Greetings and good morning from the City of Seven Hills located on the River Tagus, Lisbon departing shortly for the city with the most start-ups per person in Europe, Tallinn.
I write with COVID Year-Two further behind us, but not gone as a second booster will soon become commonplace. A year in which I hope we observed much and learned more, although there are moments when I wonder.
With the world on the brink of another global war, which has the very real risk of being nuclear, we can see the emergence of two power dynamics. First, the dividing lines between those countries that believe in Democracy and those that believe in Autocracy, as the new great game runs from the Caucasus Mountains and across the Stans. At the same time there has been a global power shift from a poly-polar world to a tri-polar world with Beijing, Moscow and Washington leading. However, ironically both Beijing and Moscow see the world as bi-polar, with each of them being dominant, along with the United States.
Putin’s War, the illegal and uncalled for invasion of Ukraine, is working against Russia’s long-term straight play, which was to divide countries internally and then divide them from each other, thereby increasing Russia’s comparative strength and dominance. His actions have unified Europe more than at any time since the end of World War II, rescued NATO from being well-known, but not known well, and clearly placing the United States in a global leadership position.
Further, inside every country where Russian disinformation has been used to divide and disrupt democracies, including in the United States, that activity has been outed, identified and in many respects, rejected by both governments and citizens themselves. Putin’s play has resulted in whole-of-nation responses to his war and in doing so shown us the way to bridge the divide he helped create.
With Spring upon us, we should endeavor to not let any of our neighbors be perceived or even imagined to be “the enemy”. The historic, and I truly hope, timeless strength of America is community, which is built on those dedicated to the service of others: volunteer fire, rescue and first responders; boards of education, local health officials, local election officials and yes, elected officials. Now, tragically, our communities are endangered by unwitting agents of those who seek to erode our democracy by dividing our communities and pitting us against one another.
I have been blessed not just by a career that has taken me to many countries and cultures, but also by my good fortune to have traveled and worked in every one of the 50 states and almost all of the territories. I have experienced first-hand the common decency and boundless curiosity in our people. I have seen Americans holding entirely opposing points of view welcome young canvassers into their home, offering them coffee or something to eat, taking the time to listen but not necessarily changing their positions or their vote.
This great nation has faced many challenges, both from abroad and from within. This newest challenge demands that we unite against external manipulation and treat each other with respect and civility, because unity is our most powerful weapon against forces that hope to break down the democratic principles that define us. We don’t need to agree on all matters, but let’s stick together. Only when our country is united can we successfully tackle the issues that will determine the fate of our freedoms and become once again what President Reagan called “that shining city on the hill”.
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In the meantime, I hope the rest of the year finds you, your family and friends with all the health and happiness you desire.
Stay safe and healthy.
Flatten the curve (Get the JAB and the Booster),
Bridge the Divide