Before the critics start piling on (even more) about everything that has been wrong about President Joe Biden’s response to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lunacy, maybe we should all face a very basic question:
What do you want Biden to do?
The administration has been telling us for weeks that this was going to happen. Did we believe them?
Speaking for myself, the answer is no, but not for any reason having to do with superior intelligence. Hardly.
I didn’t believe the war talk because I didn’t want to, because I was more concerned with when the mask mandate was going to lift and what was happening to food and gas prices than a war halfway around the world.
And now watching people who could be my distant cousins (part of my family, as best we can tell, originally hailed from Kyiv) huddled in subway stations with their children, hoping to escape the bombs raining down? What do we say to them?
We are imposing sanctions on Putin. He will be a pariah in the world.
The price of gas, which is already north of $5 a gallon here in California, will top $6. Meat will keep going up. Life will go on, for us at least.
Not so for the people of Ukraine, who are on the verge of losing their liberty.
My favorite room at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., if one can have a “favorite” in such a holy space, is the media room, with all the newspapers from the days and months leading up to World War II.
And the headlines: “Jews Barred from Owning Businesses, Yankees win by 3, news, weather and sports.” One has to wonder, what were people thinking at the time? “Hitler Invades Poland, and the Sox beat the Yanks …”
Are we living in the same sort of denial?
And what do we do about it?
In his news conference, Biden emphasized that we need to wait and see how the sanctions work, whether the pressure on Putin is enough to make him … do what? Pull back? Respect the borders of NATO nations? Hold his ego in check?
I have no answers. My apologies. Except this.
Today is one of those days to be grateful.
I often say that we are the luckiest people on the face of the globe, and today, that is especially true. Yes, we may pay more for gas in the coming weeks, and no one welcomes that.
But if it is the price of freedom and liberty, so be it. We are not gathered in subway stations. We are not sending our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters, to fight in harm’s way.
Biden is a careful man. He will not be reckless. He will not stumble into a war we cannot win. His State and Defense departments are conservative in this respect. Whatever happens, American lives will be protected.
We must be grateful for that. In a time like this, is there any place you would rather be?
Dealing with a madman is a frightening prospect. But this madman faces a different world than Adolf Hitler did, a world more united against him. He may win the battle, but he will not win the war.
We will. Because we are free, we are America and we will not be conquered by anyone.
God bless America, and may God help the poor people of Ukraine.
— Susan Estrich is a best-selling author, the Robert Kingsley Professor of Law and Political Science at the USC Law Center and was campaign manager for 1988 Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.