19 Comments
Dec 22, 2022Liked by Michael McFaul

We need more Zelenskyys in our world!

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Dec 22, 2022Liked by Michael McFaul

The Zoom event hosted in May was indeed a momentous and inspiring one---the student questions and his replies at the end! Zelenskyy is one of a kind.

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Dec 21, 2022Liked by Michael McFaul

Biden, receiving Zelensky at the White House, put his hand on his shoulder and you could almost hear him saying: Сынок, где ты был?

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Thanks AJ!

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Dec 21, 2022Liked by Michael McFaul

I'm just as impressed and cheering for him, too.

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Zenlenskyy is also sending a strong note to China’s Xi to think twice on invasion to Taiwan.

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Exactly!

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Dec 22, 2022Liked by Michael McFaul

As much fun as it would have been to be at the White House today, after seeing the speech tonight from the House of Representatives, I wish I could have been there! Whatever his shortcomings, President Zelenskyy is an excellent wartime leader for Ukraine.

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Oh I can certainly understand the emotion behind it and I am terribly sympathetic to the terrible loss and horror that we have seen and not seen. I really think Ukraine’s security can only be guaranteed in a circumstance where Putin is not there. That is a different discussion. I worry that if Zelensky stumbles, even a bit, then the rug will be pulled from him by those who appear to support him now. This trip to the US is so clearly an obvious a statement to the incoming GOP controlled US House... we will see what they do... As a historian, I do not want Zelensky’s bar to be so high to the disinterested world when the stakes are so important for his people and beyond...

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thanks for writing this Mike.

for many folks whose awareness of Ukraine only began in 2022 (or even 2019), it’s useful to remember what happened there over the past decade or so, and Russia’s direct involvement and interference in Ukraine elections and sovereignty... this recap by Jennifer Cohn is a good summary of the past 12 years:

https://twitter.com/jennycohn1/status/1605782079890894849

(still amazes me there wasn’t any more in-depth investigative reporting on Manafort resume back in 2016 when Trump tapped him to run his campaign... the Russian connections were so damn obvious even back then)

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Thanks for this Dave. Very useful.

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I would urge a note of caution about using the word hero in these kinds of situations. While Zelensky is a remarkable person who is carrying out extraordinary deeds, using terminology that leaves little room for nuance or gray area is problematic. It is also like using terms like evil. Is Zelensky a hero? By all known accounts, yes, but... The danger rests in the American tendency in foreign policy of trying to find “our guy” in - name the country and time period- and then elevating that person to an unrealistic level. Do not doubt that I fully support Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s aggression and that I think that Zelensky is remarkable, especially for coming from his background in entertainment. However, invariably, when the dust settles the word hero might be used against Zelensky (if he were to start to falter or fail) and/or if it were revealed that Ukrainians themselves committed atrocities in their defense. The latter is almost unavoidable. I don’t mean to be a wet blanket, but perhaps a bit more realistic...

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Thanks for this thoughtful comment Ben. Maybe Im too close to these events. I know Zelensky personally. I talk to Ukrainian every day, living under very difficult circumstance. Many have lost loved ones. The Putin regime killed my close personal friend, Boris Nemtsov. I have 3 friends sitting in jail in Russia right now-- Navalny, Kara-Murza, and Yashin. So sometimes I do think I used too emotion terms., But your point about setting the bar too high for later is really smart. Walesa, Mandela, Havel also faced that. Thanks.

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See today's (Dec. 22) column by Masha Gessen in the New Yorker: "In an interview with David Letterman, which aired earlier this month (it was conducted this fall in the Kyiv metro, as trains went past and air-raid sirens sounded), Zelensky deftly shot down the older comedian’s attempts to cast him as a hero."

https://www.newyorker.com/news/our-columnists/volodymyr-zelenskys-critical-visit-to-washington-dc

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I was an election observer with OSCE/ODIHR for the presidential primary election in 2019. There were about 35 candidates on the ballot. Zelenskyy was so popular. He easily won (in a very well-run election). I remember my friends being certain he would win the general election too, which as we all know he did. They just wanted things to work. It’s so tragic that it was just starting to happen when Russia did the full invasion.

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Whatever faults Zelensky has, he also has firm principles of what it means to be a leader. As anyone who followed his career in show business knows, he always demanded more of himself than his team: he would perform when ill, push himself to rehearse on little sleep, skip meals in order to write, etc. He's the guy in front pulling the rope the hardest. Coupled with an actor's natural pride - who could step back from the limelight when the whole world is watching? - this made him the ideal candidate to withstand a situation where a less passionate and more calculating mind would have faltered.

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James Ritchie here to tell of my dilemma: for years I've followed "Tucker Carlson" his Fox TV show BUT I have furiously followed NATO Multimedia / NATO Review since Putin's criminal invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022 constantly up to today.

Likewise I have followed The Hoover Institution's daily postings, and also General Jack Keane's related Institute of the Study of War [ ISW's 260 + (daily) postings].

And I have heard NATO's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg's steadfast words and work of almost daily unrelenting efforts to declare to The World:

"NATO is not at war with the Russian Federation. NATO is more unified now than ever before [ since its founding in 1949]. NATO has no intention of starting a war with Putin but is now prepared to protect 'every inch' of the 30 Nations which are now NATO Members from any aggression by Putin's arms or anyone else's armed forces. NATO will continue to provide Ukraine with whatever arms, supplies, and equipment necessary for Ukraine's defense 'for as long as it takes' to maintain its internationally recognized 'territorial borders' [ territorial integrity], and protection of Ukrainian Peoples residing in that war-torn Nation."

SO, I am sick at heart when I hear Tucker declare "to the rooftops' that President Zelenskyy and his wife are making themselves wealthy off of and from moneys spent by The United Sates of America in the billions, which moneys are only for Ukraine's defense against Putin's brutal war machine [ and not for Paris-shopping by Zelenskyy's wife, and the couple have filled "Cayman Island-like secret bank accounts etc. with America's moneys exclusively for Ukraine's defense against Putin].

Therefore, are Tucker Carlson's accusations TRUE ? Are Zelenskyy, his wife, his inter circle crooks ,OR NOT ??

I'm respectfully asking you, Honorable Michael McFaul, personally willing to defend Zelenskyy and his "crew" with facts and reasonable inferences from your knowledge or from reputable sources known to you, which refute Tucker's accusations [and make your conclusion public] ?

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Certainly impressive, but with Ukraine's uneven recent political past, I hope he ultimately submits to a general election to allow his fellow citizens to weigh in directly on their leadership.

Lincoln did so, boldly, and for a while, was in danger of losing to McClellan. Churchill didn't even survive long enough after the war ended to fully participate in Potsdam. The true mark of an enduring republic/democracy is that it carries on via the rule of law even in the most dire of circumstances.

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Cometh the hour, cometh the man.

Zelenskyy has something that I fear the ruling classes of most democracies largely lose with a generation or two of developing the electoral art, which is a profound and sincere connection to his country's national spirit. At best it re-emerges in moments of crisis, as in a Lincoln or a Churchill. But too often it is suffocated, or at least diluted, by professional politicians. The hallmark of it is that those who are so blessed are at their absolute best when they are off script--speaking from the heart. Zelenskyy is the finest example I have ever witnessed.

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