Biden must announce our interests in Ukraine, or risk losing our freedoms

Outnumbered – Monday, April 4

On today’s episode, Brian Brenberg is ‘Outnumbered’ as President Biden talks about having a war crimes trial against Vladimir Putin. Later, three Attorney Generals sue Biden over the move to end Title 42.

President Joe Biden must tell the American people what national interests are at stake in Ukraine to justify our investment. Right now, our actions appear to be based on emotion, which is the wrong motive to address such critical matters, a real weakness.

The perception of Biden’s weakness is palpable in part because his statements and actions are devoid of identifiable national interests when it comes to key foreign policy issues like the justification for our role in the Ukraine war.

Tanya Nedashkivs’ka, 57, mourns the death of her husband, killed in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Monday.
(AP/Rodrigo Abd)

Yes, it is heart-wrenching to see all the death and destruction across Ukraine but presidents must take decisions based on things other than personal moral outrage like what Biden said in Poland: “For God’s sake, this man [Russia’s Vladimir Putin] cannot remain in power.”

Real leaders rationally identify our national interests in their strategic documents and public statements, which is something lost on the Biden administration. All we hear from our president are dangerous gaffs and misguided policies.

It is important for Americans and the world to know what Biden considers significant, otherwise everything is important which really means nothing is consequential. That’s the case with the Biden White House, and as a result the world senses weakness.

Unfortunately, President Biden’s foreign policy is not only weak but also chronically dangerous for America. Why else would he ignore the Pentagon’s brass to abandon our allies in Afghanistan, leaving that country to terrorists? Why would Mr. Biden depend on our enemy, the Russians, to revive a nuclear deal with the radical mullahs in Iran who promise to wipe Israel off the face of the earth?

Russia’s assault into Ukraine is evidence of other geopolitical failures. The Obama/Biden administration failed to properly respond to Moscow’s assaults into the Republic of Georgia (2008), and Crimea and Donbas (2014). Evidently, Putin learned a lesson from those missteps: crime does pay and Ukraine is now suffering the consequences.

It is not too late for President Biden to begin anew, however. He should explain our interests in Ukraine and link them to the shifting global environment which pits the West’s liberal world community against the authoritarians – China, Russia and an assortment of autocratic regimes scattered across the globe.

This context is key to understanding our true national interests in Ukraine. Biden could illustrate this critical interest by asking: What might have happened if in World War II communist Russia stuck with the axis of Germany and Japan? The post War world might have come to be ruled by a Leninist, a Nazi and a Japanese militarist.

Unless we are careful, we could face a similar future. Today, we are experiencing the emergence of an alliance of authoritarians led by Russia and China. Biden should explain that the Ukraine war is likely the latest shot in this new contest of global wills.

At this point President Biden should identify our national interests relative to Ukraine and announce his strategy to attain those outcomes. Here are a few interests to consider.

First, the preservation of the current world order that advances liberal western values is an important national interest. However, authoritarian regimes like Russia and China seek an alternative world order that could alter the map of nations, change global governance, enrich themselves and much more. Would a Moscow-controlled Ukraine threaten the current world order?

Second, we seek a stable Europe. That region is an important trading, ideological, and security partner threatened by Putin’s voluntary war with Ukraine.  We must answer the question: Does a Russian-controlled Ukraine destabilize Europe?

Third, we seek to avoid a global nuclear war. Russia with its large nuclear arsenal appears more willing than the West to threaten to use such weapons. So, it is a national interest to mitigate behavior that might contribute to such an outcome.  Therefore, we must ask: Does our support of Ukraine push us closer to a nuclear war?  We must tread carefully here unless we accept the risk because of other conflicting interests.

There are many more national interests at play vis-à-vis the Ukraine war.  Test each interest, deconflict them, and make a reasoned conclusion about our way forward.

Even if none of our interests involve a free Ukraine, that doesn’t mean we step-back and watch Putin destroy that country.  No, we should provide arms and do what’s necessary to punish Russian aggression.  Unfortunately, there will always be those who throw caution to the wind, ignore our true national interests, and join the fight despite the risks.

At this point we must soberly assess whether the Ukraine war is likely a foretaste of the future global contest between the freedom-loving West and the new alliance of authoritarian states, not that different from the wars in Korea and Vietnam that littered the half-century-long Cold War. That’s why it’s important for President Biden to outline our interests, his strategy, and the costs.

Therefore, if more Ukraine-like wars are in our future, then President Biden must explain why we need to increase our military investment and why energy independence is a priority and detail the necessity to keep pushing back against the authoritarians across the world. He must also explain the consequences of failure.

Unfortunately, Biden has a failing record when it comes to advancing America’s interests. Here at home, he has done just the opposite by throwing wide open our southern border to millions of illegals, marginalizing our military with woke policies, gutting our energy independence, and spending our grandchildren’s future.

Yes, Americans hate what they see in Ukraine. The Russians are indiscriminately killing the innocent and turning that country into a moonscape. That’s horrible and we must help. However, our aid must support and further our national interests, not just sooth our understandable emotions.

President Biden must announce to the world our national interests and strategy to counter global authoritarians starting with the Ukraine war. Failing to do so will lead to a further loss of confidence at home and among our allies and inevitably will squander our resources and perhaps our very freedoms.

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