, he may become an even larger and more dangerous power.

Another right-wing view is that the aid that the U.S. has supplied to Ukraine is sufficient. Ohio Republican senator J.D. Vance has claimed, “We’re at the point where we’ve given enough money in Ukraine.” But without the constant flow of foreign aid from the U.S. and its allies, it would only become a matter of time before Putin takes over Kyiv. If Putin annexes Ukraine, he will see no reason for fear or incentive to back down.

Both the far left and far right support disturbing ideas and beliefs on American involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. Both represent harmful ideas that undermine American security and put Ukrainian lives and Eastern European democracy at risk. The far-left arguments may seem attractive to progressive students learning about American and European colonialism. This situation is very different. These ideas are being used to weed out support for Ukrainian lives and to create a widespread dissent against American foreign policy and intervention in Ukraine. It is important that America and global allies keep supporting Ukraine and that we continue to fight against the misleading ideas of the far left and far right.