It’s Christmas week and most Americans are focused on family, travel, presents, and, hopefully, the true meaning of the holiday. Vladimir Putin’s mind, however, seems to be focused on putting his boot on Ukraine. Meanwhile, our cognitively challenged president will spend much of the this week unaware of what day it is while the world might be descending into the opening shots of the next world war.
Putin, Russia’s “president,” has had Ukraine on his brain for some time. The West, with good reason, fears he will invade the former Soviet satellite, which wants to be a part of the NATO defense alliance rather than lose its independence to Moscow. A source we trust says it could happen during the holidays, or soon thereafter, while our attention is on other matters.
Should Putin storm into Ukraine, we asked, what then will Chinese President Xi Jinping do – invade Taiwan, the island nation of the Republic of China where nationalists fleeing Mao’s communist sword established the new capital in 1949?
We didn’t like the answer, yet we knew it was coming. Xi will take advantage of the distraction and make an assault on Taiwan.
We didn’t ask what could happen next, because we didn’t want to hear the answer. But we can’t hide from the fact: The Middle East just might blow up, with Arab nations attacking Israel, at one time America’s only ally in the region and always a reliable supporter at the United Nations and in international diplomacy.
Then, World War III.
We hope he’s wrong. He hopes he’s wrong. It’s hard to be optimistic, though, given the current state of affairs.
President Joe Biden and Putin had a virtual meeting on Dec. 7, a day we hope doesn’t become more infamous because of the current president’s weakness, to talk about Russia’s military buildup at the border with Ukraine. While the specifics of the discussion are unknown, it’s being reported that Biden warned Putin there would be severe economic sanctions if the Russians crossed the border.
But “Sanctions do not deter Putin from his stated goal of reassembling the Russian empire. In February 2014, Russia invaded Ukraine and has since supported separatist forces in eastern Ukraine. Also in 2014, Russia invaded Crimea, a sovereign Ukrainian territory, and purported to annex that territory. Sanctions have not deterred Russia from its aggression in Ukraine,” James Gilmore, former Virginia governor and the immediate past ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, wrote last week in the Washington Examiner.
Not only has Biden’s foreign policy judgment been unfailingly wrong for decades, he’s an appeaser, and has, as Gilmore noted, signaled weakness, handing to Putin a number of victories that have given him an advantage. At a time when the world needs strong American leadership to head off aggression, we have in the White House the man who advised Barack Obama to put off the mission which eventually resulted in Osama Bin Laden’s death.
The president also appears to be either scared of China, somewhat aligned with its goals, or maybe in some way bought off by Beijing. In any event, the Biden we know is no match for Putin and Xi. What we’re hoping for is the Biden we’ve never known will appear and show a Reagan-like strength. Quite a bit depends on what the American president does in the near future.
Of course not everyone believes Putin will move on Ukraine. We pray those who are convinced he’s bluffing, that the threat is being exaggerated in the same way the U.S. overestimated Soviet might during the Cold War, are right and we’re overly alarmed. At the same time, we know there will never be peace on Earth since man is imperfect. But we do hope for less conflict, and that comes from strength, not concessions to belligerents.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board