Joe Biden, the great peacemaker!
Putin probably has no intention of invading Ukraine. Oh, he is sure the Russians would win, but the human and financial costs would be staggering, world opinion (which he does care about) would be condemnatory, and the guerrilla war that would follow a Russian victory would make the Soviet Union's Afghanistan adventure look like a forgettable skirmish.
The Kremlin has correctly sized Biden up as a weak president who is desperate to distract attention from his many failures and collapsing poll numbers. What the Russian strongman must do to get much of what he wants from the West is present a credible threat to a neighboring state and the specter of nuclear weapons at the ready if things go sideways. The European Union is terrified by that prospect. Even though leaders might suspect Russia is bluffing, they also know that what starts out as a bluff may become "I'm all in" if someone misplays a hand.
What does Putin want, and what is he likely to get, from a befuddled president?
- A moratorium on admission of additional states to NATO.
- A reduction of U.S. troops in Eastern Europe
- Dismantling of missile defense batteries along Russia's borders
- Assurances that America's and Europe's dependence on Russian fossil fuels continues.
What does Biden get if Russia announces a troop pullback and really follows through? Tensions ease. Hosannas from all quarters flow to Biden the peacemaker, the master negotiator (though details of the "understanding" would not be made public). In America, the euphoria following Russia's drawdown would obliterate inflation as the big story, replaced by the narrative of nuclear Armageddon avoided because of the cool and focused man in the Oval Office. COVID missteps? Old news. And who would dare question the cognitive state of the president who tamed the Russian bear?
In a flash, midterms suddenly seem salvageable for Democrats, with Biden traipsing around the country playing the role of master diplomat. Republican prospects in November dimmed by Biden's "genius"? Wouldn't surprise me if both Putin and Biden saw this possibility as a desirable outcome. Collusion?
Steve Grammatico is the author of You Hear Me, Barack? PC-Free Conservative Satire. He blogs at You Hear Me, Barack? A Repository of Conservative Satire, where he has just posted a piece on Biden and Guns.