Category Archives: International news

It’s no ‘territorial dispute’

Ron DeSantis has provided a grotesque misrepresentation of the war that is raging between two nations in eastern Europe.

The Florida governor and pending Republican presidential candidate calls the war between Ukraine and Russia a “territorial dispute” that does not deserve the United States’s commitment to shoring up Ukraine against the Russians.

Wow! For the record, I intend to look back briefly at what happened in February 2022.

Russia invaded Ukraine, intending to overthrow the government in Kyiv and installing a pro-Kremlin puppet to replace Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. It wasn’t a territorial dispute. It was a blatant, flagrant attempt to overthrow a sovereign government.

What has commenced is a war between democracy and autocracy.

Therefore, the United States has a compelling interest to stand beside Ukraine as it fights for its survival against forces launched by Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.

So, for DeSantis to suggest that the war is anything less than what it is — an intense ideological struggle between good and evil — is to appeal only to the MAGA base of what passes for his Republican Party.

DeSantis is demonstrating a disgusting fealty to Putin and his ham-handed view of governance.

Joe Biden: ‘wartime president’

Joe Biden has done the impossible by becoming a “wartime president” without a single American fighting man or woman engaging in combat with a foreign enemy.

How did the president do it? By sneaking into war-ravaged Ukraine and delivering one of the more stirring speeches in recent memory, assuring Ukrainians that the United States and our many allies worldwide stand with them in their fight against the immoral invaders from Russia.

“Kyiv stands. Ukraine stands. Democracy stands,” Biden told the Ukrainians. Yes, it’s all true.

It was a remarkable feat for President Biden to venture into Ukraine under the cover of darkness. He strolled the streets of Kyiv, the capital city that just a few months ago was under siege by Russian artillery. Yes, there were sirens blaring to warn Ukrainians of pending danger from Russian artillery. Joe Biden would not be deterred … nor should he.

The visit reportedly buoyed the Ukrainian troops who are fighting valiantly — and successfully — against Vladimir Putin’s armed forces.

To be sure, the president’s visit drew expected criticism from the MAGA wing of the Republican Party back home. These are the nimrods who express skepticism about Ukraine’s ability to fend off the Russians, who invaded their country on multiple phony pretexts uttered by Putin.

Biden, though, has stitched together a strong alliance comprising NATO and EU nations committed to opposing Putin’s land grab in Ukraine as he seeks to reincarnate the Soviet Union-style of ham-handed rule. Putin sought to weaken NATO. Thanks to Joe Biden’s leadership, all he has done is strengthened the alliance formed after World War II to protect Europe against the kind of aggression the world is witnessing at this moment.

Joe Biden spoke like a man in the middle of a struggle. Indeed, he is. President Biden is fighting to preserve democracy, which is fighting for its life against the authoritarian instincts of a brutal killer.

Politics goes topsy turvy

At almost every level imaginable, one can see evidence of our political world being turned upside down, topsy turvy, poked in the eye, ear and gut.

Let’s examine briefly one of those levels.

Imagine for a moment how Republicans a generation ago would have reacted to a Kremlin strongman deciding to invade a sovereign nation. Why, they would have jumped on their congressional desks and shouted at the top of their lungs that we need to do all we can to stop such naked aggression.

Not these days, man. Oh, no. We have a former president of the United States leading an amen chorus of cultists in standing up for the Russian invaders. Russians invaded Ukraine in February. The Ukrainians have fought valiantly and successfully against the aggressors.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy spoke to a joint congressional session, which greeted him as the hero he has become. Two right-wing radicals, Reps. Lauren Boebert and Matt Gaetz, sat on their hands while their colleagues stood and cheered Zelenskyy’s entrance into the chamber.

These two nimrods echo the belief of their own political hero, Donald Trump, who has called Russian hitman Vladimir Putin a “genius” for invading Ukraine; he also has lavished Putin with praise for being a “strong leader.” Oh, never mind that Putin derives his strength by intimidation and execution of those who disagree with his policies.

Imagine such acceptance of that criminality coming from, oh, Ronald Reagan, or Barry Goldwater.

It wouldn’t happen. Men such as them would never find a good word to heap on a trained killer.

Oh, boy, those conservatives today are singing an entirely different dirge. Disgusting …

‘Your money is not charity’

Almost with exception, great speeches produce phrases or sentences that those who hear them will remember and perhaps repeat in conversation.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy tonight delivered one of those great speeches.

In it he told a joint session of Congress and the nation that sends these lawmakers to serve there: “Your money is not charity. It is an investment in the global security and democracy that we handle in the most responsible way.”

And so, with that the Ukrainian president who is leading his nation in the fight for its life against Russian invaders delivered a statesmanlike rebuke against those in Congress who are resisting the effort to fund Ukraine’s courageous effort.

He spoke to a joint congressional session not in his native language, but in English. He spoke from his valiant heart and with the conviction of a man dedicated to standing against tyranny, just as his forebears — and ours, too — did eight decades ago in the struggle against Nazism.

Yes, this brave leader delivered a speech for the ages.

Yes, Putin is a war criminal

Emanuel Macron is sounding every bit like the world leader many observers contend he has become. I heard a demonstration of his forthrightness and strength the other day in a “60 Minutes” interview.

The French president said in response to a direct question about whether Russian tyrant Vladimir Putin is a “war criminal.” Without flinching, blinking or pausing, Macron said “yes, he is a war criminal.” Putin’s crime, according to Macron? Putin is ordering the bombing of civilian targets in Ukraine.

There. Done deal. Putin, who launched the illegal invasion of Ukraine in February, has demonstrated beyond a doubt that he needs to go on trial for war crimes, said Macron.

