Sunday, March 27, 2022

Biden is Crystal Clear: Brezhnev Has to Go!


Friends, I jest.  Our glorious leader does seem to be minimally aware that the current President of Russia is Vladimir Putin.  In fact, he dislikes Putin almost as much as he dislikes Donald Trump, and that's saying something!  My latest article tackles Biden's recent spate of gaffes while on his European tour, and I suggest that an American leader this sloppy in his implementation of U.S. foreign policy hasn't been seen since...well, ever.  Sure, the media like to claim that Trump was a loose cannon, but how many countries did Russia invade while Trump was in charge?  We all know the answer to that one.

Biden Unfit to Lead in this Perilous Moment

By no means are Americans in agreement about the degree to which we should support Ukraine in its conflict with Russia. Some believe we should stay well out of it, while others favor much more robust assistance to the Ukrainian people. A growing and vocal minority believes that the time has come to intervene directly in the conflict, despite the inherent risk of World War III, up to and including nuclear war.

Hopefully, there is one thing that Americans and people throughout the West can agree on: now is the time to consider our actions and words extremely carefully, and to make thoughtful, rational choices and to articulate our goals with absolute precision. After all, a Russian misreading of our intentions could produce direct confrontation between Russian and American forces, which is, at this stage, an outcome which most Americans are still eager to avoid.

Unfortunately, Joe Biden is President of the United States. His European tour has so far yielded a litany of rhetorical blunders any of which, in itself, could destabilize U.S.-Russian relations, could produce unintended and undesirable escalation on the Russian side, or could simply exasperate our allies and thus damage the unity of NATO as it faces down Russian aggression.

First, Biden declared that, if the Russians used chemical weapons in Ukraine, we would respond “in kind”. U.S. officials had to walk back that statement, since, of course, the U.S. (theoretically) has no chemical weapons, and we would be prohibited by international law from ever using them if we did.

Next, Biden told U.S. troops in Poland that they would personally observe the courage of the Ukrainian people “when you're there”. Many understandably took this to mean that Biden foresaw the deployment of U.S. forces inside Ukraine. American policy, however, is that, while we support Ukraine's struggle and intend to give weapons to the Ukrainian military, we will not intervene militarily ourselves. Biden's advisors thus had to explain that, in fact, Biden did not mean what he appears to have said.

Lastly, Biden declared in a fiery speech that Russian President Putin “cannot remain in power”. The Russians, and many in the West, took this as a direct call for regime change, which, once again, is a direct contradiction of U.S. policy, which does not seek to alter Russia's government or infringe on its sovereignty, but only to dissuade it from current and future aggression.

Biden, of course, has a history of making gaffes and blunders. Presumably, therefore, many world leaders, including those in Russia, are inclined to shrug off these clumsy remarks as the ravings of a buffoon, whose mental acuity is simply way overtaxed by the demands of the presidency. At least, this is the best case scenario.

The worst case scenario is that Biden's confrontational, interventionist rhetoric will be taken seriously – that it will be assumed that Biden is telegraphing a clear intention to escalate U.S. involvement in Ukraine and eventually to confront Russia directly on a battlefield of his choosing, perhaps after U.S. and Western public opinion has been adequately prepared by rousing Russophobic speeches like the ones he is now delivering.

Let us reflect, briefly, on the possibility that Biden's statements should be taken seriously, and do reflect his intentions, even if he did not mean to tip his hand so blatantly. What might be the consequences of a decision at the highest levels of the U.S. government to “take on” Putin's Russia?

For one thing, the more America confronts Russia, the more we risk World War III and nuclear combat, which in turn means, as the hazards multiply, the unity of NATO is likely to fracture. NATO is currently united around a strategy which involves redeploying some NATO forces eastwards, but not into Ukraine; sending Ukraine weapons of moderate effectiveness, but not other weapons which might provoke Russia; and imposing sanctions on Russia, but not energy-related sanctions that could damage Europe's economy. That is the most unity that NATO and the West have yet been able to muster. Biden's provocative statements, and perhaps his aggressive intentions, threaten that fragile consensus and could fracture the Western alliance altogether.

The bigger risk, though, is that Russia will take Biden seriously. If so, Russia may conclude that, before Biden gets the opportunity to thrust American military forces into Ukraine, or to engineer an anti-Putin coup, it had better gird its loins and complete the destruction of Ukraine's military and the occupation of its territory. Russia might decide that the urgent completion of these tasks, moreover, requires it to use weapons of mass destruction to neutralize enemy forces. Were that to happen, then the West is already committed to inflicting dire (although completely unspecified) consequences on Russia – consequences that undoubtedly would bring us closer to World War III that at any time since the Cuban Missile Crisis.

This, then, is the mess that Joe Biden has got us into. The irony is that he ran for president as a man who could bring experience, maturity, and sound judgment back into the White House. Instead, in the past few days he has been modeling just the kind of loose talk and sloppy execution of diplomacy and strategy that, historically, engenders misunderstandings, war, and epic tragedy.

Sadly, it's too late to change presidents in the midst of this terrible crisis. It may not be too late, however, to ask Joe Biden politely to go back to his basement where he belongs – and where he's unlikely, or at least less likely, to get us all killed.

