President Joe Biden’s trip to Europe last week was intended to show him as the leader of the free world. According to the White House, he was supposed to bolster NATO’s resolve to provide essential military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine in repelling Russia’s unprovoked invasion. Biden needn’t have bothered. Vladimir Putin’s vicious war crimes against civilians and Ukraine’s courageous, charismatic president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, have already done that.
The real goals for Biden’s trip were threefold. First, his vaunted “national security team” instructed him to avoid “provoking” Putin and limit the kind and quantity of weapons provided to Ukraine’s freedom fighters. Second, he was told NATO, Zelenskyy and other Euro-leaders would jump for joy about new financial sanctions against Putin and pals. Third, and likely most important to Democrat Party power brokers, Biden was supposed to say and do things to help his (and their) abysmal poll numbers. He failed on all three counts.
Jens Stoltenberg, NATO’s secretary general, undermined Biden’s first objective by inviting Zelenskyy to address the “emergency NATO summit” in Brussels via video link from Kyiv while under fire.
Zelenskyy was blunt about being slow rolled on munitions deliveries: “To save people and our cities, Ukraine needs military assistance — without restrictions.” He got specific: “You have thousands of fighter jets, but we haven’t been given any … We asked for tanks … You have at least 20,000 tanks … but we do not have a clear answer … The worst thing during a war is not having clear answers to requests for help.” And the zinger, “NATO has yet to show what the Alliance can do to save people … This is truly the most powerful defense union in the world. And the world is waiting.”
It was a perfect opportunity for an American president to unequivocally state, “We all need to do more, faster, to help Ukraine defeat this unprovoked invasion and quickly win this awful war!” It didn’t happen. Putin’s army continues digging in to defend the territory they have seized, kill as many women, children and elderly as possible and turn Ukraine’s cities into rubble with long-range artillery, rockets and missiles.
Biden’s announcement of new financial and trade sanctions against Russia went over in European capitals like the launch of a lead balloon. New sanctions are unlikely to alter Putin’s decision to continue the war. Experts say Russia supplies 40% of Europe’s natural gas, nearly 30% of its petroleum and more than 45% of European coal — most of which is used for generating electricity. Even if Europe eschews buying another ounce of Russian fossil fuel, the People’s Republic of China will find a way to do so — and thereby fund Putin’s aggression. The promise of expanding U.S. exports of liquified natural gas is a positive measure, but it will require two years to construct the infrastructure to make it happen.
Finally, the hoped-for enhancement of Biden’s reputation as a credible, trustworthy and effective world leader simply did not happen. The shadow of his miserable performance carrying out the evacuation of Afghanistan hangs like a millstone around his neck. His only consistent theme is a feckless, don’t-make-Vlad-mad approach to supporting Ukraine.
Biden’s gaffe-ladened trip was full of botched messages that did little to help Ukrainians defend their country against Putin’s vicious assault. Calling Putin a “butcher” is certainly true but hardly helpful to his deescalation efforts. But he saved his prize-winning ad-lib for his final speech in Warsaw, Poland, where he closed with remarks describing Putin’s crimes against humanity with, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
Some prayers to our God Almighty are best said silently.
Oliver L. North is a combat-decorated U.S. Marine, No.1 bestselling author, and founder and CEO of Fidelis Publishing LLC and Fidelis Media LLC. Find out more about him at www.olivernorth.com. David Goetsch is a Marine Corps veteran, member of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame, professor of business, Christian counselor, and author of 76 books. Find out more about him at www.david-goetsch.com.