Joe Biden arrived 55 minutes late today to give a short presser on the ongoing crisis between Russia and Ukraine. Following his comments, the president then took only three, pre-selected questions, before leaving for what I’d assume is another long weekend of naps and pudding.
Is that the kind of effort you’d expect from a man supposedly trying to defuse a major incursion into Europe? Probably not, but it’s what we’ve come to expect from Biden, perhaps the least hard-working president in American history.
Still, despite his concerning physical appearance and seeming drowsiness, Biden did manage to say a few things of note in the presser. Namely, he is once again proclaiming that a Russian invasion of Ukraine will come in the “coming days.”
BIDEN: “We have reason to believe that Russian forces are planning and intend to attack Ukraine in the coming week—coming days.”
“We believe that they will target Ukraine’s capital Kyiv…”pic.twitter.com/17LFyMb8Te
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) February 18, 2022
NOW – Biden: "As of this moment I'm convinced he [Putin] made the decision," to invade Ukraine. pic.twitter.com/qyGGl54bpi
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) February 18, 2022
How many weeks does this make of the White House making this same proclamation? Remember when the invasion was going to happen before the Olympics? Then it was going to happen a week ago, when the United States evacuated its embassy. Then the Russians were going to attack on Wednesday. That day came and went like those before it — without incident.
I’m not saying Russia won’t eventually invade. In fact, I think it’s more than likely at this point in time. What I am saying is that it makes the United States look weak and incompetent to keep making these predictions and have them not come true. In fact, I’d posit that Putin knows exactly what he’s doing in that respect, and that Biden is playing right into his hands.
Besides, to the extent that Biden’s continual beating of war drums can be considered a strategy, I’m convinced it’s the absolute worst one imaginable if the goal is to discourage Russia from invading Ukraine. By spending almost a month confidently insisting that a Russian invasion is “imminent,” Putin has now been unnecessarily backed into a corner. He almost has to invade now, in order to avoid the embarrassment he would suffer if he doesn’t, at home and abroad.
Instead of giving Putin multiple off-ramps to save face without actually gaining anything, the White House has systematically taken away the possibility of de-escalation with its short-sighted rhetoric. Further, by leaving Russia little choice but to invade in order to not look weak, Putin is now in a position to gain even concessions from NATO and the United States. After all, if an invasion is a forgone conclusion, then any last-ditch efforts to stop it will naturally include more giveaways.
In short, Biden has given Russia even more leverage by overly legitimizing the threat. It’s also worth noting that the White House’s strategy has run directly counter to that of Ukraine, whose leaders have sought to quell fears and talk down the possibility of war in order to not tempt Putin.
What exactly is the play here? Does Biden believe he’ll benefit politically from a Russian invasion if he is seen as having predicted it? I’d suggest that’s incredibly naive. Or perhaps Biden thinks that if he keeps saying something enough, that Putin will be petty enough to just do the opposite? That also strikes me as a desperate ploy from a man who is in over his head.
Whatever this administration is trying to do, they are showing themselves wholly incapable of doing it. The incompetence on display from the top down is striking. In fact, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think Ben Rhodes was back in the White House. That’s how ludicrous the administration’s response to all this has been.
And to be clear, I’m not suggesting Biden’s rhetoric means he actually wants a war. Anyone proclaiming that is outthinking themselves. There is no situation where the Democrat Party doesn’t get utterly destroyed domestically if a war breaks out in Europe on their watch. Rather, what we are seeing is a president who just doesn’t have anything better to offer. This “cry wolf” strategy is the best he’s got.
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