Dr. Nicholas L. Waddy is an Associate Professor of History at SUNY Alfred and blogs at: He appears on the Newsmaker Show on WLEA 1480/106.9.


And here it is at American Greatness: 




In other news, Elon Musk is suggesting that Twitter has worn out its welcome as the digital "public square", and we need a new social media platform that genuinely embraces free speech.  DJT is trying to provide that in "Truth Social", of course, but so far its functionality leaves a lot to be desired.  Wouldn't it be nice to see Musk himself get into the social media game? 

Lastly, I applaud Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for pursuing a genuinely neutral course in the context of the Russia-Ukraine war.  Orban, almost alone of Western leaders, has resisted the siren song of Russia-bashing.  When the ICBMs start to fly, maybe Putin will give Budapest a pass?  That would be nice -- it's a lovely city.


  1. Dr.Waddy from Jack: You have authored a well written and taken, highly plausible assessment of the Ukraine situation and of our good cause for very serious doubt of our leadership's competence in this terrible time. Of particularly fine perception is your observation that an imminent, perhaps even limited nuclear exchange might fracture Nato. Nato west of Russia lacks the land mass of Russia and North America. France might be the first to bail.But perhaps uch Nato dissolution might even cause Russia to back down from the abyss! Having lived ,as a somewhat attentive juvenile observer of current affairs, through the Cuban Missile Crisis, I agree with your opinion that we approach that level of existential danger. But this time it is WE in whom the decision rests whether to persist in our ill advised provocation of a terribly puissant power. '62 was over quickly but it was unimaginably harrowing!

  2. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Ehh, the picture you posted appears to depict good 'ol Gerry Ford receiving a haymaker from 100 auto possessing Marxist Leonid. But for Michigan All America lineman Ford this might have been of little consequence.

  3. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Hungary very understandably tried to break loose of the Russian yoke in 1956 and received an object lesson in Russian brutality. Perhaps Orban acts upon this; though one could then question Hungary's membership in Nato. He may well see now possible a revisit from the Rus or their missiles. Why I know: let Hungarian George Soros mediate!

  4. Jack, it depends on how quickly events move, but my guess is it would take a lot less than a nuke to fracture NATO. Probably half of it would already like to sanction Russian energy...but the other half insists on shelving that idea because of its reliance on that same energy. Some of NATO would clearly love to send more and beefier weapons to Ukraine, but that notion has been vetoed by the more circumspect. Anything like a no-fly zone or an intrustion of U.S. forces into western Ukraine would be a deal-breaker for a lot of Europeans. It may come to pass!

    Jack: I on the other hand find it easy to see why Hungary would want to be part of NATO. NATO has no role in Ukraine, as Orban correctly perceives. NATO is simply the U.S. security umbrella extended (willy nilly?) over all of Western and Central, and a bit of Eastern, Europe. What a deal!

  5. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Oh one cannot fault any country which has suffered the oppressive Russian boot some assurance against its reappearance in their land. Astoundingly, Russia countenanced it post 1989. But Ukraine was a step too far and after repeated warnings, the Rus acted! Russia is still Russia and any Russian leader would have been driven thus to decisive extremity of some sort. That it is now manifested in characteristic Rus brutality is a possibility we should have seen as quite possible should Russia react. We foolishly assumed they would not. Its not as if some Russia experts ( eg Dr. Stephen Cohen,late of NYU) did not caution us and suggest that we could trigger a reverse Cuban Missile Crisis! Russia is a historically hard, hard nation, in part because of its monstrous winters but also by extended historical chaos ( "chaos" in the comprehensively disorderly sense in which the Greeks held it). It should never be provoked without the most seriously considered unavoidable purpose! Though it is too late for many Ukrainians, let us YET learn from this!

  6. You know, Jack, I've been meditating on that Russian "brutality", and it seems to me that, for all the propagandistic coverage we're getting, the Russians, if they really wanted to brutalize Ukrainian civilians, are capable of killing a lot more than a thousand of them. I submit to you that, when one compares how this campaign has been waged to previous bouts of Russian "brutality", it doesn't hold a candle. I guess what I'm saying is that the reasons for Russia's failures in Ukraine are manifold, but one of them may be that they HAVE been brutal, to a point, but not nearly brutal enough to intimidate the Ukrainians into compliance. That could be an argument for retreat OR escalation, from the Russian perspective.

  7. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Perhaps the most striking example of intense Russian brutality toward other peoples is to be found in WWII. But that should, I think, be discounted because the monstrous Boche had driven them insane. How about the Stalin's ghoulish treatment of both Great Russians and so many others within the USSR? I agree , the Russians overall have not yet inflicted such massive mayhem but in places like Mariupol they have already worked unshirted hell on Ukrainians. We may very soon see if they purpose increased evil.

  8. You know, Jack, part of me wonders why there are any civilians left in Mariupol, when there have been numerous convoys that have departed it. But you're right: the physical destruction there is immense, and it's hard to understand how anyone or anything survives there. A side note: were the Russians foolish to prioritize the conquest of Ukrainian cities in the first place? Are they making the same mistake the Germans made at Stalingrad?

  9. Dr. Waddy from Jack: Dang, that's a great question. How supremely ironic! I would not put it past the astonishing effectiveness of the Ukrainians!