You’ve seen tankies around. They’re the ones who believe that all the world’s evils are the product of imperialism and the only country capable of imperialism is the United States. It looks like this: 

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The pejorative term “tankie” comes from American leftists who defended the violent Soviet crackdown of the 1956 Hungarian uprising, an uprising crushed by tanks. They were our allies during the Iraq War, so it may come as a shock seeing them become pathetic apologists for Vladimir Putin’s ambitions to reconstitute the Soviet empire.

In their telling, the Ukraine invasion is the United State’s fault because it “expanded” NATO too aggressively, threatening poor Russia. How would we like it if Mexico joined a military alliance with Russia? We didn’t like it when the Soviet Union tried to place nuclear bombs on Cuba!

In the tankie worldview, no one has agency except the United States. Poland and Slovakia and Romania and Bulgaria didn’t have the ability or right to choose to join NATO. Neither do Finland and Sweden. These are all imperialist provocations and machinations by the American empire. What other option did Russia have but to defend its borders by, uh, explicitly advocating for its own empire? 

Their favorite term for the Ukraine invasion is “American proxy war,” and they think it’s particularly brilliant how the United States has gotten Ukraine to do all the dying for America’s imperial glory. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a sadist, allowing his people to die instead of giving Russia everything it wants: full hegemony over a Ukrainian people Vladimir Putin claims do not have a right to exist. 

There’s Max Blumenthal, busy trying to excuse away clear examples of Russian massacres and war crimes. 

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Glenn Greenwald, of course.

[Tucker] Carlson pursued the [Ukraine-United States biolabs] story on three different episodes of his show over the past week. On 10 March he brought on writer Glenn Greenwald. “When the government comes out and emphatically denies that they have biological weapons,” Greenwald said. “We know they’re not telling the truth.” 

Michael Tracey, who spent some time harassing Ukrainian refugees as they fled the death and destruction in their homelands: 

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Now, those refugees weren’t calling for WWIII. He writes, “And what I can report thus far is that with the exception of just one person, every recently-arrived Ukrainian I’ve spoken to in Poland has expressed strong support for “Closing the Sky” when queried.”

That’s it. Refugees coming from a war zone, in their desperation, wanted a no-fly zone for protection from Russian death. Tracey, the insufferable asshole tankie that he is, turned that into “they want WWIII” because, in his estimation, a no-fly zone would escalate the conflict into nuclear war. 

There’s Noam Chomsky. 

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Jill Stein is a tankie. So is Tulsi Gabbard. British-Lebanese conflict reporter Oz Katerji, currently reporting from the ground in Ukraine, gives the tankies all the scorn they deserve. 

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The tankies like to pretend that President Joe Biden and nearly all European heads of state begged Russia to hold off any invasion, or maybe think it was some dastardly effective reverse psychology ploy. They point to increased defense spending and new riches enjoyed by the military industrial complex and say “aha! It’s all going according to their plan!” as if this unfortunate new round of defense spending hasn’t been foisted by Putin’s actions. 

But nothing galls more than their utter disregard for the choices of free nations to decide their own destiny. They have been so impacted by America’s real foreign policy sins that they have lost the ability to understand that the world is a complex place, and sometimes, other people get a say in their own affairs. And sometimes, America is on the right side. 

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.

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