We’ve seen how some of Vladimir Putin’s Western apologists belong to the “yes, but” brigade. They’re quick to acknowledge that he’s a pretty vile character, and yet they feel moved to defend the guy – or even, as in Peter Hitchens‘s case, claim to like him.
There’s no “yes, but,” however, for Noam Chomsky, the World’s Leading Intellectual©. He’s all in for Putin, and then some. Writing in May 2014 about Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Chomsky was quick to “contextualize” it, in his own unique way, by bringing in the “era’s most extreme international crime, the United States-United Kingdom invasion of Iraq.” For Chomsky, the latter “crime” more than excuses the former. Yes, the US and UK took down one of the most murderous tyrants of all time, while Putin invaded a country that had just undergone a democratic revolution, but such distinctions have never mattered to Chomsky: the suffering of people here and there around the globe doesn’t interest him unless he can find a way to pin that suffering on America.
Chomsky mocked the idea that Russia’s move on Ukraine should be viewed as a crisis. After all, as so many of his fellow Putin apologists have pointed out, Ukraine is in Russia’s “neighborhood.” He also helpfully cited polls supposedly indicating that people all over the planet overwhelmingly consider the U.S., not Russia, a “pariah state” and “the greatest threat to world peace.” So there.
Chomsky, of course, is in a category all his own. But when it comes to standing up for Putin, the guy who puts even him in the shade is almost certainly Paul Craig Roberts. An economist who once worked as an editor at the Wall Street Journal and as Assistant Secretary of the Treasury under Reagan, Roberts has since gone off the deep end, contributing regularly to Counterpunch – the journal of the loony, Jew-hating far left – and routinely siding with Putin against the U.S. Indeed, “Putin apologist” is far too feeble a term for Roberts; he’s a hard-core propagandist, pure and simple, serving up breathtaking, bald-faced claims that are almost always the very antithesis of the truth.
Here’s just a sampling. In Roberts’s lexicon, the people running the Ukraine are “Washington’s stooge government in Kiev”; the Eastern European countries who’ve joined NATO to protect themselves from being re-incorporated into the Kremlin’s empire are “NATO’s vassals.” The U.S., charged Roberts in July 2014, “is at work through its Kiev proxy murdering citizens in eastern and southern parts of present-day Ukraine that once were part of Russia.”
Meanwhile Putin’s the good guy, standing up alone to “Washington’s crimes against humanity” and striving in vain “to find a peaceful settlement” that would help “the Ukrainians who are being attacked” on orders from Washington. Putin’s only fault, in Roberts’s eyes? His failure “to realize that his reasonableness is not reciprocated by Washington.” Summing up: “Putin has done what he can to avoid conflict. Now he needs to do the right thing, as he did in Georgia and Crimea.”
If Roberts isn’t on the Kremlin payroll, he should be; he’s doing a PR job for Putin that should be the envy of any Hollywood publicity mill.