Mr. President, already pull the winning shot in Ukraine
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his military forces in Donbass and Kherson are operating in a vacuum, and the Biden administration has once again become mired in escalation paralysis, unwilling to take the initiative needed to bring a fatal blow to Russian troops in Ukraine. Seemingly afraid of forcing the Kremlin to a playoff end, President Biden is playing for a draw the way European football does: win if you can, but focus mostly on not losing. This kind of “wait and see” approach can work in a football game given a tight time limit; however, in Ukraine where there are no clocks, this could be a recipe for turning the conflict into an “eternal war”.
Strategic ambiguity is effective as a pre-war deterrence strategy, but it is not a winning war strategy. Biden’s illogical failure to use this as his primary tool of war could unnecessarily prolong the war in Ukraine, seriously harm the United States and the global economy, and strain the NATO alliance. It could also weaken any global response that may be needed to confront an increasingly militant Beijing. According to China’s Foreign Ministry, President Xi Jinping, angered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California)’s planned trip to Taiwan, warned Biden in his July 28 phone call that “those who play with fire will perish.”
Biden’s reluctance to deliver a knockout blow to Putin exposes him to domestic criticism that his administration is following Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel, a former White House chief of staff,’s maxim: “You never want ‘a serious crisis be wasted’. Key administration figures and supporters appear to be adopting this tactic, coining phrases such as “Putin’s gas tax”, “Putin’s war” and “Putin’s price hike”, in an attempt to justify and blame 9.1% inflation and gas costs. around $5 a gallon, as they and others push the green energy policies of the progressive left.
We’re past the 90th minute of the football game and into overtime, and Biden, inexplicably, refuses to take a shot to win the game. So far, its only clearly stated objective is to weaken Russia. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, during his trip to Kyiv with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in mid-April, told reporters that “the United States wants to see Russia weakened and unable to recover quickly.” — and after nearly six months of fighting, Blinken confirmed in late July that the Pentagon believes NATO has indeed achieved Biden’s goal. So Washington and Brussels had their cake and were able to eat it too, but now Biden seems unwilling to win the rest of the cake for Ukraine.
Nevertheless, Putin seems desperate and this war can be boiled down to a matter of personal survival. More than half of its force – more than 75,000 men – are believed to have been killed or wounded in Ukraine. Militarily, Putin is running out of replacements. In a power play reminiscent of Joseph Stalin forcing Mao Zedong to wait 10 days at a Moscow dacha before meeting him, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan kept Putin comically cooling his heels and waiting for his arrival in a music video that got more of 100,000 views. In our football analogy, Erdoğan’s elbow hit Putin in a tactical foul – an intentional, illegal tackle to knock your opponent down before they could score. How the once mighty Russian bear fell!
Putin’s economy is out of control. To keep funding its “special military operation”, Russia has reduced its oil by as much as $30 a barrel, selling it to India, China and whoever wants it. Even former members of the Soviet bloc, once invaded and dominated by the Kremlin, seem willing to exploit Moscow’s changing economy, including Hungary. Putin undoubtedly sees in this a means of calling into question the unity of NATO and the European Union; however, in reality, Hungary probably sees Russia as a cut-price gas station.
Militarily, Ukraine benefited from the US-provided High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which targeted and destroyed key supply depots and transportation systems supporting US dominance. Russian artillery. Moreover, Ukraine recently launched a counter-offensive in Kherson. But counter-offensives require manpower, preferably a ratio of three to one, and superior firepower. The news that the United States will send four more HIMARS and plans to deliver A-10 Warthogs to Ukraine is welcome; however, the continued fragmented shipment of arms to Ukraine to avoid escalation in a war Russia has unleashed defies reason. Let’s give Ukraine what it needs to win the war.
It’s time for Biden to start flexing American muscles and stop cowering in front of the Russian smokescreens of escalation. Instead of letting Erdoğan negotiate with Russia for the release of grain from Ukrainian storage facilities in Black Sea ports, the United States and NATO should send navy ships to the Black Sea to escort the product to the world market. A Russian signature on any document has no value. The ink had not even dried on the Turkish-brokered deal when Russian missiles began falling on Odessa. Washington should dictate the terms from NATO’s position of strength, not acquiesce to Moscow.
There’s a saying in American sports that you shut your opponent down when the opportunity presents itself and don’t let them hang around until the second half or fourth quarter, when they can take its momentum and you fight. Great athletes such as Larry Bird, Michael Jordan and Tom Brady played their best when the game was on the line – at the end of the game. The Biden administration unnecessarily keeps Putin hanging around firing the buzzer.
Biden must act immediately. He may have won the White House by playing it out of his basement during the campaign, but wars aren’t won by playing it out of a bunker. They are won on the battlefield – through bold and decisive action. This is something that Russia understands and would be obliged to respect. Shoot, Mr. President.
Jonathan Sweet, a retired Army colonel, served 30 years as a military intelligence officer. His experience includes stints with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Intelligence and Security Command. He led the U.S. European Command’s Intelligence Engagement Division from 2012 to 2014, working with NATO partners in the Black Sea and the Baltic. Follow him on Twitter @JESweet2022.
Mark Toth is a retired economist, historian and entrepreneur who has worked in banking, insurance, publishing and global trade. He is a former board member of the World Trade Center, St. Louis, and has lived in US diplomatic and military communities around the world, including London, Tel Aviv, Augsburg, and Nagoya. Follow him on Twitter @MCTothSTL.