Biden should talk about Ukraine and Russia all the time
It’s good politics, and right on the merits.
He should frame the war as a fight against fascism, a fight against looming genocide, a fight to preserve freedom in Europe and democracy in America. He should make it clear that the Ukrainians need to do the fighting, but that we will support them with weapons and sanctions. He should acknowledge that it will require a modest sacrifice from Americans, but that we have never shied away when justice is on the line.
A Ukrainian victory – something that involves, at a minimum, no gain of territory for Russia, reparations, and real security guarantees for Ukraine – is clearly in our national interest. Yes, the threat of nuclear escalation is real, but an unchastened Russia is also a very serious threat, and Biden’s rhetoric will do little to raise the threat of nuclear escalation if he stays away from loose talk about regime change.
Talking up the valor and righteousness of the Ukrainian cause and detailing the atrocities committed by Russia will help prevent Republicans from going soft on the war effort and refusing to support continued aid, a real risk.
Rallying Americans to the defense of Ukraine will surely hurt Trump and Trumpism.
It will discredit Putin and make totalitarianism less appealing to the American right, or at least a political liability.
Talking about Ukraine gives Biden a chance to remind Americans that they should be much, much more grateful for American democracy than many seem to be.
Giving Americans a foreign adversary will distract attention from our never-ending culture war squabbles. Of course, using war to distract attention from domestic problems has a bad history, but in this case we happen to be on the side of justice and humanity.
Giving Americans a sense of larger purpose will help Americans feel better about their own situation.
Educating people about the havoc the war is causing – in oil and gas markets, food markets, etc. – and reminding them of it daily – will make them more understanding of the economic disruption the war is causing. Sure, many people will be skeptical, or unforgiving, but you can’t persuade anyone if you don’t get your story out there.
Talking tough will give Biden an opportunity to appear strong, and to counter criticism that his withdrawal from Afghanistan was weak.
Talking up Ukraine and badmouthing Russia might make Biden look bad if Russia ends up on top. But it sure looks more hopeful than domestic policy for Biden and the Democrats right now. Every story about domestic policy makes Biden and the Democrats look ineffectual. I suppose there is still some possibility of a domestic policy victory that will boost the Democrats’ standing, but many of the proposals in the hopper are penny ante stuff that will do little to improve the mood of the country or inspire Democrats to turn out in the mid-terms.
What am I missing?
I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m getting sick of the war. It seems to me to be a disaster for everyone except the weapons makers and fossil fuel companies. Sure, we can weaken Russia without having to do the fighting and hopefully without starting World War 3, and we can sell our LNG to Europe for much more than they’re paying for Russian gas, making money for US companies and weakening Europe’s economies. And tons of people in the third world will be plunged into deeper poverty because of higher food and fuel prices, partly due to the war but also largely due to the sanctions. I don’t see much to feel good about. I would like to hear Biden say something about trying to end the war. I’m not sure that what you define as a Ukrainian victory is in our national interest (or Ukraine’s), considering Putin could well use nukes before he would allow it. We can hope that he will be ousted, but there’s no guarantee his replacement would be any better.
I agree we should not try to oust Putin, to reduce the risk of escalation and because there is no guarantee his replacement would be better. But if we are going to support Ukraine with weapons and sanctions – and I think we should – then Biden should talk about the stakes. I also think we should support Ukraine with weapons and sanctions – not the point of my post – because the alternative would be a humanitarian disaster, possibly a genocide, and it would embolden Russia and possibly China and demoralize NATO. I also agree the United States should support negotiations, and that our interests may at some point diverge from Ukraine’s, but I don’t see this happening now. A significant conflict might never emerge; in any event we can cross that bridge when we come to it. Finally, I agree that lots of bad things are happening as a result of the war, but I don’t think there is much Biden can do about them without forcing a catastrophic surrender on Ukraine.
I think that what you are missing is that most Americans don’t care that much about Ukraine. They care much more about gas prices and inflation, which the war is exacerbating.
Biden should concentrate on finishing the Iran nuclear deal, getting a reconciliation BBB through Congress and using executive actions to improve our lives.
Right now Americans do support Ukraine. This may fade, which is why I think Biden needs to do what he can to make Americans feel that they are really on the right side of history here. I agree that gas and inflation are big issues, but I don’t see what Biden can do about those problems; all he can do is put them in context by keeping people focused on the war. A scaled-down BBB might be helpful politically and good on the merits if Congress can pull something off; yesterday Manchin made noises about drug prices, which may be the most popular policy likely to be included in a scaled down package. I am very skeptical that Biden can do much through executive action, both because the actions he can take are small potatoes and because he will likely be challenged in court and in many cases will lose. I’m not opposed, but I don’t see the promise in executive actions that some progressives see. I think Dems either need bigger congressional majorities – which clearly isn’t looking likely – or they need to compromise with Republicans. This is, obviously, not a popular thing to say.
Thanks for your thoughtful response. I agree that most Americans do support Ukraine. I find myself personally agreeing with 99 year old Henry Kissinger and think it’s time to look for an exit. The $40 billion to Ukraine represents $120 for every American. I think that we have more pressing needs at home, and our continued military support is prolonging the conflict.
I don’t think this war helps Democrats politically, no matter how much Biden talks about it. On the other hand, penny ante measures like raising the minimum wage, tough IRS audits, talking about the estate tax and anti trust regulation have real world consequences.
Most folks from USofA can’t locate Ukraine on a map. We don’t give a rats ass about it, despite unyielding efforts to convince us to do so. Many realize that we are complicit in forcing the war to begin with, and in continuing it. I somehow suspect if the president was an R, you might realize that also. Your D allegiance is warping your thinking.
