, 12.21.2022 03:55 PM

My latest: the leader of the free world

Volodomyr Zelenskyy paid a surprise visit to Joe Biden this week. It was really, really important.

For starters, it was the Ukrainian president’s first trip outside his country since Vladimir Putin’s war began in February. And, as 2022 grinds to a close — but as the war grinds on, Zelenskyy, and his Washington trip, reminds us of two important things.

One is about him. By any reasonable standard, Zelenskyy is simply an extraordinary human being and leader. A Russian “special military operation” that everyone expected to take a weekend collided with a wall of Ukrainian might — and Zelenskyy’s firm leadership.

For Russia, and for Putin, the war has been a catastrophe. As the New York Times reported in a special section on Sunday, “This isn’t war. It’s the destruction of the Russian people by their own commanders.”

More than 100,000 Russian troops killed. More than 300,000 wounded. More than 3,000 Russian tanks destroyed or captured. More than 6,000 armoured combat vehicles destroyed or captured. More than 300 Russian aircraft shot down.

The Russian military failure has been astonishing. As the Times reported: “(Russian troops go into battle) with instructions grabbed off the Internet for weapons they barely know how to use. They plod through Ukraine with decade-old maps, or no maps at all. They speak on open cellphone lines, revealing their positions and exposing the incompetence and disarray in their ranks.”

Zelenskyy, meanwhile, may not have won the war yet, but he certainly is not losing it. Strategically, tactically, he has defeated Putin’s three main objectives: One, he has unified and strengthened NATO. Two, he has crushed the physical expansion of the Russian empire. Three, he has foiled Putin’s ambitions to render himself a superpower on the world stage.

And, with his visit to Washington — mainly, as he candidly admits, to obtain more weapons — Zelenskyy reminds us of Winston Churchill’s trip to Washington after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, more than 80 years ago. Like Churchill then, Zelenskyy has now become the leader of the free world.

That is what the Washington trip tells us about him. But what does it say about us, in North America?

Joe Biden ends the year in a strengthened position. In November’s midterm elections, Biden kept the Senate, and he kept his opponents to minor gains in the House of Representatives. But all of that had more to do with the missteps of the Republicans — Trump, abortion, January 6, election denial, etc. — than it did with the Democratic president.

In Canada, meanwhile, Zelenskyy reminds us that our own leadership is sorely lacking.

Justin Trudeau may be ending 2022 in a better mood — thanks to a convincing win in a Mississauga byelection, thanks to his performance at the inquiry into the application of the Emergencies Act — but his main problems remain. He leads a scandal-prone government, one that is out of ideas and out of energy.

And, as much as he lusts after a Parliamentary majority, he is still far from realizing that goal. If an election were held today, he would get reelected, but he would not improve his position.

His main opponent, Conservative Pierre Poilievre, fares no better. His chosen candidate in the aforementioned byelection was crushed by the Liberals — and Poilievre bizarrely did not even bother to campaign there.

Meanwhile, an Angus Reid Institute poll released this week suggests that the new Conservative leader is much more unpopular than any of the three previous Conservative leaders. All of whom, we note, were defeated by Trudeau.

The NDP’s Jagmeet Singh? He barely rates a mention. He has permitted his party to be effectively taken over by Trudeau. He has become irrelevant.

All that, as Zelenskyy alights in Washington this week, reminds us about two important things. One good, one bad.

The good: The world has a leader like Vladimir Zelenskyy.

The bad: None of us here in North America have a leader like him.

19 Comments


  1. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Douglas W says:

    Justin Trudeau’s government: “out of ideas and out of energy.”
    Also out of promising talent from the back benches.

    The federal Liberal party’s legacy: great farm system.
    This time around, the cupboard is bare.

    As for Poilievre, suggest there needs to be less of only “he” in the photo opps, and more of “he” along with a few of his strong female caucus members: Lantsman, Dancho, Kusie, Vecchio, Kramp-Neuman, Stubbs, and Vien.


  2. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Robert White says:

    Jagmeet Singh is by no means irrelevant in so far as he is negotiating NDP priorities via policy with the Trudeau Government. Trudeau is not negotiating with Poilievre whatsoever, but he is negotiating with Singh.

    Irrelevant?

    I think not.

    RW


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Robert,

      Irrelevant, No. Stupid, absolutely. Singh is negotiating most of his MPs right out of a job in the next election. But hey, you won’t see me crying.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Robert White says:

        I consider you and Warren to be my teachers/professors when it comes to all manner of politics, Ronald. Compared to you I’m an insignificant newbie, but characterizing Singh as ‘stupid’ is not a cogent argument with substance.

        Remember that ‘hope’ is not a strategy when it comes to the fringe right Conservatives. Warren is right to state that Poilievre is less popular than O’Toole & Scheer were.

        There is no goddamned way in Heck that Poilievre will succeed to overthrow the Trudeau era Liberals no matter how much you hope they will.

        You are one smart cookie, but ‘stupid’ is not an argument. 😉

        RW


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          Ronald O'Dowd says:

          Robert,

          Absolutely, hope is not a strategy but it may not only apply to Conservatives, or it may not, by the time the election rolls around but Singh’s hope is even grander than mine: you know, how Jagmeet has it already decided that he’ll be Prime Minister after the next election. Maybe but more than likely not. Singh is no Jack and boy does it show.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Douglas W says:

        Liberals grand plan: feast on NDP ridings.

        Surprised NDP MPs haven’t crossed the floor to the Government side to save their political hides, not to mention their incomes and pensions.


