How Do We Look?

We are encouraged to believe, we Americans, that if anything good for the world comes out of the war in Ukraine, it will be that “the US is back,” not shooting but supporting, maybe midwifing a new birth of freedom. The indispensable nation again. What does it tell you that most of the world doesn’t see it that way? We like to say that the cause going forward is democracy against strongman politics, but India, the biggest democracy in the world, is also the world’s biggest buyer of Russian weapons, and has refused to condemn the Putin invasion of Ukraine. Neither has Israel, among the liveliest of democracies. Two thirds of the human race, some 5-billion people, live in countries that want no part of the sanctions against Russia: the people of Africa, Southeast Asia, as well as Latin America and China.

Most Americans have no trouble sorting the good guys from the bad in the war for Ukraine. We take comfort that US power stands with the victims of Russia’s invasion—that we’re defending universal values of freedom and democracy. The invasion was a crime, and Russia should be punished for it, as simple as that—all the better if our right role in Ukraine puts our own Iraq and Afghan invasions behind us. The puzzle this radio hour is why much of the world sees US power in Ukraine with doubts and some dread: as an uncertain step in the gloom of uncharted territory. Marc Weitzmann is first-up among a variety of non-American voices we asked to ventilate the commentary on Ukraine, and on us. We’d never heard of Marc Weitzmann until we read his take in The Atlantic a couple of weeks ago. He’s a sometime radio producer in France, who writes nonfiction and novels. He spoke to us from Paris about his Atlantic piece, titled: “The Reckoning is Yet to Come.”

This week’s show is the latest installment of In Search of Monsters, our limited-series collaboration with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft.

Guest List
Marc Weitzmann
Author of Hate: The Rising Tide of Anti-Semitism in France (and What It Means for Us).
María José Urzúa Valverde
Scholar of international relations at Princeton.
Tariq Ali
Author of Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes.
Pico Iyer
Author of A Beginner's Guide to Japan.

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