I’m sure it’s true that most Americans can’t locate Ukraine on a map, but many would have trouble locating England or Germany, or correctly identifying the 50 states on a blank map. Not sure what that shows. Most people do support Ukraine and NATO. I think the “we are complicit” line is still pretty well confined to Fox etc. And even it’s true, which is highly debatable, it’s not clear why that matters. Suppose you drive carelessly and damage a tire on your car. Would you not get it repaired because you caused it?
Exactly. “doug’s” right-wing allegiance is warping his “thinking.” Defending Ukraine against a Russian invasion and military occupation is right and just.
Putin’s invasion and military occupation of Ukraine parallels Bush’s invasion and military occupation of Iraq. Both were wrong and were mistakes, and both deserve condemnation by right-thinking (and genuinely conservative) people.
I generally agree with Kramer here. I don’t think it’s only Fox that says the US is complicit. The True Left says the same thing.
I don’t think much of the people who care more about the price of gas, or bread. There is such a thing as evil in the world. And dangerous evil that needs to be fought with courage and sacrifice and risk.
The problem for this view is that every war of aggression, or mere stupidity, is also justified by claiming the other side is a dangerous evil that must be fought or we will all die.
Doesn’t mean that you don’t need to try to tell the real from the false.
Of course Putin might be surprised that we object to his following our example, but then we never threatened the world with nukes if they imposed sanctions on us or aided out victim.
Biden is probably wise to refrain from attacking Russia on its own soil. I am not sure he is wise in not attacking the Russian invader on Ukraine soil. I could be wrong, but I don’t think the war would last an hour after that. And I don’t think the Russians would respond with nukes. But if we don’t call their bluff, they will just get stronger and try it again.
On a saner note, we have a good chance of beating the Russians at this game just by increasing the sanctions, and, to repeat myself, I have no patience with those not willing to “endure” the sacrifice in money it would require of us.
i seem to recall no one took Putin seriously when he mobilized his troops along the Ukraine border…
We’re all Neocons now. Making the world safe for democracy.
No there is a difference between Neocons and recognizing an immediate and ongoing threat.
Not “making the world safe for democracy,” but making it safe for you and me.
Dale you should review the text of President Biden’s State of the Union speech. He said, regarding Ukraine, “We will save democracy.” And just to make sure I understand you, are you saying Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is an “ immediate and ongoing threat” to the U.S.?
i guess I don’t follow politicians rhetoric as closely as you do. But yes I regard Putin as an immediate and ongoing threat to the U.S.
I at least took Putins “routine exercise” at Ukraine’s border seriously. So did the Biden Aministration. i would have massed American air power, at least, on the Ukraine side. If Putin went ahead and invaded, American air power could have stopped him at the border. Biden may have had a better plan with sanctions and arming Ukraine. Remains to be seen if we follow through.
I can’t tell if your comment laments not taking Putin massing at the border seriously, or not taking the nuclear threat seriously. I take them both seriously.
coberly, i don’t think my comment “laments” anything; i was just drawing a parallel to show that Russia might not act in a way that’s expected; it wasn’t my intention to include anything personal in what i posted…
i wasn’t thinking you meant anything personal. I am not at all sure what your parallel was meant to imply about Russia not acting in a way that’s expected. The US “expected” him to invade. I think they do not expect him to loose his nukes, but don’t rule out that he might not act in a way that they expect.
My gut feel is that Ukraine is on the ropes. I think I mentioned here a couple weeks back that seeking longer-range weapons sure seemed odd if the reporting about general successes was an accurate description of the military situation. Sort of guessing here, but to survive, Ukrainian forces really can’t remain closely engaged with Russian forces. I don’t like the idea of Biden ramping up the messaging if within a couple months the choice probably will be taking a deal that’s hard to accept or risking something pretty awful to stave that off.
Curious. Russia pulled back out of much of Ukraine as told by confirmed reports in Europe.
Long range weapons to combat Russian long-range weapons beyond the capability of the 155mm howitzer. This could also just be rocket assisted rounds for the 155 howitzers.
Reports of Ukraine forces gaining ground “slowly” and resisting Russian attempts to completely take cities in Eastern Ukraine.
They do not do charges of the Light Brigade or Banzai attacks anymore. So in the beginning it is medium and long range attacks. Grunt to clean up.
In the end, we do not have to accept anything. The Ukrainians will have to accept it. So far, I think Biden is doing the right thing with NATO and Ukraine support and jawboning.
So, what is your military analysis?
Mainly that the long-range weapons have been requested because when in close contact with Russian forces, Ukrainian forces are taking too heavy casualties to sustain operations. In essence, the actual movement of the front is not very important, but the degradation of the opposing forces is and it is not favoring Ukraine. They would like to disengage and move an appreciable distance away from the Russians but still have some kind of weapons that they can reach them with. I am no expert, but a few clear hints I think are out there as to who is “winning”. Kissinger is no Putin-puppet and without parsing his thoughts overly, I think he believes that Ukraine has to make a deal soon. Even Biden in explaining the recent package described it as giving Ukraine a chance at negotiating from as good a position as possible and not something more positive like pushing Russian forces right out of the country. As for Ukraine but not the US having to accept a deal, I agree with that, but worry that doing what Eric Kramer suggests about talking about it constantly would eventually get the US prestige (or perceived prestige) so entwined with Ukraine that it will feel to Biden and his policy aides that they have to do something to prevent Ukraine from making certain concessions.
I think that Russia is executing their fundamental plan now and only went for Kyiv as a kind of gamble that they might fold easily. They didn’t, but I don’t think that bothers the Russians all that much…it was worth a shot, but nothing critical hinged on it. Ukraine has some very tough choices to make in June.