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Putin’s Plan

. . . and America’s responsibility to act.
February 24, 2022
Tim Miller's Not My Party: Russia Invades Ukraine: Why the U.S. Must Act.

[Editor’s note: Watch Not My Party every week on Snapchat.]

Tucker Carlson: Why should I root for Ukraine against Russia? . . . Why should I care at all?

Tim Miller: I can answer this one.

Creepy Mickey Mouse puppet: Why?

Miller: This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark. This week after a preposterous Veep-meets-Chernobyl, fascist roundtable sesh, the Russians began their invasion of Eastern Ukraine.

Dot Com (Kevin Brown from 30 Rock): That’s not good.

Dwight Diddlehopper (Steve Buscemi from The Simpsons): Ya think?

Miller: It was the first step in Putin’s three-pronged mission to brush back NATO, take back Soviet territory, and prove that he’s a virile, strong man, not some Mrs. Doubtfire in a babushka.

Mrs. Doubtfire (singing): Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.

Miller: Joe Biden and responsible leaders the world over have condemned this aggression.

Jeffrey “The Dude” Lebowski: This aggression will not stand, man.

Miller: The U.S. and our European allies have imposed crippling economic sanctions on Russia, and are providing weapons for Ukraine to support their defense. Biden believes Putin intends to escalate his advance.

Joe Biden: We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, a city of 2.8 million innocent people.

Vladimir Putin (translator voiceover, from old footage): Don’t be upset with me.

Miller: Meanwhile, Ukraine’s president has pledged not to give an inch.

Volodymyr Zelensky (translator voiceover): When you attack, you will see our faces, and not our spines.

Miller: But the response among commentators on both the MAGA right and the far left, as well as the mood among many Americans, is a big, “So what?”

Betty Cooper (Lily Reinhart from Riverdale): So what?

Miller: “We should worry about our own borders, not Ukraine’s,” clamor the right-wingers.

J.D. Vance: I think it’s ridiculous that we’re focused on this . . . border in Ukraine.

Laura Ingraham: But to more immediate, and serious issues closer to home: Canada continues its descent into tyranny.

“Scott the Dick” (from South Park): Goddamn Canadians!

Miller: “Ukraine was part of the USSR anyway, so they need to be a ‘buffer,’” clamor the red lefties.

Kyle Kulinski: All of those post-Soviet buffer states, they need to be buffer states.

Hasan Piker: First of all, we are the imperialist wannabe fascists as well.

Tulsi Gabbard: What is this going to cost us? Why are we doing this?

Mitch Gilliam (Bernie Mac in Head of State): You don’t know nothing about NATO. I don’t know nothing about NATO.

Miller: I get why people can be sucked in by those arguments, especially if they haven’t followed Ukraine’s political trajectory. After all Ukraine is a far-away—

Bart Simpson: Land of contrasts.

Miller: —and only one in three Americans can even find it on a map. (It’s right here.) But what happens in Ukraine does matter to us. And here’s why. For starters, the Ukrainian people have demonstrated that they are done with the Russkis. After the cold war, 92 percent voted for independence — 92 percent! In 2013, they protested their government’s corrupt ties to Russia, demanding leadership that aligned them with the U.S. and Europe instead. And polls showed two-thirds of the country want to join the EU. Plus the U.S. committed to help our ally.

Cartoon version of Bill Clinton (from Family Guy): This kind of behavior can’t be tolerated.

Miller: In 1994, we signed the Budapest memorandum, in which Ukraine pledged to give up nukes in their territory, in exchange for the U.S. and Russia pledging to recognize their borders and ensure their security. Today, they’re calling that in, and asking for our help.

YouTuber “Earzentail”: When you guarantee someone’s security in exchange for them losing 1,700 nuclear-f*****-warheads, you are expected to do something.

Miller: And, news flash: Putin ain’t just stopping at Eastern Ukraine. He’s meddled in Western elections, including ours in 2016, and made moves into other countries.

Donald Trump: Russia if you’re listening. . .

Dominique DiPierro (Grace Gummer from Mr. Robot): You guys just got hacked.

Miller: Listen to Secretary of State Tony Blinken.

Antony Blinken: Once the principles of sovereignty and self-determination are thrown out, you revert to a world in which the rules we shaped together over decades erode and then vanish.

Miller: Putin’s doing all of this as part of a grand plan to break up the NATO alliance—which, by the way, for all the U.S. foreign policy ****ups the last few decades, NATO has been a world-historic success.

Mr. Phillips (Jack Collins from The Brady Bunch): Well that makes up for everything.

Miller: For over 70 years, Europe and North America have remained free, prosperous, and safe because of our commitment to protect one another after two horrific world wars. Donald Trump was the first U.S. president to undermine that alliance. And now Putin wants to pull that string even further. And if he’s successful, there will be catastrophic consequences for the entire free world.

Kids from the original Red Dawn: Wolverines! Wolverines!

Miller: While it might be easy for the populists to put on their papakha and tell you this isn’t our problem, that it’s totally fine to let our Ukrainian friends get run over by a bloodthirsty despot who imprisons and kills political enemies, well, it’s our responsibility to be better than that.

Luke Danes (Scott Patterson from Gilmore Girls): Sure, when you put it like that.

Miller: Because for all our flaws, America remains the hope of the world. And if we don’t step up to help in situations like Ukraine, eventually—

Galadriel: No one will.

Miller: And slowly but surely, the overcompensating stuffed-with-fluff tyrants will force more and more people into the darkness, and coax us back into war.

Walt Kowalski (Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino): Ever notice how you come across somebody once in a while you shouldn’t have ****ed with?

Miller: We’ll see you next week for more “Not My Party.”

Tim Miller

Tim Miller is The Bulwark’s writer-at-large and the author of the best-selling book Why We Did It: A Travelogue from the Republican Road to Hell. He was previously political director for Republican Voters Against Trump and communications director for Jeb Bush 2016.