Joe Biden’s Apathetic Approach to Putin Is Alienating America’s Allies

COMMENTARY Global Politics

Joe Biden’s Apathetic Approach to Putin Is Alienating America’s Allies

Mar 25th, 2022 3 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Nile Gardiner, Ph.D.

Director, Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom and Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow

Nile Gardiner is director of The Heritage Foundation’s Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom and Bernard and Barbara Lomas Fellow.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a St. Patrick's Day event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 17, 2022. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Joe Biden has been sleeping from behind on the Ukraine front from day one. His leadership on the world stage projects a staggering complacency.

Biden’s willingness to partner with the Russians over a new Iran nuclear deal demonstrates a lack of seriousness in isolating Moscow on the world stage.

President Biden needs to act like the leader of the free world and work on reassuring our allies, projecting strength and resolve in the face of the Russian bear.

One of Barack Obama’s advisers famously described him as “leading from behind” on the Libya crisis. His Democratic successor in the White House is doing even worse. In fact, Joe Biden has been sleeping from behind on the Ukraine front from day one. His leadership on the world stage projects a staggering complacency that lacks urgency, foresight or any kind of strategic vision.

As he heads to Europe this week to attend a vital NATO summit in Brussels and meet with Polish leaders in Warsaw, there are growing concerns in Europe with the lack of leadership from Washington. Many British and European officials I have spoken to in recent weeks are dismayed by what they see as a distinctly lackluster and at times apathetic approach from the Biden White House with regard to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

In many respects Biden has become a pundit-president, commenting on events rather than shaping them. In a speech this morning, he warned the world that Putin is "considering using biological weapons", but failed to explain in any depth what he, as the president of the United States, would do in such an eventuality. His doctrine, if indeed there is one, is muddled and confused, and the US Commander in Chief moves at the speed of a tortoise baking in the hot sun on moments of major global crisis.

Biden’s overall approach on Ukraine has consistently been reactive rather than forward looking, and has been heavily risk averse at every step. There has also been no big-picture strategy from Biden for confronting Russia as a global adversary, and a fundamental lack of long-term visionary thinking from his administration.

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The weak-kneed Biden approach has strained America’s alliances, with confidence in the world’s superpower on the wane. There exists a striking lack of belief in US leadership across the Atlantic at this time, especially in the wake of the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal.

In contrast to Boris Johnson, whose leadership in standing up to Putin’s Russia has been outstanding, Biden has only acted after facing immense pressure to do so. He was alarmingly slow in sending defensive weapons to Ukraine, refused to move forward with oil sanctions against Moscow until the US Congress pressured him into doing so, and has frequently appeared to be kowtowing to the Russian dictatorship, citing a desire to avoid “escalating” tensions with the Kremlin.

Biden’s willingness to partner with the Russians over a new Iran nuclear deal demonstrates a lack of seriousness in isolating Moscow on the world stage. The British Government should break with Biden on the Iran negotiations, and refuse to sit at the same table as Putin’s genocidal regime.

The U.S. President should be rallying the NATO alliance and the free world instead of playing a back-seat role. He has been far too deferential towards Putin over Ukraine’s request to send Polish MiG 29 fighters. And his refusal to work together with Poland in sending the much-needed aircraft to Ukraine effectively threw the Poles under the bus, sending the wrong message to America’s allies at a time when the Ukrainians need all the help they can get. It is time for Biden to work with Poland in helping ensure that Ukraine’s courageous military can combat Russia effectively in the skies.

While in Europe, Biden must also strongly oppose French President Emmanuel Macron’s dangerous call for a European Union Army, which will split the NATO alliance down the middle, and will do the bidding of the Kremlin. Vladimir Putin would dearly love to see a paper tiger EU Army that undermines the cohesion and unity of NATO.

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President Biden needs to act like the leader of the free world and work on reassuring our allies, projecting strength and resolve in the face of the Russian bear. He has spectacularly failed to do until now.

My former boss Margaret Thatcher would have been monumentally unimpressed with the Biden approach. His presidency has been both hugely underwhelming and disappointing. I’m sure the Iron Lady would have told Mr. Biden to grow a spine and act with real courage and determination to do all he could to ensure the Russians do not prevail in their monstrous invasion of Ukraine.

It is time for Biden to wake up from his stupor, and follow in the footsteps of great presidents before him like Lady Thatcher’s key ally, Ronald Reagan, who really understood the meaning of peace through strength.

This piece originally appeared in the Telegraph