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Garry Kasparov: Stand With Ukraine in the Fight Against Evil

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 14, 2022

In an uncompromising TED Talk from a few days ago, Garry Kasparov warns we must confront “true evil” in the world when we see it, in this case Vladimir Putin and his regime.

Actually, my first article of warning was published in “The Wall Street Journal” on January 4, 2001. I saw evil because I heard evil. Putin was telling us what he was. All we had to do was listen. When Putin said that there was no such thing as a former KGB agent, I knew Russia’s fragile democracy was in danger. When Putin said that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century, I knew Russia’s newly independent neighbors were at risk. And when Putin talked at the Munich Security Conference in 2007 about a return to spheres of influence, I knew he was ready to launch his plan. It was the language from the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, 1939. The language Hitler and Stalin used to divide Europe. And a year later, in 2008, Putin invaded the Republic of Georgia. 2014, Ukraine.

It’s a paradox, isn’t it? Dictators lie about everything they have done, but often they tell us exactly what they’re going to do. Just listen. Anyone who is surprised at Putin’s war crimes in Ukraine must not be aware about his long record, beginning with the Second Chechen War in Grozny more than two decades ago. Vladimir Putin has been a war criminal from the start.

When he was talking about the problem with compromising with authoritarians, I was reminded of a phrase I’ve heard in a couple of different contexts recently: meeting a racist halfway on their views is still racism; meeting a fascist halfway on their views is still fascism. As Rebecca Solnit put it in an article about the 2020 election: “Who the hell wants unity with Nazis until and unless they stop being Nazis?” Meeting a brutal authoritarian halfway, Kasparov is arguing, is still tyranny.