As I get older wisdom remains neutral as experience broadens and brain cells wither. Irony and paradox are the hallmarks of septuagenarians. Pure unadulterated idealism is replaced by practical considerations, after all politics are defined as an art of what is possible. Each new event leads to a strain on my thought processes.
I saw Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia on television. I had not been particularly fond of him as I perceived him to be an obstructionist to policies of President Joe Biden whom I respect greatly with much gratitude simply on account of his support of Ukraine. I am not disabused by a 9% rate of inflation since that is a temporary inconvenience. Europe’s rate is higher and even Canada with one tenth the population and even greater natural resources is at 8%. Senator Manchin was wearing a pin on his lapel – intertwined American and Ukrainian flags. It took only that symbol to win me over. I am now a supporter of Joe Manchin, almost understanding his politics and justifying his behavior as necessary play to his West Virginia MAGA constituents.
Politics are strange, indeed. My parents were lifelong Republicans since they came to America. I am their ideological clone, yet I am a lifelong Democrat. I have not changed very much, but the two parties have. A friend of mine, I assume a Republican and, perhaps, even a MAGA Republican, recently criticised me in Ukrainian print, deservedly or not, for my opprobrium against Ukrainian born MAGA Republican member of the U.S. House of Representatives Victoria Spartz. Without reiterating my position on the ill advised Ukrainian American lawmaker, in January of this year I would have withheld criticism of any Ukrainian born member of the U.S. Congress despite her disgraceful affiliation and behavior, but then came the events of February 24, 2022 and my attitude became: How dare she criticize Ukraine when we are at war and need support not admonishment.
Perhaps the greatest ironies are the two presidents. Joe Biden as president has been the best friend the Ukrainian people have ever had. Clearly this is not mere and easy comparison with his predecessor, who set the bar on Ukrainian support very low. I suspect that had Trump prevailed in the 2020 elections on February 24, 2022 Putin would have received a congratulatory note from Trump as evidenced by some of Trump’s comments on Putin’s wisdom following the aggression. Trump was not the bar for any behavior requiring the ability to recognize right from wrong. President Biden’s former boss would have acquiesced at Putin’s aggression. Frankly I do not see Presidents George W. Bush, William Jefferson Clinton, George H.W. Bush or even Ronald Reagan going to the lengths of President Biden. All would have been what I term “Canadian” similar to Justine Trudeau and the Russian turbines.
President Biden has manifested courage, remarkable resolve and leadership in a global crises. Tiny countries like the Baltic states, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and naturally Poland, perhaps most unnerved, have been at the forefront of support for Ukraine. The United Kingdom under Prime Minister Johnson, Spain and Turkey have been of much assistance. France and Germany grandstanding has not had a deleterious effect, and in, fact Chancellor Olaf Scholz has been of more tangible support than Angela Merklel. President of France Emmanuel Macron, not so much, but better than the French alternative.
And then there is the extraordinary irony of a Russified actor from a Russified region of Ukraine, speaking only Russian prior to his election, who has refused a ride and requested weaponry instead, manifesting much heroism, bravery, resolve and extraordinary political and diplomatic skills. President Zelensky will go down as one of the greatest Ukrainians in modern Ukrainian history. His wife, a very modest and demure spouse, will be remembered by history as well.
Not all is well because the war continues, innocent people are dying, children are being slaughtered or kidnapped and Ukraine’s infrastructure is being physically scorched. Still, Ukraine is in the hearts and minds of good people everywhere. Ukraine itself and its people have been simply inspiring.
Before the eyes of the world, the Russians have proven to be war criminals. If only good triumphs over evil ultimately! That does not happen every time so good people need to step up even more.
August 1, 2022 Askold S. Lozynskyj