By Charlie Johnston
Our latest podcast is out, this time with “Santa,” a vigilant trucker with the People’s Convoy. It is one of the biggest, best organized protests in American history, even though the thoroughly corrupted and dishonest establishment media is entirely ignoring it. Check it out. “Santa” is a good man and an American hero – precisely what I am talking about when I say this is the hour of the ordinary man.
I am absolutely delighted that Denver’s Archbishop Samuel Aquila has invited the entire Archdiocese to join him in saying the Surrender Novena from March 17 through March 25. He sent out copies of the Novena to every Parish in the Archdiocese for the faithful. Longtime readers know that this is one of my favorite Novenas. In fact, I often give out prayer cards for the Novena at my talks (alas, I am out right now – but will reload when I am back in Denver for Easter). If you are outside the Archdiocese of Denver, you can get Surrender Novena prayer cards from Full of Grace USA. Full of Grace is owned by a dear friend, Lisa Fixler, who is a long-time supporter of my work. Frankly, I credit her promotion of the Novena for sparking a real revival of it among Catholic circles throughout the country – and more than a few Protestant circles, as well.
Though I am on the road while all this is going on, I will pray the Novena in solidarity with my fellow Catholics in Denver – and in CORAC. I ask that all of you join with us in solidarity, as well. If you don’t have access to a prayer card, just use the online link I referenced above. Make a joyful noise unto the Lord!
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine, I have had the uneasy feeling that we are being herded rather than informed. I don’t like being herded. A few observations and then my “final answer” on what I think is going on…
We are all now supposed to agree that Vladimir Putin is among the greatest of history’s evil monsters. But I don’t. Oh, if you are an internal opponent to his rule you are likely to find yourself dead or, at least, imprisoned on flimsy charges. He is certainly a brutal autocrat – like those who have successfully ruled Russia for a millennium. I am not shocked to discover that, in a land where the politics is all bears, tigers and lions, that the ruler is not a lamb. The end of Putin’s rule does not mean we will get a lamb running that difficult land, only a new brutal autocrat. So the question, for me, is whether Putin is so strikingly more brutal than the average run of Russian brutal autocrats that his downfall is likely to bring someone better and more stable.
In his dealings with the rest of the world I have found Putin to be patient, restrained and predictable. I think he has had the best grasp of a coherent geopolitical strategy of any national leader on the globe for the past two decades.
When he invaded Georgia in 2008, he said it was to stop attacks on Russian soldiers in the separatist regions and to prevent a Georgian “genocide” against the separatists. Sounds like a convenient excuse, except that when his aims were accomplished, he withdrew his troops from Georgia. If he is a megalomaniacally expansionist monster, he clearly had not yet gotten the hang of it. When he took Crimea back in 2014 the Ukrainians did not even resist. Except for the anomaly of the 23 years that Crimea had been governed by Ukraine after the fall of the Soviet Union it had been governed for over 500 years from Russia. It had no historical connection to Ukraine at all. And it housed Russia’s warm-water port, which is vital to its ability to project naval power…kind of like San Diego is to America. Politically, culturally and militarily it was Russian – which may be why the Ukrainians did not contest its return to Russia. At that time, Russia also offered support to the separatist regions in the Donbass (two regions at the eastern edge of post-Soviet Ukraine). In that case, the Ukrainians did fight to retain the Donbass and unless Russia was willing to send troops, their bid for independence would fail. Russia was NOT willing to send significant amounts of troops, so the bid for independence did fail. But that did not change the fact that the Donbass was almost 70% ethnic Russian and wanted to re-unite with the mother country. So much for self-determination.
For 23 years, Putin has consistently complained of NATO surrounding Russia and insisted that offering Ukraine membership in NATO was a red line for him. He has also consistently argued for the repatriation of those territories in Ukraine that have been historically Russian, rather than Ukrainian, that is, a big chunk of the land east of the Dnieper River – but has made clear he will accept the independence of the Donbass. For his trouble, western “diplomats” have effectively told him to mind his own business: that they have decided and he has no voice in the matter.
