Jim Hartman: Biden signals weakness to Putin

Jim Hartman

Jim Hartman
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President Biden and his foreign policy team – Blinken, Austin, Sullivan and Milley – are coming under increasing criticism from congressional Republicans and Democrats alike for the slow, timid response to Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
This same Biden team was responsible for the American humiliation in Afghanistan, when Biden incompetently managed the chaotic withdrew of all U.S. troops. That debacle resulted in Afghanistan being ceded to the Taliban.
Biden now lags behind on Ukraine. His initial economic sanctions lacked punch. They failed to attack the real engine of the Russian economy – energy. Excluded was a ban on imported Russian oil.
It took prodding for nearly a week from an overwhelming bipartisan majority of senators supporting the “Ban Russian Imports Act” for a wavering Biden to belatedly sign an executive order barring imported oil and other energy sources from Russia.
The U.S. and its allies were buying $700 million worth of oil daily from Russia. Biden’s reluctance to act was pure political calculation. Gas prices were certain to increase and he feared Democrats taking a drubbing in November.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has passionately requested help from Congress, most particularly in creating and enforcing a no-fly zone above Ukrainian airspace, or alternatively, by transferring 28 Polish MiG-29 jets to Ukrainian pilots.
A no-fly zone over Ukraine enforced by NATO is publicly opposed by the Biden administration because it would, in their opinion, be viewed as “an offensive action” and “provocative” by Putin.
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2000, supports a no-fly zone arguing it has a clear defensive purpose – to protect civilians in Ukraine from aerial bombardment.
The Biden administration first welcomed, then denied, an offer by the Polish government to deliver its entire fleet of MiG-29s to Ukraine. Biden feared such a move could be viewed by the Russians as an “escalation” of the United States’ role in the war.
There’s risk of escalation in any war, and needless provocations should be avoided. Will Putin use chemical weapons? Will NATO fail to respond because it fears World War III?
Biden killed the aircraft transfer, viewing it as “high risk” because it might inflame Putin.
The logic appears to be that sending lethal anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons won’t provoke the Russians, but 28 fixed-wing aircraft would. That’s inconsistent with the Biden administration’s other claim that Ukrainians don’t need the jets because their other weapons are more effective.
Despite Biden’s baffling flip-flop on the fighter jet transfer, there’s growing bipartisan pressure in Congress for him to act more decisively.
Utah Republican Mitt Romney said it’s time for the U.S. to stop fearing Moscow’s reactions.
“I don’t understand the logic for not getting the Ukrainians the MiGs immediately. It makes no sense. I believe there’s a sentiment that we’re fearful of what Putin might do. It’s time for him to be fearful of what we might do,” Romney said.
New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen said the administration’s handling of the fighter jet deal came across as “indecision” and “bickering.”
Ohio Republican Rob Portman and Minnesota Democrat Amy Klobuchar, returning from a bipartisan trip to Poland on March 13, called on Biden to send more assistance to Ukraine.
Portman told CNN the horrors of the unprovoked attacks by the Russians. Klobuchar said she would like to see the United States send fighter planes to Ukraine.
Americans must recognize Putin is escalating his Ukrainian assault.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said sending fighter jets to Ukraine should be a “no-brainer for a confident, assertive and decisive American administration. Instead, it repeatedly seems like Biden’s first instinct is to flinch.”
The awe-inspiring leadership of President Zelensky and courage of the freedom-loving Ukrainian people have impressed the world.
By contrast, Biden’s weak, chaotic foreign policy disappoints. It’s past time for resolute action.
Email Jim Hartman at lawdocman1@aol.com


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