To mark the anniversary of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, President Biden made a surprise visit to Kiev, where he pledged continued American aid and international support. There, and at a second stop in Poland, his speeches sounded like proclamations of victory.
“President Putin is facing something today that he didn’t think was possible a year ago,” Biden said in Warsaw. “The world’s democracies have become stronger, not weaker. But the authoritarians of the world have grown weaker, not stronger.”
Even allowing for Ukraine’s remarkable persistence, confirmation of major geopolitical gains for the West is premature at best. The war in Ukraine is far from being won, and claiming victory in half is a fool’s errand.
In fact, the second year is already shaping up to be much more complicated than the first. Iran is expanding its supply of drones to Russia and China plans to play a bigger role, with President Xi Jinping planning to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. More worryingly, China may be supplying Russia with weapons, creating a new axis of evil that could spark a world war.
Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin is preparing to launch a new, larger offensive within weeks.
Despite these developments, Washington acts as if nothing has changed. It continues to drag its feet in helping Ukraine respond to Putin’s weapons, even as most of NATO has done its usual disappearing act.
Although the US has allocated a staggering $113 billion to the war without serious control over where the civilian aid goes, it’s still slow-moving military equipment that Ukraine says it needs. The pattern is that first, management says no to a request, then weeks or months later they say yes, and weeks or months after that, they make a delivery.
Two years of waiting
The habit reaches new levels of absurdity due to Zelensky’s push for Abrams tanks. The White House agreed to the request on Jan. 25, according to the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, but now says it could take up to two years for the 31 tanks to reach the front lines.
In wartime, two years means never. Zelensky’s push for fighter jets is still in the “no” stage, so he’ll probably get them at some point after he gets the tanks.
The prospect of China bolstering Russia’s offensive power should be a wake-up call to Washington. Instead, officials comfort themselves by repeating pious talk.
The always unimpressive Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security adviser, told CNN last week that “Russia has already lost the war” and mocked China’s larger role by insisting, without evidence, that many Chinese officials already find it “difficult to face it”. with Russia’s attack on Ukrainian civilians.
“They’re just trying to get by,” he said of Chinese officials, “trying to find a way in a very awkward space to not oppose Russia but also not fully support them.”
Samantha Power, head of the US Agency for International Development, echoed Sullivan’s view of a reluctant China, saying: “What Russia is doing is putting them in conditions that I think are fundamentally not in their economic interests, not in their interests. , again, expanding their place’ in the world.
Both hailed the impact of sanctions on the Russian economy until host Fareed Zakaria reminded them of estimates “that the Russian economy will actually do better this year than the British economy or the German economy.”
Team Biden’s happy talk strikes me as an outdated, self-serving view of Chinese motivations and goals. It’s as if officials are talking about China 25 years ago when it was emerging as a modern power.
But what if they completely misunderstand the communist regime’s agenda now? What if China is using the war and America’s involvement to make a move toward its goal of world domination?
Count historian Niall Ferguson among those who believe the US is missing the big picture. Speaking on Dan Senor’s podcast, “Call Me Back,” Ferguson expressed fears that China’s leaders “are on a warpath and we haven’t realized it yet. We still think it’s just speeches at Davos and Foreign Secretary Blinken’s mission to Beijing.”
He referred to the spy balloon that crossed America as “classic Cold War strategy” and worries that Chinese President Xi Jinping has concluded that a military showdown with the US is “inevitable”.
Ferguson also fears that our massive military aid to Ukraine has reduced our ability to help defend Taiwan if China moves against the island.
“The military industrial complex has withered,” he said. “It’s amazing to realize how much capacity we’ve spent in Ukraine and how long it will take to replace it.”
Remember that the Pentagon boasted early on that America aimed to wear down Russia’s military capability by constantly resupplying Ukraine. Ferguson calls it a “strategic mistake” because Washington “failed to realize that China is the biggest beneficiary” of the policy.
“We are not ready for prime time, and all the tough talk about defending Taiwan comes from an alternate reality,” he said.
Given the developments, this sober perspective makes a lot more sense than the nonsense coming from the White House. Biden’s infamous history of “being wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue for the past four decades,” as former Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously put it, does not inspire confidence.
Plus, there’s still a chance — no, a chance — that the Biden family’s corrupt deals with China could tie the president’s hands. His response to the spy balloon suggests he was pulling his punches.
He tried to keep the balloon a secret from the public so that Blinken could go to Beijing to try to restore relations. After civilians spotted the balloon, Biden let it wander across America for four more days until it was shot down.
It was an extremely brazen act by China, and officials there followed the takedown by demanding that America apologize! Fortunately, Biden didn’t, but days later, he dismissed the incident as “not a significant breach.”
Of course, he also said that the ill-fated withdrawal from Afghanistan was a success and that he had stopped inflation. And that Hunter’s laptop was Russian disinformation, that he never talked to his son about his foreign business, and on and on.
The old man says a lot of things that are not true. Why should we now trust his assurances about China?
Gummy Dummy Gotham Students
Mayor Adams, who opposes illegal pot shops, provides the quote of the week.
“Kids get high on the way to school” by eating gummy bears with tubs, he said. “I must be old fashioned. People do not understand what is happening in our country and in our city. We have to start refocusing.”
Amen to that.
You asked for it, New York
Reader Robert Feuerstein, no fan of Gov. Hochul says New Yorkers got what they deserved by electing her:
“Crime, taxes and poor quality of life for years to come. So get out or suck
it is up.”