Former U.S. President Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were highly polarizing figures. They were beloved by American and British conservatives. But people on the left in both countries loathed their politics.

I immigrated to America a few years after President Reagan’s second term ended so I didn’t observe him directly during his presidency. But because I lived in the Soviet Union for part of his time in office, I had a reasonably good sense of him through his dealings with Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. I did have a better view of Mrs. Thatcher because I spent summers in England in those years.

It is quite likely that I would have vehemently disagreed with some of President Reagan’s policies if I had been an American citizen during that time. But there is one thing that I greatly admired about him and Mrs. Thatcher. It is the clarity of their convictions.

The two leaders made a joint commitment to defeat communism, and they never wavered in their pursuit of that goal. That projection of character strength convinced both adversaries and allies that they meant what they said. The force of their personalities also helped counter some of the domestic opposition that could have hampered their efforts.

Given the chaotic nature of the world today, America urgently needs that kind of resolute leadership. Instead, what we have is management paralysis. Nothing seems to work in Washington now. While the world burns, America’s political class dithers.

The presumptive Republican nominee for the 2024 U.S. presidential election, Donald Trump, is one of the most isolationist politicians in modern American history. He has openly threatened to take the U.S. out of NATO, and has a habit of treating close allies with disdain. He seems to think that because we have the mightiest economy and military, we can go it alone in the world. That is not even remotely possible. Given the dispersion of the threats America faces today, it is imperative that we have friends in all corners of the globe. We cannot treat our allies with the level of disrespect he shows toward them, and then expect them to run to our aid when we need help.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who ran in the Republican presidential nomination contest before dropping out, dismissively described the Russia-Ukraine war as a territorial dispute and not a vital U.S. national interest. That was a mindboggling statement by someone aspiring to be the leader of the free world. One or both of two things could have caused him to make that statement. One, he perhaps didn’t know that under the Budapest Memorandum, the U.S. has an obligation to help defend Ukraine against attack by Russia. Or two, he is fully aware but doesn’t think it is a commitment worth honoring. Whatever the case was, his remark instantly disqualified him from becoming president of this great nation.

Some Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives seem completely oblivious to the geopolitical threats facing America and its allies. They increasingly take their marching orders from Donald Trump, who wants nothing to do with Ukraine. It is mostly because of him that the $60 billion Ukraine aid package is held up in Congress.

While President Biden deserves a lot of credit for his internationalist approach that has kept NATO unified in its support of Ukraine, he is not blameless. His reluctance to give the Ukrainians long-range weapons, and the strict limitations imposed on the ones he provided, severely curtailed their ability to fend off Russia’s aggression. That is the primary reason the much-anticipated Ukrainian counter-offensive failed last year. Those restraints left the field wide open for the Russians to mine large areas of battlefields, while giving them the time to build fortifications that the Ukrainians later found difficult, if not impossible, to penetrate. The war is thus going to drag on much longer than it should, with devastating consequences for Ukraine.

President Biden has said quite often that he is trying to avoid escalation of the conflict. That is wise, because a cool head is necessary in these types of situations. But that must be balanced against the risk of such an approach. Leaders of the day realized only after it was too late that Hitler wasn’t someone to be negotiated with. With the current emperor in the Kremlin, it is a binary choice: live on his terms or die. Does anyone really want that kind of life after seeing what happened to Alexei Navalny? The brave Ukrainians appear to have adopted the motto of the U.S. state of New Hampshire: Live free or die. Quite predictably, Putin sees President Biden’s caution as a sign of weakness and has been emboldened by it.

In many ways, the world we live in today is vastly more complicated than the one President Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher had to contend with. Whereas they had one main foe in the Soviet Union, there is a proliferation of adversaries now. Those two leaders were also lucky to have a partner in the Kremlin who was a real statesman. I had the privilege of witnessing President Gorbachev’s reign in its entirety. He was everything that the current adversaries are not.

Because of that, America and the Western alliance need leadership that is even more resolute than what President Reagan and Mrs. Thatcher provided in the 1980s. Unfortunately, what we have is hesitation in the White House and reckless negligence on the part of right-wing Republicans. The British have actually been quite impressive in this regard. Prime Ministers Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, and Liz Truss during her brief time in office, have all shown steadfastness on the Ukraine issue. So have the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Baltic countries. It has also been utterly fascinating to watch the evolution of French President Emmanuel Macron’s stance as the most dovish leader on Russia at the beginning of the war, to the most hawkish today. He deserves a lot of credit for finally recognizing the gravity of the threat. The British and the French should be applauded for taking the lead in supplying long-range weapons to Ukraine.

America has long been known as the indispensable nation in the world for a reason. Without American stewardship, the world will continue its rapid descent into chaos. We need our leaders to stand up and take the helm of this badly listing global ship.