Biden's Russia-Ukraine diplomacy is a debacle
Far from rallying the free world as its leader in reacting to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, President Biden's diplomatic team has been publicly snubbed and humiliated by even putative allies. Rather than "restoring respect" for the U.S., as Biden promised to do, his administration has severely damaged America's standing as a country to be heeded.
You would not know it from the saturation-level media coverage of the ongoing crisis, focused as it is on demonizing Putin for the crime of invading a sovereign neighbor. But without even so much as defending our own border, much less invading another country, the Biden administration has managed to alienate a large share of the world.
Two serious public rebukes from allies Tuesday are signaling to the world community that America's views and initiatives don't matter as much as they used to barely over a year ago.
Poland, a vital and well armed ally, humiliated Secretary Blinken after he tried to force it to provide Soviet-era Mig fighters to Ukrainian pilots who were trained in them. Rather than send the jets to Ukraine, Poland offered to transfer them to U.S. ownership (free of charge if the U.S. replaced them with equivalent American used fighters) at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany (in the opposite direction of Ukraine), leaving it up the U.S. if it wanted to send them to Ukraine on its own responsibility. Sundance summarizes:
Earlier this afternoon, Poland called Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's bluff, over the U.S. claims that Poland was going to send fighter jets into Ukraine. This followed Sunday's announcement where Poland said the U.S. State Dept was lying.
Blinken on Face the Naiton (YouTube screen grab).
Earlier today, Poland said they would give the U.S. the planes if Blinken and Biden wanted to start World War III, but Poland wasn't going to help the U.S. create a war with Russia. This put the U.S. in a 'put up or shut up' position. Well, Blinken and Biden just folded, per the Pentagon:
Pentagon – We are now in contact with the Polish government following the statement issued today. As we have said, the decision about whether to transfer Polish-owned planes to Ukraine is ultimately one for the Polish government. We will continue consulting with our Allies and partners about our ongoing security assistance to Ukraine, because, in fact, Poland's proposal shows just some of the complexities this issue presents.
The prospect of fighter jets "at the disposal of the Government of the United States of America" departing from a U.S./NATO base in Germany to fly into airspace that is contested with Russia over Ukraine raises serious concerns for the entire NATO alliance. It is simply not clear to us that there is a substantive rationale for it. We will continue to consult with Poland and our other NATO allies about this issue and the difficult logistical challenges it presents, but we do not believe Poland's proposal is a tenable one. (read more)
Serious as is Poland's mockery, the rebuke suffered from our key Middle East Arab allies is perhaps even more devastating. In an exclusive story, the Wall Street Journal has revealed that leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are refusing to take Biden's personal calls. This is the very definition of a snub.
The White House unsuccessfully tried to arrange calls between President Biden and the de facto leaders of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates as the U.S. was working to build international support for Ukraine and contain a surge in oil prices, said Middle East and U.S. officials.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the U.A.E.'s Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan both declined U.S. requests to speak to Mr. Biden in recent weeks, the officials said, as Saudi and Emirati officials have become more vocal in recent weeks in their criticism of American policy in the Gulf.
"There was some expectation of a phone call, but it didn't happen," said a U.S. official of the planned discussion between the Saudi Prince Mohammed and Mr. Biden. "It was part of turning on the spigot [of Saudi oil]."
These two countries virtually alone have the capacity to increase oil output to replace the Russian oil Biden announced a boycott of, and to make up for the restrictions on U.S. oil production that Biden began implementing on Day One of his presidency. Both countries are being hugely enriched by the run-up in oil prices (as are Putin, Maduro of Venezuela, and the mullahs of Iran). But other actions Biden has taken have also alienated them:
The Saudis have signaled that their relationship with Washington has deteriorated under the Biden administration, and they want more support for their intervention in Yemen's civil war, help with their own civilian nuclear program as Iran's moves ahead, and legal immunity for Prince Mohammed in the U.S., Saudi officials said. The crown prince faces multiple lawsuits in the U.S., including over the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.
The Emiratis share Saudi concerns about the restrained U.S. response to recent missile strikes by Iran-backed Houthi militants in Yemen against the U.A.E. and Saudi Arabia, officials said. Both governments are also concerned about the revival of the Iran nuclear deal, which doesn't address other security concerns of theirs and has entered the final stages of negotiations in recent weeks.
Other friendly, if not formally allied, major countries also are not on board with Team Biden's plans to cripple Russia. ZeroHedge reports:
First, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro declined to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Then, India followed suit — as the Modi government attempted to balance its historic ties with Moscow and its strategic partnership with Washington. (snip)
So for those keeping track, while the west has continued to insist that Russia is isolated — and make no mistake, these sanctions will be immediately crippling — if one considers the population and resources which originate in China, India, Brazil and the Middle East kingdoms — basically half the world's population and those who control most of the world's commodities aren't on board with punishing Putin or easing the situation to the west's benefit. (emphasis in original)
The magnitude of incompetence on display in Biden diplomacy is staggering. An old saying from Harvard Business School is "As hire As. Bs hire Cs." But when the commander in chief is a D, whom does he hire? The answer is Ron Klain, Antony Blinken, and Jake Sullivan.
Photo credit: YouTube screen grab.