“Headline: Politicians and people are polls apart on Ukraine” Mulshine


It’s been more than a century since the great Ambrose Bierce wrote that “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.” 

That sure turned out to be true. 

But when it comes to the current dust-up in Ukraine it’s a vocabulary lesson that most Americans need. 

The words I’m thinking of are “irredentism” and “revanchism.” 

Irredentism is defined as “a policy of advocating the restoration to a country of any territory formerly belonging to it.” 

Revanchism is “a policy of seeking to retaliate, especially to recover lost territory.” 

You don’t hear those terms so much on this side of the pond. But on the other side, they explain most of the warfare in Europe in the 20th century. They also explain the ongoing kerfuffel involving Russia and Ukraine.  

Here are a couple of places Americans might learn about if this conflict comes to a head: Donetsk and Luhansk.  

Those are a couple of self-declared autonomous republics packed with ethnic Russians that declared independence  from Ukraine eight years ago. Russia has never formally recognized them as independent, but it accepts their travel documents and sends “volunteers” over the border to aid them in fighting off the Kiev government. 

The U.S. says that Donetsk and Luhansk rightfully belong to Ukraine. The Russians do not agree. From their perspective, the U.S. deemed  it fine for ethnic Ukrainians to exercise their self-determination when they broke off from Russia after the Cold War. So how can we object if  ethnic Russians want to exercise their self-determination and break from Ukraine? 

And then there was the 1974 invasion of Cyprus in which our NATO ally Turkey attacked our NATO ally Greece.  

Such turf fights can never be settled to the satisfaction of both sides.  

So what makes us want to try and straighten this mess out? 

We don’t want to, at least not according to the polls. A recent Rasmussen poll asked likely voters if they thought U.S. troops should be sent to defend Ukraine in the event of a Russian attack. Only 31 percent said yes. Meanwhile a YouGov poll in December showed a mere 27 percent in favor of going to war.  

The only place where the prospect of American intervention is popular is in the minds of our politicians. On the Republican side we have Fox News. When a Fox talking head interviewed a Republican congresswoman from upstate New York named Claudia Tenney, the host prefaced his question on Ukraine by stating that “It appears an invasion is imminent.”  

Tenney said any such invasion would occur “because of the weakness President Biden has projected.” 

Meanwhile the liberals over at MSNBC seem obsessed with Ukraine as well. They’ve got a logo that announces “the Ukraine Crisis” that seems to come on every 10 minutes. 

One of the sole voices warning against involvement is Tucker Carlson of Fox News. In an interview with another hawkish Republican congressman, Mike Turner of Ohio, mouthed the usual mantra  “the threat to the United States and the threat to the United States’ allies” posed by Russia. 

After saying that many military families watch his show, Carlson told Turner, “I wonder if you could explain to them why it is in America’s interest that their kids risk their lives in Ukraine.” 

Turner couldn’t. That’s because it’s not in America’s interest, said one military man I like to consult on these issues. 

That’s Pat Lang. He’s a retired Army intelligence officer who was credited with being the first to determine that Saddam Hussein was preparing to attack Kuwait.  

The current situation is not similar, he said.  

“The whole thing is farcical.  It’s the great Ukrainian bluff, and I think he’s already won,” said Lang of Vladimir Putin.   

Putin has two goals, said Lang. One is to keep the Ukrainians from marching into Luhansk and Donetsk. Key to that is keeping Ukraine from joining NATO.  

Putin has made it clear to the West that the Russians won’t let NATO absorb Ukraine without a fight, Lang said.  

“And once the Russians start to fight, they really fight,”  said Lang, who saw his share of fighting in Vietnam. 

So why get them started? I’ve yet to hear a good reason – and my wife keeps MSNBC on all day. 

Meanwhile  the right-wingers of talk radio are even more bellicose. I listen to them as I drive around.  

They’d like nothing more than to goad Biden into a confrontation with Russia – at which point they could blame him for the inevitable rise in gas prices. Even though Biden is not threatening war, he is threatening severe sanctions against Russia that could drive energy costs much higher. 

When asked in that YouGov Poll whether the U.S should prioritize domestic issues over foreign policy, 73 percent of those polled chose domestic issues. 

The politicians might have hopes of ridding the European continent of revanchism and irredentism. 

But I suspect most Americans would prefer to skip this geography lesson. 

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40 Responses to “Headline: Politicians and people are polls apart on Ukraine” Mulshine

  1. Pat Lang says:

    The Turkey thing in Cyprus in 1974 is illustrative of the existing situation in Ukraine east of the Dnieper. Turkey has never formally annexed Northern Cyprus, but the region is effectively part of Turkey.

  2. Babeltuap says:

    God help the Russians if we re-class truckers in North America as Freedom Fighters and front load them to Ukraine.

  3. Barbara Ann says:

    “..my wife keeps MSNBC on all day”

    This is grave news indeed. Is your SWMBO conducting some sort of masochistic experiment Colonel?

