Liz Peek: Putin Is Testing Biden’s Weakness on World Stage
It seems like yesterday that the world was peaceful, our enemies cautious, our borders secure, prices stable, crime under control and stock markets booming.
How have so many things gone south so quickly? Is it fair to blame Joe Biden?
I believe it is.
Joe Biden ran for president as an enfeebled 78-year-old. There are plenty of vigorous and brilliant septuagenarians; Biden is not one of them.
Joe knew, his wife knew, our current White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain knew and the press must have known, that Biden was not up to the rigors of four years in the White House. And yet they pushed him forward, a candidate with few convictions and even fewer capabilities.
But here’s who also knew: China’s President Xi and Russian strongman Vladimir Putin.
The worlds’ despots saw what clear-eyed Americans saw: weakness. They saw a president whom they could bully, whose convictions were shallow. Now, in Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is testing Joe Biden.
Biden assures us that Putin is about to invade its neighbor. Others speculate that Russia’s leader will simply annex Russian-leaning parts of Ukraine, and indeed it appears the Moscow is set to start that process imminently by declaring two regions as independent republics. In effect, Putin is grabbing what he wants, while we stand by and watch.
It was disheartening, but not surprising, that as Russia’s belligerence grew, Biden immediately took military intervention off the table.
Even if the president and his inner circle had agreed that U.S. G.I.s would not intervene to protect Ukraine, why make that decision public? Isn’t the potential of military engagement a potent deterrent?
Biden has promised “swift and severe” sanctions, but only a ban on Russia’s energy exports or elimination from the SWIFT banking system would cripple that country’s economy. The New York Times reports that the White House will not touch Russia’s energy producers, fearful of driving up oil prices that are already causing Americans pain at the pump and plummeting polls for Democrats.
The White House may also blink on sanctioning Russia’s biggest banks, since the fall-out could cause a financial crisis in the west or invite cyberattacks on our own financial institutions.
There have never been broad-based sanctions imposed on an economy the size of Russia’s or on such large, interconnected banks; it is a risky undertaking and one that does not have the full support of our allies.
Despite Biden’s happy talk about NATO working as one, the reality is that Germany has not agreed to such draconian measures; the West is not unified, and Putin knows it.
That is why, even as Russian aggression intensifies, no responsive measures have been announced. A reporter recently asked Vice President Kamala Harris why the administration does not slap on sanctions now, as Ukraine President Zelensky has requested. Harris dithered but admitted that the costs of the sanctions will spread beyond Russia; she said they are holding out hope for a diplomatic outcome. Does the White House believe that financial penalties will cause Putin to withdraw after he invades?
Asked, further, whether sanctions would deter Putin, Harris said: “Within the context then of the fact that that window is still opening, although, open, although it is narrowing but within the context of a diplomatic path still being open…”
No wonder that Putin is emboldened.
Our enemies also see a weak president beholden to the far-Left, thus undermining our nation from within. Despite running on a popular campaign pledge to bring the country together, Biden has purposefully created even greater racial frictions, wrongly characterizing voter laws passed by Republican-led states as Jim Crow 2.0 and denouncing our law enforcement establishment as racist.
We are a “systemically racist” nation, Biden asserts, ignoring the great progress made in past decades towards racial equality. Ignoring, too, how such a charge undermines the aspirations of those he claims are oppressed.
Biden has, in addition, ignored surging crime, bowing to the Left’s credo that it is criminals, not victims, who need our sympathy.
Biden has also damaged our economy. Bowing to the same climate zealots whose policies have put Europe under the thumb of Vladimir Putin, Biden has worked steadily to dismantle our nation’s number one geopolitical advantage – abundant cheap energy. Taking federal acreage offline, discouraging oilfield investment, canceling pipelines and pushing expensive renewables has slowed our energy output and strengthened Russia and OPEC’s control over oil prices.
He has endorsed massive federal spending which spurred booming demand and allowed workers to stay home. The resulting labor shortage has fueled inflation, now at 40-year highs. Incredibly, Biden’s solution is to propose spending trillions more through his Build Back Better program.
Kowtowing to the Left, Biden dismantled the immigration practices that drove down the number of people crossing into the U.S. illegally. He as much as invited people to storm our southern border, making it clear they were welcome, no strings attached. And storm they did, with almost 2 million people crossing into our country in the last year.
The administration had no idea where to put the thousands suddenly in their care, so they flew them into cities and towns around the country in the dead of night, not alerting local authorities and using taxpayer dollars to transport and feed the migrants. Since most of those people had no proper identification, the TSA allowed them to use their arrest warrants as IDs.
This is not acceptable.
The unifying principle of Biden’s presidency, such as it is, is that everything Trump did was bad and had to be overturned. The problem is that many of his predecessor’s policies were working; reversing the “remain in Mexico” policy was a mistake; abandoning the Abraham Accords an atrocity.
Chaos abroad, chaos at home – all because we have a weak president. Americans are angry, and rightly so. Let us hope that anger propels voters to turn out in November and deliver to Joe Biden the shellacking he so richly deserves.
Liz Peek is a former partner of major bracket Wall Street firm Wertheim & Company. Follow her on Twitter @lizpeek.
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