Alan Zendell, February 19, 2022
As I watched President Joe Biden address the nation, yesterday, talking about Russian President Vladimir Putin and the likelihood that Russian forces will invade Ukraine in coming days, I felt proud. He was strong and clear. There was no sign of the life-long stuttering that his opponents like to seize on and interpret as creeping dementia. He was terse and to the point making sure the world knew that America’s solidarity with the European Union and NATO was unbreakable.
He was also clear that the western alliance of democracies would continue to supply Ukraine with weapons and equipment and would strenuously execute Article 5 of the NATO Treaty, the one that requires all member nations to defend each other if any one of them is attacked, if that occurred. He promised that if Russia invaded, especially if it targeted Ukraine’s capital, Kiev, a city of “2.8 million innocent people,” the west would impose crippling economic and diplomatic sanctions.
These would include shutting down the Nord Stream 1 and 2 pipelines Russia built to supply natural gas to western Europe. Between loans and financing by the state-owned Gazprom company, Russia spent sixteen billion euros (eighteen billion dollars) constructing pipes from Siberia to the North Sea to provide Europe with more than a third of its natural gas. Loss of the revenue it receives from those pipelines would be a devastating blow to Russia’s economy. It would also increase energy costs in Europe, but there is no sign of weakening resolve on the part of the EU.
As I listened to our president yesterday, I was grateful that the man speaking was Joe Biden. Can you imagine what we would have heard if it had been Donald Trump? Trump couldn’t even state publicly that Russia had hacked into the 2016 election after our government’s entire security apparatus had shown him and the world media compelling evidence. Recall that Trump’s fist impeachment resulted from attempting to blackmail Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky into providing non-existing evidence against Hunter Biden during the 2020 campaign by illegally withholding billions of dollars in weapons the country needed to defend itself against Russia.
Recall, too, how Trump was hounded by reports of being indebted to Russian banks and oligarchs to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars and that his former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was sentenced to seven years in prison for fraud over his business dealings with Russia and Ukraine. Trump never divested his interest in his businesses, as he was required to by law, which, combined with his history of attempting to build Trump hotels in Russia, fueled suspicion that Putin had evidence that could have destroyed Trump. That and Trump’s public worshipful treatment of autocrats like Putin, Xi Jinping, and Kim Jong Un, while attacking European leaders and even Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, combined with ill-advised tariffs and a costly trade war had left our traditional alliances in a shambles.
Yesterday showed us that in one year in office, Biden has restored the Western Alliance. It’s no small thing that the EU and NATO are standing firm, diplomatically, economically, and militarily against Russia. The failure of the post-World War 1 western alliance to recognize and stand up to German and Japanese aggression made the second world war inevitable. As political scientist David Rothkopf wrote in The Daily Beast, “The reality [is] that Trump’s record on Russia—and the damage he did with our allies and at home—set the stage for the crisis that Biden and his team are expertly managing today. Don’t forget Trump said on the campaign trail that he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia and recognizing occupied Crimea as Russian land.”
Biden has shown resolve and unwavering strength in dealing with Vladimir Putin, something we never saw from Trump, who was clearly enamored with the Russian autocrat and jealous of the power he could wield unfettered by a constitution that protected human rights. Were Trump in office today, not only would Russia feel free to invade and occupy the sovereign nation of Ukraine, but that likely would have been the final blow that destroyed NATO.
Our nation is fortunate to have a president who is both a natural leader and a statesman. Joe Biden has spent his life in foreign relations. He understands that diplomacy and defending America are not about ego or personal wealth and power. They are the sworn duty of the President. He also understands that strength in the face aggressive action by a leader like Putin is the only thing that will prevent the destabilization of our essential alliances.
Isn’t it wonderful that in Joe Biden we have a president who is willing to wear the mantle of Leader of the Free World once again?