Our views: Sorry, Mr. Kent, but the time for ‘dialogue’ with Putin has passed


Every public opinion survey taken lately shows that a majority of Americans believe our country is on the wrong track. We are frustrated with COVID-19 and the government’s response, Afghanistan, Ukraine, rising inflation and more.

At a time like this, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that our nation has made many good choices in the past and that those choices have contributed positively to our lives today. It’s easy to forget that we still live in the most prosperous, multicultural society in the history of humanity.

What made the U.S. so successful?

The first answer is the work ethic and creativity of generations of Americans. Our Constitution is another answer. Our Constitution is based on protecting individual liberty and free commerce. Freedom works. Freedom breeds peace and prosperity. For generations, it has been America’s policy to support freedom here and abroad. Repressive governments, whether they be communist, fascist, socialist or dictatorships, breed war and poverty.

“America First” is a political slogan today. In our view, supporting freedom here and abroad remains the best America First policy. Freedom here and abroad benefits America and American families as well as people of other countries.

When the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin directed his military to invade the sovereign nation of Ukraine, which is led by a democratically elected government, it didn’t take most Americans long to understand which side we should come down on.

It is in our interest to support freedom and to oppose military conquest by dictators.

If the Russian invasion is successful, a wider war is possible as bordering nations are at risk. If Putin’s aggression here is rewarded, he will be tempted to invade again. Controlling Ukraine will give Putin control of another significant source of the international oil market.

Does the Russian invasion of Ukraine call for an American declaration of war or the sending of U.S. troops into the fighting? Not in our view, but it does call for a strong response by America.

We were surprised last week to see a Republican candidate for Congress, Joe Kent, opposing sanctions and instead proposing that, “We should be looking for every single opportunity we have to dialogue with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and offer him a(n) off-ramp.” 

Likewise, Vermont Socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders said this month we should be looking for “a diplomatic solution.”

Putin has already launched the invasion. Russian bombs are falling on Ukrainian families and communities. Russian tanks and soldiers are moving across Ukraine. Sorry, Mr. Kent, but the time for “dialogue” with Putin has passed.

When Hitler took Austria, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s response was to have more dialogue with Hitler. Then, Hitler took Czechoslovakia and Chamberlain asked for more dialogue. Hitler wanted Poland next. Then he launched his blitzkrieg on Poland. Even as the bombs were falling on Warsaw and the German army tanks rolled through the Polish countryside, Chamberlain was still looking for more dialogue with Hitler.

Dialogue with Hitler didn’t work. Weakness led to more death and war. The weak response of the democracies led to a preventable world war.

Kent and Sanders share a negative view of decades of American history and foreign policy.

We do not agree with the view of Kent and Sanders. The time for diplomacy was before Russia sent its bombs, tanks and troops into Ukraine.

Kent said that America has no national security interest in Ukraine. In the coming months when gas prices hit $5 per gallon if Putin gains control of Ukrainian oil production, we wonder if Kent will still say we have no interest? Beyond dollars, it has been and should be America’s interest whenever free people are invaded by aggressive dictators. Many times we have successfully supported freedom in other nations without sending U.S. troops or being drawn into war ourselves.

We proved we can do this when, after decades of cold war conflict with Russia, through steady pressure and support for the democracies surrounding Russia, freedom won without the U.S. being drawn into a shooting war.

We believe that this again is the right response to the Russian dictator’s invasion of Ukraine.