Predictions for a new year are like resolutions, rarely measured by success or failure. Generally no one remembers them. As a society we have short term recall at best and most pundits purporting to expertise dare to give answers to serious questions with much levity. I have lived for more than seventy years and have seen and heard almost everything imaginable, including the bravado of political scientists, pundits and other experts who ought to be measured by their accuracy for their professional existence. But they are not. Henry Kissinger was a prime example. He got it wrong more times than not.
I am neither a political scientist nor a pundit. I have no pretended qualifications, except for the ability to read, study and reason, at least so far. I also have the luxury of listening to experts and laughing. I rarely cry. Experts abound! As a football NY Jets fan, I am reminded of this year’s Super Bowl predictions. Oh, those experts!
Many years ago I came to meet with Ukraine’s fifth President Victor Yushchenko at his interim office on the grounds of the St Sophia Cathedral. This was a time between his premiership and his presidency. I was a strong supporter and headed the Ukrainian World Congress at that time. Victor was late. I waited for him relatively calmly considering my inveterate impatience, His assistant was relatively uncomfortable because despite my apparent patience, I kept approaching her and questioning when Victor Andriyovych would come.
After a quarter of one hour a self identified apiarist (beekeeper) came to the waiting room. By way of introduction he began to boast of his abilities, which, by the way, was his only connection with Victor Andriyovych who was distinguished in this field besides politics. The beekeeper stated that he had acquired the ability to predict the future. I am a cynic on most boasts and therefore listened to his predictions very superficially. Finally, I got over his dissertation on beekeeping, and asked him, inasmuch as he saw the future, to tell me when Viktor Andriyovych would come. He did not know what to answer. Viktor came with Petro Poroshenko came within a few minutes. However, the assistant had to convince the beekeeper that, despite his extraordinary prowess, I should go in first since I had preceded him.
My skills at foretelling what will happen in 2024 should be given as much credence as those of the beekeeper. That is to say that my prognostications can be reduced to wishes. However, my conclusions as to the gravity of events should be considered.
The war in Ukraine is a conundrum without a quick solution. For all the success of Ukraine’s military, a war lasting almost two years requires much weaponry, quite ordinary and high-tech. Ukraine has a military strategy, but as with most matters, it depends on its allies and conditions.
America’s President Biden has been Ukraine’s best friend and largely responsible for Ukraine’s military failures. Secretary of State Tony Blinkin and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have urged greater resoluteness. Biden is by nature a very cautious person and not very sophisticated in foreign affairs, aside from almost forty years of experience in politics. The history of this two year relationship has been Ukraine needing and requesting specific weapons and President Biden declining, arguing, strangely enough that Ukraine needs other weapons. Shortly thereafter as events prove that Ukraine was right, President Biden gave in, but only after Ukraine had lost both lives and opportunities.
Surprisingly, Ukraine’s biggest successes were in the sea and in the air, where Ukraine should not be competitive. This is proof of the skill and creativity of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. When NATO declined Ukraine’s invitation to NATO membership in Vilnius and instead promised a faster pace of implementation of membership without MAP, America also promised such a military relationship with Ukraine outside of NATO as with Israel. It is true that America is fighting with Israel in the air of Syria and Iraq and in the Red Sea. America has not fought together with Ukraine anywhere, except for Afghanistan at the request of America.
My prediction or wish is that Ukraine will receive weapons from America and Europe in the shortest possible time, meaning early in 2024. This will repel the Russians and enhance a counter-offensive, but not in the style of recent failed one which involves large casualties. The strategy of Ukraine must be different, since Ukraine does not have as many soldiers as Russia and because Ukraine values the life of every person and its own soldiers. The strategy should follow the aerial and maritime models but now with American F-16’s and drones and missiles that will be able to fire and bomb deeper into the territory of Russia as well as the occupied territories. This way of fighting gives Ukraine an opportunity to win. However, this does not mean that the war will end in 2024.
The elections in America in November 2024 are probably the most important elections for Ukraine during Ukraine’s statehood. Not only the American president but all 435 members of the lower House of Congress and almost half of the members of the Senate will be elected. We have come to the point in America where democratic values and not the party line is important.
I would no longer appeal to Ukrainian members or simply registered Ukrainian American Republicans, because if their own conscience has not reached them, then this deafness and blindness have become insurmountable moral issues. An elementary school child can count the friends of Ukraine from the Republican side. Representatives of this immoral and incoherent party preach and spread lies much like the Russians.
A genius from an extreme network recently argued that President Joe Biden should be impeached because as VP he demanded that Ukraine dismiss its Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin who was intent on prosecuting a company in Ukraine which included the VP’s son, Hunter. All of Europe was insisting on the removal of Shokin who was very much corrupt. Another Republican genius stressed that Putin had never threatened to invade any other part of Europe other than Ukraine. There are many instances of Putin’s, Medvedev’s, Pskov’s, Nebenzya’s threatening proclamations. The sad fact is that there have been so many threats and they have been so blatant that the Republican’s statement cannot be attributed simply to ignorance. Quite simply, the Republican Party is doing the work of the Kremlin.
To be honest, I abhor Ukrainians who call themselves Republicans. No longer do I urge them to examine their own conscience. Frankly I know not a single Ukrainian Republican who continues to support the Republican Party today who has done anything tangible in terms of effort or money to aid the Ukrainian war effort. Am I surprised? No, we Ukrainians had had our share of “useful idiots” and “fence sitters” historically.
My prediction or wish is that Joe Biden will be reelected and Democrats will take both houses. The abortion issue (freedom to choose), rights and freedoms, and a fear of extremism and even dictatorship will decide this election. Support for democracy abroad will be a part of this platform. Immigration will not decide the election because America needs immigration reform not suppression and Republicans have not addressed this issue.
I’m not an absolute realist. I am a bit of a dreamer with a strong will and determination despite the odds, yet with the conviction of Polish or Jewish Ukrainians that all who live in Ukraine are Ukrainians, and such a mix, imbued with genuine love for Ukraine and its people is what today’s Ukraine is all about. I look forward to 2024 with much hope, yet anxiety. Either way 2024 will be a very important year for American democracy and leadership and crucial for Ukraine’s freedom. Those two issues are connected inherently.
December 31, 2023 Askold Lozynskyi