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Biden's Limited Options in Ukraine are Mostly Self-Inflicted
The fact that European countries are effectively vassal states of Russia isn't helping.
To no one's surprise, the war in Ukraine began last week when Russia invaded the country on a massive scale. The Ukrainians have fought bravely, but are vastly outnumbered. The outcome is inevitable, with the Ukrainians in the future probably reduced to insurrectionist activity to make the Russians pay as high a price as possible for their perfidy. Almost two million Ukranians have fled the country and who knows when they'll be able to return.
Biden, again to no one's surprise, has been alternately defiant and confused. While his State Department and White House spokesmen have insisted sanctions were a deterrent, it became blindingly clear that they were not and on Friday the 25th of February and the second day of the invasion, the Biden Administration conceded they were not. Then Biden flew off to Delaware for an ice cream cone…or something.
Biden's sanctions amounted to little more than punishing a few Putin cronies and a couple of banks that do business with the west. The most effective sanction, and potentially the most lethal to the Russian economy, would be to eject Russia from SWIFT, the international banking transaction system that allows payment processing between member nations. Remove Russia and their ability to get paid for oil and gas exports, or to pay for imports, is severely crippled. Well, it took a few days, but the US and the Europeans finally screwed up their courage and removed several prominent Russian banks from the SWIFT system making sure, of course, to leave just enough prominent Russian banks in SWIFT to ensure Europe could continue to buy Russian oil.
Germany Steps Up
Perhaps the biggest surprise was the turn-around in Germany's attitude when the new Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, suddenly did an about-face and declared that Germany would increase its defense spending—finally—to the two percent of GDP required of NATO members, something it ha refused to do while huddling under the US's nuclear umbrella. Additionally, Scholz announced that Germany would provide Stinger missiles and anti-tank weaponry to Ukraine.
Germany has been in the unenviable position of being trapped between the West and Russia and it has for years tried to be a mediator between the two. It invested in the Nord 2 pipeline even as everyone foresaw that dependency on Russian gas would sooner or later prove problematic. Nevertheless, Germany has seen the light—for now—and is moving in the right direction.
Other European countries have promised limited support for Ukraine, but the big question is whether they have the fortitude to stick it out if the war drags on. If Russia ceases shipments of gas to Europe and energy prices soar even more than they already have, the smart money is betting the Europeans cave.
The other 800-pound gorilla in the room is China. China is drooling over Taiwan and the Taiwanese are watching how we deal with Putin in Ukraine. The surprise is that China hasn’t taken advantage of a weak US president distracted by Ukraine and presented him with the possibility of hostilities on two fronts. And you think Biden is confused now?
Where Are The A-10s?
The Russian's 40-mile long convoy that bogged down in northern Ukraine could have been sitting ducks for a flight of A-10 Warthogs. Unfortunately, Ukraine doesn't have them and NATO isn't about to step in and provide any. Production of the A-10 ceased in 1984, though it has been upgraded several times. The Air Force has been trying to get rid of them for years in favor of something sexier like the F-35, but they've been stymied so far. A few squadrons of A-10s, which were designed for tank busting, would go a long way in Ukraine's war against the Russians.
What Biden Didn't Mention in His State of the Union
Defense. He said not a word about defense. With Russia on the march and NATO scrambling to position themselves to repel any Russian incursion into a NATO country, Biden said nothing about upgrading our own depleted forces.
We have a navy of about 250 ships and need 500. Most of our frontline fighters were designed in the 1980s and are in need of upgrades. Much of our military leadership is spouting nonsense about climate change being our greatest security threat even as the Russians are shelling Europe's largest nuclear power plant in Enerhodar. Our military ranks are being "purged" of white supremacists in a bow to wokeness.
The US has allowed our own military and defense capabilities to wither on the vine as funds are diverted to social programs (in other words, vote buying), diversity training, and tossing cash from helicopters in order to convince the deplorables their government cares about them. You can't make this stuff up.
The Scary Part?
The Democrats have the remainder of this year to inflict as much economic damage as possible before the November 2022 mid-term elections render Joe Biden a lame duck president after the Republicans take over the legislative branch in January 2023. This assumes Vladimir Putin is bluffing when he threatens to unleash nuclear weapons and change the current cold war into a hot one. If Putin is as insane as some analysts think he is, then all of this may be moot as we hide from radiation and try to put out the fires caused by the overwhelming stupidity that abounds within political circles these days.
And that is scary.