I'm a Democrat who is ever so thankful that Joe Biden is president rather than Donald Trump. But if I could trade Biden for President Zelensky of Ukraine, I'd make that deal without a second thought.
Zelensky is a fighter.
He's rallied the Ukrainian people behind him in their battle against Russia's invasion of their country. More: Zelensky has inspired the entire freedom-loving world by refusing to bow to the demands of Putin, an authoritarian ruler who is committing horrific war crimes in Ukraine, if not outright genocide.
Biden, by contrast, is doing OK in supporting Ukraine, but not nearly enough.
Biden is unduly afraid of Putin's threat to use nuclear weapons if the United States goes beyond sanctions and supplying military equipment to Ukraine, such as by protecting humanitarian evacuations and relief efforts via a limited no-fly zone to stop the killing of many thousands of Ukrainian civilians.
So Putin gets to draw red lines that the United States can't cross, while Biden and our NATO allies refuse to draw a very reasonable red line aimed at Putin.
Stop killing Ukrainian civilians and bombing entire cities into rubble, along with other war crimes, or the United States and NATO will force you to do that by military means.
Would that lead to World War III between the United States and Russia? Almost certainly not. Putin talks tough, but he isn't going to start a nuclear war over Ukraine.
We're making the same mistake Europe did in the run-up to the Second World War. Assume that an authoritarian ruler, Hitler in that case, Putin in this case, will be content with merely taking over part of an adjoining country.
Didn't work then. Won't work now.
Zelensky is absolutely correct when he says that Ukraine isn't fighting just for its own survival, but for the survival of the free world. I wish Biden would grasp that fact. If Putin succeeds in taking over part or all of Ukraine, he'll be emboldened to do the same with other countries that used to be part of the Soviet Union.
And China will feel freer to invade Taiwan, since the Biden doctrine seems to be, "If you're a nuclear power who invades a sovereign nation, we won't confront you militarily, but only by sanctions and providing arms to the country you invaded."
Pretty damn weak.
Plus, Biden initially was reluctant to give Ukraine all the weapons it needed to defend itself. Notably, a plan to have some NATO countries transfer MiG aircraft to Ukraine that Ukrainian pilots were familiar with fell through when the United States didn't want the planes sent to an American base in Germany before being flown to Ukraine.
A just-published New York Times story, "The U.S. Races to Arm Ukraine With Heavier, More Advanced Weaponry," reflects the mistake Biden made by dribbling out arms to Ukraine too slowly and cautiously.
As columns of Russian troops began pouring into Ukraine nearly two months ago, the United States and its allies started supplying Kyiv with weapons and equipment for what many expected to be a short war: sniper rifles, helmets, medical kits, encrypted communications, lots of bullets and the portable, shoulder-held Stinger and Javelin missiles that quickly became icons of the conflict.
Defying the odds, Ukraine held on to its capital and pushed Russia from the north. Now, as the Kremlin switches gears and begins a concerted effort to capture eastern Ukraine, Washington and its allies are pivoting as well, scrambling to supply Ukraine with bigger and more advanced weapons to defend itself in a grinding war.
The West is focused on sending longer-range weapons like howitzers, antiaircraft systems, anti-ship missiles, armed drones, armored trucks, personnel carriers and even tanks — the type of arms that President Biden said were tailored to stop “the wider assault we expect Russia to launch in eastern Ukraine.”
...Some argue the Americans are being too cautious.
“Seven weeks ago, they were arguing over whether to give Stinger missiles — how silly does that seem now?” said retired Lt. Gen. Frederick B. Hodges, the former top U.S. Army commander in Europe. “We have been deterred out of an exaggerated fear of what possibly could happen.”
...Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, repeatedly expresses gratitude for the aid but wants more, sooner. He admitted to being fed up with listing the same set of requirements over and over again to different national interlocutors, telling The Atlantic in Kyiv: “When some leaders ask me what weapons I need, I need a moment to calm myself, because I already told them the week before. It’s Groundhog Day. I feel like Bill Murray.”