These poignant photographs will preserve for posterity two fateful moments in the history of the 21st century. During a session of geopolitical wizardry, the triumphant Chekist trickster is able to eliminate, one after the other, the last two Emperors of modern-day Rome. The whole world watched first in Helsinki in 2018 and then in Geneva in 2021 as two different statesmen took the stage – it was the same diminutive, little man next to two noticeably taller gentlemen. As soon as the figures appeared in front of the cameras, every single television viewer, and there were tens of millions watching, knew exactly which of them was the alpha male and which one was displaying a deep psychological dependency on his partner.

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For the entire second half of the 20th century, the Oval Office was occupied by someone whom the world at large viewed as the leader of the West and of the Free World. But this symbolic chair has been empty for more than 12 years. Neither President Obama nor President Trump viewed himself as the leader of the West or of the Free World. Both men were keen to remove the United States from leadership roles on the global stage. The lefty Obama learned at his mother’s knee that the United States had wronged “the oppressed peoples of the world” and would go on to apologize whenever he could for the “crimes committed” by “American imperialism” against the Arab world, the Vietnamese, and so on down the list. Trump was the complete opposite; his extreme right-wing stance held the entire world at fault for the US’s woes, especially its Western allies that were always “hounding the US for money.”

Ukraine Unbowed
Other Topics of Interest

Ukraine Unbowed

The next six months are critical for Ukraine, and all bets are off as to its outcome. Even so, the author writes that the US mainstream press has turned negative about Ukraine’s prospects.

It was truly music to the Kremlin’s ears when Trump slammed NATO and Article 5 of its Charter. It seems the Old Mole of History chose these two starkly different characters to solidify the US’s retreat from the trends of world history. 

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The Biden tenure

The rhetoric throughout Biden’s election campaign and into the first months of his presidency focused on making up for this 12-year absence: “I’m back! The US is back in business!”

Here was someone who truly saw himself as the leader of the West and of the Free World. Biden spoke movingly about this at a Town Hall on July 21, 2021, not without a touch of vanity after his summit with Putin.

“It’s the first time I ever felt like – you always hear people say ‘leader of the free world.’ Well, I realize, when I’m sitting across from Putin, who I know, he knows who I am; I know who he is. He knows I mean what I say and can do what I say. He understands. And we must be the leader of the free world. If we don’t do it, nobody good is likely to do it or has the capacity to do it. I really mean it. I genuinely mean it.” He seems honestly overwhelmed by the heady sensation he first felt in Geneva:

In Geneva, Putin sized up Biden, the so-called leader of the Free World, and found him wanting. It was then that he made his final decision on how to tackle the issue of Ukraine.

“I am THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD. I’m sitting across from Putin and he knows I mean what I say and can do what I say. He understands.”

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Yes, the derisive expression on Putin’s face after their meeting confirmed that he certainly did understand who Mr. Biden is and what he can do. In particular, he knew that half an hour later Biden would call a press-conference and robotically repeat a talking point crucial for Putin – that the Minsk Agreements alone represent the path forward. What’s even more important – Putin realized that he “got exactly what he wanted from Biden in Geneva.”

The majority of the US commentariat was in agreement this – Biden had bombed his first audition for the role of leader of the Free World after telling us all how much he wanted it.

In Geneva, Putin sized up this so-called leader of the Free World and found him wanting. It was then that he made his final decision on how to tackle the issue of Ukraine.

Three years have passed from that moment. Hundreds of thousands of people have lost their lives in the bloodiest conflict on the European continent since 1945. Biden occasionally manages to say the right words (with the help of a teleprompter or a stack of index cards). Here he is addressing the nation in October 2023: 

“Hamas and Putin represent different threats, but they share this in common: They both want to completely annihilate a neighboring democracy – completely annihilate it. If we don’t stop Putin’s appetite for power and control in Ukraine, he won’t limit himself just to Ukraine.”

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The US political class has proven that the country is simply not capable of assuming the role of Leader of the Free World during a global war unleashed on Western civilization by the forces of absolute evil.

But the Ukraine military aid bill has languished in the House of Representatives for over a year and a half, blocked by Republicans on Trump’s insistence. And as Ukrainian soldiers shed their blood on the field of battle, the Biden administration decided to send one of its top officials to Kyiv… to forbid Ukraine from striking Russian oil refineries with its UAVs.

So, more hellfire and more fuel for the Russian military machine that is “completely annihilating” Ukraine. Why? Because Grandpa Biden has his re-election campaign to think about – higher gas prices come November would not be good.

What must be done

The US political class as a whole has proven that the country is simply not capable of assuming the role of Leader of the Free World during a global war unleashed on Western civilization by the forces of absolute evil.

This war cannot be won by drawing red lines in the sand with unsteady hands, lines that do nothing except tie those hands behind our backs. Emmanuel Macron declared that we should refrain from imposing these much-ballyhooed restrictions. He agrees with Biden that “Putin won’t limit himself to Ukraine.” That is why, according to Macron, the West (the Coalition of the Willing) must defeat Russia in Ukraine standing side by side with the heroic Ukrainian army, the only force at the moment fulfilling the mission set forth 75 years ago in the founding documents of NATO.

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The President of France made sure to point out that French servicemembers were already participating in military operations in Ukraine (helping to operate SCALP missiles). And in response to Putin’s expected saber-rattling about nuclear strikes, Macron told the war criminal simply: “France has nuclear weapons, too.”

Acting like that, France put in a serious bid for the position of Leader of the Free World, left vacant at a crucial moment in history.

A renewed Entente Cordiale

Macron has made a brilliant strategic move by offering to share the burden of leadership of the Free World with the United Kingdom. The Foreign Ministers of the UK and France have made a politically game-changing joint declaration:

“We are both absolutely clear: Ukraine must win this war. If Ukraine loses, we all lose. The costs of failing to support Ukraine now will be far greater than the costs of repelling Putin.

“Britain and France are proud of the support we have provided to Ukraine, from unprecedented sanctions to coordinated deliveries of the first long-range missile systems, SCALP and Storm Shadow. Just last month, the first Ukrainian pilots graduated from training with the Royal Air Force to start training with the Armée de l’air et de l’espace, as part of a program to build up Ukraine’s ability to fly modern F-16 fighter jets.

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“But we must do even more to ensure we defeat Russia. The world is watching – and will judge us if we fail.”

Glory to Ukraine! Glory to a Renewed Entente!

The views expressed in this opinion article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Kyiv Post. 

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