If you blinked a couple of times hard and squinted, you could almost see shades of Margaret Thatcher in England these past several days.
There was only one Iron Lady, but darn if British Prime Minister Theresa May hasn’t been doing a good job imitating her.
Indeed, there were moments last week when May looked like the leader of the free world. She acted like it. Americans concerned about Russia’s unanswered hostility toward the United States should have but two words for the steely prime minister: Thank you.
Finally, a leader with guts. May had largely been thought of in the UK as a vacillating figure in foreign affairs, as anything but surefooted. Not anymore. She has gone nose-to-nose with the planet’s bully-in-chief, Vladimir Putin, ever since the signature March 4 poisoning of Russian defector Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, on British soil.
May knew this was more than just an assassination attempt. Putin was taunting the West, and she would have none of it, expelling 23 Russian diplomats and cutting off high-level contacts with Russia just days after the poisonings. The use of military-grade nerve agents to kill enemies is Putin’s tough-guy calling card. He wants the world to know he’s behind the poisonings, despite public denials.
It seems hardly coincidental that the Trump administration suddenly found resolve toward Russia in the wake of May’s defiance. Her leadership must have deeply embarrassed President Donald Trump, because after nine months of conspicuous inaction, his administration said some of the Russian sanctions passed by Congress in retaliation for Russian meddling in our 2016 election would soon be enacted. Some of them.
The announcement was made by an administration representative. Our bellicose president remains, per usual, mute about Russia.
May continues to lead. She has been burning up the phone lines, assembling a coalition of Western leaders to stand together in the face of Russian aggression.
Forgive me if I’m wrong, but hasn’t that been the job of the U.S. president for some time? At least the role?
Thatcher famously instructed President George H.W. Bush on the eve of the first Gulf War not to “go wobbly.” Now, a generation later, we see her sage advice smartly followed by another British prime minister — as America wobbles rudderlessly.
William F. B. O’Reilly is a consultant to Republicans.