CHRIS POWELL: Stand with Ukraine'? Funny! and Lamont's befuddlement

Published on Monday, 28 February 2022 21:13

From Connecticut's congressional delegation last week the watchwords of pious posturing were: "Stand with Ukraine." Of course no one was proposing to stand with Ukraine enough to join the overmatched Ukrainian army in fighting the Russian invaders. The congressmen meant: Stand with Ukraine at a safe distance.

Indeed, while President Biden strove to look tough imposing largely symbolic economic sanctions on Russia, he did nothing that mattered much, since anything serious would damage Russia less than this country's European allies, who are dependent on Russian gas, oil, and wheat imports. Looking tough was even harder for the president while he had to keep assuring Americans that U.S. troops would not get involved.

Even so, the United States is largely responsible for Russia's attack.

When the Iron Curtain was torn open in 1989 and when the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union itself fell in 1991, Western officials gained Russian cooperation with the reunification of Germany by assuring Russia that NATO would not expand eastward and the former Soviet satellites would become buffers between the great powers. While these assurances were not put in a formal treaty, they made sense, since buffers help keep the peace – and then the assurances were betrayed.

Eventually the United States assisted the revolution in Ukraine that overthrew an elected government friendly to Russia. Then the United States started exploiting Ukraine economically, the exploiters including Vice President Biden's influence-peddling and dissolute son, Hunter. And then came the tempting of Ukraine with membership in the Western military alliance, NATO.

Similar military intervention in Cuba by the Soviet Union in 1962 prompted the United States to blockade the island at the risk of nuclear war.

But U.S. intervention in Ukraine did not come with any capacity or willingness to defend that country amid the provocation being given to Russia. Russia's attack violates international law and is murderous, but international law also has been violated by many U.S. military interventions in Latin America and around the world in the last 120 years.

Great powers make their own laws. Russia has just brutally reminded the world that it is a great power, too.

Ukraine deserved better from the United States – mainly the advice that if you live near a bear, don't provoke it.

* * *

Maybe it was because he had just returned from a long trip abroad, but Governor Lamont may never have looked so exhausted and befuddled as he did Friday as he announced the immediate departure of his budget secretary, Melissa McCaw.

Two weeks earlier, amid controversy around his firing of McCaw's deputy, Konstantinos Diamantis, the governor was asked if McCaw would be staying. He replied, "I hope so." But she appears to have given him only a day's notice of her departure and she did not join him as he announced that she was already gone, though the governor issued a written statement in which they thanked each other.

Three weeks earlier the governor had announced the departure of his chief operating officer and administrative services commissioner, Josh Geballe. Obscure deputies are replacing Geballe and McCaw, suggesting that there wasn't enough time to plan anything else – and that the nepotism and school construction contract steering controversy around Diamantis is shaking the administration.

Yes, a federal grand jury is investigating the contract business, but the information available so far has revealed no corruption. As for the nepotism – Chief State's Attorney Richard Colangelo hired Diamantis' ill-qualified daughter as his executive assistant while negotiating with Diamantis over raises for prosecutors – it may smell like bribery or extortion. But the executive assistant's job is a patronage position and state government's civil service rules usually leave plenty of room for patronage to sneak in anyway.

So if it wasn't for the abruptness and bitterness of the departures of Diamantis and McCaw, their happening so close to Geballe's departure, and the governor's display of nervousness about them, there might not be such an impression of scandal.

Or maybe the governor, a Democrat, looked so exhausted and befuddled Friday because he fears that Republican rejoicing, while premature, is not entirely misplaced.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Monday, 28 February 2022 21:13. Updated: Monday, 28 February 2022 21:16.