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?