Biden “Armageddon” comment … strategy or gaffe?
Biden set the media world atwitter when he suggested the possibility that the conflict in Ukraine could lead to a nuclear Armageddon – an allusion to the Bible’s world-ending war.
It should not come as a surprise that the political world is divided on the meaning of the statement. Supporters of Biden interpret it as a clever signal to Russian madman Vladimir Putin that he had better not even think about launching nuclear weapons – even the limited tactical versions.
Those less enamored with Biden and his left-wing policies have a different interpretation. They call it another one of his iconic gaffes — when he is not chained to a script or the teleprompter. Walking back Biden’s off-the-cuff statements has become a full-time job at the White House and State Department.
Remember how the White House had to correct Biden when he said that Putin could not be allowed to remain in power … or when Biden said he would send in boots on the ground to defend Taiwan, and the State Department had to remind the world (and Biden) that we have a One China Policy regarding Taiwan and Mainland China.
So, which is it? Clever strategy or gaffe? I am going with … a strategic gaffe. That sounds like a conflict-in-terms but allow me to explain.
If there was a strategy to his off-hand comment, it was not directed at Putin. I would interpret it as protecting his policy of not dealing directly – militarily – with Putin. The statement can easily be viewed as a means of scaring the American public against military engagement. It goes something like this: Do the things that will defeat Putin – western boots on the ground, sending the most sophisticated weaponry, and staring down Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling — and it would lead to worldwide annihilation – an Armageddon.
That interpretation of the remark suggests that Biden is not serious about Ukraine winning the war — meaning the reclaiming of ALL Ukrainian territory, reparations from Russia, and probably the elimination of Putin as Russian leader – one way or the other. Anything short of that means a “negotiated settlement.” And even as Biden talks tough, all the indicators suggest that he is maneuvering for that negotiated settlement.
He is not doing what it would take to win the war – and he certainly does not want to lose the war – so, what is left? A negotiated settlement that allows Russia to keep the fraudulently annexed lands and Putin remains in power. No Reparations. No war crimes trial.
We also must look at the “Armageddon” comment in conjunction with the administration’s earlier statement on the use of nuclear weapons. It is the current White House position that America will NOT respond with nuclear weapons even if Russia uses such tactical missiles. But, his reference to Armageddon implies a nuclear response. As in all his gaffes, Biden muddies the waters.
I see his original no-nukes statement as a strategic policy that is, itself, a gaffe. We should never comfort an enemy with what we will not do. Biden did that when he promised Putin that the United States will not put boots on the ground in Ukraine. In fact, Biden withdrew the troops we had stationed there – essentially giving Putin a green light for the invasion.
Had we poured troops and weapons into Ukraine – and held “military defense exercises” – in response to Putin’s build-up of troops along the Ukraine border, I am convinced there would not have been an invasion.
On the other hand, Biden’s comment may well have been another of his self-generated off-the-top-of-the-head gaffes – with no intentional strategic meaning. After all, it was made in a relatively cloistered situation – a comment made to big donor guests at an exclusive fundraiser. It was not part of any official statement – and did not seem to be on his staff-provided cue cards. It came from Biden … unfiltered brain.
Furthermore, it is not the sort of statement that would have any impact on Putin. Imposing sanctions, sending weapons, and UN condemnation has had no impact on Putin’s purpose, plans, or objectives.
Ironically, Biden’s implied bogus threat to engage in a nuclear Armageddon may actually increase the potential of Putin going nuclear. He can point to Biden’s statement as an indication that the United States is ready to use nuclear weapons against Mother Russia. Putin is already telling his people that America is aggressing against the homeland.
I say it is a gaffe because the White House is already unspinning, The Defense Department was quick to assure the world that there is no credible evidence that Putin is on the verge of or even planning to use nuclear weapons of any kind – despite his hints to the contrary.
I say it is a gaffe because Biden has not been able or willing to explain what he meant. Maybe there is an unappreciated “donor syndrome” – when you consider how many times we have seen reports of politicians saying the damnedest things in private meetings with donors. Don’t they realize that today everyone walks around with a recording device in their pocket or purse? Apparently not.
I do not know which bothers me more – a President that keeps making boneheaded statements in public or the bureaucrats in Washington who can trump (no pun intended) the statements of the President. Who is in charge?
In terms of gaffes, this is not Biden’s first and definitely will not be his last.
So, there ‘tis.