Here one may wonder why, in a situation of blatant violation of human rights by neo-Nazi military forces and paramilitary apparatuses … against the Russian-speaking population of the independent republics, the international community feels obliged to consider the intervention of the Russian Federation worthy of condemnation, and indeed to blame Putin for the violence.MSGR. Carlo Maria Vigano [i]
…the message from Moscow was direct and unequivocal: the Russian Federation would resort to full-scale war if the ‘rights of Russians and Russian-speakers in Ukraine continued to be threatened.’ No evidence of such rights actually being threatened was ever provided….Mychailo Wynnyckyj [ii]
I fear that Monseigneur Vigano, otherwise insightful, has fallen into error. He repeats Moscow’s lies without blushing, without suspecting that he is advancing the propaganda of Christendom’s most dangerous enemy. In Vigano’s message for the April 2nd Reawaken America Rally at Salem Oregon, written at the behest of General Michael Flynn, Vigano suggests that President Putin did not invade Ukraine “to support his expansionist ambitions”; rather, “the main purpose of Russia’s military operation is to prevent the aggression of the deep state and NATO. Putin is fighting against the same globalist elite that holds us all hostage.”[iii]
This is a shocking statement from an Archbishop. Vigano needs to account for Russia’s military aggression. He also needs to account for Russia’s alliance with China, and Russia’s support for North Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, Vietnam, South Africa, Angola, Congo and Daniel Ortega’s Nicaragua. The communists who rule over these countries are the foremost enemies of Monseigneur Vigano’s Church.
From a practical perspective, in terms of American rightwing politics, Monseigneur Vigano has fallen in with a very bad man. His April 2nd pro-Putin message was solicited by none other than General Michael Flynn, a former intelligence official who cozied up to Moscow in 2015. According to the Guardian, UK, “The defense department inspector general has uncovered evidence that Michael Flynn accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars from foreign interests and governments, despite repeated warnings from the DoD and the justice department that his conduct might be illegal….”[iv] Flynn accepted $45,000 from RT, a Moscow-controlled propaganda outlet, and $22,000 from other Russian interests. Surely, this cannot be a good thing.
There are many political stupidities today, but conservatives justifying Russian military aggression takes first prize. Here we have a famous American general soliciting pro-Russian statements from an Archbishop of the Catholic Church. Who does Monseigneur Vigano think is responsible for corrupting the global elite with Marxism? Could it be the same KGB that Vladimir Putin worked for? Here Monseigneur Vigano confuses cause with effect. He thinks the leftism of the global elite is the cause rather than the effect of Russia’s doings.
Russia’s armies are bombarding and besieging Ukrainian cities even as Moscow openly threatens nuclear war on America. You would, from Monseigneur Vigano’s telling, imagine that Russia is under attack instead of Ukraine. But no one has attacked Russia. Given Moscow’s nuclear arsenal, who would dare launch an attack against Russia? We dare not even send troops to help the beleaguered Ukrainians for fear of Russian nuclear strikes. How ferocious is NATO, by comparison, shaking in fear, trembling as Russia threatens to cut off Europe’s energy supply?
Yet Monseigneur Vigano says NATO is the big threat. He says NATO has provoked the war in Ukraine. NATO is to blame for dead civilians and wrecked Ukrainian cities. And the man who ordered Mariupol’s destruction is not to blame! The blame is placed on those who affirm Ukraine’s right to join NATO at some distant point in time. Here, collective security becomes an act of aggression. The desire of the Ukrainians for freedom is an act of aggression. If NATO is so dangerous, why isn’t Ukraine afraid of NATO? If NATO is so dangerous why isn’t Finland afraid of NATO? But Monseigneur Vigano turns everything on its head. The alliance that everyone wants to join, because everyone distrusts Moscow, is the instigator of war. The alliance that everyone wants protection from, is sinister and aggressive because the actual aggressor does not like it —wants to break it up and dominate the broken pieces.
It is not the case, as Monseigneur Vigano alleges, that America has used NATO to annex “Poland” and other countries. America does not govern these countries or control their territories. NATO is a voluntary organization that a majority of Ukrainians want to join. Yet Monseigneur Vigano uses the word “annex,” which is disgraceful for a man of his education and position. He also uses the word “puppet,” which is the kind of state we see in Belarus but not in Ukraine. Why does Monseigneur Vigano use inaccurate language to excuse the military aggression of Russia while blaming NATO?
If Russia is the lesser of two evils, as Monseigneur Vigano maintains, then why destroy Mariupol and Kharkiv when you might do better by destroying Los Angeles and New York? Can we not make the argument that America’s cities deserve bombardment more than Ukrainian cities? Does not Monseigneur Vigano’s rhetoric lend itself to the destruction of America? After all, no country should make alliances that Russia sees as threatening.
Think of the threat America poses to Russia, since America has nuclear weapons. We are obliged to surrender these weapons according to Monseigneur Vigano’s logic, since by our armament we are the most blameworthy country of all! America must surrender her nuclear weapons to preserve the peace. In exchange, Russia will promise not to attack us. This, after all, is exactly what Ukraine did in 1994 when Kiev gave up its nuclear weapons. Russia guaranteed Ukraine’s security and sovereignty in the Budapest Memorandum. And now we see how Moscow honors its word. Ukraine gave up her nuclear weapons for a promise. Moscow breaks that promise and attacks Ukraine, bombards city after city.
