Weak Joe Biden no match for Vladimir Putin and other foes: Goodwin

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When it comes to making a deal with Russia, Joe Biden has a problem. He wants to talk, Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine – and has mobilized 175,000 troops to the border to prove it.

Biden has a similar problem with China and Iran. The President wants to talk about many issues and differences, he wants to expand his territorial control and crush his enemies.

Our opponents have clear goals and iron fists, we have a faltering president who leads a coalition of largely unarmed welfare states formerly known as NATO. Our army is awake but sleeping.

As presidents go, Biden is particularly vulnerable. He cannot unite his party in Congress, and members of the various factions feel that there is no need to give him the legislation they want. Nobody is afraid of him.

His election figures are submerged on almost every issue. On foreign policy, their approval is only 36 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics average of recent surveys.

One reason may be that, no matter what, Biden has clearly and repeatedly stressed the White House’s commitment to diplomacy. Sometimes it promises “strong” diplomacy, which is supposed to make for a stronger brew, but you’ll have to delve into Foggy Bottom word games to know for sure.

Ukrainian soldiers patrol near the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels on December 7, 2021.
Ukrainian soldiers patrol near the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels on December 7, 2021.
AP Photo/Andriy Dubchak

Either way, diplomacy is a laudable process, but not a result. For Russia, China and Iran, the result is the whole point.

Instinctively, Americans get that. They do not want war, but neither do they want to see their country being pushed on the world stage.

The unsuccessful withdrawal from Afghanistan showed other world leaders Biden's poor foreign policy leadership.
The unsuccessful withdrawal from Afghanistan showed other world leaders Biden’s poor foreign policy leadership.
Reuters

Which brings us to Biden’s weakest link in Afghanistan. His longing, chaotic return last summer revealed a desire to shun friends and allies, not to mention American citizens.

The ghost of that disaster looms large over every foreign-policy challenge, and Putin, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Iran’s mullahs certainly incorporate it into their thinking. Afghanistan could become a sad foreboding of Ukraine, Taiwan and Iraq.

Indeed, Iranians are probably wondering how far Biden will go to defend Israel. Of course the Israelis themselves are not convinced, which is why they are taking matters into their own hands by blowing up the mullahs’ nuclear plants and destroying their scientists.

Israel cannot wait for Biden's help to deal with the growing nuclear threat from Iran.
Israel can’t wait for Biden’s help to deal with the growing nuclear threat from Iran.
Photo by ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

To the Israelis, Iranian nuclear weapons are an existential threat, and they would be mad to wait for Biden to save them.

If there is such a thing as wanting too much peace, Biden is to blame. As the ancient Romans also knew, “If you want peace, prepare for war.”

Like Chamberlain in 1939, Biden is a sucker for every war-plotting tyrant who says magic words only to buy time and concessions.

Presidents often talk about “the power of our example” rather than our power. It’s a pleasant sound to domestic audiences, but it’s an invitation to global haters.

China and Russia are building up their military capabilities.
China and Russia are building up their military capabilities.
AP photo/Ng Han Guan, file

Every president is tested by foreign actors and so far, Biden has been able to master those tests. Now they are growing and changing in dangerous ways.

Russia and China have conducted joint military exercises and are helping Iran evade economic sanctions. Russia and China also developed hypersonic missiles, which apparently stunned US intelligence agencies and proved that we are far behind.

“We are not as advanced in terms of hypersonic programs as the Chinese or the Russians,” General David Thompson, deputy chief of space operations, admitted recently.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is reportedly developing a hypersonic missile that took US intelligence leaders by surprise.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is reportedly developing a hypersonic missile that took US intelligence leaders by surprise.
AP. Via Li Gang / Xinhua

It was certainly a coincidence that the Biden-Putin virtual summit took place on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that dragged America into World War II. It’s safe to assume that neither man wants another global conflict, but they’re not equally risk-averse about Ukraine.

“I will never underestimate President Putin’s risk appetite for Ukraine,” Biden’s CIA director, William Burns, said Monday at a Wall Street Journal conference.

Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with President Biden to discuss Ukraine on December 7, 2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet with President Biden to discuss Ukraine on December 7, 2021.
AP. via Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo

Putin seized the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and officially annexed it in 2014 during the Obama-Biden administration, so Biden should know that the Russian strongman will not be afraid of words alone.

Putin’s troop rush to Ukraine’s eastern border certainly matters in case Biden seems to have forgotten.

Whether Putin will actually invade is unknown, and it is possible that he is using the troops as a pressure point for concessions. Or maybe not.

Biden's own decisions have hurt his chances of dealing with Putin's build-up of troops near Ukraine.
Biden’s own decisions have hurt his chances of dealing with Putin’s build-up of troops near Ukraine.
Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

One guarantee is that Putin has no intention of allowing the former Soviet state to join NATO or become a Western outpost. Hence the military support for the separatist movement and dangerous construction in eastern Ukraine.

Even Biden’s warning of economic sanctions comes with caveats if Russia does invade. For sanctions to work, it would need the support of Germany and other European powers.

But Biden downplayed that possibility in May by foolishly waiving sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which moves natural gas from the Russian Arctic to Germany under the Baltic Sea, bypassing Ukraine.

Former President Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the project and its chief executive, a close ally of Putin. Biden scrapped the supposed penalty in favor of then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but the project puts Germany hostage to Putin’s game. If he turns off the gas in winter, Germany freezes.

In all, Europe gets about 35 percent of its gas from Russia, which makes Germany and others unreliable partners in NATO sanctions as well.

Similarly, Biden’s “diplomatic ban” of the Beijing Olympics is a weak-tea response to China’s human rights abuses, silencing Hong Kong dissidents and threats to invade Taiwan. China, like Russia, will not deviate from half-measures, which do not even equate to saber-rattle.

Iran, though much weaker than Russia and China, is equally courageous in giving Biden a brush-off. It would not get to renegotiate the nuclear deal with its negotiators, Trump left, leaving Biden to bid against himself in increasing concessions.

The "diplomatic boycott" of the Winter Olympics in Beijing is a weak response to human rights abuses in China.
The “diplomatic boycott” of the Winter Olympics in Beijing is a weak response to human rights abuses in China.
Photo by Kevin Fryer/Getty Images

Given the growing threats, the stinging rebuke of Robert Gates cannot be ignored. Biden, the former defense secretary, wrote, “Almost every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades has been wrong.”

Fortunately, Biden was not president during those earlier mistakes.

bipartisan honor

Bob Dole’s death is a rare moment that unites both parties and most Americans around the idea that the greatest generation was just that.

Those sentiments will dominate coverage and commentary as his body lay at the Capitol on Thursday and at his funeral on Friday. Then everyone in Washington would go back to their corners and start hating everyone else.

Chris Kuo’s ‘Fire Week’

Top radio man Mark Simone uses Twitter to tabulate Chris Cuomo’s very bad week. First CNN hit him with an axe, then Sirius Radio let him go, leading Simone to tweet: “Chris Cuomo fired again. This time HarperCollins fired her, canceling her book deal. He has been fired thrice in a week.”

The ‘Smashing’ Idea for Dem Votes

Reader Steve Marcinck has an idea too clever not to share. He writes: “Democrats are missing the boat by not having voter registration booths at all ‘Smash and Grab’ robbery locations.”

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