In my past role as founder and CEO of Varsity Brands, I came across every old business adage in the book. Some were cheesy, some were over simplified, but many had wisdom as their foundation. One such phrase that’s commonly used is, and with which I struggled because of my compassion for my employees, is, “Don’t bring your problems from home into the office with you.”
There is a variation of that phrase that should be introduced to our political leaders in Washington, albeit a bit too late. Their version of the “leave it at the doorstep” rule needs to be, “Leave your domestic political problems at your shores when conducting foreign policy.”
It is the violation of that rule, committed by members of the Democrat Party, the mainstream media, and never-Trump Republicans, that has put the United States in a position of pure international impotence with regard to playing a meaningful role in ending the current war between Russia and Ukraine. We are unable because of our recent obsession in trying to manufacture a collusion narrative between former President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Let me be clear, when I’m being critical of our leaders for not focusing on a helping to find a peaceful resolution to the Russia -Ukraine war, I am not condoning Russia’s invasion. While it is true that Russia has a history of conflict with the West and that NATO was formed as a direct counterweight to old Soviet power, whatever paranoia they might suffer does not excuse the reported indiscriminate bombing of women and children. It is reprehensible. My fear is that absent peace, and with further escalation, we run the risk that there will be far greater loss of Ukrainian lives as well as the risk of a devastating nuclear exchange.
This is not some sort of limited engagement with a third world army. There is a distinct possibility that this could escalate into a world war. That simply cannot be allowed to happen. While American politicians and pundits like to talk tough about what will happen if Russia uses chemical or nuclear weapons, the truth is that Russia has the same capability of vaporizing America as do we of vaporizing Russia if we act in retaliation.
Our political leaders have so stigmatized the Russia-Ukraine region of the world in order to aid their own political agenda of destroying Donald Trump that now they cannot credibly step in to help broker a peace and stop the bloodshed. Starting with the proven-to-be-fake Russia Steele Dossier, the hoax of which was so brilliantly exposed near its incipiency by our friend John Solomon, continuing with the expensive, and blatantly partisan, Mueller investigation, and culminating with a baseless (now ironic) impeachment of Trump over dealings with Ukraine, we have set the stage for this war as a black and white case of good versus evil. Unfortunately, the image of peace typically needs to be rendered in shades of grey.
It was reported that on Tuesday Russian President Putin had a conversation with French President Macron to discuss the possibility of peace talks to end the war. The phone call was apparently initiated at the invitation of Macron. While France is our traditional ally and a fellow-member of NATO, the role of leader is one which was meant for the United States to fill. We should be acting like that leader of the free world and trying to get the Russians to sit down at a table and talk.
This absurd situation in which we find ourselves is a direct result of the United States weakening its position on the world stage because of its petty and childish domestic political infighting taking place backstage.
In 2002, Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace “for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development. While the word “decades” is used, it is likely that the prize would not have been received if it had not been for his particular work during his Presidency that resulted in the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel.
His partners in that Agreement, Menachem Begin from Israel and Anwar Sadat from Egypt, jointly received the Nobel Prize for Peace in 1978. While Sadat’s life was ended because of his efforts, the agreement lives to this day despite still being unpopular with the majority of Egyptians.
I know Joe Biden is no Jimmy Carter (I leave that deliberately open to the reader’s own discretionary use of sarcasm), but this could have been his moment to be aspirational and become at least half the President as was Carter. He should have, or at least some cogitatively capable member of his administration acting on his behalf could have, channeled his inner-Carter and tried to win a Nobel Peace Prize for acting as a negotiator between Russia-Ukraine.
Unfortunately, neither Biden nor most members of our Washington DC ruling class could be cast in the role of peacemaker in this war. They had already allowed themselves to be typecast as pure Russia haters, a role that they have played so brilliantly the last several years in the American political theatrical production of “Get Trump.”
When Joe Biden held his meeting with Ukraine President Zelensky last September in Washington, he used it as an opportunity to invoke rhetoric that only added to the already existing tensions. As the Washington Post reported:
In brief remarks in the Oval Office before the meeting, Biden expressed his desire for a “Europe whole, free and at peace,” and reiterated his opposition to “Russian aggression.” Biden also reminisced about a previous visit he had made to Ukraine as vice president, and said he hoped to visit the country again.
Zelensky was expected to use his face time with Biden to seek assurances that the United States remains committed to helping Ukraine ward off aggression from Moscow; press Biden on energy security related to the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany; and discuss Ukraine’s aspirations of joining NATO.
A Europe “whole, free, and at peace” clearly did not include Russia as part of Europe and it even more certainly has not come to pass. Biden helped to instigate the current war with his meeting in September, but he doesn’t shoulder all of the blame.
Because a coalition of anti-Trump American leaders have bet all their political chips on destroying the former President by linking him to evil Russia, they now have left themselves on the edge of an abyss and are ready to take a step forward. They have no way to turn around and become a neutral party to broker a peace. As a result, more Ukrainians will likely die. And the rest of the world moves closer to a full-scale military engagement. While I want to call on the United States to step in and perform an Egypt-Israel redux, I realize that our domestic political infighting and posturing has made that a near impossibility.
When it comes to leaving your problems at home, America has now irrevocably mixed our domestic at-home political problems into our foreign affairs. As a result, Ukrainians die while our leaders try to cling to and defend a position born from a pure political contrivance.
What’s the solution? The answer is something that would require nothing short of a political miracle. The answer is for our politicians, especially our President, to decide that saving their face is not worth the price losing more Ukrainian lives. Unfortunately, I’m not in the habit of betting on miracles, only hoping for them.
The American people need to pressure our leaders to try to become peacemakers and not warmongers. The stakes are too high for us to stubbornly hold to a position that was born of tawdry and pedestrian internal political skirmishes.