What Ukraine Teaches Us About Power

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Credit where credit is due: Make America Great Again was a brilliant slogan, precisely because nobody knew what it meant. Was it about bringing back jobs in manufacturing? Was it about restoring straight, white, Christian men to what some of them thought was their natural position of social dominance? MAGA became an all-purpose code for reversing whatever was bugging you about 21st-century America.

And one important strain of MAGAism was and is the belief that wokeness is making America militarily weak. Back in 2021 Senator Ted Cruz famously shared a video comparing Russian military ads, which feature manly men doing manly things, with a U.S. ad telling the story of a female recruit raised by two mothers. “Perhaps a weak, emasculated military is not the best idea,” Cruz declared.

Remarkably, the idea that wokeness makes us weak has persisted despite the failures of the decidedly un-woke Russian military in Ukraine. Senator Tom Cotton, who has published a book titled “Only the Strong: Reversing the Left’s Plot to Sabotage American Power,” recently declared that “soldiers join the army to kill the bad guys — not to learn to speak like they’re in a faculty lounge.”


https://static01.nyt.com/images/2023/01/09/opinion/06krugman-newsletter-image/06krugman-newsletter-image-superJumbo.jpg?quality=75&auto=webpIllustration by Sam Whitney/The New York Times; photographs by Ralf Geithe and Image Source, via Getty Images



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