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          Ronald O'Dowd says:

          Douglas,

          Remember that gasp in the PPG theatre when Eve Adams and Dimitri Soudas crossed over to the Liberals? In that case, they got royally played by Trudeau and the Liberals. It was rather amusing, to say the least, for CPC MPs and members. So…maybe potential crossover NDP MPs are scared shitless that it might also happen to them. You know the Trudeau Liberals: their word is never their bond. No big news there.


  3. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Ronald O'Dowd says:

    Vladimir Zelenskyy is a great leader. He is undoubtedly, the person of the moment — the man who meets history and destiny head-on.

    But he is aging prematurely and his health is taking a battering. I pray this ends well for him and his people. Winning the war is the fight of his life. Winning the peace and destroying corruption will ultimately make the war look like almost small potatoes. Without the latter, no NATO membership and no security.


  4. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    PJH says:

    “Remember that all through history, there have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they seem invincible. But in the end, they always fall. Always.”-Mahatma Gandhi.

    After watching President Zelenskyy’s inspiring speech to Congress, tyrant Vlad’s days are definitely numbered.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Ronald O'Dowd says:

      PJH,

      Poison is way beyond apropos. After all, it’s his stock-in-trade. How fitting it would be.


  5. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Steve T says:

    You only wrote a couple of lines about Biden, but I feel more critique of him is warranted (per the theme of this article).
    He was elected largely because he wasn’t Trump, which is a good thing, but his numerous flaws and shortcomings have been laid bare during his term thus far. Most notably, he is completely uncharismatic and uninspiring. Hearing him talk (or more accurately, read from the teleprompter) sounds like listening to your great-grandfather reading from a textbook. He gets most of the words right, but clearly doesn’t understand some of what he is saying.
    If there had been any other Republican opponent in the last election, Biden would have lost by a landslide. I’m hopeful that he does not run for a second term, and instead the Dems find someone a bit more engaging to run against whomever the GOP puts forward in 2024.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Ronald O'Dowd says:

      Steve,

      For me, Powell’s re-nomination and the inflation generated by The Federal Reserve are disqualifying. Biden should be held accountable for that. In short, Dems should tell him to talk a walk.


  6. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    EsterHazyWasALoser says:

    It is time for a negotiated end to the war. Eastern Europe is being severely impacted by this conflict. It will take years for Ukraine to repaid the damage to its infrastructure. The vast amounts of aid given by the US is going right back into the military-industrial complex. Yes, President Putin is an evil, despicable thug who should be in the dock at the International Criminal Court in the Hague (and hopefully, some day that will happen). President Zelenskyy seems like an inspiring leader, but let’s be honest – we don’t really know a lot about Ukraine. They have a serious corruption issues. The Crimea and the Donbas are mostly ethnic Russian, and likely would prove restive if under Kiev’s thumb (since 2014 there has been considerable violence in the Donbas already). This conflict could go nuclear in the blink of an eye. Is that really in the best interests of the world in general, and Russia and Ukraine in particular? I support Ukraine in this struggle, but wise counsel would be to figure out a way to coexist with Russia. With respect to political leadership in this nation and our neighbour to the south, the less said the better. Complete mediocrities IMHO. I agree Mr Singh has largely become irrelevant. When he recently prefaced a statement in the House by stating “When I’m Prime Minister” the place erupted in laughter and hoots of derision.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      Ronald O'Dowd says:

      EHWAL,

      The Nazis had a nuclear program in development. It’s a matter of debate how far along they were. Had the war gone on past 1945, maybe it would have gone nuclear. But the general consensus is that they were nowhere near developing a reactor, much less a bomb.


    • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
      The Doctor says:

      Just for the record, a lot of that conflict you refer to in Crimea and especially Donbas was actively initiated and stoked by Putin himself.

      And a lot of observers go on about these parts being ethnically Russian — that does not equate to these people being necessarily pro-Russian. That is a very important difference. There are lots and lots of Russian-speaking Ukrainians who solidly identify as Ukrainian and not Russian. This is a point that pro-Russian propagandists insidiously misrepresent when purporting to describe the situation there.

      Think about it: Quebec is overwhelmingly ethnically French and French-speaking. Does that mean they identify as being part of France or that they want to join France? One thing does not necessarily lead to the other.

      Absolutely there are pro-Russian Ukrainians in these regions. But Kremlin propagandists deliberately overstate their numbers.


      • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
        Ronald O'Dowd says:

        Doc,

        Now there’s the rub: I sometimes wonder how at least a plurality of ethnic Russians feel in either the occupied or annexed regions of Ukraine. The so-called republics are at best a political sham but what is keeping them alive? Is it Russian occupation by military forces or something else?


        • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
          The Doctor says:

          It’s both that and the separatist forces and organizations. It’s indigenous pro-Russian elements, heavily supported by Russian government, military and intelligence services. Meanwhile sympathetic pro-Ukrainian residents have either fled, been killed, tortured, raped, thrown in jail or gone underground.

          Which is, of course, the essence of ethnic cleansing.

          And of course in an environment like that, any referendum held by those elements is a sad joke.


          • Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
            The Doctor says:

            Oh yeah, forgot to add forced exfiltration to Russia, which is another thing Russians are doing to resident Ukrainians – including children. Extensively reported on by, among others, The Institute for the Study of War in their daily Ukraine War Updates. Which is also textbook ethic cleansing and cultural genocide.


  7. Notice: Undefined offset: 180 in /home/q84jy4qfdyhq/public_html/wp-content/themes/warroom/functions.php on line 314
    Gilbert says:

    I don’t understand why the NDP hasn’t gotten rid of Mr. Singh. There’s no way the NDP will do well under him. By supporting a very corrupt and incompetent PM, it’s clear he lacks good judgement.

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