Biden runs the risk of an accidental escalation in Ukraine – with sloppy words, confused policies, disjointed and strategically unanchored actions. All-out war with Russia, undefined parameters, is a lose-lose. Incomprehensibly destabilizing, economically suicidal, risking nuclear weapons, it must not happen. Could it?
Biden’s words mean less each month, his White House increasingly adrift, incoherent, national security strategy incomprehensible. From Afghanistan – a total loss, at enormous credibility cost – to “open borders,” pleading with Iran for a vacuous peace, and begging Saudis for oil, Biden’s policies boggle.
Shutting down US energy independence and clobbering fossil fuel production, then suddenly tapping the strategic oil reserve to reduce gas prices – a strategy that did not work – Biden is becoming a walking policy failure. The world knows it.
China has become comfortable chiding and insulting US economic, trade, security, space, maritime, and diplomatic leadership, declaring itself – with Russia – the world’s future, daring Biden to do something.
Biden’s response – late May via his Secretary of State – was appeasement, casting China as a mere competitor or “pacing challenge.” China loves that, underestimation, and minimization, as they load for bear, or eagle.
North Korea meantime, silenced and dog-eared under Trump, has resumed ballistic missile launches and nuclear testing. As China’s sidekick, they feel empowered. Iran goes full throttle on uranium enrichment, pushing nuclear status.
And back to Russia…Biden’s happy words, catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan, fear of the Taliban, then “minor incursion” invitation to Russia, compounded by missing aid for Ukraine – are textbook foppery, an open admission he has no foreign policy, no consistent security strategy.
All that brings us to…now. Critics in national security see this – but hesitate to speak. On center and right, no one wants to point this out, as it could invite added Chinese and Russian adventurism. They worry – rightly – for Taiwan, US allies in the Pacific, Middle East, Africa, South America.
On the left, critics are mum because they know this is another Biden failure, as politically dangerous for Democrats in November as Biden-driven inflation.
Here is what no one is saying, but everyone is thinking: Freedom fighters, like those in Ukraine, are admirable, worthy of moral support, speak to our hearts. But they are not NATO, not worth sacrificing our nation, economy, or nuclear war.
The Biden people seem to be feeling their way in the dark, not clear on US engagement policy, limits of their support, wider geopolitical awareness. They are bumbling – with the awesome prospect of superpower confrontation in the balance.
Needed are clear statements, where we will go, and not go for a non-NATO ally, a nation not formerly sharing deep defense understandings like Taiwan. Clarity, incisive thinking, and an attempt to reestablish credibility are now vital.
Instead, even Biden fumbles. Even New York Times is suddenly worried. In recent weeks, they asked: Is Biden “trying to help bring an end to this conflict, through a settlement that would allow for a sovereign Ukraine and some kind of relationship between the United States and Russia? Or is the United States now trying to weaken Russia permanently?”
They added: “Has the administration’s goal shifted to destabilizing Vladimir Putin or having him removed? Does the United States intend to hold Mr. Putin accountable as a war criminal? Or is the goal to try to avoid a wider war — and if so, how does crowing about providing U.S. intelligence to kill Russians and sink one of their ships achieve this?”
For once, the paper is right – their questions the iceberg’s tip. Big questions – about failed engagement and its effect on aggression globally – abound.
Where is hope? What can be done? What must be done? Biden’s potential for triggering an accidental war with Russia depends on Russia not misinterpreting.
Beyond clarity on intentions, what we will and will not do, preventing an accidental war depends on some group in the Administration regaining control over the agenda, persuading Biden that strategy, policy, law, and scripts count.
Biden is his own worst enemy, sowing confusion in public statements, blurring former clarity, a one-man source of misunderstanding, adversarial insecurity, and potential preemptive action that gets out hand, spins out of control, triggers war.
The best thing we can all do is seek consistency, coherence, and clarity from this White House. Appeasement is worthless, accidental provocation of war worse.
Saying Putin “cannot stay in power,” implying Americans will “deploy” to Ukraine, mischaracterizing defensive weapons as offensive, boasting about helping Ukraine with “intelligence” to sink Russian ships, making policy on the fly – for Russia, China, Taiwan or anywhere else – is pure folly. That folly must stop.
Is a direct war with Russia likely? No, as Russia knows – and we should – that is a lose-lose. But humiliating Russia is not in our interests either, any more than retroactively making Ukraine NATO. Peace depends on credibility, judgment, proportionality, morality, and foresight. Biden is short on all five. Maybe we could get leading policy makers to clarify strategy, as accidental war is a bad one.
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