Joe Biden is a danger to the United States.
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As I write this, Vladimir Putin’s propagandists are spinning out videos of President Biden calling for regime change in Russia. They don’t even need to doctor the films.
When Biden said in Poland, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” he handed Putin an excuse to escalate the war in Ukraine. His words sound like a threat, and that is exactly how Russians will hear it.
What difference does it make? Putin has lied to his countrymen, telling them his “special military operation” is aimed at the “demilitarization and denazification” of his western neighbor, and that he is protecting the motherland from the West.
Joe Biden just made his case.
There are two potential ramifications of Biden’s comment. The first is that Biden dealt a serious blow to Putin’s opponents in Russia. It is hard to argue that your leader is lying about the West’s aggressive intentions when the president of the United States backs him up.
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The second and more dangerous outcome is this: if Putin uses Biden’s words to justify the use of even more deadly force in Ukraine, like chemical or – God forbid — nuclear weapons, that will be on Russia’s strongman, certainly, but also on Biden. If Putin does take such a step, Americans will insist the U.S. respond, potentially bringing us into direct conflict with Russia.
It could happen.
Early in the war, Putin warned, “…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.”Joe Biden has single-handedly raised the stakes and made the world a more dangerous place.
It is not, of course, the first time.
Putin can also broadcast Biden suggesting that if Russia uses chemical weapons we can “respond in kind,” which will give him cover should he employ such horrors in Ukraine. He could throw in footage of Biden telling U.S. soldiers the horrors they will witness in Ukraine, and claim the GIs are on their way, despite promises to the contrary.
It won’t matter that all these reckless and stupid remarks have been walked back by the rattled White House. Russians won’t see or hear those reversals; the damage is done. In a war waged by a monster who lies to his people and blocks them from knowing the truth, the narrative is key.
As horrifying as these verbal mistakes are, they pale when compared to Biden’s bungling of the Ukraine war. Another comment that made headlines recently was the president’s assertion that sanctions imposed on Russia were not meant as a deterrent. This declaration contradicted earlier statements made by Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and others in the Biden administration who claimed that threatened sanctions would make Putin hesitate before attacking Ukraine.
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Someone should ask Biden, if sanctions were not meant to prevent the war, what was their plan to head off an invasion?
The truth is he and his foreign policy team had no plan. They have been reactive from the start, allowing other European countries to take the lead on sanctions and arms shipments, scared to rock the boat or to make any decisive move that might intimidate Putin.
To his credit, Biden rightly warned the world for months that Putin would attack Ukraine. To his enormous discredit, he failed to prepare for that event.
Why, for instance, did we not rush last fall to build up Ukraine’s stockpile of defensive weapons? Instead of sending 30 Javelin missile systems and 180 missiles in October as part of our annual deployment of military aid, we should have sent 300 systems, which we finally did months later. Ditto with the anti-aircraft Stinger missiles; too little, too late. And yes, early on we should have moved those infamous MiGs into Ukraine.
Knowing Russia is Europe’s dominant supplier of energy, why did we not get ahead of the inevitable shortages of oil and gas by accelerating the permitting for LNG terminals and encouraging U.S. oil and gas producers to ramp up drilling and production? Instead of depleting our Strategic Petroleum Reserve for political purposes, why not add to that emergency storage and encourage our allies to do the same?
The Biden White House could have also revealed assets held in the West by Russian oligarchs; a detailed public listing of yachts, apartments and other properties would have served notice on Putin’s pals that they stood to lose everything, pressing them to talk sense to their leader.
Even now, we lag behind. England, for instance, just confiscated two jets belonging to Russian oligarchs; what has the U.S. seized? Answer: nothing.
Biden fans are ecstatic that he traveled to Poland and delivered an inspirational talk. Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post columnist, tweeted in real time: “Biden makes a speech akin to those at the Brandenburg Gate by JFK and Reagan… His delivery is quite strong.”
This is how low the bar is now set. If Biden can “read” a speech without bizarre whispering or stumbles galore, that is considered success. Never mind that the speech in question contributed nothing new, no proposals that might end the invasion, much less win the war.
Instead, Biden repeated his assurance that “We stand with Ukraine.” What does that mean? Does it keep women and children from being slaughtered? Does it give them food to eat?
Biden repeats endlessly our “sacred” commitment to NATO and promise to defend every square foot of NATO territory. If I were Ukrainian, I would wonder: why would the United States, the strongest country in the world and home to the greatest military, protect Poles from being murdered by a tyrant, but not me?
It’s a good question, and one which will haunt our country for decades to come.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.