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TL(PM) DIGEST: Still no "Ukraine fatigue" in sight
Plus world opinion looks favorably on Biden and U.S., more details on this weekend's mercenary mutiny in Russia, and McCarthy embarrasses himself for Trump
1. Americans still back military aid to Ukraine
What happened? A new Reuters/Ipsos poll shows that nearly two-thirds of Americans back continued military aid to Ukraine, with majorities of Republicans (56 percent) and independents (57 percent) joining 81 percent of Democrats in favor of ongoing assistance. Two-thirds also say that they’re more likely to support a presidential candidate who backs military aid to Ukraine as well.
Why does it matter? These results show that often-predicted “Ukraine fatigue” has still yet to overtake the American public—and that support for Ukraine’s battle against Russian aggression should be seen as a political winner across party lines. Predictions that the American people will eventually get tired of backing Kyiv have repeatedly fallen short of the mark, even as many “America First” conservatives rail against continued assistance.
TLP’s take: Good politics and good policy don’t always coincide, but on Ukraine they very much seem to do so. President Biden and the bipartisan coalition in favor of aid to Ukraine have little to fear politically for doing the right thing here.
2. Global opinions about America are largely positive
What happened? Pew released a major new study assessing global opinions of the United States across 23 different countries. Overall, they find largely positive views of America—59 percent of people across these nations hold a favorable view of the U.S. compared to only 30 percent with an unfavorable view.
Hungary is the only country surveyed where unfavorable opinions outweigh favorable ones.
Why does it matter? Despite worries that America interferes too much in other countries’ affairs, global citizens mostly see America as a force for peace and stability around the world. Likewise, President Biden receives high marks on the global stage with 54 percent of worldwide respondents expressing confidence in the president.
TLP’s take: Global opinions about our own country should not be a primary concern for U.S. policymakers. But when the U.S. and its leader earn confidence and support on the world stage, it enhances our ability to advance strategic and economic goals in partnership with other nations who are also pursuing their own goals.
It’s better for the United States to be liked and respected, with some understandable trepidations given our size, than to be a pariah and global skunk at the party. (See: Vladimir Putin.)
3. More details about Russia’s Wagner mutiny leak out
What happened? Additional information about Wagner mercenary group leader Yevgeny Prigozhin’s weekend mutiny have started to filter out. The Wall Street Journal reports that Prigozhin had planned to capture Russia’s two main defense leaders during their visit to Russia’s south, while the New York Times reports another top general—Sergei Surovikin, former head of Russian troops in Ukraine and Syria—was aware of Wagner’s plans before hand.
Why does it matter? These details reveal more about the high-level cracks in Russia’s war effort, divisions that run even deeper than the Wagner mutiny itself indicated. Any further shake-ups in the Russian chain of command that result from this episode will give Ukraine an even wider window of opportunity to press its embryonic counteroffensive.
TLP’s take: Again, there’s little the United States can do to save the Kremlin from the consequences of its own blunders. But these new reports indicate deeper fissures within the Putin regime and its security apparatus than many outside observers previously believed, giving Ukraine a potential battlefield advantage it ought to press to the utmost.
4. Most powerful member of Congress genuflects to indicted former president
What happened? House Speaker Kevin McCarthy diminished himself publicly after correctly noting that former president Trump may not be the strongest candidate for 2024 and then quickly apologizing to Trump and running to right-wing media to walk back the statement.
Why does it matter? This isn’t McCarthy’s first clown rodeo with Trump. After Trump fomented the attacks on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, McCarthy wanted to censure Trump or ask him to resign, according to Politico. But as with most members of the Republican Party, he went crawling back to Trump for the requisite pat on the head. McCarthy’s reward for his genuflection yesterday? Trump’s allies are now threatening to get him removed as Speaker:
Many of the ex-president’s strongest allies in Congress have been stacking up their grievances against McCarthy, waiting for the right moment to make a move. Several would be more than happy to force a vote to oust the speaker if Trump wanted—and Trump knows that.
“If Donald Trump wanted … he could have him out as speaker by the end of the week,” the consultant said.
TLP’s take: For America’s sake, the Speaker of the House ought to have more dignity than this. McCarthy’s job is to lead the Republican Party in Congress and present its values and agenda to the public. His job should not include embarrassing himself in front of the entire nation by stroking the ego of a disgraced former president under multiple indictments for criminal mishandling of sensitive national security documents—actions that Trump openly brags about on a recently released audio recording from the case.
Just one more thing…
Archaeologists believe they have discovered a fresco portraying an extremely distant precursor to modern pizza in the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Pompeii.