Michael Brenner Opinion Ukraine

On Humiliation and the Ukraine War

Russia’s actions in the Ukraine are, to a great extent, the culmination of the numerous humiliations that the West, under American instigation, has inflicted on Russia’s rulers and the country as a whole over the past 30 years.  
Vladimir Putin. [Vassilis Sgs / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0]

By Michael Brenner

The Mafia is not known for its creative use of language beyond terms like ‘hitman,’ ‘go to the mattresses,” ‘living with the fishes’ and suchlike. There are, though, a few pithy sayings that carry enduring wisdom. One concerns honor and revenge: ‘If you are going to humiliate someone publicly in a really crass manner, make sure that he doesn’t survive to take his inevitable revenge.” Violate it at your peril.  That enduring truth has been demonstrated by Russia’s actions in the Ukraine which, to a great extent – are the culmination of the numerous humiliations that the West, under American instigation, has inflicted on Russia’s rulers and the country as a whole over the past 30 years.  

They have been treated as a sinner sentenced to accept the role of a penitent who clad in sackcloth, marked with ashes, is expected to appear among the nations with head bowed forever. No right to have its own interests, its own security concerns or even its own opinions. Few in the West questioned the viability of such a prescription for a country of 160 million, territorially the biggest in the world, possessing vast resources of critical value to other industrial nations, technologically sophisticated and custodian of 3,000 + nuclear weapons. No mafia don would have been that obtuse. But our rulers are cut from a different cloth even if their strut and conceit often matches that of the capos in important respects.  

This is not to say that Russia’s political class has been bent on revenge for a decade or two – like France after its humiliation by Prussia in 1871, like Germany after its humiliation in 1918-1919, or like ‘Bennie from the Bronx’ beaten up in front of his girlfriend  by Al Pacino in Carlito’s Way.  Quite the opposite, for almost a decade Boris Yeltsin was content to play Falstaff to any American President who came along just for the sake of being accepted into his company (and allowing himself to be robbed blind in the process – economically and diplomatically). The West nostalgically celebrates the Yeltsin years as the Golden Age of Russian Democracy – an age when life expectancy dropped sharply, when alcoholism rose and mental health declined, when the tanking economy threw millions into poverty, when criminality of every kind ravaged society, when celebrity oligarchs strutted their stuff, when the Presidential chauffeur was the most influential man in the country, and when everyone was free to declaim since nobody else heard him in the din of their own voices. You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs – to coin a phrase.  

 Vladimir Putin, of course, was made of sterner stuff. He put an end to the buffoonery, successfully took on the Herculean task of reconstituting Russia as a viable state, and presented himself as ruler of an equal sovereign in cultivating relations with his neighbors.  In addition, he insisted that the civil rights and culture of Russians stranded in the Near Abroad be respected.  

Still, he gave no sign by word or deed that he contemplated using coercive means to restore the integration of Russian and Ukraine that had existed for more than 300 years. True, he opposed Western attempts to sever the ties between the two by incorporating Ukraine into their collective institutions – most notably the NATO declaration of 2008 stating that Ukraine (along with Georgia) were in the alliance’s antechamber being readied for entrance. Putin’s restraint contrasted with the audacity of Washington and its European subordinates who instigated the Maidan coup toppling the democratically elected President and promoting an American puppet in his place.  In effect, the United States has been Ukraine’s overseer ever since – a sort of absentee landlord.  

Putin’s views about the preferred principles of organization and conduct that should govern inter-state relations have been elaborated in a series of speeches and articles over the years. The picture it draws is far different from the cartoonish distortion created and disseminated in the West. It clearly delineates ways and means to constrain and limit the element of conflict, above all military conflict, the requirement for rules-of-the-road that should serve as the systems software, the necessity of recognizing that the future will be more multipolar – yet more multilateral – than it has been since 1991. At the same time, he stresses that every state has its legitimate national interests and the right to promote them as a sovereign entity so long as it does not endanger world peace and stability. Russia has that right on an equal basis with every other state.  It also has the right to order its public life as it deems best suits its circumstances. 

Western leaders, and political class generally, have not accepted those propositions. Nor have they ever shown a modicum of interest in accepting Moscow’s repeated, open invitation to discuss them. Rather, every attempt by Russia to act in accordance with that logic has been viewed through a glass darkly – interpreted as confirmation of Russia as an outlaw state whose dictatorial leader is bent on restoring a malign Russian influence dedicated to undermining the good works of the Western democracies.  

