Speaking on his Fox News show with Russian chessmaster Garry Kasparov -- who was rated the greatest chess player of all time and who later became a political threat to Vladimir Putin, so much so that he had to flee Russia after he was detained by Russian police at a 2012 rally in support of the punk art collective Pussy Riot, three of whose female members were on trial for an anti-Kremlin disturbance at the time -- Tucker Carlson espoused the same isolationist line that prevailed in America before the advent of World War II, as he consistently condescended to Kasparov and dismissed his claim that Russia posed a threat to the U.S.
Carlson started by asking, “Why should I see Russia as a threat to the United States?”
Kasparov answered, “You have to see Russia as a threat to the United States, Putin’s Russia as a threat to the United States, because it harms America worldwide. Eventually, you are now experiencing some of Putin’s KGB medicine here in the United States; hacking into America’s political system sends a signal to your allies and foes alike that America is weak, that America cannot protect even its own borders.”
Carlson grinned patronizingly, “John Podesta’s email is not the same as our political system and it’s not even certain that he hacked into it.”
Tucker, we’re talking about perception becoming reality. You know, people worldwide, in Europe, in Asia, in Latin America, in Africa, they don’t understand the difference. John Podesta. DNC, emails. All they know is that Vladimir Putin’s brand of KGB operation somehow meddled, interfered, with American elections. They also now understand that for many years, America, under Barack Obama, refrained from addressing this issue, addressing this threat, and the retaliation was too little and too late.”
Carlson, again, patronizingly, “So, the real cost is in the eyes of people in Gambia, in Burma and Buenos Aires we are weak.”
The problem is not with Gambia and Buenos Aires. The problem is with France, Germany, United Kingdom, Baltics, Eastern Europe, Turkey; the price that America will pay for an attempt to walk away, by the way, that’s what we did, will be huge. Obama’s foreign policy was a failure. Senator Cotton, on your show a few minutes ago, described all these actions against US interests that Putin conducted, and he deserved, of course, to be punished much earlier, but the problem is that if you try not to reward Putin with a grand bargain deal, that will weaken America dramatically. America cannot abandon its values worldwide and protect it at home.
Carlson then threw his isolationist pitch:
Well, we pursued our values pretty vigorously over the past fifteen years and wound up in Iraq and Afghanistan and causing untold harm in Libya and didn’t really do much for the rest of the Middle East. Maybe we should acknowledge that Russia is primarily a threat to Europe, it always has been and perhaps the European countries ought to be the front line of the defense there and not the United States. Why is that a crazy idea?
Kasparov: “Are you saying America is going to walk away from NATO and its stated duties?”
Carlson, echoing Donald Trump’s election rhetoric, “NATO’s been around since 1949. Why not reassess it. Is that crazy?”
Kasparov answered, “What you are saying now is exactly reassessment. That’s what makes people in the Baltics, or in Eastern Europe as a whole, and even in the Scandinavian countries freaking out.”
Carlson: “I mean, I would be worried too. But as father of a 19-year-old son, can you explain to me what it’s in my interests to send him potentially to go defend the Baltics, nothing against the Baltics, but isn’t that the job of Europe, to defend itself?”
Kasparov: “In 1938, Neville Chamberlain talked about --
Carlson, interrupting, laughing snidely, “Fine, I’ve heard this before.”
Kasparov: “ -- Brits not defending countries they couldn’t find on a map. Today, I hope the knowledge of geography is much better. America’s played a leading role since 1945. It’s defended not only its own borders, but also the free world. And today I’m hearing these very troubling noises from the new administration that it’s a new era, where America could walk away ignoring strategic interests of the free world.”
Carlson: “Where does this obligation that America has, uniquely among the nations? Where does that come from? Is that from God?”
Kasparov: “It comes from American exceptionalism. Should I tell you again?”
Carlson again laughed snidely. But Kasparov continued, “America became great because it defended its values in the first place. And if you want to abandon your global duties, that means you have to abandon the global economy, and most of American multi-national corporations benefit dramatically from the global trade. And by the way, so do American customers.”
“America became great because it defended its values in the first place."
Carlson, laughing again: “China seems to be benefitting from global trade without imposing its values on the rest of the world.”
Kasparov, parrying, “Try to impose tariffs on China, and then wait until the next elections, when all your prices will go up.”