Pelosi commits the United States to Ukraine's victory

Nancy Pelosi traveled to Kyiv for a photo-op with the world's new "freedom fighter," Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

She announced to the world that "America stands firmly with Ukraine" and "our commitment is to be there for you until the fight is done," and later tweeted to the Ukrainian people that "we are with you until victory is won."  So now it's the speaker of the House's turn to get her "Churchill" moment.  This would be laughable if the consequences were not so serious.  It is another step on the road to a wider war.

Washington, it seems, is a town full of Churchill wannabes.  How many more members of Congress will have had their picture taken with Zelensky by Election Day?  The secretaries of state and defense had their Churchill moment the other day, meeting with Zelensky, posing for photos, and announcing more financial and military assistance to Ukraine in its war against Russia.  Zelensky himself — a former comedic actor — played the role of Churchill by speaking to a joint session of Congress and re-enacting Churchill's "we will fight on the beaches" speech.  President Biden — playing FDR, not Churchill — has committed to provide $33 billion more to Ukraine as part of America's role as the "arsenal of democracy."  Not to be outdone, Congress passed what it called a "lend-lease" bill to provide weapons systems to Ukraine.  The vote in the House was 417-10, and it passed unanimously in the Senate.  The tocsin of war sounds, but is anyone listening?

There is a scene in the movie Nicholas and Alexandra where the tsar and his generals are looking at a map and estimating the number of troops Russia could put into the field to defeat Germany in World War I.  The generals are patting each other on the back while the tsar meets with key advisers including Count Sergei Witte (an elder statesman played by Sir Laurence Olivier).  Witte warns the tsar that if Russia mobilizes, Germany, France, and England will mobilize, too.  "Nobody will be able to stop," Witte says.  The tsar orders the general mobilization, and Witte slumps in his chair, softly repeating the word: "Madness."

Witte then sits next to the tsar and says: "I'm old, sir.  I've seen so many wars.  They all seemed so important at the time.  Now I don't even remember what they were called.  Millions of dead men, and I don't know why.  Nobody knows."  Witte urges the tsar to avoid war.  But it's too late.  The tsar is informed that Germany has declared war on Russia.  Witte is crestfallen.  He gets up from his chair, moves around the room of happy generals and ministers, and tells them and the tsar: "None of you will be here when this war ends.  Everything we fought for will be lost.  Everything we love will be broken.  The victors will be as cursed as the defeated.  The world will grow old.  And men will wander about lost in the ruins and go mad.  Tradition, virtue, restraint — they all go.  The people ... will live without hope.  And all they will have will be guilt and revenge and terror.  And the world will be full of fanatics and trivial fools."

Instead of trying to play Churchill in the lead-up to a wider European war, our "statesmen" should emulate Count Witte and counsel prudence, caution, and forbearance.  Witte understood that Russia had no vital interest in the Balkans, just as we have no vital interest in Ukraine.  A wider European war with nuclear powers on both sides would truly be "madness."

Image: Screen shot from France24 video via YouTube.

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