Is anyone ashamed for being so stupid? Trust the Russians!? What kind of egregious blockhead trusts the Russians? Can we find a treaty they have not violated? Of course, many devout people want to raise the issue of President Zelensky’s homo-erotic dance video. How many decades ago was this video made? Zelensky now has a wife and children. Let us pull the log out of our own eye before we bother with the spec in Zelenksy’s. What is the real obscenity here? It is when an elderly woman returns to her apartment in Mariupol, finding everything destroyed. “What will I do?” She asks. “Where will I live?” What has a greater call on our moral outrage? A comedian’s moral failings of twenty years ago or the destruction of entire cities?
What “aggression” or “transgression” of NATO or Zelensky warrants making moonscape out of Kharkiv and Mariupol? Can we point to a single building in a single Russian city that has been destroyed? According to Monseigneur Vigano, “This is not a war of the Ukrainian people. It is not the Ukrainian people who are persecuting their Russian brothers, but a puppet government supported by neo-Nazi military militias. A corrupt government, desired by the globalist cabal, which today finds itself with a cocaine-addicted President, a former actor and dancer who hides billions in tax havens while the Ukrainian population is among the poorest in Europe.”[v]
Let us answer these charges, point by point. Professor Michailo Wynnyckyj, from Kiev, says the war is being fought by and for Ukrainian people. “I want to be able to raise my kids freely,” Wynnyckyj told American journalists. “My wife and I value that freedom…. We want to be Ukrainians. We don’t want to be Russians.”[vi] As for Ukraine being governed by a “puppet government,” President Zelensky was elected in a free and fair election. For that matter, Zelensky is not Ukraine’s head of government but Ukraine’s head of state. The distinction will be lost on some readers, but the actual government of Ukraine is led by Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, an accountant. Furthermore, if Zelensky is evil for having a net worth of $1.5 million,[vii] then what shall we say of Putin who is said to be “the richest man on earth,” with a net worth of $200 billion?[viii] As for the Ukrainian president’s background in acting, I have never heard it was a crime to be an actor or dancer, though Putin is famously associated with 33 assassinations and many poisonings – including the near-fatal poisoning of Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who once characterized Putin’s political party as “the party of crooks and thieves.” Furthermore, whatever Nazis exist in Ukraine, they are not representative of the Ukrainian Army or government. As one researcher explained, no more than 13 out of 423 Members of Parliament in the first post-Euromaidan Rada were ultra-nationalists.[ix] And the volunteers who have signed up for irregular military units “did not pay much attention to these formations’ ideological background and to the political views of their leaders.”
I am afraid that Monseigneur Vigano has offered us an absurd picture of Ukraine. On the one hand the country’s president is a Jew. On the other hand, the regime is supported by Nazis. Instead of believing this nonsense, let us examine the actual political program of this Nazified Jew. In his Inaugural Address, Zelensky said to his country, “Allow me to quote one American actor who has become a great American president: ‘The government does not solve our problems. The government is our problem.’” When the parliament responded with tepid applause, he said, “Your applause is pretty light. I guess not everyone likes what I’m saying? Too bad, since it’s not me, but the Ukrainian people saying that.” At the end of his speech he shocked everyone by saying, “I am dissolving the Verkhovna Rada [parliament] of the eighth convocation. Glory to Ukraine!” But that was not all. Zelensky explained his transition from comedian to president with the following words: “All my life I tried to do all I could so that Ukrainians laughed. That was my mission. Now I will do all I can so that Ukrainians at least do not cry anymore.”[x] As it happened, Zelensky was elected with 73 percent of the vote, in an unprecedented landslide. This is what Monseigneur Vigano calls a “puppet government.”
Compare this to Putin’s war speech in February, where Russia’s grim dictator said, “We see that the forces that carried out a coup d’etat in Ukraine in 2014, seized power and are holding it with the help of … decorative electoral procedures….”[xi] Putin pretends to forget that the Ukrainian people do not accept fraudulent elections, as the Orange Revolution showed. Of course, Zelensky might have disappointed the Ukrainian people. But there he was, in the city of Ukraine, refusing to leave the nation’s capital when military analysts were predicting its fall. On close examination, Putin’s speeches about Ukraine are full of lies and misrepresentations, especially when he refers to Nazis committing “genocide against millions of people living” in Ukraine. “The leading NATO countries,” said Putin, “in order to achieve their own goals, support extreme nationalist and neo-Nazis in Ukraine in everything….” Putin added, “The entire course of events … shows that Russia’s clash with these forces is inevitable. It is only a matter of time…. Now they also claim to possess nuclear weapons. We will not allow this to be done.”[xii]
Lie follows upon lie, and Monseigneur Vigano repeats these lies. He echoes them. It does not matter if Vigano has been right in the past, or how courageous he has been. He cancels his own moral authority by advancing the claims of a Russian dictator. Once that authority is lost, once he has hitched his cause to an evil man, nothing remains.
Notes and Links
[ii] Mychailo Wynnyckyj, Ukraine’s Maidan, Russia’s War: A Chronicle and Analysis of the Revolution of Dignity (Stuttgart: Ibidem Verlag, 2019), pp. 163-4.
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