This attitude has progressively lowered the bar on accusation and insult directed at Russia and Putin personally. For Hillary Clinton he was “a new Hitler” as far back as 2016, for Joe Biden he was a ‘killer,’ for Congress members a Satan using a bag of diabolical instruments to corrupt and destroy American democracy. For all of them, a tyrant turning Russia back to the political dark ages after the glowing democratic spring of the Yeltsin years, an assassin – albeit an inept one whose targeted victims somehow survived in unnatural numbers, for the Pentagon a growing menace who moved rapidly up the enemies list – displacing Islamic terrorism by 2017 and vying with China for the top spot ever since.  

The obsession with Putin the Evil spread as Washington pushed its allies hard to join in the denunciation. It became the fashion. The grossness of their personal attacks on Putin matched the ever-expanding scope of the accusations. In recent years, no election could be held in Europe without the levelling of charges that the Kremlin was ‘interfering’ by some unspecified means or other – and at Putin’s personal direction. The absence of evidence was irrelevant. Russia became the pinata there to be bashed whenever one felt the urge or saw a domestic political advantage.  

None of the above discussion is meant to suggest that Russia’s foreign policy, in particular the invasion of Ukraine, can be personalized or reduced to the level of feelings and emotions. Putin himself constantly displays an exceptional emotional and intellectual discipline. Putin is not a ‘Benny from the Bronx.’ He does not act on impulse nor does he allow his judgment to be clouded by considerations of a purely individual nature. Russia had tangible grounds for concerns about the implications of developments in Ukraine and trends in Eastern Europe generally that jeopardized the country’s security interests. The thinking of Putin and his associates about how to deal with them expressed carefully thought-out analyses and strategies – as surely did the eventual decision to take military action.  

Revenge per se was less significant than what Western treatment of Russia since 1991 augured for the future. In other words, the constant reinforcement of hostile images and intentions, as felt by Moscow, via the steady barrage of attacks and accusations colored the way that Russian leaders assayed the prospects for alleviating the threats they saw in Western actions – including their conduct throughout 2022.  

Conclusion  

The West had a variety of options for addressing the Russia question after 1991. One was to take advantage of its weakness to the fullest and to treat the country as a second-class nation in the American directed world system. That was the strategy we chose. It inescapably meant humiliation. What we didn’t recognize is that in doing so we were planting the seeds of future hostility. Over the years, every sign of a Russia rising from the ashes fed latent, if inchoate, fears of the bear coming out of hibernation. Instead of recognizing that the post-Yeltsin political elite resented the decade of disparagement and humiliation, and taking steps to compensate for it (e.g. carving out a place for Russia in Europe’s post-Cold War political configuration), anxiety led the West down the exact opposite course. Putin’s Russia was painted in ever more frightening caricatures while shunning became the order of the day.   

Demonstrations of Russia’s growing self-confidence, and unwillingness to be pushed around – as in southern Ossetia in 2008 and then more stunningly in Syria in 2015, quickly evoked all the old Cold War images and set the pre-primed alarm bells ringing. Ignorance of Russian realities, coupled with the demonization of Putin whose actual thoughts didn’t interest them, Western leaders and pundits fretted that their master plan for an American overseen global system was being jeopardized. Now from the old enemy – Russia, and the new enemy – China.  One set of anxieties reinforces the other.  

Back in the 1990s, the humiliation of Russia logically could have been followed by the traditional mafia act of termination. Forestall any form of retaliation by killing off the victim. Of course, it is a lot harder to liquidate a country than an individual and his close associates. It has been done, though. Think of Rome razing Carthage. After victory in the Second Punic War, the Romans were in a position to act on Cato’s admonition: “Carthage must die !” Legend has it that they sowed the fields with salt. That, of course, is nonsense – the Romans were not that dumb. The Carthogenian lands became one of the empire’s two great granaries. They reconstituted the state and put in place a security apparatus that served their practical interests. (Rome didn’t even have to repopulate the place since most of the inhabitants were partially ‘Punicized’ ethnic Berbers who gradually became partially Romanized Berbers. As, today, Maghrebis are Arabized Berbers for the most part). Roman pragmatism, in this respect, can be contrasted with Germany’s readiness to cut itself off from vitally needed Russian natural gas supplies; admittedly, the Romans were not obeying orders from a United States that doesn’t rely on energy resources from Russia.      

