Biden’s lack of strategy for Ukraine shows that he has no one for the United States either

The White House said this week that it plans to release up to 180 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves, one million barrels a day for 180 days, to help reduce near-record gas prices that rose before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. but has since pointed. It will be the largest oil spill from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve since it was established in the early 1970s, and it is unlikely to work.

The specific reasons why it probably will not work – congestion on the Gulf coast, a possible reduction in supply from Saudi Arabia and other oil producers, the fact that 180 million barrels over the next six months is not enough to offset the loss of Russian oil exports – is not as important as what the Communication tells us about the Biden administration’s plan for Ukraine and how it fits into an overall national security strategy for the United States.

What it tells us is this: Biden has no plan for Ukraine and no overall national security strategy for the United States.

The impending release of oil is not unique in this regard. It is merely the latest in a series of seemingly haphazard, improvised policies and statements by the Biden administration that have sown confusion among our allies and projected weakness and indecision into the wider world.

Some blame Biden for not doing more to help the Ukrainians, others for doing too much and risking open war with a nuclear power. What these critics should share, however, is the belief that Biden’s conflicting signals over the past month – half-hearted and constantly changing military aid to Ukraine, the absence of any off-ramps for Russia, total economic war against Moscow, virtually no action for to facilitate or encourage negotiations – may have been more dangerous than any clear and consistent policy could have been.

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

He said the United States would respond “in kind” if Moscow used chemical weapons in Ukraine, suggesting we would launch a chemical weapons attack on Russia. So in his big Warsaw speech, he exclaimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “can not remain in power”, which prompted White House aides to clarify that no, Biden did not announce a regime change policy in Russia, he just said that Putin can not be allowed to invade his neighbors. (But on Monday, Biden said he “has no excuses” for his statement and that he “does not go back.”)

At present, no one is sure what the Biden administration’s plan is to help end the war in Ukraine, what it thinks a stable peace can look like, or whether regime change in Moscow is really out of the question. questions about the White House. politics. Biden has not announced any conditions for easing sanctions against Russia, formulated no vision for how Ukraine can “win”, or what it might look like, and with each new Biden “gaffer” the window for the United States to take the lead in a negotiated political settlement is narrowed.

All of this suggests that Biden has no idea what the US national interest is or what our national security strategy should be – in Ukraine or elsewhere. He only seems to have a vague sense that large and powerful countries should not invade their smaller and weaker neighbors. But when they do, how should America react? What goals or national interests should guide our response? What should be our priorities? Biden and his advisers do not seem to know.

They better find out. The Ukraine war heralds a new era in geopolitics, where rival powers like China will push their demands and pursue their ambitions with whatever tool they have. It is no longer enough to hide behind the jargon of a “stronger than ever NATO alliance”, as if it encompasses US national interest alone. It is not enough to insist, as then-Secretary of State John Kerry did when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, that “in the 21st century, one simply does not behave in the 19th-century way by invading another country on a completely trumped-up pretext. , ”As if one just wished it would do so.

What we need now is what we have least: clarity and determination. We need clarity about our biggest opponent, China, and the will to prioritize the containment of China above all else.

Elbridge Colby recently noted in Time that a return to global military dominance, such as the United States enjoyed in the “unipolar moment” after the collapse of the Soviet Union, is not possible now, even with increased military spending. Although we need to spend more on defense, he says, what we need first and foremost is a strategy that prioritizes “being able to deny China, our by far biggest challenge, the ability to subordinate Taiwan or another American allied in Asia, while also enabling us to modernize our nuclear deterrent and maintain our fight against terrorism. “

If news reports on the Biden administration’s recently completed, classified version of the national defense strategy are accurate, then we’re in trouble. According to Foreign Policy, the administration apparently delayed the roll-out of its national security and defense strategies because the Pentagon made last-minute adjustments in light of the war in Ukraine, and “suddenly shifted focus from a US defense strategy that had eyes on China.”

Moving our focus from China is one thing we should does not do. The war in Ukraine has underscored the need for a clear-cut assessment of what the United States can and cannot do abroad and what national interests really are. We can condemn Moscow’s predation on its neighbor and work to alleviate the suffering of the Ukrainian people, while acknowledging that our major security challenges are not in Eastern Europe, but in the Asian Pacific.

In fact, we need not only a defense strategy to curb China, but also an economic strategy. It includes policies targeting US companies doing business in China, allies trading with China, and indeed a wholesale reassessment of global trade and global supply chains. China is in fact our only peer competitor, and without a laser-like focus on limiting Beijing, even if it means letting Europe take more responsibility for its own security, we will probably soon find ourselves seeing another major country invade a less.

If that happens, then let’s hope we have people in the White House who will not be surprised, who are wondering what to do and inventing it as they go.

John Daniel Davidson is a senior editor at The Federalist. His authorship has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Claremont Review of Books, The New York Post, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter, @johnddavidson.

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