For millions, former British PM Tony Blair is not a household hero for beating war drums that led to the second Iraq war. But many are unaware that after realizing his blunder, Blair became a convert to champion diplomacy when he was confirmed as the Middle East envoy for the United Nations, European Union, United States, and Russia in 2007, a role he held for eight years.
Blair insists that he is a peacemaker first and war-monger next. In his memoir, A Journey: My Political Life (Knopf, 2010), he reminds us that as Prime Minister in 1997, he helped end a bloody 30-year regional conflict by signing the Good Friday Agreement with Northern Ireland.
Blair says that a key principle to diplomacy is to rely on third parties: "Left on their own, parties in conflict are unlikely to resolve their differences." He should know. It was former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, a third-party stalwart, who served as Super-Statesman to help bring about Northern Ireland peace.
If ever there's a time for diplomacy, it is now. The Russo-Ukrainian war is worsening by the hour with no end in sight. Ukraine, despite its courage, doesn't have the firepower or military strength to confront Russia. NATO, correctly, is not getting involved for fear of triggering an out-of-control global conflict. Russia needs an end to the war, too - the severe sanctions are deeply hurting - but President Putin doesn't want to appear to have failed. Punishing Putin should not override the immediate need to stop the war.
The White House, cheer-led by the media, is reveling in its ability to bring the world together against a murderous tyrant. However, Americans are on a different page. In a TIPP Poll completed on Friday, only 33% give President Biden good grades for handling the Russia-Ukraine situation. 42% give him a D or F.
Social media is partly to blame for the White House hubris. The platforms' A.I. engines are working overtime to incessantly broadcast what we all know: Putin is evil. But knowing this fact doesn't help solve the problem. It is shocking that the White House has signaled no interest in engaging in diplomatic initiatives at all. There's not one saucer in the administration willing to cool the tea. Relying on Macron and Scholz is not the solution – look how their diplomatic forays ended last week.
Three global leaders have the intellectual heft, experience, appeal, and third-party charisma to bring this war to a quick end: Tony Blair; former Defense Secretary Bob Gates, who served under both Republican and Democratic presidents; and Angela Merkel, the former German Chancellor, who developed a close working relationship with President Putin.
President Biden should swallow his pride - something that is congenitally difficult for him - to ask Gates to help. Gates's assertion in his own memoir - "I think he (Biden) has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades" - obviously stings the loyal White House and Foggy Bottom cadre running Biden's foreign policy. But this is no time to let personal innuendo become a bottleneck to avoid a world war.
Gates is the only senior official among the trio who developed teeth fighting the Cold War, serving 26 years in intelligence and the National Security Council, culminating in the role of the Deputy Director of the CIA, as the Soviet Union began to disintegrate. Gates has a Ph.D. in Russian and Soviet history, essential knowledge needed to help resolve the current impasse. Putin's grievances over Ukraine reflect the 80-year animosity between Russia and Ukraine and Ukraine's 100-year determination to remain a free and proud country. Ukraine has always been another country's prize. In 1919, it was Poland's large East Galicia province; in 1941, Ukraine fell to Germany; later, Stalin took it over.
As the longest-serving head of an E.U. state, Merkel understands Europe better than any modern leader. Forbes magazine named her the world's second-most powerful person (after Putin). A Ph.D. in quantum physics prepares her to appreciate the nuances of nuclear conflict. She is fluent in Russian. Having grown up in East Germany, she lived her first 35 years on the Eastern side of the Iron Curtain, an everyday victim of the notorious Stasi/KGB culture that dominated the Soviet-bloc.
We remain shocked that the White House thinks that VP Kamala Harris, whom it dispatched to Romania and Poland this week, should be America's diplomat extraordinaire. We can't imagine that Harris, with her disastrous record of handling immigration; or Lindsay Graham, who, going for the cheap shots, called for Putin's assassination; or Bob Menendez, the current Senate Chairman of Foreign Relations, whom the chamber's Select Committee on Ethics "severely admonished" when Menendez was under an FBI corruption investigation - are the right people to serve in such crucial roles. Each of them is no match for the wily President Putin.
So, Mr. President, if you don't want to use that secure red line to call President Putin, please do the world a favor and save us from Armageddon. Call Blair, Gates, and Merkel. It may well become the most consequential call you will have made.
Related tippinsights Editorials:
Russia-Ukraine Conflict: A Lesson In NATO's Importance
Twiplomacy Pressures Are Driving Us To Global War
Countering Putin's Aggression
Brothers In Arms: The Russian Army And The Wagner Group
Punish Russia, Not Russians
Putin’s Outrageous Nuclear Threat
5 Factors Behind Putin's Aggression And The Possible Endgame
SWIFT: Europe Can't Have Its Cake And Eat It Too
It’s Time To Walk The Talk To Defend Ukraine
Anti-Fossil Madness Funds Putin's Ukraine Aggression
Putin’s Nonsense Peacekeeping Mission
Nord Stream: A Lesson In Energy Dependence
Cracks Among Ukraine's Allies
Countering Putin’s Brinksmanship
Thirty Years Since The Collapse Of The Soviet Union
Who Will Prevail- Russia Or NATO?
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