Ukraine: Biden’s War of Wishful Thinking
I have written in the past of President Biden’s tendency to be behind the curve in terms of the war in Ukraine. Others – including many of the top generals – have referred to his response to the war as a policy of too little/too late. They call for the United States – and NATO – to give Zelenskyy all the weaponry he is requesting.
Make no mistake, Biden’s statements on Ukraine have been tough – spot on. He called Putin a war criminal who needed to go. He said there is no other option than defeating Putin. He promised maximum support for President Zelenskyy – whatever it takes.
If you look at his actions, however, they do not live up to the talk. It seems Biden may be trapped in wishful thinking.
When Putin started amassing troops on the border, Biden threatened crippling sanctions if Russia actually invaded. Biden’s policy seemed to be based on hoping that Putin would not actually invade. It was not until world intelligence determined that an invasion was imminent that Biden all but conceded that his tough talk had no influence on Putin. His wishful thinking proved wrong.
Biden immediately hit Russia with sanctions. They were not everything possible sanction as Biden suggested in his tough talk. In fact, they had no discernible impact on Putin’s plans. Biden apparently chose to believe – wished – that his initial actions would be successful. They failed miserably.
Amazingly, despite Biden’s initial threat to throw the book at Putin, the initial sanctions were only a small portion of the potential. Over the course of the next months, Biden was forced to impose other sanctions in the hope that they would not only change Putin’s mind but make it impossible for him to execute the war. If it was not a bad assessment of the situation, it was certainly no less than wishful thinking. Not only has the series of sanctions not stopped the war, they have not even slowed it down – and they certainly have not crashed the Russian economy.
Biden was initially opposed to providing Ukraine with targeting intelligence and advanced weaponry. He seemed to be hoping and wishing that Zelenskyy’s army could win without them. When those hopes were being threatened, Biden acquiesced to providing more intelligence and sending more advanced missile systems to the Ukrainians. After rejecting requests for American Abrams M1 tanks – obviously hoping Zelenskyy could win without them — Biden again acquiesced to Zelenskyy’s and the pressure from other NATO nations. Acquiescence is not leadership – unless you subscribe to Obama’s irrational policy of “leading from behind.”
Biden and administration officials have expressed wishful thinking that the enormous body count of dead young Russian boys would cause a groundswell of pressure on Putin by grieving moms to end the war. So far, that has not happened.
Tangentially, there was expressed hope that the Russian people would lose confidence in Putin and his dirty little war. Current polling in Russia shows that 80 percent of the people support Putin. The few initial street protests have vanished. The Idea of a popular uprising has been nothing but wishful thinking that has not manifested itself in the current reality.
Biden has been strong with his words of commitment to total victory over Putin – and I applaud him for that. However, since I believe he is sincere in the desire for Ukraine to win the war, it is safe to assume that at each stage of his actions, he was hoping – wishing – his policies would make an existential difference.
However, the best wish for the Ukrainian people is that the Russian army continues to be as weak and inept as they have been so far –and that Biden will engage in a winning strategy based on reality and action — and not wishful thinking.
So, there ‘tis.