Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on Joe Biden to be “the leader of the world” as he spoke before Congress Wednesday, but it’s clear that Zelensky is the world leader right now — at least when it comes to giving us a paragon of what leadership can and should be.
steadfast. Responds to emotions but not driven by it. And with a keen sense of what is right and wrong, necessary and unnecessary.
“Strong doesn’t mean brave or big,” he said, a phrase worth studying. He wants to make it clear that Ukraine should not be supported because it is bravely standing up to odds it is unlikely to prevail against.
No, Zelensky said supporting Ukraine is not a sentimental or foolhardy gesture because Ukraine is “strong”. It can win that. It can do this if we give Ukraine the tools to help it “close the skies”. Not only will we fulfill our humanitarian duty by preventing the kind of horrors he showed us in a heartbreaking film clip detailing the cost of Russia’s devastation.
His relatively short, substantively fascinating, and ultimately overwhelming speech will not only strengthen the resolve of the American people and the West to support Ukraine, but will deepen that support. For example, he went over the plea for a “no-fly zone‘ which Biden thinks is too provocative. “Is that too much to ask?” Zelensky said, then replied, “If that’s too much to ask, we’ll offer an alternative.”
The alternative, in particular, was a Soviet-Russian air defense system called the S-300, which had to be moved to Ukraine from a NATO formerly part of the Soviet bloc country where it was once based. Our role would then be to replace that system in Poland (or wherever) with a newer American system.
Deftly, he encountered not a closed and possibly locked door, but opened a side door to a new kind of resilience against the Russian onslaught. This shows Zelensky’s ability to improvise and think creatively about how to continue the fight he and a growing number of Western war pundits believe is winnable.
The speech (and his movie) will also put salutary pressure on America’s elites – not just in the Biden administration, but also in Congress and in the garrulous classes – not to start “getting shaky.”
That’s what Margaret Thatcher told George HW Bush to support him the last time the nations of the West rallied to resist and try to undo the engulfment of one country by another — back in the year 1990 when Saddam Hussein’s Iraq took over Kuwait.
At the moment, the country is emotionally all about Ukraine, but despite the common notion that the US public is fickle and will lose interest or focus, the greater threat to Ukraine comes from the elites and their collective lack of politics backbone out. Against this temptation – to think there might be a way to squirm – Thatcher warned the elder Bush 32 years ago.
And it is now a good reminder that if the Ukrainian people are willing to endure these terrible consequences in order to stay free from the Russian yoke, at least we can stand side by side with them and give them the support we can .
Zelensky, a comedian by trade who seems to have answered history’s unexpected call in the most extraordinary way, is the face of Ukraine and the representative of her heart and spirit. He is the empowering antidote to the terrified defeatism and existential angst that seem to be overwhelming this country during the pandemic years.
https://nypost.com/2022/03/16/zelensky-shows-biden-what-true-leadership-looks-like/ Zelensky shows Biden what true leadership looks like