Let’s just look at recent Russian history. The last Communist dictator was Mikael Gorbachev. He was NOT a particularly brutal autocrat and significantly relaxed the government’s rigid control over the individual and the economy. For his troubles, he was victim of a nearly successful attempted coup in August of 1991. Though the actual insurrectionists failed in that attempt, four months later the country Gorbachev presided over was dismantled – and there was no Soviet Union for him to preside over (an event I consider one of the great blessings of the age). Boris Yeltsin rose to rule Russia. He was too busy a drunk to be a proper murderous dictator, so he shopped it out. He gave his nod of approval to a coterie of oligarchs who were free to loot the country and kill opponents with impunity so long as they remained loyal to him. It brought Russia to the brink of catastrophic collapse. In 1999 Putin became acting president when the toll of age and booze caught up with Yeltsin and the pressure of trying to hold together a collapsing society was too much for the old tippler. Putin rapidly brought the oligarchs to heel and put Russian society on a trajectory away from catastrophic collapse. In 2000 he was rewarded by being elected to the presidency in his own right. (Understand that elections in Russia are not the same animal as they are in the United States – excepting, of course, the 2020 election.) He quickly anointed his own crew of oligarchs. They, too, looted the land even though they were substantially more restrained than the oligarchs under Yeltsin that brought the nation near ruin.
Some suggest Putin is a great crusader who will restore Christianity. I have read several biographies of Putin including one that is sympathetic and one that is deeply critical. I accept that he is genuinely Christian – in a savage land. But I wonder whether his Christianity is an end in itself or in service to the state. If the latter, that would not shock me, for even in the time of the Czars it was presumed that the Russian Orthodox Church was primarily subordinate to the state – though it was dangerous for a Czar to get too crosswise with the Church. So I am not buying that he is the crusader of restoration. Yet I note with no little shame that when, a few years back, Christians were under massive and murderous persecution in the Middle East, Russia was the only country in the world that mounted large-scale assistance to those persecuted Christians rather than just wringing their hands.
I am under no illusions about who Vladimir Putin is, but I think the folks whipping up white-hot hatred of him are. Or maybe they are not: for most of them, white-hot hatred of Putin serves their major agenda. Putin is not the great Christian hope – but he is the biggest impediment to globalist dreams of world subjugation.
We are all now supposed to agree that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is the modern-day equivalent of Winston Churchill, Mahatma Gandhi and Abraham Lincoln all rolled into one. But I don’t. Certainly I was inspired by his retort to the American offer to whisk him to safety: “I need ammunition, not a ride.” It was evocative of American Brig. Gen. Anthony McAuliffe’s reply to a German demand of surrender at Bastogne: “Nuts!” and to Admiral David Farragut’s cry at the battle of Mobile Bay: “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!” But I have a little trouble getting all warm and fuzzy about a guy who has been primarily bankrolled by George Soros (with the ardent support of Bill Gates, to boot).
Zelensky was elected president of Ukraine (and remember, Ukrainian elections are not the same animal as pre-2020 elections were in the United States, either), following the brief reign of Petro Poroshenko, an interim head of state after the Maidan Revolution which toppled former President Viktor Yanukovych, who had good relations with Russia. Many believe, with good evidence, that it was actually a coup orchestrated by western powers, including the USA. Strikingly, a telephone call between Asst. Sec. of State Victoria Nuland and the American Ambassador was intercepted which caught them discussing who the US intended to install in the new Ukrainian government – well before the existing one had been toppled. An actual neo-Nazi group was used by conspirators to help topple the government – and later harass the Russian majority in Eastern Ukraine. The biggest legitimate objection to Yanukovych was the corruption he tolerated – and even encouraged.
I don’t know if Zelensky actually tried to stop corruption in Ukraine or just shift it to benefit the friends and families of high-ranking officials in the United States. Certainly, the interim president had appointed some genuinely independent prosecutors, but when one of them ventured too close to Burisma (which was paying Hunter Biden $50,000 per month) then-Vice-President Joe Biden very publicly demanded that the prosecutor be fired or the US would revoke a billion dollars in loan guarantees. Other than the two-tiered justice system that has taken hold in America, I have no idea why Biden has not been impeached and jailed. Since then, Ukraine has been both honey pot and money laundering haven for high officials’ families and friends in America.
