Why President Joe Biden's visit to Ukraine is his 'ich bin ein Berliner' moment: journalist

Why President Joe Biden's visit to Ukraine is his 'ich bin ein Berliner' moment: journalist
image via Creative Commons

This Friday, February 24 will mark the first anniversary of Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine. Almost a year later, the conflict — which has seen the worst fighting in Europe since World War 2 — continues, with no foreseeable path to peace.

U.S. President Joe Biden has been a consistent ally of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during the war, helping Ukraine militarily and with economic sanctions while maintaining that there will not be any U.S. "boots on the ground" there. And Biden reiterated that solidarity when he made a surprise visit to Kyiv and met with Zelensky several days before the invasion's first anniversary.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) slammed Biden for the visit, arguing that Biden should have been in the United States, not a foreign country, on Presidents Day. The far-right MAGA congresswoman, on February 20, tweeted, "President’s Day 2023…. So insulting. American Last!!"

READ MORE: Why this small city in Ukraine is a focal point in the war

The isolationist Greene is even calling for Biden's impeachment over the Kyiv visit, writing, "He went to Ukraine, a NON-NATO nation, whose leader is an actor and is apparently now commanding our United States military to world war. We must impeach this America Last fool before it's too late."

But journalist David Rothkopf has a totally different view. In an op-ed published by the Daily Beast on February 20, Rothkopf argues that Biden's Kyiv visit shows real leadership on foreign policy and that his willingness to venture into a war zone places him on par with Presidents Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.

"Kennedy and then Reagan in Berlin," Rothkopf writes. "Now, Biden in Kyiv. Periodically, during the past 60 years, American presidents have stood up at the eastern edge of Europe and looked to Russia to say, 'We stand with our allies. Our resolve is unshakeable.' Kennedy said, 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' Reagan said, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall.' Biden, on his surprise President’s Day visit to Kyiv, said, 'One year later, Kyiv stands. And Ukraine stands. Democracy stands.'"

Greene views it as insulting for Biden to be in Ukraine on Presidents Day. Rothkopf, on the other hand, sees it as Biden looking at the big picture and standing up for democracy in general — from democracy in the U.S. to democracy in Ukraine.

READ MORE: Former Giuliani/Trump ally laments 'undermining' Ukraine's government and helping Vladimir Putin

"Of course, the symbolism of the American president standing alongside Zelensky, walking through the Ukrainian capital even as air raid sirens sounded, carried many other messages as well," Rothkopf comments. "To those fighting for Ukraine, it was a vitally important message of solidarity that came with further commitments from Biden of military support for Ukraine."

Biden's Ukraine visit comes at a time when Putin is reportedly planning a new offensive in the eastern part of the country. But Biden, meeting with Zelensky, warned Putin that the U.S. is still committed to supporting Ukraine.

Biden, in Kyiv, declared, "I thought it was critical that there not be any doubt, none whatsoever, about U.S. support for Ukraine in the war. The Ukrainian people have stepped up in a way that few people ever have in the past…. It's not just about freedom in Ukraine.… It's about freedom of democracy at large."

During his visit, the U.S. president promised Ukraine an additional $500 million in weapons as well as additional economic sanctions against Russia.

READ MORE: George W. Bush warned Barack Obama about Vladimir Putin's Ukraine ambitions

Read David Rothkopf'sfull op-ed for the Daily Beast at this link (subscription required).

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