Genghis Khan and the Golden Horde, too, acted in accordance with their version of the liquidation strategy. It worked. The Abbasid dynasty and all the other states they destroyed never were in a position to wreak revenge. The Mongols and their Turkic auxiliaries avoided retribution and suffering at the vengeful hands of the countries they ravaged.   

There are other methods as well for permanently eliminating a foe. Genocide is the most extreme – as implemented by Belgium in the Congo, the Germans in Namibia and the European occupiers of North America. Dismemberment is another. The tripartite division and annexation of Poland is the outstanding example. The total breakup of Ottoman Turkey as envisaged at Versailles is another.  

A few people in Washington did promote the idea of executing a similar strategy against the Soviet Union/Russia. Beyond enlarging NATO so as to render prospects for a Russian revival as a European power nugatory, they envisaged breaking up the country into a number of fragmented parts. The Polish-born Zbigniew Brzezinski is the best known of these radical advocates of territorial mutilation. Washington’s unrelenting efforts to build an permanent wall between Ukraine and Russia grows out of this soil; so, too, assiduous efforts to provide aid and comfort to anti-Russian elements in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Belarus and Kazakhstan (as recent events in the last three signify).  

The Western approach toward post-Soviet Russia which entailed marginalization and attendant humiliation was favored for a number of reasons, as summarized above. We should add that there was an additional, facilitating factor at work. The chosen strategy was much easier to implement – intellectually and diplomatically. Its simplicity appealed to Western leaders sorely lacking in the attributes of astute statesmanship. That disability skews their attitudes and policies to this day.  

Michael Brenner

Michael Brenner is Professor Emeritus of International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh and a Fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations at SAIS/Johns Hopkins. He was the Director of the International Relations & Global Studies Program at the University of Texas.
Brenner is the author of numerous books, and over 80 articles and published papers. His most recent works are: Democracy Promotion and IslamFear and Dread In The Middle EastToward A More Independent Europe Narcissistic Public Personalities & Our Times. His writings include books with Cambridge University Press (Nuclear Power and Non-Proliferation), the Center For International Affairs at Harvard University (The Politics of International Monetary Reform), and the Brookings Institution (Reconcilable Differences, US-French Relations In The New Era).

40 comments

  1. “… restore the integration of Russian and Ukraine that had existed for more than 300 years.”

    Should the author read Wikipedia?

    1. Bohdan Khmelnitskyy unified the Ukrainian cossack host with Russia in 1654. So, your point?

  2. A very enlightening piece. Thank you.

    But what if you saw all of these exact same observations from the perspective that NATO’s near-unbridled expansion towards Russia’s border and the ensuing hostility therein, was the actual design intent, which would sustain the status quo and seamlessly morph into mutually-supportive dictatorships in each respective domestic hierarchy…

    “The war waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or Eastasia, but to keep the [hierarchical] structure of society intact”. Orwell, ‘1984’.

    Thanks again.

    Kind regards,

    Johnny McNeill
    #GaslightingGilligan (© 2017) 
    Twitter: @GasGilligan (free download)

    1. Best comment here. I suppose, as usual, what happened is strongly configured by one’s lens. One way to assess the situation is to look at who has prospered continuously through the mess, and that was, is, and continues to be the oligarchy.

  3. FINALLY – A REASONED PIECE! Thank you so much Professor Brenner, you are one in a million!!!

  4. This column has infinitely more morality and level-headedness than all the Putin-bashing garbage. None of this excuses Putin or Russia for invading Ukraine, but it also shows where the ultimate blame lies, which is not with them.

  5. Yes, by all means, let us treat the Lukaszenkas, Putins, Xis and Orbans of the world as partners who, just ~like us~ selflessly represent their people’s best interest. While we’re at it, let us give a benefit of a doubt to the next Trump, for equal-treatment’s sake.

    Sarcasms aside, I suggest you pull your heads out of your asses and fast, or two-three elections cycles from now you will wake up to a Red-White-and-Blue with a single white star, a cross and two AR15s on either side.

    You people have no idea what it means to have your jaw broken by a riot cop and your loved ones sent to prison, just because you dared to *speak* against your own government.

    But please, my dear professors, commentators and independent free-thinking journalists across the pond – by all means please, let the others die for you, far away, so that you can keep your right to draw bleeding hearts on your lattes.

