Joe Biden, and sadly America when it comes to Ukraine, is a paper tiger. We growl and we posture but if Russia moves into Ukraine there is nothing we or the Euros can do about it. It’s a matter of logistics, but it’s more than that.
Oh sure, we can clap some sanctions on Putin. Think he cares? Think his oligarchs will spill one drop of Pol Roger over it? Think again. But Joe Biden tried to bluff Putin into halting his armies. Biden actually told Putin he “can’t” invade Ukraine. The laughs must have been uproarious at the Kremlin at that line. The obvious rejoinder to Biden is, “Or what?”
Gonna land the 82nd in Moscow? Gonna nuke St. Petersburg? Gonna pull a Snake Plissken? Over Ukraine? Not quite. There was an alternative. It’s more important than logistics. The main reason we are powerless in Ukraine is that we have, at least temporarily, lost the psychological war. We can no longer maintain a credible geopolitical deterrence.
Case in point, when did Putin move on the Crimea? Why is he moving now? Because in 2014 and now we have weak Democrat presidents in office and he knew he would pay no price. He knew his probes then and now could proceed because there was no effective opposition to his aggression. Putin kens the history of the 1930s well. Aggression met by weakness and appeasement only invites more aggression. As Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war.”
The dishonour of Joe Biden is not only his pusillanimous demeanor, but his basic understanding of the world. Tacitus said long ago that if you want peace, prepare for war. It is the classic psychological game of deterrence, the balance of power.
When I served with the Pershing Nuclear Brigade in then West Germany in the 1980s we hoped we’d never have to use those weapons. We didn’t. But we were there to make sure the Soviets weren’t tempted to use their SS18s or SS20s. They knew if they shot first we’d have enough left to destroy them. Thus, nobody moved. A standoff, a balance.
That’s why the Russians did not move on Reagan in the 80s and didn’t move on Trump. They knew not only did we have the power to deter them, but, push came to shove, we had the will to use our weapons in response to an attack. That’s the main thing missing now. Putin knows Joe Biden is weak of will and will let him get away with most anything. The Euros? Even weaker and compromised by the Russian pipeline. That’s why the Biden bluff is toothless. That’s why Putin will invade Ukraine.