Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates once opined that Joe Biden “has been wrong about every major foreign policy and national security decision over the past four decades.” It sounded like an exaggeration, but the more I have seen of Biden’s decision-making ability since he has been inaugurated the more accurate the quote seems to be. I cannot recall one decision he has made that has benefited the US, not one. Moreover, in a recent blog I challenged my readers to come up with one and so far no one has been able to do so. In my opinion, based on his decisions regarding the Russia-Ukraine War, he has kept his streak alive.
Biden is nothing if not consistent. His style is to fail to anticipate, and then we when he does act or react it is with a weak, halfway measure. For example, everyone knew that Putin was going to invade Ukraine. He told us he would. He has often said he considers Ukraine to be a part of Russia, particularly since there are millions of ethnic Russians living there. Then, he spent months amassing hundreds of thousands of troops along the border. What did Biden think he was going to do?
Biden was passive until the invasion, and then he instituted various financial and economic sanctions. Most observers have characterized them as too little, too late. Ukraine President Volodymy Zelensky, not one to mince words, put it most succinctly: “If [Biden] had started sanctions months ago there would not have been war.” Now, Zelensky wants the US to increase the pressure. He is advocating a boycott of Russian oil and a “no-fly” zone. By the way, the courage and leadership Z has shown throughout has been remarkable. Now, there’s a leader! Reminds me of Washington during the Revolutionary War and Churchill during WWII.
The impact of the current sanctions is debatable depending on whose opinion one reads. But, for sure, they have not and will not deter Putin. He is not going to just throw up his hands and leave Ukraine because some funds have been frozen and the Russian people are suffering. Russia is not the US where public opinion matters to leaders. He has plenty of money, and he does not care about everyday Russians. What he does care about is his legacy, and he wants to be the one who resurrects the former Soviet Union. He will not stop until he is stopped.
So, how do we stop him without an actual physical war. I say we pull out all the stops with respect to sanctions. Hold nothing back.
Not to oversimplify, but let me put it in simple terms that even Kamala Harris could understand. Starting a war is easy. What is difficult is sustaining a war. All wars require two things above all else in order to be sustained – funds and supplies. And, if you don’t have funds you can’t acquire supplies; you can’t pay your troops; you can’t feed them; you can’t operate your weaponry; you can’t fight.
Russia is not a wealthy country. Its GDP is about $1.71 trillion, which comes to less than 10% of the US’s. Its primary product of value is oil. It relies on exporting oil to sustain its economy. It is relying on oil exports to fund the Ukraine War. Without it, it could not continue to fund the war. It could not sustain it. Currently, who are the main importers of Russian oil? The US and NATO countries. Therefore, it stands to reason that the most effective sanction would be to cease buying Russian oil. The US’s oil reserves could easily pick up the slack, but to do so Biden would need to reopen the Keystone Pipeline. So far, he has refused to do it, so the war continues to drag on and on. People continue to die, and still Biden continues to dither and dither and dither. Either he doesn’t get it or he does and is too afraid of offending the small but vocal cadre of far left socialists who are imbedded in his circle of advisors.
Everyone I talk to understands the above concept, even my 14 year-old grandson. Even many liberal Dems have spoken out in favor of it. Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said she would not oppose it. My strong recommendation would be to convince Biden to act. Alternatively, Congress could pass a law authorizing it and if Biden vetoes it, try to override the veto.
Something has to be done. Ukraine is being demolished. Thousands of people, non-combatants, children are dying. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced and have nowhere to go, and to what end?
I understand that Biden wants to avoid a war with Russia. No sane person wants a physical war with shooting and bombing that could escalate into a nuclear war. But, Biden has to realize that Ukraine is just the opening salvo of Putin’s plan. Putin is a disciple of Josef Stalin’s. Stalin’s mantra was to continually push for expansion until he met resistance. If he did not, keep on pushing. If he met resistance he would pull back and wait for another opportunity.
The US and NATO have provided Putin with the perfect storm of opportunity to pursue his goal, but that’s another story for another blog on another day.
Putin will not be appeased. He will not bow to weak, wishy-washy sanctions. Appeasing aggressors has never, ever worked throughout history. It will not work now. He will not stop with Ukraine. He will want the Baltics, Moldovia, or Poland next, all of which are NATO countries. Will NATO invoke Article V?
Joe: grow a pair. Cease importing Russian oil, and re-open the Keystone Pipeline!