Ask this: Can you imagine an American president doing what Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zelensky is doing? Why, even during the time of the Founders, when the British Empire entered Washington and set it to the torch, James Madison hightailed it to Maryland.
Granted, the president as commander-in-chief must retain his ability to maintain command and control over his forces. It remains that offering Zelensky a ride out of Kyiv to a safe space — as an American diplomat did — was the reflexive idea of the people who set policy in the democracies. The nations that are the inheritors of Western Civilization, lands of liberty and law, have come to this. Not: We’re sending the 82nd Airborne to defend your position. No: We’re sending you an Uber.
Zelensky did not say “Nuts” like Anthony McAuliffe at Bastogne; nor did he say “Merde” like Pierre Cambronne in the last square at Waterloo; and, no, he was not as eloquent as Winston Churchill, vowing under the bombs that the English people would fight, on the beaches, on the landing grounds, in the fields, and never surrender.
But Volodymyr Zelensky was superbly cool. He, formerly an actor, had a line worthy of a Clint Eastwood production: “I don’t need a ride, but you can get me some ammo.”
We now need men — and women too — who have no use for the sophistries of a Pat Buchanan or the vanities of a Donald Trump.
If Zelensky and his countrymen lose their fight, he will likely as not be shot as a terrorist on the orders of Vladimir Putin, the same thug whose smarts Donald Trump praises and whose legitimate security concerns Pat Buchanan defends. These are the smarts and the concerns that may bring on the nuclear war successive American presidents and strategists avoided while doing what they thought was necessary and feasible to maintain, even with grave reverses, the global — yes, global — march toward more freedom for all peoples and individuals.
We now need men — and women too — who understand the proper relationship between politics and ammo, and have no use for the sophistries of a Pat Buchanan or the vanities of a Donald Trump. There are many, many Americans who always answer the call of duty as do citizens of Israel, or Taiwan — and Ukraine. But as best we see, there are no American leaders with the brains and the spirit — or the personal courage — to call them and lead them.
Maybe you have to live in a small country under threat from thugs and tyrants to know the value of civilization and how precious, and how endangered, freedom always is, and maybe if you are a politician in a big, powerful country, you do not even realize to what degree you must, as a professional necessity, let your dignity and purpose defer to the sweet corruptions, moral and mental, that come with great wealth and power.
We know we can trust our friends and neighbors to go into the streets with guns and never surrender, but it is not evident we have the men — or women — to be there with them. Now, and until further notice, the urgent task in public affairs, perhaps the only one, is to produce and elect such leaders as the Ukrainians have found in Volodymyr Zelensky.
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