There’s a gleeful sense of crisis — and an underlying sense of panic — in the White House these days. Biden’s popularity polls show he’s as unpopular as his Great Satan — Donald Trump — was at his worst moments. That’s because inflation is as high as it’s been in forty years making every necessity of life more expensive, many grocery shelves are empty because the supply chain crisis and tens of thousands of illegal aliens cross our southern border each month, some to be flown surreptitiously to northern and western communities.
But Biden and his crew think it’s morning in America. He’s chosen not to reset his presidency and begin a more sensible approach to America’s problems. Instead he’s bragging about the economy, bragging that he’s going to choose a black woman for the Supreme Court and using all of those things — and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine — to take peoples’ minds off our real problems.
President Biden and his team conclusively proved themselves incompetent during his first year in office. They began by giving Russia a five-year extension on the New START treaty and rejoining the Paris climate accords without changing them on terms that could benefit the US. The final proof was in Biden’s Afghanistan debacle which cost American lives and managed to leave hundreds of U.S. citizens behind at the Taliban’s mercy.
Zelensky took a slap at Biden, saying, “I am the President of Ukraine. I am based here. I think I know the details deeper than any other president.” He added that the panic had already cost the Ukrainian economy nearly half a billion dollars in foreign investments.
Biden, Sullivan, Blinken, and rest of the team of incompetents believe that the slate can be wiped clean by a good performance — talking tough without risking anything — on Russia’s threat to conquer the rest of Ukraine. It’s almost the classic “wag the dog” scenario but instead of a movie mock-up of a war, their panicky statements and other actions are playing into Russian President Putin’s hand.
In his January 19 two-hour press conference, Biden talked about how severe sanctions would be if Russia invaded Ukraine. But he hedged his bet, saying, “It depends on what it does,” he said. “It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion, and then we end up having a fight about what to do and not do.” (The White House is pretending that there’s no danger of Russian retaliation, such as major cyberattacks, won’t happen if sanctions are imposed.)
That remark not only invited a “limited” invasion of Ukraine, it also stated the fact that NATO is divided on how it would react to such a Russian invasion.
NATO’s internal division is increasing almost daily to Putin’s delight. Hungary has said it wouldn’t aid NATO’s efforts to defend Ukraine. Germany has blocked Estonia from sending German-manufactured artillery and other arms to Ukraine. Germany obviously doesn’t want Russia to retaliate by reducing or cutting off the natural gas supply on which Germany has eagerly allowed itself to become dependent.
France holds the presidency of the European Union for the first six months of 2022. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has demanded that the EU negotiate directly with Russia on Ukraine pretending, as Macron often does, that the EU is a power unto itself.
Those talks began last week with representatives of Russia, Germany, and Ukraine and will continue without the U.S. despite Biden’s direct negotiations with both Russia and Ukraine. Macron also plans direct talks with Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Whatever limited coordination between the EU and U.S. may exist, Macron will assert his own course of action on sanctions and whatever else he chooses to do.
As I wrote two weeks ago, Putin wants more than Ukraine. He wants NATO out of Eastern Europe, meaning the nations that have joined NATO since 1997.
Biden’s panicky remarks and actions have alienated Zelensky. In a telephone call with Zelensky last Thursday, Biden reportedly told Zelensky that Russia would definitely invade once the ground froze in February and to “prepare for impact.” The White House vehemently denied a CNN report that said Biden warned Zelensky that Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital city, soon could be “sacked” by Russian troops.
On Friday, Zelensky called for calm because the panicked statements from the White House were affecting Ukraine’s economy and national stability. Zelensky told a press conference, “There are signals even from respected leaders of states, they just say that tomorrow there will be war. This is panic — how much does it cost for our state?” He called the “destabilization of the situation inside the country” the biggest threat to Ukraine.
Zelensky also took a slap at Biden, saying, “I am the President of Ukraine. I am based here. I think I know the details deeper than any other president.” He added that the panic had already cost the Ukrainian economy nearly half a billion dollars in foreign investments.
Biden, Blinken, and others of Biden’s team have repeatedly said that the U.S. stood firmly behind Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty. But to do that requires the supply of defense systems Ukraine needs and, possibly, U.S. troops to protect it. Perpetually weak, Biden is not sending what Ukraine needs most and his troop deployments to NATO nations near Ukraine is no threat to Russia.
In any invasion of Ukraine — even a “minor incursion” — Russian forces would do three things. They would mount a major cyberattack aimed at disabling the Ukrainian government, special operations forces would attack command and control nodes (and, possibly, the Ukrainian government itself), and they would quickly achieve air supremacy.
What Ukraine needs most urgently is air defenses. Ukraine’s air forces fly old MiG-29 and Su-27 aircraft which are no match for the latest Russian fighters and fighter-bombers. If Biden were serious about protecting Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, we would be supplying Ukraine with Patriot anti-aircraft batteries and our best protections against cyberattack.
But Biden isn’t providing either of those assets. He’s just wagging the dog, distracting people from his domestic failures, at Ukraine’s expense.
Putin is biding his time, deploying more troops and other assets — including S-400 air defense systems and thousands of troops into Belarus — and waiting to see how much more he can extort from NATO.
On Friday, Biden said he’d be moving U.S. troops to Eastern Europe “in the near term,” but “not too many.”
What’s the point of doing that? What will the troops do when they get there? They can conduct exercises with the host nation’s troops, but they won’t be doing anything to protect Ukraine. Putin and Zelensky know — as do all our NATO allies — that the U.S. will not intervene militarily if Russia invades Ukraine especially if it’s what Biden can label the “minor incursion” he invited.
Deploying U.S. troops to Eastern Europe will be just another empty gesture by Biden. It’s clear to all concerned — Putin especially — that they won’t be deployed in defense of Ukraine.
Nor should they be. As much as we admire the people of Ukraine and hope they can sustain their democracy, we have no vital national security interest there. As I wrote here, America should only go to war to defend such interests. But that’s not to say we can’t or shouldn’t do more, as outlined earlier in this column.
But all we — and Putin, Zelensky, and the NATO nations — can count on is that Biden will continue to wag the dog as long as the Ukraine crisis continues. He’s not competent to do anything else.