What is certain is that Ukraine is a victim state, as has often happened to a border state trapped between two more powerful rival countries. The last Ukrainian president who tried to build good relations with Russia was toppled – with the help of Barack Obama’s State Dept. The last Ukrainian prosecutor who tried to root out big corruption was fired at the insistence of the very man who currently occupies the Oval Office. Whatever Zelensky’s personal principles, he is in a constant battle for survival whether or not he is at war.
We are supposed to continue to believe that, as it was for nearly a century, America is a worthy champion for justice in the world and for self-determination for nations. Shoot, America is no longer either of those things for even the American people. It is all do what the government and establishment media says or be cancelled, fired or jailed. We lack even the aspirational moral heft to be dictating what other countries must or must not do anymore. How can we declare it a moral crime for Russia to invade Ukraine, but not for China to brutally subjugate Hong Kong or to declare the international waters of the South China Sea Chinese territory by building artificial islands there? Why would we absolutely refuse any diplomacy with Russia to preserve the territorial integrity of historic Ukraine while offering self-determination to the Russian majority in the Donbass? Why did we fail to use diplomacy to try to preserve the integrity of Hong Kong as agreed to by treaty? Why have we not cut off China from financial ties when it is actively attempting a genocide against the Uighurs? There may well be pragmatic reasons for some of this, but let us not pretend there is any moral clarity – or even coherence – involved. The foreign policy that says it is not our business how territorially aggressive China is but a vital interest to keep Russia from behaving similarly is of a piece with the American domestic policy that it is okay to loot, burn and maim if you are a leftist protester but a crime of the gravest sort to get out of hand while protesting from the right.
The answer would be to use diplomacy to determine actual aims of competing nations and then, if one is intransigent, determine what level of sanctions or force to use to prevent needless tragedies. If that approach had been followed, then sometime in the last 23 years, America and other western powers would have sat down with Russia and Ukraine to seriously discuss self-determination in the Donbass and the consequences of the expansion of NATO. Would Russia have been reasonable? I don’t know. It was never tried. Just over a week ago, Russia offered four conditions that, if met, would lead to its quick withdrawal from Ukraine. It is largely what Putin has been arguing for during all the years in which the west ignored his security concerns. Even now, the West did not give a serious answer but said it was just a justification for the invasion. Okay, if it’s just a bluff, why not call it? That would give clarity to all – and would reassure people like me (who think we are being played) that this is truly only about Russian aggression. The reality is that we have had dismal and deeply incoherent foreign policy since the end of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. The very best it has been able to rise to in the last 34 years has been to marginal competence. Our foreign affairs desks have largely been manned by smug mediocrities (and that is an insult to mediocrities) who have been less interested in achieving peace and justice among the nations than a neurotic need to prove they are smarter and more powerful than everyone else. It is truly pathetic – and now the chickens of ineptitude are coming home to roost.
Meanwhile, Asst. Secretary of State Victoria Nuland confirmed in a Senate hearing that America DOES have over 25 biolabs in Ukraine. Nuland deflected the question of whether any are bio weapons labs, but did note how dangerous it would be for any to fall into Russian hands. A century and a half ago, some farmers would go to the creek to water down the milk they sold to get more volume. This led Henry Thoreau to observe that some circumstantial evidence is compelling, like when you find a trout in the milk. The testimony does not prove America is operating bio weapons labs in Ukraine, but the dancing around the questions sure smells like a trout.
At this point I see NO clear good guys in this scenario, but the worst of the obvious bad guys is the United States and western diplomats following its lead. Putin may be acting out of the frustration of having his concerns contemptuously ignored and dismissed for 23 years or he may be an aggressive expansionist tyrant, as the great historian, Victor Davis Hanson suspects. We could know with more certainty if the west would open talks about Putin’s peace proposal, thereby calling his bluff – or negotiating peace with territorial integrity for Ukraine. But America will not. So we cannot know with the certainty most pundits assume what Putin’s ultimate goal is. Yet it would very simple to find out.