    I still remember how Americans screamed at the top of their lungs that you’re not Trump. That you’re better. That you’re not psychopaths like him. Remember that? Now imagine he’s still in the office and there’s a gun at the back of your head, ready to go off if you open your mouth like that again. Imagine that and you’ll have *some* understanding what it feels to be Russian.

    1. @ Ehrlichman 😊🐍
      You wrote….”Sarcasms aside, I suggest you pull your heads out of your asses and fast” In said casting of “Sarcasms aside” are you suggesting that who you are addressing has multiple heads implanted in multiple asses❔ And this suggestion that those heads in those asses be pulled out fast is dangerously reckless advise.
      Wasn’t there a person named Ehrlichman in the Nixon cabal in charge of dirty tricks and such❔
      Sarcasm aside, of course.🦨👍
      As Usual,
      EA☠

  6. Thank you for a thoughtful and balanced article taking into account Russia’s needs. The Western arrogance and even hatred has now become outright genocidal!!! The French minister for the Economy salivates with joy at the destruction of the Russian economy he wishes to cause. US,UK and EU civilians want to go to Ukraine and fight “for the people against the evil Russians”. This sort of behavior was absent from earlier US “humanitarian interference” in Arab/muslim nations.

  7. Brenner writes, “Putin himself constantly displays an exceptional emotional and intellectual discipline.”
    While it is clear that the West has been on a 30 year campaign to drive Russia to its knees, there is no justification, whatsoever, for the brutal and barbaric attacks on Ukraine, much of which is being visited upon the innocent. These attacks are hardly the work of someone who “constantly displays an exceptional emotional and intellectual discipline,” but rather, the work of someone in the grips of bottomless rage.

    1. Perfectly analyzed! Astonishing how some of these “intellectuals” (of the tankie persuasion) slide from criticizing US imperialism (totally necessary) to fawning upon autocrats (disgusting and counter-productive).

  8. What we still call humanity identifies with being human and yet forgets it’s humane possibilities when offered the choice conceded in power, to enact revenge. What is revenge but the act of feeling that one is still lacking and insufficient. A feeling of not being whole. This feeling is then projected outwards and seeks to punish instead of showing compassion. This is the way back into a loop of fear. Courage is to go forward and show one’s true nature, which is love, and show the other side the same path by example. The USSR fell and millions of people were looking west for guidance and instead received remorse. We have fed our own sorrow in this process. Putin is an injured bear, trying to save its cubs and injured bears do malicious things, not out of hate but out of love veiled by hate. Nations do not apologize because nations exist only in the imagination and limitation of the human mind. Presidents and dictators too. It is never too late to surrender to ideas and open the heart to understanding we all want the same thing, peace. This can never be achieved through fighting but we are pushed into fighting to see this and we have been stubborn for thousands of years into seeing this basic truth, peace by force is temporary. True peace is understanding that peace is not held, it is given. We’re getting there but we may all have to relinquish a lot more of this material world, and that may mean our bodies too, to finally realize property will never bring peace.

  9. Thank you for this article. With all the propaganda and now the State of the Union address, it seemed like I was one of the few that had any sense of the humiliation inflicted on Russia over the years. Rather than a monster, Putin has shown great restraint trying to look out for Russia’s interests. He was in my view, pushed into a corner(baited)and did exactly what the US wanted him to do.

    1. @ Spencer Lingenfelter
      Poor Putin! He really had his hand forced to invade the Ukraine to get rid of this lingering sense of humiliation! What better way to show the world you are a real Mensch than bombing a few towns !

      1. Dear alteyid48. Russia has articulated the issue clearly, and I’ll colloquialize so that you get the idea. “Get your weapons off our fence line now or we will blow them up.” Any dummy can understand.

  10. this will be an opportune moment for Putin to double down on domestic self sufficiency since being part of the global community is a 2-way street

    Oh the ties that bind
    since they aren’t humanitarian, money works in this case
    how long for the petrol-dollar?
    and then the crypto racket
    what a world!

