Russia's invasion of Ukraine has generated a global response and nearly universal outrage at the unprovoked action. It also has illuminated differences between local congressional candidates.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, has provided a strong and clear directive for how the United States should deal with Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
"America and our allies from across the globe must implement swift and punishing sanctions that target Putin and the oligarchs that prop up his corrupt state, and undercut Russia's ability to sustain this incursion," Herrera Beutler wrote on social media. "I pray for the safety and future of the Ukrainian people right now as they stand up to an unwarranted invasion from a murdering thug."
She added: "Freedom-loving people everywhere stand with Ukraine and its citizens. We support their ability to defend themselves, and we will hold Vladimir Putin accountable for this unjustified aggression."
Yes, freedom-loving people stand with Ukraine, recognizing that the Russian invasion is a threat to the democracies of Europe and to the global order that has provided prosperity and security since World War II.
Which means that the approach of Republican candidate Joe Kent is shortsighted.
"We should be looking for every single opportunity we have to dialogue with Putin and offer him an offramp," Kent told Fox News host Tucker Carlson, sounding like the diplomats who wrongly believed that appeasement was the most effective way to deal with Hitler prior to World War II.
That is not the only manner in which Kent has miscalculated what is best for the United States. In January, according to The (Centralia) Chronicle, he said the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was "made for the Cold War and the Cold War is over." In early February, prior to the invasion, he wrote on Twitter: "Ukraine is a D.C. distraction and scam."
That supposed scam has turned into a full-scale invasion. Russian tanks have rolled into Ukraine, leaving a nascent democracy fighting for its existence. More than a million Ukrainians have been displaced, creating a refugee crisis that will impact all of Europe.
Kent, who served in the Special Forces and has been endorsed by former President Donald Trump, is running on an "America First" platform. It is an ingratiating slogan, but American interests are best served by being part of a global community that defends democracy and recognizes the economic benefits of a Europe that is protected against despots.
The United States must do all it can to avoid a military entanglement with Russia. But forceful sanctions are a necessary tool for fighting against Putin's aggression; dialogue is fruitless when dealing with a tyrant.
Other congressional candidates also have weighed in on how the United States should respond.
Democrat Brent Hennrich said of Ukraine: "The people of their country deserve nothing less than the full support of every free nation in the world. Support must come in many forms, from military aid to the most forceful economic and diplomatic sanctions that governments can impose."
Republican Heidi St. John said: "Now is a good time to study Bible prophecy. ... The right response to the events happening today, from the USA to Russia is prayer. We are not helpless to help. Prayer is the primary weapon of God's people."
Regardless of the outcome of Putin's self-aggrandizing war, the incident has offered some insight into our local would-be leaders.