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May 26, 2022

Biden’s Weakness Was Provocative in Ukraine

Even the haters admit it: Putin would never have invaded Ukraine while Donald Trump was president.

Trump haters everywhere were dealt a bit of a blow recently when one of their own made clear what we on the Right had known to be true from the onset: Vladimir Putin would never have invaded Ukraine while Donald Trump was president. Hey, the truth hurts.

This hypothetical has been hotly debated ever since February 24, the day Russian forces rolled into Ukraine and started the European continent’s largest conflict since Nazi Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, thereby kicking off World War II. Eleven months prior to that invasion, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had returned from a conference in Munich with Adolf Hitler. As he stepped onto the tarmac in London, he thrust a piece of paper in his hand and a promise of “peace for our time.” The people loved it. Little did they know.

As for Russia’s Putin, he’s long considered Ukraine to be part of Russia, and so he resolved to continue the annexation he began with the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014, when another toothless Democrat, Barack “Red Line” Obama, was president.

Why the long hiatus between invasions? As the Washington Examiner’s Byron York writes: “[Those] skeptical that Putin would have acted had Trump been president [have] gotten some support from an unlikely source. Fiona Hill, the Russia expert, former senior National Security Council aide in the Trump White House, and star witness against Trump in his first impeachment, appeared recently on a program sponsored by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Discussing the Ukraine war, Hill suggested that Putin waited to invade Ukraine until Biden became president, preferring Biden’s ‘predictability’ to Trump’s volatility.”

You don’t say. As Hill herself explains it, “[Putin] thought that somebody like Biden, who’s a trans-Atlanticist, who knows all about NATO, who actually knows where Ukraine is and actually knows something about the history and is very steeped in international affairs, would be the right person to engage with, as opposed to somebody you’ve got to explain everything to all the time.” Hill stressed that Putin “wants to have predictability.” And, as York noted, “In this view, Putin saw Biden as someone he could deal with as Russia seized territory from Ukraine. But not the erratic Trump. Who knew what he might do?”

Translation: Putin wanted someone he could roll.

As for rolling Trump? Not so much. Not so sure. Call it a foreign policy of strategic ambiguity. Sure, Hill’s comments are a backhanded compliment to Trump, but those are often the most credible.

Hill’s assessment thus conforms with what those on the Right had been saying all along. Take National Review’s Rich Lowry, certainly no great fan of Trump, who tweeted this back in February: “The sheer unpredictably of Trump, his anger at being defied or disrespected, his willingness to take the occasional big risk (the Soleimani strike), all had to make Putin frightened or wary of him in a way that he simply isn’t of Joe Biden.”

As for the critics — those like the discredited Rick Wilson of the equally discredited Lincoln Project — their case has always been flimsy. “Trump never once showed any anger, risk-taking or unpredictability with Putin,” Wilson tweeted just two days prior to Putin’s invasion. “He showed deference, adoration, admiration, obedience, and sought to wreck NATO, Putin’s highest goals. Putin didn’t need to buy the cow. The milk was free.”

Huh? Not even NPR believes that rubbish. The headline of the article reads, “Is Trump The Toughest Ever On Russia?” And, as Scott Horsley wrote back in 2018, the answer is yes.

Democrats, of course, don’t want to hear it, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Putin was a relatively good little dictator during Trump’s four years in office, but he’s become a mass-murdering despot on Joe Biden’s watch. As our Mark Alexander has noted, every drop of Ukrainian blood spilled in this war is the direct result of Joe Biden’s weakness and ineptitude. It’s unsettling to think about, but the American president himself may well be our greatest threat to national security.

In a way, Putin’s refusal to test Trump is the ultimate compliment that can be paid by a bully. Maybe it had something to do with that alpha handshake Trump put on him at the G20 summit. Or that time Trump quietly greased all those Russian mercs in Syria.

We’ll let you be the judge.

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