Putin and the Rational Actor Fallacy

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.