I have been very slow and methodical in putting this piece together, largely because many thinkers I deeply respect have come to some significantly different conclusions than I have. As you know, I am perfectly happy to take positions that are deeply contrary to conventional thinking, but I am also very careful to try to get it as right as I possibly can, so when thinkers I respect have a dramatically different take than I do, I proceed very deliberately. I will incur the wrath of friends if need be for the sake of candor in a critical situation, but I do not take it lightly – and don’t do it if it is not absolutely necessary. Oddly, many trusted colleagues, in a moment of disagreement on a substantial matter, accuse me of letting my ego get in the way of seeing clearly. Embarrassingly, even though I have been proven right far more often in those situations than wrong, not once has any who made that charge ever apologized to me. Fortunately, I have three friends with whom I have disagreed on significant matters of substance who have NEVER made such a charge. One is my dear friend, Desmond Birch, with whom I have had a few serious areas of substantive disagreement. While vociferous in seeking to prove his case, he has never cast aspersions on my motives or interior integrity. Another is my son whose candid counsel has, on several occasions, spared me error. The final is a federal official, so he will remain nameless lest the people who currently command power were to target him. It is as refreshing as a cool mountain stream to have friends and colleagues with whom you can vigorously disagree without having any questions as to their motives or intent. Another popular trope among some who unexpectedly disagree with me on a matter is to tell me God told them to instruct me. I have so tired of this wearisome banality that I usually tell them that God has my number and will give me a call if it is needful. Actually, God has often spoken to me through other people, but the message always comes cloaked in humility and respect rather than anger and imperial presumption. I listen for His voice in all I encounter. Sorry for the digression, but I wanted you to know how seriously I take it when a matter of great weight and substance is at hand.
Italian Abp. Carlo Maria Vigano wrote a comprehensive and profound letter completely contrary to the conventional wisdom on this fight. While I think he got well ahead of his skis in the last half of the letter – where he is interpreting the mountain of data he covered in the first half (making of Zelensky and Ukraine the same sort of one-dimensional parody of evil the globalists have been making of Putin and Russia) the data covered in the first half is compelling and very well-sourced. Ukraine HAS become a haven of corruption for western officials; it HAS persecuted the Russian majority in the Donbass while refusing to recognize its right of self-determination; and it HAS actually incorporated neo-Nazi militias to carry out that persecution. (It was nearly unbelievable to me that a nation with a Jewish president would use such neo-Nazis to carry such things out, which led me to dismiss such charges out of hand. But the evidence is overwhelming.) George Weigel, a Catholic establishmentarian I have much admired, wrote a refutation of Vigano’s letter in First Things. It is a very short piece because Weigel does not bother to refute the facts Vigano marshalled: rather, he just sneered at and smeared Vigano. I would have been deeply shocked were it not for the fact that Weigel has been fumble-fisted on this subject since the invasion began. He clearly is not conversant with some of the most elementary facts involved – but it is way beneath what I have come to expect from him to simply refute an argument with a sneer. I understand that none of us can have immediate expertise in all things. But for heavens sakes, don’t write about a serious subject until you have at least familiarized yourself with the basics.
The great Dennis Prager gives solid commentary, except that he insists that the encircling of Russia is not and should not be a legitimate concern for Russia. I think he is very wrong on this point: every country in world history has regarded encirclement by potentially hostile states to be a provocation. I appreciate that Prager continues to make his arguments with logic rather than a sneer.
The reaction of both the west and the western commentariat to the invasion of Ukraine has been a cluster of chaos, misinformation, disinformation and propaganda. There has never been a time in my life when the facts in such a situation have been so intentionally garbled as to make informed commentary an incredibly difficult proposition. And yet, by questioning obviously contradictory narratives, one can reach some conclusions, tenuous as they might be. I have come to four firm conclusions, though they are not of the sort that everyone else is focusing on. I will finish with those, but first, the questions I have been grappling with.
