Conservative columnist Pat Buchanan, who once declared that Vladimir Putin was a Christian “planting Russia’s flag firmly on the side of traditional Christianity,” has decided that his support for the virtual dictator’s regime has its limits.
The veteran columnist and former anti-communist communications director for President Ronald Reagan has decided that he cannot justify the Russian shoot-down of the Malaysian civilian airliner.
Buchanan is the author of a well-regarded new book on Richard Nixon’s political comeback. His old friends and associates have been wondering when Buchanan would make a comeback himself, by disavowing his vocal support of the Vladimir Putin regime in Moscow.
In a column on the website of his American Conservative magazine, Buchanan still tries to get Putin personally off the hook for the mass murder of nearly 300 people by calling the shoot-down a “horrendous military blunder” on the part of Russian-backed forces. But he does admit that the Russians have blood on their hands.
“They have been armed and advised by Russia,” Buchanan said of those who conducted the shoot-down. “And it was a Russian SA-11 that brought the airliner down. While the separatists say they got the surface-to-air missiles from an army depot, there is evidence the missile was provided by Russia, and Russians may have advised or assisted in the fatal launch.”
Nevertheless, Buchanan doesn’t want to do much about it.
The title, “Don’t Let the Hawks Hijack MH17,” is a warning from Buchanan against increasing sanctions on the Putin regime and sending weapons to the government of Ukraine as a response to the shoot-down. A confrontation with Russia could lead to “something unthinkable,” he says, suggesting a nuclear war if the U.S. stands up to Putin’s aggression.
If we antagonize Russia, he says, Putin could tighten his ties with Beijing, and break up the U.S.-led sanctions regime on Iran. However, he also thinks the U.S. and Russia can still cooperate against terrorism.
We had called Buchanan a modern-day Russian dupe for his enthusiastic support of the Putin regime.
While Buchanan’s policy of appeasement continues, he does seem to have had an awakening that Putin is not the choir boy he previously thought he was.
In a December 17, 2013, column, “Is Putin One of Us?,” Buchanan wrote that “Putin says his mother had him secretly baptized as a baby and professes to be a Christian.”
In an April 4, 2014 column, “Whose Side Is God on Now?,” Buchanan wrote that Putin is actually not only leading the Christian world by standing up to “America’s arrogant drive for global hegemony,” but is also engaged in a “tribal defense of lost Russians left behind when the USSR disintegrated.”
However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February of this year violated a 1994 agreement pledging to respect the sovereignty of the nation that had suffered tremendously under Soviet imperialism. The pro-Russian president of Ukraine, exposed for his corruption, fled the country for Russia.
In his new approach to Russia, Buchanan acknowledges the Russian role in the shoot-down of the Malaysian airliner, and does not seem to accept the lies emanating from Moscow that attempt to blame the U.S. or Ukraine for the destruction of the plane.
One lie which surfaced on Russia Today (RT), the Drudge Report and the Alex Jones website was that Ukraine destroyed the plane, thinking it was Putin’s jet.
However, Buchanan would only go so far in holding Putin responsible for the shoot-down of the plane. He insisted that “Putin did not order the plane shot down,” even though the Ukrainian government says it has evidence that a Russian officer actually ordered the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.
Perhaps Buchanan’s next column on this matter will be an acknowledgement that his Putin-worship went too far, and that Putin, in fact, isn’t the Christian he claims to be.
Putin’s Christian façade will be difficult to maintain when parents of the Flight 17 crash victims are accusing him of committing mass murder.
Simon Mayne, the father of one of the victims, math student Richard Mayne, is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying, “Everyone knows what is going on out there is Russian-sponsored. This is a man who rides bare-chested on a horse because he thinks people will admire him, but he’s murdered my son essentially.”
In addition to such posturing, Putin also appears regularly at functions of the Russian Orthodox Church, to give the impression that he is a religious believer. These photo ops have clearly had an impact on conservatives like Buchanan.
Indeed, one day after the Malaysian plane shoot-down, Putin was photographed at the Trinity St. Sergius monastery outside Moscow after meeting with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, an identified Soviet KGB agent.
Journalist David Satter had written about Kirill’s service to the KGB, which was undoubtedly a factor in the Kremlin denying him a visa to travel to Russia. Another factor had to be Satter’s reports that terrorism in Russia, blamed on Islamic terrorists, was actually the work of agents of the Federal Security Service, or FSB, a successor to the old KGB.
While Satter was denied the right to travel to Russia and report on the situation there, Russian journalists from RT are able to work in the United States without interference or censorship, and have an American audience through cable TV of tens of millions.
It is believed that the RT headquarters in Washington, D.C. employs 80 staffers. Two have resigned in protest over its broadcasting of lies about the situation in Ukraine.