Where Things Stand: Cheney Warns Another GOPer Has Become One Of The Kremlin’s ‘Useful Idiots’

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WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, speaks during a committee business meeting at Cannon House Office Build... WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 19: U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), vice chair of the select committee investigating the January 6 attack on the Capitol, speaks during a committee business meeting at Cannon House Office Building on Capitol Hill October 19, 2021 in Washington, DC. The committee voted to hold former Trump adviser Stephen Bannon in criminal contempt for refusing to cooperate with the committee’s subpoena. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) MORE LESS

One of the continuing ironies of the current political moment is the extent to which it is now the norm for Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), despite her name, to break with her party on a number of issues, especially to critique Trumpian lines of thinking from the far-right faction.

Today she went after Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), criticizing the QAnon congresswoman for giving fresh air to the stale Kremlin talking points about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“Putin is targeting and slaughtering civilians in a brutal unprovoked war against Ukraine, a sovereign democratic nation,” Cheney tweeted this morning, pointing to a video that Greene posted on Facebook Wednesday. “Only the Kremlin and their useful idiots would call that ‘a conflict in which peace agreements have been violated by both sides.’”

“Useful idiot” is both amusing on its face and a throwback to the Cold War, a term used to describe people who might not actually be allies of Soviet Russia, but who could be vulnerable to manipulation and indoctrination via its “propaganda.” (It goes without saying that history and ideology has scrambled terminology here: Greene is not a communist, nor is Russia Soviet — but the “useful idiot” line on its face … rings true here.)

In the video Cheney linked in her tweet, Greene addressed her supporters to reassure them that “we mourn any loss of human life,” criticizing, at least, the killing of Ukrainian civilians that has become a dark staple of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine. She then railed against President Biden’s authorization yesterday to send $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine, declaring it an escalation in the U.S.’s involvement in Ukraine — a line popular both with the far-right and the Kremlin, who for months have claimed this whole thing is really the U.S.’s fault.

Biden announced the additional aid to Ukraine following President Zelensky’s address to Congress yesterday, when Zelensky asked the U.S. to use its military might to defend his nation against Russia. Biden, NATO nations and U.S. lawmakers across the political spectrum are opposed to the U.S. taking any type of stance that could translate as military action on the ground — or in the air — in Ukraine, knowing even a veiled move in this direction would equate to a full-on U.S. declaration of war on Russia.

But Greene also took a largely inhumane tone, arguing the U.S. shouldn’t do anything to help Ukraine as it faces an onslaught of attacks from Russia — shellings primarily aimed at densely populated cities, killing countless innocent civilians — because it’s a waste of time and resources, as Ukraine “cannot possibly win” the fight.

“We cannot and we must not allow our compassion to blind us to reason and common sense. … If we truly care about suffering and death on our television screens, we cannot fund more of it by sending money and weaponry to fight a war they cannot possibly win,” said Greene. “The only effect of more arms and more money from America will be to prolong the war and magnify human suffering.”

She then attempted to argue that Ukraine is just as guilty as Russia, suggesting Putin’s invasion is merely the manifestation of “an eight-year long smouldering conflict, in which peace agreements have been routinely violated by both sides.

The whole bit about compassion circumspection is a new line for America’s far-right, but one that feeds into Russian propaganda, as the nation boils down its justification for the war to a matter of Ukraine’s sovereignty. And she’s not the only right-wing American with a megaphone who’s pushing this kind of Kremlin-aligned messaging.

We reported earlier this week on a memo obtained by Mother Jones that reportedly shows the Kremlin encouraging Russian state media to air clips of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson’s various pro-Putin screeds in recent weeks, seemingly to showcase some type of false swell of Western support for Russia’s propaganda. NBC News Foreign Correspondent Raf Sanchez posted a Twitter thread today that shows Russian state media has followed through with the request. He highlighted clips of Russian media not only prominently featuring Carlson’s pro-Kremlin commentary in recent days and weeks, but also airing remarks from Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) last week, when he called Zelensky a “thug.” It all feeds into Russia’s alternate reality as it wages war on an Ukraine-has-no-right-to-exist narrative.

Perhaps Greene’s remarks will be the next to surface in Russian state media’s propaganda machine.

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