  11. So, all of this is (cartoon character) Vladimir Putin’s doing. Never mind the tens of thousands of US/NATO troops that had been amassing in Eastern Europe (much less, the past five years of brainless saber-rattling at Russia), creating this crisis. This is old Cold Warrior Joe Biden’s war, and is therefore a righteous war…

    1. @DH Fabian
      Most of the tens of thousands in Eastern Europe are the national armies of Poland, the Baltic states, Romania, the Czech Republic, Hungary etc. which don’t like the Russians and are more than happy to have US, UK, German, French symbolic contingents as living proof of NATO solidarity.
      The Russian invasion of Ukraine is for them the a posteriori proof of the wisdom of their decision to join NATO and the EU.

      1. just the reverse—denzification of Ukraine shows that NATO is weak and useless

  12. The “humiliation” of Russia is the humiliation that the last colonialist empire on Earth felt when the peoples conquered, occupied and oppressed for decades or even centuries decided to regain their liberty and rejected their former Russian/Soviet masters. The same kind of humiliation befell also the British, French , Belgians, Dutch when they had to let go their overseas possessions and accept them as equals on the international arena.
    Yes, for Russia it is humiliating to see Poland, the Baltic states, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary ,Georgia, Ukraine reject their “protection” and instead pivot toward the West and its institutions (EU, NATO). The so-called expansion of NATO to the east is not the result of some nefarious US led plot but the freewill of the peoples in those countries , which have been waiting at least from 1945 to be free from Russian oppression as exemplified by Russian tanks in 1956 in Budapest, 1968 in Prague, 1991 in Moldova, 2008 in Georgia and now in Ukraina

  13. Somewhat self-consciously wide-ranging and “erudite” for my taste. The single reference that made some impact was “Bennie from the Bronx,” in the Brian de Palma film “Carlito’s Way,” though Brenner got that wrong when he accused Bennie from the Bronx of acting on impulse. Not at all. He waited patiently until the precise time to pay Pacino’s Carlito back–with interest!

  14. Do you agree that understanding is not the same as condoning ?

    Sadly, I have great difficulty understanding the US and its attitude toward Russia.

  15. The UN says there are a million Ukrainian refugees already. God knows how many civilians have been killed, but they include children. Civilian areas are being bombed, the Kharkiv university building has been blown up. An Indian medical student was killed the other day, standing in line to buy groceries. There’s trauma and suffering on a mass scale. Between 1994 and 2000, Russian conducted two brutal campaigns against Chechnya, the capital Grozny was obliterated, and there were thousands of civilian casualties.

    Anna Politkovskaya, Russian journalist and human rights activist was put on trial twice for fighting for human rights for Chechnyans; then murdered in 2006. There has been continuous Russian aggressive action in Georgia. 58 journalists killed in Russia between 1992 and 2022, according to the International Committee of journalists. Dissident politicians and businessmen have been murdered at long distance in other countries.

    People researching the disappearances of the Stalin era (viz the group Memorial ) have been punished and its historian Yuri Dmitriyev was recently sentenced to 15 years in a penal colony. The state prosecution accused Memorial of ‘creating a false image of the Soviet Union as a terrorist state and making us repent for the Soviet past’. So now it is a crime to investigate and write about Stalinism.

    If any of the above matters had gained even a passing mention by Professor Brenner, I could have credited his argument as written in good faith. As someone who was politicised by America’s war crimes in Vietnam, which cost three million lives. I recall the CIA-sponsored coup in Chile in 1973, and the thousands murdered by the military, President Allende killed in his palace. Even Bangladesh President Mujibur Rahman’s assassination was reported to have had CIA’s involvement. The American establishment can’t protect its own democracy, let alone the freedom of other peoples. A vast section of it is busy trying to deprive African Americans of their voting rights. But there’s no mention of Vietnam or Chile or Palestine or the 1953 Iranian coup in this piece. All we get is one-sided rhetoric and a denunciation of ”anti-Russian elements’ in the periphery of the defunct USSR. Where I live too, critics of the current government are called ‘anti-national elements.’

    I have no axe to grind with criticisms of the militarism, imperialism and sheer hypocrisy of the Western powers. But Professor Brenner’s entire essay is a justification of this ex-KGB dictator’s brutal tyranny. It shows contempt for Russian like Anna Politkovskaya and Yuri Dmitriyev, and for what reason? That their plight disturbs your polemic? Why do atrocities by one side justify atrocities by the other? Have we lost every shred of compassion in our eagerness to score polemical points? The Russian revolution which began on March 8 (February 23) , 1917 was a manifestation of war weariness. It was confiscated by the Bolsheviks. After a long and tortuous history, it was undoubtedly the Red Army that played the major role in defeating Hitler. The USSR suffered over 20 million dead. But forty-five years after the end of WW2, it imploded due to its own inability to legitimise itself. The KGB (Putins nursery) and the CPSU have themselves to blame to the collapse.