  4. Fred says:

    Thank goodness the immigrants who are our strength are crossing the Southern border without legal authorization. They can only have a positive impact in the cities DHS is illegally flying them into. Maybe they can sign up to defend LTC Vindman and the “whistle blower’s” Ukraine. I don’t see our LGBTQ+ military succeeding in a two front war when we are told the greatest threat to America is “white supremacists” and the January 6th protesters.

  5. A. Pols says:

    Yup, right wing radio. Hugh Hewitt in particular is full of blather about Ukraine and interviews various retired mil-hawks. They all seem delusional and have a mind set going way back to the Cold War. In some ways these guys remind me of descriptions of the German end game in 1945 with moving around imaginary armies on the sit-room map tables.


    There are two fallacies perpetrated in this article. Number one is the fear-mongering about America going to war with Russia. American troops will not be stationed in Ukraine, so there will be no American war against Russia.
    Fallacy number two is that Ukraine is part of Russia. Putin promised that if Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, he would honor Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Ukraine kept their end of the bargain, Putin did not.
    Putin is playing a very dangerous game with his saber-rattling. He would be well served to drop his Soviet era paranoia and join the twenty-first century.
    It is a shame that he can’t shake his Cold War mentality.

    • Pat Lang says:

      IMO you are underestimating the escalatory potential in this situation.

    • zmajcek says:

      The Budapest Memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

      Some would argue that the US broke that agreement first by staging a coup in 2014.
      Also some interesting things happened in Belarus and Kazakhstan recently.

    • Fred says:


      Where inside the Russian borders will NATO allow “Putin” to move Russian troops?

    • Peter Williams says:

      Putin was not in power in 1994, so your assertions that “Putin promised that if Ukraine gave up its nuclear weapons, he would honor Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Ukraine kept their end of the bargain, Putin did not.” is totally incorrect. Putin was Prime Minister in 1999 – 2000, Acting President and elected President in 2000.

  7. Leith says:

    Biden has ruled out sending troops to the Ukraine. And ruled out sending offensive weapons there. He knows that would be a red flag.

    But even so Biden will never be coerced or intimidated regarding Putin’s ultimatum that the US should ban Ukraine from joining NATO. #1, he does not have that power as it would be up to NATO as a whole and not just one member. #2, if he tried it would mean a total loss of face for the US with the Europeans. Putin knows that.

    Senators Ernst (R- Iowa) and Risch (R – Idaho) are not the buffoons and morons that Tucker says they are. Neither are Senators Rounds (R- SD), Cornyn (R- TX), Rubio (R -FL), and Reps McCaul (R – TX) & Waltz (R – FL) who have also rejected Tucker’s 0. Waltz, a former Special Forces officer and VMI graduate, has said that “there would be consequences for the U.S. and the West if Ukraine is left to fend for itself. … I think if we don’t support them, that sends a very clear message on top of Afghanistan — and the debacle that was that withdrawal — that the United States is no longer supporting its allies around the world”.

    The GOP may not be giving Tucker flak, but they seem to be ignoring his Putinmania. Even the Russians are worried that Tucker has gone too far. One Russian TV anchor has said that Tucker may end up seeming to be kowtowing too much to Putin and therefore lose some credibility. Maybe so. My neighbor, a long time Republican, has started calling him ‘Tuckyo Rose’.

    • Ed Lindgren says:

      When, exactly, did Ukraine become America’s ally?

      Was it the day Victoria Nuland was handing out cookies in Maidan Square?

      Or was it the day she told the EU to f#*k off?

      • Lysias says:

        I’ve long wondered whether the cookies Nuland was handing out were Mandelbrot, which is a treat for Jews during Hanukkah season.

      • Leith says:

        Nobody has said that Ukraine is an ally.

        • Ed Lindgren says:

          Leith –

          The quote in italics by Waltz at the end of the third paragraph of your original post certainly suggests that Ukraine is a de facto ally, if not one bound to us by a formal treaty.

          I bet if we were to ask Mr. Waltz, he would consider Ukraine to be an American ally.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Waltz appears to me to have gone a bit “bonkers.”

          • Leith says:

            Ed –

            An implied hint of an alliance by a lone congresscritter does not make an alliance.

            Waltz has been called a neocon in the past. But I have never met a combat vet that is a warmonger. So I doubt the charge, probably election mudslinging.

            BTW you can add Dan Crenshaw (R – TX and a combat vet who lost his eye to an IED in Afghanistan) to the list of GOP congressmen bucking Tucker Carlson and agreeing with Biden’s attempt to stop a war in Ukraine.


          • Pat Lang says:

            I don’t know about Waltz. He seems very eager.

          • Pat Lang says:


            How much did this man actually fight in combat? It is not clear to me. An ARNG Special Forces type. The late Frank Anderson of CIA was one of those in his spare time. He told me that it was mainly a parachute jumping club.

          • Leith says:

            Pat –

            I hope he is not, because he is an up-and-comer. Perhaps a future Senator on the Foreign Relations Committee? Or maybe even be given a job in the future as Defense Secretary in the next Republican administration.

