As the US and European allies prepare for the prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine, Fox News host Tucker Carlson has once again questioned why Americans should side with the Ukrainians over the Russians.
Riffing on the looming conflict during his show Monday night, Mr Carlson invited his audience to question “who benefits” from the prospect of a war with Russia. “We don’t ask that question enough. The United States certainly doesn’t benefit, that’s obvious to anyone who thinks about it for a second. It’s so glaringly obvious, in fact, that the people pushing this war immediately denounce you as a traitor if you point that out.”
Mr Carlson did not specify precisely who was “pushing this war”, but displayed images of Joe Biden while also referring to “the neo-cons” – a group usually associated with the Republican Party and the right wing of the US foreign policy establishment, not the current administration.
“Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine? They’re both foreign countries that don’t care anything about the United States. Kind of strange. It’s all an absurd performance, but it’s all they’ve got in the end.”
The host’s ultimate diagnosis is that the supposed march to war owes a lot to “hubris, stupidity, the damaged psychological makeup of our leaders, massive lobbying campaigns by Ukrainian politicians and American defence contractors” – and that the ultimate beneficiary of a direct Russian-American conflict would be China.
According to Mr Carlson, moves by the Biden administration to sanction the Kremlin for its behaviour in what it deems its “sphere for influence” will simply drive Russia into closer economic co-operation with China – and set up a domino effect that somehow ends up with the global community moving to “drop the US dollar in favour of a new currency”.
“We would be impoverished immediately overnight!” he ranted. “Has nobody in Washington thought of this? Apparently not. Imposing ‘tough new sanctions’ every few months feeds their moral vanity. It makes them feel like good people. What fools they are.”
As things stand, the Pentagon has put several thousand troops on “heightened alert”, while other Nato countries have been dispatching weapons to the Ukrainians in advance of any incursion or offensive.
Mr Carlson, who a few months ago visited Hungarian autocrat Viktor Orban for an approving interview, did not mention the main bone of contention in the Ukrainian crisis: namely that Russia is essentially threatening to invade a sovereign democratic country unless the Nato alliance promises never to admit it. (Mr Carlson recently compared the prospect of Ukrainian Nato membership to a hypothetical scenario in which China took military control of Mexico.)
And whereas he argued that China will benefit from conflict between Russia and the US, many other observers have pointed out that the world’s other superpower is also escalating its intimidation of Taiwan – another democratic government dependent on American protection against an authoritarian neighbour – and may well be waiting to evaluate how serious the US is about defending its foreign allies.
This is not the first time Mr Carlson has defended Russia or argued that the US has no stake in its machinations vis-a-vis Ukraine. In 2019, he described himself as “rooting for Russia” and “confused” about the US’s position on the Ukrainian issue; he alluded to that same confusion in November last year during an interview with Republican Congressman Mike Turner, who explained to the host that the US is “against authoritarian regimes coming in and changing borders by tanks”.
“Russia isn’t showing up on the border with ballot boxes,” said the congressman, “they’re showing up on the border by tanks, and that’s why we need to make certain we’re on the side of democracy and give the aid that’s necessary so we don’t have another Obama sending blankets to a country that is being invaded.”
Democratic Congressman Tom Malinowski, meanwhile, wrote on Monday that his office “is now getting calls from folks who say they watch Tucker Carlson and are upset that we’re not siding with Russia in its threats to invade Ukraine, and who want me to support Russia’s ‘reasonable’ positions”.