The truth is this war has its roots much further back than Obama. If you
want to point to an incident as a starting place, it would be American
involvement in the Balkan war during the Clinton years. American support
for Kosovo against Serbia was the start of a new conflict with Russia.
At the time, it was viewed in Moscow as a deliberate offense to the
Russians. In the years that followed, this affair has become a warning
for the Russians about what Washington plans for them.
One of the things about being of the right it is the desire to calibrate one's beliefs to reality. So its with some surprise that I read the above over at Z Man's blog. Quite simply its a revision of history.
Unlike the current situation in Ukraine, when the war in Yugoslavia started the American's did all they could to stop the country from breaking apart, including placing an arms embargo on the Croats, Slovenes and even the Bosnians. The Americans was so concerned about the stability of the former Soviet Union that they did not want to set a precedent by recognising the breakaway republics. Even the Baltics had a hard time gaining recognition from the U.S. The fact of the matter is that the Bush administration of the early 90's did all it could to support the continuity of the the former Soviet Union and turned a blind eye to much of the slaughter in the former Yugoslavia. The Republicans, for all their mouthings of liberty, did bugger all.
The entry of the Clinton administration initially didn't really change much. But it was the nightly reports of slaughter and murder, perpetrated mainly by the Serbs that turned public opinion in the U.S. and Europe against Serbian/Russian interests. By the time the issue of Kosovo had come around, the largely accurate public image of the Serbs had taken such a beating that Serbian claims to Kosovo fell on unsympathetic ears. American policy in Kosovo was designed to save lives and if the Serbians hadn't a policy of extermination I doubt that there would have been any intervention at all.
This of course bothered the Russians and their apologists who somehow felt that their right to dictate what happened in that theatre of operations trumped the human rights of the inhabitants of that region. What's really weird about this is that it was supported by large sections of the American "right".
While the fine detail of U.S. foreign policy towards Russia is beyond this blog post the fact of the matter is that U.S. Russian relations were quite cordial, even to the extent that Russia was mooted as a potential NATO member until the Orange Revolution where the Russians were outmaneuvered by the Americans, failing to get their man installed. (Unlike in Belarus.)
It's clear now that the U.S. is hostile to the Kremlin but it wasn't always this way and while both sides are responsible for this deterioration in their relationship. The way the Kremlin and their apologists paint it, one would think that the Russians were victims of exploitation instead of contributory agents. Putin is a Russian Nationalist with an imperialistic vision and his desire to restore a modern version of the tsardom is what rubs many people the wrong way and in the playbook of Russian diplomacy, when Russia doesn't get what it wants it is a "victim."
While it is true that Putin's nationalism is in someways more "wholesome" than Western Liberalism in some ways it's far more rotten. Putin's anti-sexual-deviancy needs to be balanced by his disregard for the loss of innocent life. His appeal to family values has to be balanced by his blind eye to civic vices. What surprises me is just how many of the right are blind to them, or even worse, how many of them see as justifiable. From my perspective Putin's "badness" is a different "badness" to the "badness" of the West: But it is still bad.
Just as Neoconservatism wants to build a conservatism without reference to Christ, Orthoconnery wants to build a conservatism subordinated to Russian/Orthodox Nationalistic interests*. In this schema, the Church blesses whatever the State wants and reinterprets facts to further that narrative. The truth be damned. The idea that NATO is a threat to Russia is laughable as is the idea that Ukraine is a fascist state and so on. The fact that many on the Western Right buy into this is a measure of how pitiful their understanding of when membership of the right entails. i.e. a commitment to the truth and justice.
*Note: I'm not criticising legitimate Orthodox patriotism but its a patriotism that must be grounded in the truth.