Biden’s Latest Nadia Comaneci Moves On Ukraine
For a crusty, old, demented codger, Biden is doing the political equivalent of a gymnastics floor exercise. He is proving to be extraordinarily agile and flexible on policy redlines, doing a complete 180 on ATACMS and appointing an Inspector General to verify Ukraine is not selling off U.S. military aid to the black market.
Let me refresh you on what the Biden team was saying some months ago. First, ATACMS. This is from December 2022:
Responding to Ukrainian demands during Zelensky’s visit, Joe Biden was more explicit than ever in refusing to send Kyiv ATACMs, which would be able to strike targets within Russia. The US president warned it risked alienating European NATO members. “They’re not looking to go to war with Russia,” he said.
“With ATACMs, escalation is the primary concern,” Joshi said. “They could attack quite deep within Russia, and if the Ukrainians were to use them to do so, that could well cause a fissure within NATO about how to respond. There’s a range of European countries, including in southern Europe, that are wary of escalation.”
The U.S. military leadership at the Pentagon was very much against this in September 2022, according to NBC News:
The Biden administration has held off on a request from Ukraine to provide longer-range missiles over fears it could provoke a dangerous response from Russia, with senior Pentagon officials opposed to the idea, according to two military officials.
Biden’s reversal on ATACMS is another visible sign of growing desperation in the Biden Administration to find some way to boost Ukraine’s faltering military. Biden is willing to risk going to war with Russia in order to quiet Congressional critics that he is not doing enough to help Ukraine stave off the Russians. This is both stupid and dangerous.
We learned today that Biden’s State Department has appointed an Inspector General for Ukraine. The flip flop on appointing an Inspector General for Ukraine military sales is pure politics. This is a sharp departure from the Biden position just a few months back:
The White House on Monday told lawmakers it opposes a provision in the House’s annual defense policy bill that would create a special inspector general for Ukraine aid, modelled after the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.
It looks like Biden caved on this issue in order to buy Republican support for a deal to keep the U.S. Government open and able to write checks. Republicans have been pushing for this for more than a year and, until now, were rebuffed repeatedly by Biden. I think the Biden Administration finally realized that it had to concede on this issue or risk losing support for any additional funding. This is typical Washington, DC politics — make a symbolic gesture so that Republicans can have a hollow victory that will not change anything on the ground in Ukraine over the near term. The still unanswered question is whether this move will suffice to placate members of the Freedom Caucus, who are threatening to torpedo any deal to keep the Government open past 30 September.
With these moves the Biden Administration is sending a stark message to Russia — we are going to ensure Ukraine can stay in the war and are willing to risk going to war with you. Sending ATACMS is a game changer, but it does not boost Ukraine’s chances of beating the Russians. It is a “game changer” because it increases the risk that Russia may feel compelled to start hitting NATO targets that, up till now, it has left alone. A very perilous time.
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Author: Larry Johnson