    Why should Ukrainian civilians and kids pay the price for Western hypocrisy and NATO’s triumphalism? Can experts and academicians keep in mind that human suffering and pain on this massive a scale deserves more than this kind of point-scoring argumentation? Lets stop the sophistry and have an honest conversation.

    1. @Dilip
      Don’t forget that one of the events that made WW2 possible at all has been the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and the attack of Poland by the USSR , ending any chance to stop Hitler in 1939. The Poles and other East Europeans still remember!

  16. F Y I : The web site “Consortium News” is now unavailable. Also, Chris Hedges program “On Contact” is also unavailable – this one did not surprise me as it was hosted by “RT”. Has me wondering when this site will disappear too. Seems like only the official lies of the US are permitted by TPTB.

    1. After being unavailable for several hours last evening “Consortium News” is available again to me this morning. Never had anything like that occur on this computer before. Sorry for any issues this may have caused.

  17. This article gives a good overview as to the man from the Kremlin. It seems historically that Russia has never been European enough for the West. Nor has it been Asian enough for the East. Geography seems to have cruelly fated it, to always be ,”the man in the middle” and its challenge to survive, will always be subject to threat from one direction or another. This current situation will not be the last.
    The jingoistic cant and hysteria from the West reflects their usual level of thinking and confirms the writers critical reference to their “Statesmanship and Leadership”.
    The 4th Feb 2022 joint China/Russia statement will be viewed as a Historical landmark and define the Geopolitical nature of the rest of the 21st Century and beyond. It in effect defines the reason for Russia’s action. The Ukrainian situation will be settled and the man from the Kremlin will then be listened to.

    1. @Ed Wilson
      “The Ukrainian situation” is the brutal invasion of an independent country!
      How exactly is it going to be settled?

    2. @ED WILSON
      As to people not liking Russia: Well, I don’t like it either, and I’m 1/4 Russian! But you don’t have to like a country in order to respect and get along with it, and to also appreciate some things about it that are different than your country. It would be nice if we all liked each other, but humans are very far from that. How about starting with all of us getting along and respecting each other? And of course ending the U.S. empire and its insanely massive military. Then maybe we could abolish ALL militaries. OK, I’m going to wake up now.

  18. Prof Brenner moves into first place in the Who Lost Ukraine? competition.
    Just because Putin wants to be Vlad the Great at any cost is no reason to criticize him for starting a war with a far weaker neighboring country. We’ll leave the murder of women & children (not to mention soldiers & civic leaders) up to historians – it’s just an understandable reaction to the sinful West.
    C’mon… Russia has been collapsing of its own accord for a LONG time. Their elites have met the enemy and it is them (thanks, Pogo). Yes, there’s enough blame to share, but not so much that the West should further encourage them to take Moldova, the Baltic States & whatever else makes Putin feel more manly.
    The Ukrainian people yearn to be free & they’ve earned it. Meanwhile, the take-away is all God’s Children need nuclear weapons to assure national security, no matter who’s zooming who.

  19. this anti-intellectual trash appeals to the peurile American character—they psychologize other but not themselves—mean, bitter, money worshipping, status anxious, fake, liars, childish, insecure—observed by numerous sociologists… it is impossible for the narcissistic mono-lingual american—too racist to comprehend that civilized people possess different values and have different interests than Americans –certainly the most imperialist fascist nation of the past century

  20. mono-lingual Americans – yes that has been said for many years but how is that possible when there are so many millions of immigrants who still speak their native language. Even Dean Martin only started to speak English at age 6 or so. It wouldn’t surprise me that the US has more foreign language speakers than any other country.

    1. But, seeing how the US and Ukrainian governments outlawed Russian language in Ukraine, can it be long before the US defines prohibited speech, and outlaws it as well?
      I’m thinking maybe the banning of honesty.
      It’s been accomplished practically.
      All that’s left is to write the statute.

      1. Where is the evidence that Ukraine is banning Russian? Do you know that much of the West of Ukraine is also full of people who speak Russian as their first language, and most Ukrainians speak both languages?

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