by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
House progressives made a terrible mistake — they used the D-word in public.
For this error, they were roundly denounced and had to swiftly backtrack, withdrawing the ill-fated missive entirely.
The D-word in question is “diplomacy,” which has long been a favored word of Democrats. Indeed, it’s their go-to proposal for solving any international problem, no matter how intractable or threatening. That it has now become a toxic notion in the context of the Ukraine war is a sign of how a justified feeling of moral righteousness among backers of Ukraine is swallowing rational thought about how the war might end.
The letter to President Joe Biden from 30 House progressives led by Rep. Pramila Jayapal, chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, engendered the same intensely negative reaction as public musings about diplomatic deals by Elon Musk and Henry Kissinger. You don’t have to endorse any of the specific proposals talked about by these very different people to be disturbed by the campus-like fervor with which they have been deemed unsayable and unthinkable.
Although it’s possible that the Russia war machine, if it can be called that, simply collapses in Ukraine, it is more likely that war will end in some messy compromise involving a negotiated settlement. Acknowledging this — and that the continuation of the conflict is a humanitarian catastrophe with enormous costs for the West and the world — shouldn’t be a quasi-thought crime.
The Jayapal letter’s call for “direct talks with Russia” as Ukraine makes battlefield gains and Russia has responded with attacks on civilian infrastructure was obviously inopportune, and this wouldn’t be the first move regardless — we’d want to get Volodymyr Zelenskyy on board with any diplomatic proposal as a first order of business.
Yet the letter was hardly an apology for Vladimir Putin.