Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s rebuff of the suggestion that he be evacuated from his besieged city of Kyiv is already immortal, and rightly so. “I need ammunition, not a ride,” he snapped, even as the Russian army was poised to decimate Ukraine’s capital and annihilate its residents, including him.
These words take their place next to colonist Patrick Henry’s famous call for a militia to take up arms against King George III in 1775, only Henry’s proclamation came long before there were cruise missiles.
The scenes of Russia’s butchery have only reinforced the world’s awe at the Ukrainian people, courage in the face of attempted genocide is historic. There can be no silver lining here, but one hopes that the vast, sickening scope of Russia’s atrocities will keep the American people unified for the long-term commitment required to defeat Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In his speech in Warsaw in late March, President Joe Biden spoke for hundreds of millions of people around the world when he stated the obvious: genocidal murderers should not run countries.
The words “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power” stoked several days’ worth of tsk-tsking from Biden’s GOP opponents, who just spent five years kissing Putin’s posterior. They now ricochet back and forth between attacking Biden for not giving Ukraine fighter jets to battle Putin’s air force and whining that he should avoid saying anything that hurts Putin’s feelings.
The posterior-kissing has largely come to an end, other than on Tucker Carlson’s nightly show on Fox, which positively cleans up in the wackadoodle demographic.
This is likely because Americans now overwhelmingly line up with Ukraine and against Russia. A Pew poll taken days ago found that 72% of Americans have a favorable opinion of Zelenskyy, compared to 6% who have one of Putin, and you really have to wonder about that 6%.
There was another notable passage in Biden’s Warsaw speech, but it received scant attention.
“All of us, including here in Poland, must do the hard work of democracy each and every day,” said the president, adding, “my country as well.”
It was a purposeful note of humility by Biden, whose credibility abroad contrasts with the global consensus that his predecessor was a narcissistic buffoon, a view with which it is difficult to quarrel. Biden’s standing abroad has played a pivotal role in the forging of a unified NATO response to Putin.
That Biden has been instrumental in reinvigorating America’s capacity to lead is hardly speculative. There’s been “a major shift in the global image of American leadership after the election of Joe Biden,” Pew determined in a recent report. “Majorities in each of the 16 (countries) surveyed expressed confidence in Biden.
In all countries where there is a recorded trend available, there was an increase of at least 40 percentage points in confidence in the US president after Biden took office.”
“My country as well” was a humble acknowledgment to the world of the cleanup work we need to do here, and a gentle reminder to the American people, who have got to do it.
Late last week a federal judge reviewing only a discrete sliver of the evidence that is extant of former President Donald Trump’s law-breaking found that it was “more likely than not” that Trump “corruptly attempted to obstruct the joint session of Congress on January 6 , 2021,” and that he had “dishonestly conspired to obstruct” those proceedings. More likely than not, in short, that Trump committed federal crimes. More likely than not that he belongs in a federal penitentiary.
Oh, and not just that. The federal judge found unequivocally that Trump “launched a campaign to overturn a democratic election, an action in American history. It was a coup in search of a legal theory.”
A lot of work for us to do here indeed. And plenty to learn from the Ukrainians.