I largely agree with Kurt Schlichter’s assessment of what America’s obligations in this situation are, though I am bumfuzzled by America and the west’s refusal to even try for a negotiated peace settlement when Russia is so eager to sit down and talk. Last week I noted that Russia had ironically made the same logistical errors in its invasion of Ukraine that Napoleon did in his failed invasion of Russia over 200 years ago. I have come to think I may well have been wrong in that assessment. What if Russia’s invasion was not designed to subjugate the bulk of Ukraine, but to finally force the west to the diplomatic bargaining table? Retired U.S. Colonel Douglas MacGregor has a dramatically different take on what is happening in the war. A botched invasion and a soft invasion designed to trigger negotiations would look much the same – but have very different long-term consequences. There are a whole host of problems ahead for Putin if this is a botched invasion. There are a whole host of problems ahead for Ukraine if this was a gambit to start negotiations – and America and the west has once again spurned them with contempt.
Much of the commentary has been a silly triumphalism projecting the commenters’ own wishes and prejudices. I have seen several say that this forever destroys the illusion of the invincibility of the Russian Army. What poppycock! – absolutely ignorant of even recent Russian history. Russia has a powerful military force and tradition but also a habit of occasionally dramatically underestimating an opponent and getting routed as a result. It did that in Japan in 1905, then with its disastrous entrance into WWI in 1915, then in its failed effort to make Finland into a client state in 1939-40, then in its absurdly botched Operation Mars in WWII, the failed invasion of Afghanistan that began in 1979 and lasted for 10 years before Russian forces slunk back home and, most recently, the First Chechen War in 1994-95 which was a complete defeat. On two occasions, the Russian failures born of absurd hubris have led to catastrophic regime change (the Communist Revolution in 1917 and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991). On the others, humiliating defeat has been prelude to Russia getting it right with brutal efficiency. So Russian military failures born of hubris are common (they are like great Minnesota Vikings teams going to a Superbowl) and either trigger the collapse of the existing ruling regime OR massive retaliation. Anyone who believes in a myth of an invincible Russian Army is an uninformed dolt – and anyone who believes that the embarrassing Russian defeats that happen with some regularity signify long-term weakness is dangerously ignorant.
Sanctions are an appropriate tool of diplomacy in crisis situations, but I don’t understand why our government chose to go full cancel culture on Russia – canceling writers and composers long dead and hating on random Russians and shutting off Russian access to financial services – just as Canada tried to do with its dissidents. Meantime, America is limp about sanctioning oil from Russia or opening back up our pipelines to give Europeans an alternative. So the actions we do take are geared to force Russia into closer cooperation with China in order to do basic banking while not doing anything to reduce the profitability of Russian oil?! What malicious halfwit came up with this? For crying out loud, we are exempting Russia from sanctions in order to get their help in making Iran a nuclear power. Now Saudi Arabia is not taking America’s calls and is considering accepting the Chinese Yuan in payment for oil. That could be the first step in de-throning the American dollar as the world’s default currency – and if that happens the global economic collapse begins in earnest in the west. It will make Venezuelan poverty look like a Sunday smorgasbord.
I think the American chattering classes have not thought this through very well and have taken the wrong aims altogether. But even if the aims they have chosen are the right ones, the means they are using to accomplish them are guaranteed to fail. Our plan is, apparently, to drive Russia deeper into the arms of China (our top geopolitical foe) to get basic financial services; keep Russian oil profitable by treating American energy resources as the new Ivermectin – a safe and effective tool that our drooling class forbids Americans to use; hate on and cancel all things even vaguely Russian without due process or any semblance of law; and refuse to even think about any negotiations for peace. What could possibly go wrong?
And now, the conclusions I have drawn from this chaos:
- The globalists are determined to have war, thinking they can bring down the existing order and be the only ones left standing to restore order and rule. I remember decades ago realizing that all the talk of what started World War I was nonsense. The assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand triggered it, but the reason the war started was because many western European nations, Germany under Kaiser Wilhelm foremost among them, were determined to go to war. The Kaiser was determined to be the continental hegemon in Europe and was convinced he had the firepower to pull it off. If the Archduke Ferdinand had died in his bed of old age, there would have been another trigger to set things off because the Kaiser was determined to have war to elevate German supremacy. When all the conventional means of de-escalating this war are spurned by westerners and the sanctions are designed to enhance, rather than reduce, conflict it is hard for me to come to any other conclusion. The globalists want war because they believe the destruction it will bring will cement their power. It is exactly the sort of hubris that led the old Soviet Union and other communist nations to adopt serial five-year economic plans, each of which left the country more impoverished and miserable than the last. The self-appointed masters of the universe are not as smart as they think – but they may be able to spark a global crisis that they can’t control.