          • Pat Lang says:

            Too aggressive for my taste.

          • TTG says:

            pl and Leith,

            “How much did this man actually fight in combat?”

            The ARNG SF saw a lot of action in Afghanistan and Iraq, much like a lot of NG units. As for Waltz, Wikipedia says this about him, “serving worldwide as a Special Forces officer with multiple tours in Afghanistan, the Middle East and Africa. For his actions in combat, Waltz was decorated with four Bronze Stars, including two with valor.”

          • Pat Lang says:


            The great majority of VMI men serve as little in the “active” forces as they can manage and then go on to a civilian career in the learned professions, engineering, the clergy etc. Did he receive a Regular commission? If so, why did he leave?

          • TTG says:


            Looks like he was a Reservist with a hell of a lot of ADT time. He was mobilized at least three times, two for combat tours with 20th Group in Afghanistan and again with 20th Group in Africa. I can’t tell if he sought out any AGR tours. I know Guard officers who made a full career out of moving from one AGR position to another.

          • Pat Lang says:

            He radiates hostility and ambition. I do not find him to be someone who should be SECDEF or some such thing. My father did the career thing as a reservist on extended active duty and hated Regular officers. Are there still regular officers?

          • TTG says:


            I knew nothing about him until this conversation. It’s definitely true that being a combat veteran does not preclude one from arrogance or ignorance.

            When I was commissioned from ROTC in 76, being RA or AUS was a big deal. Not long after that, the difference between permanent and temporary rank that went with that system disappeared. Now anyone commissioned into active duty is RA. There is no AUS commission.

            Back to Ed Lindgren’s original question, I don’t know if the term ally has a formal meaning. Ukraine is not a full NATO member, but is a member of the North Atlantic Cooperation Council (1991) and the Partnership for Peace program (1994). Formal relations were strengthened with the signing of the 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership, which established the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

          • Pat Lang says:

            I think you mean RA or USAR. There was also AUS, the wartime army that still existed.

          • TTG says:


            I was commissioned as 2LT in Regular Army on 30 May 76. My orders for 1LT AUS were for 2 Jun 78. Those orders were by authority VOCG, 25th ID. Orders for 1LT RA were for 2 Jun 79 from HQDA. Beyond that I’m not sure, but my promotion to LTC was definitely USAR since I left active duty for MICECP well before then.

          • Pat Lang says:

            That was typical. My RA grade and AUS grade were sometimes in sync, but often not. When I was commissioned ALL USMA grad were given RA commissions and the remaining RA slots were a hotly contested commodity for ROTC people (like me). I remember that I held my breath when there was a Regular Army RIF two years in a row after VN. 10,000 reserve officers on active duty had been put out. Some of these were far better soldiers than some of the Regulars. So Congress passed a special law permitting a RIF of Regulars. They threw out the bottom 10% of each year group two years in a row up through LTC. You can imagine my relief when in that environment I was promoted to Major, RA, sent to grad school and then “invited” to teach at WP, the Holy of Holies.

          • Leith says:

            I don’t like Waltz as SecDef either. And don’t even want him in Congress. Better for all of us if he loses his reelection bid this year. But I understand he is a protege of DeSantis. So…?

          • Pat Lang says:


            I dunno. Most of the real fighters I have known were sleepy-eyed guys who just wanted more sack time and who made jokes under fire.

    • Lysias says:

      All members of NATO must consent before a new country joins NATO. The US is a member of NATO. Ergo, the US and Biden have a veto on whether Ukraine joins NATO.

      • Leith says:

        Lysias –

        As for me I never liked NATO expansion and not just into Eastern Europe. As far as I’m concerned NATO should have stuck to its original twelve members. And personally I don’t want it now to grow even bigger. But regardless I’m against blackmail.

        As you say, it does take all members to consent. Ergo any one of the 30 members can veto Ukraine’s admission. Why should Biden do it especially when it seems Putin is trying to coerce him into it under threat? Let Viktor Orban of Hungary cast the veto. Or whoever. We won’t unless Trump is reelected.

      • Seamus Padraig says:

        True. And so do the rest of NATO’s member states as well. The thing is, I don’t see any real enthusiasm among NATO’s European contingent for a war against Russia (with the possible exception of Boris Johnson, who’s now even less popular than Biden). In Germany, there’s certainly no desire for any ‘Operation Barbarossa II’, which would result in the loss of most, if not all, of their oil/natgas supplies.

  8. Sam says:

    Reporter: “It’s an action that you say they have taken, but you have shown no evidence to confirm that. […] This is like – crisis actors? Really? This is like Alex Jones territory you’re getting into now.”


    Dunno what happened here? Stunning all the same that a reporter actually challenged the government spokesman’s assertion as fact. Amazing when you think about how much the media has been an active collaborator in the dissemination of propaganda.

    • Eric Newhill says:

      Another sign, along with Euro/Brit cessation of covid restrictions, Canadian truckers, polls, CNN purges and other people/groups standing up, that the worm is turning.

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