An old tweet from unfrozen Confederate general, Sen. Ted Cruz, has been making the Twitter rounds anew of late. It's part of the long list of complaints that Republican culture warriors have with the American military compared to the not-woke, patriotically white Russian army, and is a general reminder that the party is addicted to notions of ultra-masculinity that are now allegedly endangered by the presence of anything but ultra-masculinity. C'mon, let's bask.
You might remember that when it happened, or you might not, but the specific video Ted retweeted appears to have been taken down due to, I don’t know, somebody’s mom coming home. Ted was horrified by a (far-right produced) video comparison of a Russian army recruiting video to a U.S. version that featured “wokeness.”
That Cruz happened to be parroting attacks from "channels that promote fascist and antisemitic beliefs" seems almost quaint. As we've seen, the path from extremist far-right groups to Republican House and Senate ears is a short one, even without Fox News' help. There's no fascist paranoia that won't find purchase in Republican lawmakers’ heads, whether it be the danger of too-tolerant books for LGBT teens, or the idea that wearing a mask during an active pandemic that’s killed a million Americans is a "Marxist" request intended to sap our nation's essence.
But the reason Cruz's tweet from a half-year ago is picking up new steam now is because, as it turns out, the Russian army that Sen. Ted Cruz was praising for lack of “wokeness” has been getting its ass handed to it by one of the "wokest" militaries on Earth. There are 32,000 women in Ukraine’s armed forces, accounting for about 15% of the total, but those numbers are now exploding as Ukraine hands out rifles to civilians and Ukrainians rush to volunteer for Ukraine's defense.
Russia may have been able to produce a video that rubs Ted Cruz's manly feelings in just the right way, but the actual force the supposedly hyper-masculine Vladimir Putin and his gloriously un-woke generals have assembled are struggling to even get enough fuel to the battlefront to keep their trucks running. And their force, heavily reliant on short-term conscriptions to fill the ranks, has been filing through the country in formations that have baffled outside military observers as, well, blazingly incompetent.
How are all you Putin-praisers feeling about that, as you glad-hand with all the other CPAC culture warriors? It turns out that the images of toxic (and frankly ridiculous) masculinity that you want all the rest of human culture to revolve around have produced a Russian army that literally has to pester Ukrainian civilians for directions to the places they're supposed to capture.
Hey, maybe showing womenfolk in Army recruiting ads is not, in fact, going to be the downfall of American military competitiveness. And if that's not true, what does it mean for all the new claims that letting students have access to library books that might upset them is the next thing dooming our civilization?
Just thinking out loud, but it is possible that Ted Cruz and all the other performative culture warriors are incompetent assholes who are so focused on their own feels that they can be duped by pretty much any staged propaganda that comes along that makes them feel good.
Uncomfortably for Putin, there is now no obvious path for the Russian military to meet their objectives in Ukraine. They can level the country, but they likely can't "win" it. Possibly of even greater importance, however, is that the Russian military has performed so poorly that it's causing international observers to recalculate their estimations of just how dangerous that military really is. As Putin's paranoia about NATO motives grows, NATO itself has been shown a display of Russian military weakness—the very last thing Putin could afford.
Protofascist and fascist Republicans flocked to Donald Trump for his belligerence, boorishness, and a supposed toughness that would rival the Putin that so much of Ted Cruz's party has been celebrating as a "genius." But it turns out that Putin may be closer to Donald Trump than Donald Trump was to the Putin of the right's dreams.
Putin is a murderous strongman, to be sure. But he's also a self-promoting, propaganda-reliant, law-ignoring, cash-hoarding wealth-obsessed liar who appears to have blustered his way into a no-win situation due to a complete unwillingness to even tolerate the presence of anyone who might disagree with him.
He's not a vigorous specimen of nationalist manhood. He's a Trump-style conman who's encircled himself with incompetent yes men, all so focused on bleeding their country into their own bank accounts that it seems there's barely anybody left who knows how to make the tanks run.
That's your hero figure, CPAC? That's who the United States should be admiring and modeling its own government on, Tucker? Wow. You guys really will fall for anything if it comes with a slick propaganda reel.
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