- This is a calculated and sustained assault on the industrious, prosperous, self-reliant and pious middle class, which is the great social impediment to the globalists’ dreams of unchallenged dominance. This began with the overblown Covid crisis two years ago. The big box stores, multi-national corporations, and laptop economic classes were virtually untouched by the insane restrictions. Meanwhile, small businesses and business owners across the world and the world’s churches were shut down with impunity while strip clubs, gambling houses and abortion mills were declared essential services. Our children were groomed to submit to ridiculous orders without question, while many shallow adults thought the science was whatever CNN said it was. Back in the 80s, after well over a decade of study and contemplation of historical societies on the verge of catastrophic collapse, I realized that none of those societies had a healthy, industrious, self-reliant and largely pious middle class. I thought that would be our secret weapon in any coming calamity, that the great middle, in extremis, would ditch the smug fantasies of the entitled classes and assert themselves. Frankly, I suspect some set of someones recently came to the same conclusion I did 40 years ago – and now seeks to destroy that middle class specifically because it is the biggest impediment to their authoritarian dreams. It can create great strife and misery, but it will not ultimately work. Even if they are successful, they cannot remove the living memory in our middle class of what they were and what they want for their children – and when it looks darkest, they will fight valiantly for it.
- The globalists are trying to create perpetual “emergencies” to justify their seizure of authoritarian emergency powers over the people they are supposed to serve. The most brilliant satire site of our age, the Babylon Bee, captured this dynamic by noting how Vladimir Putin has single-handedly ended the Covid “pandemic.” The Covid panic was running on fumes, not particularly useful anymore to officials who sought to wield draconian “emergency” powers over those they are supposed to serve. Now we have the Ukrainian crisis and the mandatory two minutes of hate against all things Russian every few hours. Shoot, I suspect that restaurants which, a few weeks ago, demanded a vaxx passport for entry will now accept a sticker of a Ukrainian flag. It is not Covid or Russia or whatever that officials want to protect us from: they want to protect themselves from us thinking independently and rejecting their arbitrary rule. It comes just in time as excess deaths among those who took the Covid shot have spiked dramatically in the last year. And this is just the beginning. None of this is about safety or service, but simply about power. Our current ruling elites are glad to see you die if it prolongs their grasp on temporal power, fleeting as it is. Maintaining a perpetual state of emergency is key to holding on to their precious.
- The birthing pangs of a New World Order have begun – but it will not be the order that globalists expect it to be. The globalists, even those inside the Church, do not believe in God. Rather, they believe that they are the titans; that it is their destiny and right to rule the world and all its serfs with an iron fist. This has been the belief of every tyrant who has ever risen throughout world history – and all of their bones lie a-mouldering in the grave. I believe they will succeed in bringing down the old order throughout the world. In fact, I believe God is using their ravenous malice to tear away the old order and punish us all for our infidelity. But it is God, Himself, and the people who call humbly on Him, who will erect a new world order in His image, with peace, prosperity and true brotherhood. I do not say He will rule directly. In fact I say just the opposite. Rather, a renewed people who call on Him and follow Him instead of their own itching ears will build a society based on justice and truth. All those who insist on spurning Him will pass away like so much chaff in His winnowing fan. The globalists now plot our destruction, but it is their own that they secure. The sequence of the great battle between the Church and the anti-Church, the Gospel and the anti-Gospel is begun. Come Lord Jesus!
If communication goes out for any length of time, meet outside your local Church at 9 a.m. on Saturday mornings. CORAC teams will be out looking for people to gather in and work with.
Find me on Gab at Charliej373 or at the CORAC group.
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