Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman is credited with coining the phrase, “War is hell.” He was right of course. It’s the reason American leadership demands the use of all the tools at our disposal to deter conflict. In the absence of that deterrence, when conflict erupts, leadership requires not tepidness and fear, but a strategy to win any such war.
This month, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will enter its second year. Despite President Biden’s attempts to spin a yarn about strength and resolve, the historical record should reflect that this is his war.
Any contention that war in Ukraine was inevitable is pure political revisionism. The war in Ukraine should have been stopped before it started by strong U.S. leadership that was willing to leverage our extraordinary military and intelligence apparatus to save innocent lives.
Russian dictator Vladimir Putin gave Mr. Biden a year to enact a deterrence regime using a small number of U.S. military personnel and the repositioning of U.S. and NATO assets. Mr. Biden failed to act.
Rewind to 2021. Mr. Biden knew from the buildup of forces and his intelligence agencies that Mr. Putin was ready to invade. Instead of sending a clear message that the U.S. and NATO were prepared to support Ukraine’s defense, he equivocated. He even publicly threw cold water on Mr. Putin’s resolve to invade.
He pulled U.S. military trainers out of the country, closed our embassy and told American citizens that they should depart because they wouldn’t be rescued. Mr. Biden denied Ukraine’s request for a no-fly zone, refused to send any U.S. naval vessels into the Black Sea and repeatedly said publicly that providing significant U.S. military support would be tantamount to causing World War III.
Mr. Putin responded with an invasion that sources believe has now claimed more lives in a year on both sides than all deaths associated with the two decades of war in Afghanistan. The infrastructure of one of the largest countries in Europe has been obliterated. The atrocities committed by the Russian Army and its mercenaries are comparable to those of Islamic terrorists and the Nazis.
After establishing the conditions that led to the war, Mr. Biden then chose to prolong the conflict at the cost of countless more lives and billions of U.S. tax dollars. His piecemeal approach to providing weapons after the invasion has drawn out the conflict, allowing time to expose fissures in the NATO alliance, imperiling it as an institution.
Absent an escalation on the part of Russia, it is likely that NATO will continue to be dragged kicking and screaming to support Ukraine, weakening it even further in the face of the New Axis of China, Russia and Iran. The president also has failed to convince Turkey to support NATO membership for Sweden.
Mr. Biden is now trying desperately to carve a solid strategy out of the sandy foundations he built for the U.S. engagement. Restarting the Iran nuclear deal talks, the collapse of relations with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the devastating withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a military struggling to recruit its next generation mean the Biden national security team has a winless record. The Ukraine invasion itself was yet another loss.
None of this should be surprising. Packed to the gills with remnants of former President Obama’s “lead from behind” crowd, Mr. Biden’s top advisers—including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence—have proven they don’t have the stomach for bold action in the face of aggressors like Mr. Putin. That imperils national and global security.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has allowed himself to be used as a prop for a race-obsessed administration and has proven to be little more than a warm body as our defense strategy is driven by liberal think tankers at the White House and State Department with no stomach for war.
Of course, the drip, drip, drip approach to arming Ukraine has created an environment for fraud, waste and abuse of U.S. resources. More direct U.S. involvement and a more rapid deployment of resources, including some measure of our own personnel, would have mitigated the potential for abuse of U.S. assets.
Conservatives who are rightfully concerned about the aid packages shouldn’t train their ire at President Volodymyr Zelenskyy or abandon the war effort. They should blast a commander-in-chief who helped precipitate and prolong the conflict.
War is messy and comes with significant costs and risks. This war is another product of a European-style foreign policy emanating from a naive White House that has repeatedly telegraphed fear rather than resolve. There was no strategy to prevent it. There is no strategy to stop it. It is conclusively Mr. Biden’s war.
• Tom Basile is the host of “America Right Now” on Newsmax TV, an author and a former Bush administration official.