Indeed, the French president is emerging as Europe’s most formidable leader. He took over that role when German Chancellor Angela Merkel vacated her office this year.

It’s no small feat that the European Union has held together stronger than ever in opposition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Or that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization stands as one against any threats that Russia might pose to any of its members.

I credit two people for that solidarity. One is President Joe Biden, who has summoned NATO to be firm against the Russians. Another is Emanuel Macron, who speaks with strength and resolve in condemning the Russian tyrant.

We need a strong Europe to stand against the Russian aggressors. Europe needs a strong United States to lend its own resolve to this fight.

Now … get Whelan home

President Biden made this key point abundantly clear, which is that Brittney Griner’s release was not a trade for the fate of another American being held unjustly by Russian captors.

Paul Whelan has been stewing in a Russian prison cell for four years, far longer than the nine months that the Russians held Griner captive.

Whelan’s family has been gracious in welcoming Griner home. Clearly, though, they are distressed that their loved one — a former Marine — remains in prison.

The Russians accused him of espionage in 2018. Joe Biden calls his imprisonment “unjust.” And it is. He was convicted in a Russian sham trial and sent away for a 25-year sentence.

Whelan needs to come home. Joe Biden vows to move heaven and Earth to make it happen. Indeed, it’s a tall order, given the state of U.S.-Russian relations in the wake of the Ukraine War and Russia’s immoral invasion of Ukraine.

We all want Whelan released. We all stand with him and every American being held unjustly. I am going to send every single good vibe and all the encouraging karma I can muster to ensure Whelan’s eventual release.

Feeling pain for Iranian team

Rarely do I ever comment on matters involving soccer, as I am not a fan of the sport. Hey, it’s just me … or maybe it’s an American thing.

Still, I am left with a feeling of empathy and dread for what might await the members of Iran’s national soccer team, which lost to the U.S. team 1-0. The loss eliminated the Iranians from the World Cup.

What now? Well, members of the Iranian team refused to sing their country’s national anthem the other day, drawing scorn from the ayatollahs who run the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Iranian soccer team now must return home.

What will they face? Imprisonment? Or worse, for God’s sake?

The athletes were expressing their support for the demonstrators who are rebelling in Iran against the government’s treatment of women. The only way they believed they could make their feelings known would be to remain silent when they played the Iranian anthem at a World Cup soccer match.

Do you recall when sprinters John Carlos and Tommie Smith raised their gloved fists at the Mexico City Olympics in 1968 during the playing of our national anthem to protest the plight of Black Americans? The public response in that moment wasn’t exactly warm and fuzzy, but the government took no action against these men. The sprinters are now considered heroes for the courage they demonstrated at the time.

Not so for the Iranians. The potential reaction from their government is frightening.

Biden needs policy reset

I trust you’re sitting down while reading this brief blog post, so with that I’ll offer something some of you might not expect.

President Joe Biden needs to perform a serious reset on what is a serios foreign policy blunder: the immigration crisis along our southern border.

The first task at hand for the Biden administration is to use the term “crisis” in describing what is occurring along our border with Mexico.

That said, I will continue to resist Republicans’ demagogic accusation that President Biden favors “open borders.” He damn sure does nothing of the sort, given the number of immigrants our Border Patrol and state law enforcement officers are rounding up daily.

I get that using certain terminology doesn’t constitute a substantive policy change by itself. It does, though, fill the air with rhetoric that the administration understands the problem with which it is dealing.

The refusal to call it a crisis appears to be a Democratic Party thing. Recall that Texas Democratic governor candidate Beto O’Rourke refused to call the immigration issue a crisis. It cost him votes on Election Day.

Do I favor deporting every single illegal immigrant immediately back to the country from where they came? No. I do believe there absolutely needs some serious streamlining of the process that enables those seeking refuge from tyranny to seek permanent resident status.

What appears to be developing on our border is chaos feeding more chaos. That has to stop. The Biden administration also needs to call it what it is: a crisis.

Presidents cannot control global oil prices

Presidents of the United States inherit an office with enormous power … of that everyone agrees.

However, there are limits to that power. Such as the price of oil and other energy-producing resources. The price of gasoline and other motor vehicles have skyrocketed — again! — in recent weeks. Does the president have as much control over that as critics suggest? No! He damn sure doesn’t.

Yet the current president, Joe Biden, is paying the price politically for a trend over which he has little control. OPEC nations decided all by themselves to cut oil production by 2 million barrels a day. Someone has to remind me how the president of the United States can control OPEC’s policymakers.

Joe Biden’s foes are trying make hay out of decisions that are made far from the White House. They are pounding him. I just want the world to know how this blogger feels about the pummeling that Biden is getting. He doesn’t deserve it.

Having stated that here, I am acutely aware it won’t stop the non-stop — and unfair — criticism he is getting.

It’s part of the political game Joe Biden entered all those decades ago.

Don’t turn back on Ukraine

Memo to Kevin McCarthy: If Republicans take control of Congress after the midterm election, y’all will trifle with trouble if you resist delivering as much aid as possible to Ukraine, which is fighting — successfully — for its independence against Russian aggressors.

The U.S. House GOP leader has said Congress might keep the checkbook open as the war progresses. My own view is that McCarthy is sending a chilling message to Ukrainians and is giving a bit  of comfort to Russian thug Vladimir Putin as he continues to prosecute his immoral and illegal war against Ukraine.

It seems plausible, in a bizarre way, for the Republican congressional leader t threaten to pull back on aid to Ukraine. The GOP’s titular leader, Donald Trump, has been cold-stone silent on the Russian invasion, seeming to imply an endorsement of the action that Putin took against a sovereign nation.

Is this the kind of congressional leadership this country needs in this time of dire peril? I think not!