Biden’s lack of a strategy for Ukraine shows that he does not have one for the United States

This week, the White House said it plans to release up to 180 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves, a million barrels a day for 180 days, to help lower nearly record gas prices that rose before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine but then spiked. It will be the largest oil spill from the U.S. Strategic Oil Reserve since its inception in the early 1970s, and it probably won’t work.

Specific reasons why this is unlikely to work – congestion on the Gulf Coast, possible cuts in supplies from Saudi Arabia and other oil producers, the fact that 180 million barrels over the next six months is not enough to offset Russia’s oil exports – not as important as what the announcement tells us about the Biden administration’s plan for Ukraine and how it fits into the United States ’main national security strategy.

This tells us the following: Biden has no plan for Ukraine, nor does he have a comprehensive national security strategy for the United States.

Future oil production in this regard is not unique. This is just the latest in a series of seemingly random, impromptu policies and statements by the Biden administration that have sown confusion among our allies and predict weakness and indecision in the wider world.

Some blame Biden for not doing more to help the Ukrainians, some have done too much and risked open war with the nuclear power. However, these critics should share the conviction that Biden’s conflicting signals over the past month are the indecisive and constant transfer of military aid to Ukraine, the absence of any congresses for Russia, the total economic war with Moscow, virtually no efforts to promote or encourage negotiations. – were perhaps more dangerous than any clear and consistent policy could have been.

As the war drags on, the problem gets worse, not better – more chaos, less clarity. Consider last week’s so-called “gaps” during Biden’s trip to Europe. He told members of the 82nd U.S. Airborne Division in Poland that they would see the courage of Ukrainians “when you’re there,” believing that US troops would soon enter Ukraine.

He said the United States would respond “in kind” if Moscow used chemical weapons in Ukraine, meaning that we would launch a chemical weapons attack on Russia. Then in his big Warsaw speech, he rebuked that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot stay in power”, which sent White House aides to explain that no, Biden did not announce a policy of regime change in Russia, he simply said that Putin could Don’t let it invade its neighbors. (But then on Monday Biden said he “does not apologize” for his statement and “returns nothing.”)

At the moment, no one is sure what the Biden administration’s plan is to help end the war in Ukraine, what it sees as a stable peace, and even if regime change in Moscow does disappear because of the White House. politics. Biden has not announced any conditions for easing sanctions against Russia, has not formulated any vision of how Ukraine can “win” or what it might look like, and with each new Biden “breaks” a window for the United States to take the lead in negotiating political the settlement narrows.

All this suggests that Biden has no idea what American national interests are and what our national security strategy should be – in Ukraine or elsewhere. It seems he only vaguely feels that big and powerful countries should not invade their smaller and weaker neighbors. But if they do, how should America respond? What goals or national interests should guide our response? What should be our priorities? Biden and his advisers don’t seem to know.

They better understand. The war in Ukraine heralds a new era in geopolitics, in which rival states such as China will insist on their claims and pursue their ambitions by all means they have. It is no longer enough to hide behind the banality of a “stronger than ever NATO alliance”, as if only this covers American national interests. It is not enough to insist, as then-Secretary of State John Kerry did when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, that “you simply do not behave in the 21st century in the style of the 19th century, invading another country on completely contrived grounds,” as if just wanting to make it happen.

Now we need what we have least: clarity and determination. We need clarity about our main adversary, China, and a determination to prioritize deterring China first and foremost.

Elbridge Colby noted recently in Time that a return to world military dominance enjoyed by the United States in the “unipolar moment” after the collapse of the Soviet Union is now impossible even with increasing military spending. While we need to spend more on defense, he says we first and foremost need a strategy that prioritizes “the ability to deny China, our greatest challenge to date, the ability to subjugate Taiwan or another U.S. ally. in Asia, while also enabling us to modernize our nuclear deterrence and support our counter-terrorism efforts. ”

If the information reports about the recently completed classified version of the National Defense Strategy by the Biden administration are accurate, then we are in trouble. According to Foreign Policy, the administration apparently postponed the deployment of a national security and defense strategy because the Pentagon was making last-minute adjustments in light of the war in Ukraine, “suddenly shifting its focus from a U.S. defense strategy that looked to China.”

One thing we need to move from China no to do. The war in Ukraine underscored the need for a clear assessment of what the United States can and cannot do abroad, and what the national interests really are. We can condemn Moscow’s attacks on its neighbor and work to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people, while recognizing that our great security concerns are not in Eastern Europe but in the Asia-Pacific region.

Indeed, we need not only a defensive strategy to deter China, but also an economic strategy. This includes policies aimed at American corporations doing business in China, allies trading with China, and, indeed, a wholesale reassessment of world trade and global supply chains. China is in fact our only equal competitor, and without a laser focus on deterring Beijing, even if it means allowing Europe to take more responsibility for its own security, we are likely to soon find ourselves watching another great country invades the smaller.

If that happens, hopefully there are people in the White House who won’t be taken by surprise without wondering what to do, and invent it along the way.


John Daniel Davidson is the senior editor of The Federalist. His works have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post and others. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.

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