Nikita Khrushchev

Ukraine Crisis, February 12, 2022: Analysis–Biden’s grave errors in framing the response to Russian aggression; to deter a Russian invasion, put force back on the table–IMMEDIATELY

Today is a good point to stand back from the mad rush of developments that suggest Russia, with an estimated 150,000 troops encircling Ukraine, may invade that country as soon as Wednesday, February 17.

Kori Schake does an excellent in pointing out Biden’s grave error in taking force off the table in dealing with Vladimir Putin.

Looking at the current Ukraine Crisis from a broader perspective, one can appreciate how Putin’s prior experience with Barack Obama and Joe Biden, when he invaded the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine in 2014, and above all as he observed Biden’s extraordinary demonstration of incompetence and poor strategic judgment in his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, might have led Putin to believe he could move against Ukraine with relative impunity.

In Ukraine, we may be witnessing the consequences of another fundamentally flawed Biden decision, or policy. Biden not only decided he would not use force to resist a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but announced publicly from the beginning that the U.S. would not use force, leading NATO members to make similar decisions.

In a word, what needs to be done now, urgently, is to put the potential use of force back on the table. Such an action could complicate Putin’s calculations, and give him cause to pull back from the brink.

Joe Biden is no Jack Kennedy, in Lloyd Bentsen’s famous words in the vice-presidential debate with Dan Quayle in 1988, but adjustments can be made. This is the United States. Adjustments can and must be made.

Biden’s defeatist approach to Ukraine: “If Putin invades Ukraine, we will sanction every clerk in his office.” In the meantime, U.S. clerks will go through the motions at the U.N. Significant risk of nuclear war exists.

The U.S. has called for an “open” meeting of the U.N. Security Council for Monday, January 31, the last possible day before Russia takes over the rotating Presidency of the Council for the month of February. It is not clear if this call was for an “Emergency Meeting” of the Security Council. If it wasn’t, it should have been.

The call for a meeting on Monday and not Friday reveals the total lack of urgency which seems to animate the Biden Administration’s actions.

Having not heard any serious international law arguments criticizing Russia’s actions and threats against Ukraine, one must assume that the call for a Security Council meeting is just a perfunctory gesture. Someone must have woken up and realized that the Russians were assuming the Presidency of the Council on Tuesday, which could make convening a meeting more difficult.

John F. Kennedy read The Guns of August by Barbara Tuchman in 1962. We should all be reading it now. And another of her books which which is highly relevant, The March of Folly (1984).

The Guns of August, which was published only months before the Cuban Missile crisis, appears to have had a deep impact on John F. Kennedy and his approach to decision-making during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Given how dicey that U.S.-Soviet nuclear confrontation was, it could be that one reason we are all here is that he read that book.

If you see international lawyers and diplomats on television talking about international law, there may be some hope for diplomacy.

If you see generals talking about military capabilities and deployments, we may be headed toward a major ground war in Europe, and the attendant risks of escalation to a limited nuclear conflict or to an all-out nuclear war.