March 17, 2022

Biden Leads From Behind

Just like his old boss, Barack Obama, Joe Biden is allowing the United States to be pushed around.

Joe Biden was afraid to anger the Taliban, so he forced our retreat and surrender in Afghanistan by a date certain. His unwillingness to dictate the terms of an effective American withdrawal cost us precious lives, billions in equipment, and untold currency in global reputation.

And so, if the seventh-century barbarism of the Taliban spooked him, what were we to expect of Biden’s reaction to Vladimir Putin’s months-long troop buildup on Russia’s border with Ukraine? Of Putin’s eventual invasion of Ukraine? And of Putin’s not-so-veiled threat to any country that might interfere with his predation on the sovereign nation of Ukraine: “Whoever tries to impede us, let alone create threats for our country and its people, must know that the Russian response will be immediate and lead to the consequences you have never seen in history.”

Biden’s response? Leadership from behind. Leadership unbecoming an American president, but leadership we’ve come to expect from the likes of Joe Biden — leadership he learned from his old boss, Barack “Red Line” Obama. As Robert Zubrin writes at National Review:

It has become evident the Biden administration has embraced conflict “containment” as its principal objective in dealing with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. According to this theory, while it would be nice if Ukraine survives the war, that is not of fundamental importance. What is critical … is that the war not spread to involve other parties, notably the U.S. and NATO. Thus, Biden has ruled out providing NATO air support, a no-fly zone, old Warsaw Pact MiGs, or even Patriot anti-missile batteries on the supposition that such aid might sufficiently anger … Putin such that he lashes out at the United States or our NATO allies, thereby drawing us into the war.

What a grim, miserable, un-American outlook.

Let’s stipulate first that Biden failed miserably to prevent this invasion by making clear in advance just how painful it would be for Russia. He failed. Miserably. On multiple levels, from crippling preemptive sanctions to a failure to up-arm the Ukrainians.

And let’s stipulate second that no sane American wants a shooting war with Russia. It’s hard to imagine how such a conflict could be contained short of cataclysm. But neither can we allow another nation to bully us with blackmail — whether cyber or nuclear or electromagnetic. Weakness is provocative, and bullies don’t respond favorably to appeasement. Thus, any failure on our part to stand up to Putin now will make it all the more difficult to stand up to him next time. And we can be assured: Xi Jinping is taking notes, and so is Kim Jong-un, and so are the Iranian mullahs.

The sticking point here is the impassioned call by resolute Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his countrymen for a NATO-enforced no-fly zone, which he repeated yesterday during a remote address to the U.S. Congress. Said Zelensky:

I remember your national memorial in Rushmore. The faces of your prominent presidents, those who laid the foundation of the United States of America as it is today. Democracy, independence, freedom, and care for everyone, for every person, for everyone who works diligently, who lives honestly, who respects the law. We in Ukraine want the same for our people. … Remember Pearl Harbor. Terrible morning of December 7, 1941, when your sky was black from the planes attacking you. Just remember it. Remember September the 11th, a terrible day in 2001 when evil tried to turn your cities [into] battlefields. … Our country experience[s] the same every day.

But while it’s sickening to watch Russia’s airborne assault against Ukrainian civilians, including women and children, a no-fly zone is a nonstarter. It puts us directly at war with another nuclear superpower.

Still, there’s so much more we can do. Immediately. The editors at the Washington Examiner offer a laundry list: transferring fighter jets to Ukraine, such as those MiG-29s already offered by neighboring Poland; expanding the scale and quality of the lethal aid we’re providing: more stingers, more javelins, more harpoons, and more of those devastating shoulder-fired Switchblade 300 drones; ceasing all business with Russia, especially that of multinational American companies; and enacting pre-announced civilian-led humanitarian airlifts to battered Ukrainian cities.

All of these additional measures are well within our capability, all of them will demonstrate American resolve, and none of them can be seen as firing the first shot in a war with Russia.

“Members of Congress, please take the lead,” Zelensky pleaded — because he knows Biden is waffling.

To hell with leading from behind. To hell with cowing to the Russian tyrant and watching the continued slaughter.

Or, as Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw put it: “I don’t care what Putin says. I didn’t realize Putin was our national security adviser.”


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