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Tucker Carlson feeds Russian propaganda to US audience

Feb 13


On Feb. 6, American journalist Tucker Carlson interviewed Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow. It marked the first time the Russian leader agreed to an interview with a U.S. journalist since 2021. Carlson is a popular figure with the American far-right MAGA movement, and his interview with Putin came at a critical time for the United States, as Congress debates a potentially huge defense bill for Ukraine and as the Russia-Ukraine war approaches its second anniversary.

Straight Arrow News contributor Peter Zeihan warns Americans to take the interview with more than just a grain of salt and says that Carlson effectively acted as Putin’s loyal propagandist. Putin agreeing to host Tucker had nothing to do with journalism, Zeihan concludes, and everything to do with Putin’s own ambitions of complicating things in Congress so that he can press his ground offensive in Ukraine.

The following is an excerpt from Peter’s Feb. 13 “Zeihan on Geopolitics” newsletter:

At this point you’ve all seen or heard about Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin (if you haven’t…you didn’t miss much). This was the first time Putin has spoken to an American “journalist” since his military invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

As we enter the third year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, I think this is as good a time as ever to step back and take inventory of the situation. Since the beginning, we have known that the longer the war drags on, the harder it will be for Ukraine to mount a definitive counter-offensive. One reason for this has to do with differences in command structures; Russia follows a strict top-down delegation of authority, while Ukraine delegates relatively more local authority to lower-level officers.

While this strategy has paid off for Ukraine so far, the Russian military apparatus is slowly learning to adapt. To compete, Ukraine will need to take a chapter out of the Russian military school of thought and assert a more dominant command structure, one that allows for military-wide policy implementation.

Apart from strategy, Ukraine also needs more and better weaponry from its Western allies. This will only get harder as time goes on. Putin knows this, and perhaps that is why he chose this moment, as Congress struggles to pass a military aid package for Ukraine and Israel, to stir the pot. Add to the mix the fact that this is an election year…

Hi everyone, Peter Zeihan here coming to you from home, and I have received no surprise here, lots of lots of questions about Tucker Carlson’s interview with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin. There’s really no point in going to the substance of Tucker’s interview, a couple things to keep in mind about Tucker Carlson.


Number one, he has been fired from every journalist job that he has ever had for making things up. And his legal defense, when he was working at Fox in recent years, was that he’s not a journalist at all. So he’s not responsible for any sort of fact-based reporting. In fact, he literally called himself a propagandist. Which, you know, I guess, if you’re gonna go for a legal defense, being truthful helps.


And he’s been a Russian shill for several years. So the idea that he was being a Russian shill in Russia doesn’t really shock me. It was just an example of how Putin can get his message out in front of a relatively favorable audience in the United States to stir the political pot and keep the United States unable to make a broad-based response to anything the Russians are doing. And this is not a new program, the Russians have been doing this ever since they formed the bot farm over a decade ago.


More importantly, as the strategic picture that we have in the Russian space right now, the Ukraine war is not in a stalemate, hasn’t been for any part of this war, we’ve been seeing new tactics and new weapons systems moving, the current iteration is the Russians are combining their meat assaults, as they’ve been called, with a much better level of coordination with other tactics, especially with artillery.


One of the things to keep in mind about the Ukraine war, is that we’ve got two very different approaches. On the Ukrainian side, authority has been devolved down to almost the unit level. But when you disassociate your military strategy to that level, yes, you’ll get a lot of creative people who are doing creative things that are very effective, but the information and the successes that they have, the techniques, don’t necessarily percolate back up to the top, which means that it’s hard for the folks at the top to then apply those tactics across the entire front. You have very, very effective commanders. But you don’t necessarily get a very, very effective army.


Russia has the opposite approach, in that there’s very little authority at the local level. And so they often have the Ukrainians running circles around them. But whenever a lesson does percolate up to the top, it is then imposed on everyone. And for the first couple of years of the war, this has definitely been working for the Ukrainians’ favor, but as the Russians incrementally incorporate lessons, it’s now starting to favor the Russians. And the only way that you can kind of make the Ukrainians come up again, two things: Number one, you can get them better at a little bit of community control, and then second, of course, they need better and better weapons in order to counter what is becoming an incrementally more effective Russian war machine.


That, of course, is wrapped up with politics in the Western countries, especially United States, which [is] one of the many, many, many reasons that Putin arranged for his shill to come and interview him in order to keep stirring the pot so the United States would have more and more problems when it comes to acting. Just as important, arguably more important, is the Russians are thrilled, thrilled about what’s going on with Israel and Gaza and Iran, because every little bit of attention that the Americans give to the Israeli situation, or the Gaza situation, or the attacks on maritime shipping in the Red Sea, is an attention that they can’t give to the Ukrainian war.


One of the things that people forget about the American foreign policy establishment, it really has a hard time dealing with more than one issue at a time. And so for the first 16-18 months of the Ukraine war, that was the only issue in international affairs that was in front of Joe Biden. You could argue that things with China were up there, but that was mostly in the area of economic nationalism. And that is something that can be handed off to non-foreign policy personnel. But in the United States, there’s really only three people who are responsible for almost all American foreign policy, the president, obviously, the chair of the Federal Reserve, and that’s usually focused on economic issues, for obvious reasons, and the National Security Advisor, even the Secretary of State really doesn’t deal with foreign affairs, it’s more of a dispensation, rather than policy creation sort of issue.


And so when you only have three people, and one of them obviously has other things on his plate at any given time, and one of them is only responsible for financial and economic issues, it’s really hard to get this mammoth institution of the United States focused on more than one thing at the same time. And if Israel and Gaza and Iran are absorbing more and more and more of that attention, then by default, there’s less attention that can be paid to things going on [in] the Russia sphere.


So the Russians have, from the fourth quarter of last year on, discovered that they have a lot more wiggle room, because the leadership out of the United States is simply lacking. It’s not that we’ve had a policy change in Washington, it’s just that there’s only so much bandwidth. And of course, now we’re in an election year, and that [sic] things even more.


So, ignore Tucker. You should have been ignoring Tucker for years. But do watch Moscow, because they’re finding new and more creative ways not simply to prosecute the war at home, but to muddle the picture on a broader global scale, to play into this fact that the Americans have a hard time focusing on more than one thing.

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