Biden slams Russia as invasion exposes Putin’s litany of lies
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As the biggest European ground war since 1945 breaks out, some things are painfully clear:
Vladimir Putin lied every step of the way, saying he was withdrawing troops, then he only wanted to protect Ukraine’s rebellious eastern provinces, then Ukraine has no right to exist, and now that it protects its citizens against “neo-Nazi” genocide.
President Biden has been telling the truth every step of the way, exposing Putin’s false flag fictions and insisting that he did not set out to invade a sovereign country.
Politicians and pundits who dismissed these warnings and tried to blame Biden for this geopolitical crisis, or doubted or excused Putin’s intentions, were wrong.
There is ample room to criticize the president’s tactics, or the West’s delusion that Russia would be deterred by the threat of harsh financial sanctions, since its autocratic leader has already factored in that cost of doing business. . But, given the near-universal consensus that two nuclear powers shouldn’t fight a ground war, especially on the Russian border, Biden didn’t have many cards to play.
Do Americans care?
There is another line of thinking among the media and politics that, while issuing ritualistic denunciations of Putin, believe that most Americans don’t care much about Ukraine. Now I can offer geopolitical arguments as to why this is a test of the NATO alliance which was founded in the last century to deter Soviet aggression, especially with Putin trying to put pieces back together of this collapsed empire.
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But from a practical standpoint, we are looking at more than just higher energy prices. The impact on the global economy could have serious repercussions. A massive refugee crisis is likely to occur. It is, without insisting too much on it, an international catastrophe.
Biden gave the strongest speech of his presidency on Thursday, accusing the Russian dictator of “naked aggression”, “desire for empire by any means necessary. … Putin will be an outcast on the international stage.” He unveiled the sweeping sanctions designed to cripple Moscow’s banking system, stifle exports and decimate the country’s economy, which he acknowledged would also cause pain at home.
Responding to reporters’ questions, the president was sidetracked by CNN into a discussion about why he didn’t personally sanction Putin (a symbolic measure that would be impossible to enforce) or why there are no sanctions. even more important (Europe is not on board). Biden was asked why the threat of sanctions didn’t stop the invasion (he never claimed they would) or if they would change Putin’s behavior now (he said financial repression needed time to operate).
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Disdain for the truth
Putin’s utter disregard for the truth extends to how he crushed a free press in his country. Russia’s internet regulator has threatened to amend or ban any media that goes beyond “information from official Russian sources” about Ukraine. In other words, they are reduced to organs of propaganda.
There is little doubt, as the casualties mount, that the understaffed and outclassed Ukrainians will be defeated. Initial Kremlin airstrikes targeted military targets, but there is no guarantee that civilian areas will not be bombed if deemed necessary.
New York Times columnist Bret Stephens makes an interesting observation:
“Putin wants Ukraine under his thumb far more than the West wants to keep Ukraine in its orbit, and he is willing to pay a higher price to get it… For the West, Ukraine is another complex crisis he will eventually tire of. A third upside is the correlation of wills: Putin wants to change the geopolitical order of Europe and is willing to take big risks to do so. wants to preserve a fragile and increasingly lackluster status quo.
I have often reflected on this question of national will. The United States had overwhelming firepower in Vietnam, but the North outlasted us with guerrilla tactics until the war led by Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon lost popular support.
America poured huge resources into Afghanistan, but after two decades people had clung to it to the point where Donald Trump made plans to pull out and Biden calamitously executed those plans. The Afghans also outlived the Soviets; they didn’t have to win, only to avoid losing.
Motives matter, of course. Vietnam and Afghanistan were civil wars. The United States was fighting Soviet-backed Communism by trying to help Saigon; he was trying to stamp out the terrorism condoned by Kabul after 9/11. Putin, on the other hand, has no real justification for this invasion.
Trump may laud Putin as a genius, but the Russian leader is an increasingly irrational actor, willing to wreak havoc on the world to pursue his fantasy of rebuilding the evil empire.
I don’t want to sound apocalyptic, but what is happening in Ukraine is too reminiscent of Hitler’s invasion of Poland in 1939. Clearly the West does not want to go down the road of appeasement, but if Putin gets away with it – as he did annexing Crimea eight years ago – he will be all the more emboldened.
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If the war in Ukraine drags on – or becomes a contested occupation – how long will it stay in the US media headlines? With no US troops directly involved, will the press revert to focusing on inflation, the midterm elections, the virus and January 6?
It would be an inadvertent gift to Vladimir Putin.