Sadly, for a nation that was energy independent we are no longer. Higher prices for petroleum products are driving inflation that was once termed as “transitory.” Despite the failed semantics and damage control we are now by definition in a recession and for how long no one knows. President Biden’s embarrassing “fist bump” with the head of Saudi Arabia known for its human rights violations illustrates his extreme naivete and incongruous energy and national security strategy. In his desire to go “green” the means to achieve that goal is foolhardy, disjointed and dangerous to our national security.
This is just the latest in a string of haphazard and impromptu policies that have sown confusion among our allies and projected weakness and indecision to both Russia, China and Iran. Even though Iran may be overshadowed by Russia and China for the moment, if the Biden administration believes Iran will not develop nuclear weapons and use them, it is extremely naive. If anything, Iran has learned that when Ukraine agreed to dismantle its nuclear arsenal by the Budapest Agreement, they should have maintained their nuclear arsenal to preclude a Russian invasion.
Some fault Biden for not doing more to help the Ukrainians, some for doing too much and risking open war with a nuclear power. What these critics share, though, is the belief that Biden’s contradictory — halfhearted and constantly shifting military aid to Ukraine, the absence of any off-ramps for Russia, total economic war on Moscow have been more dangerous than any clear, consistent, and integrated policy.
At this point, no one is sure what the Biden administration’s plan is to help end the war in Ukraine, what it thinks a stable peace might look like, or even if a regime change in Moscow is really off the table as a matter of White House policy. Biden has announced no conditions for the easing of sanctions on Russia, articulated no vision for how Ukraine might “win,” or what the end state might look like.
All this suggests that Biden has no idea what the overriding American national interest is or what our national security strategy should be — in Ukraine, Iran, China or anywhere else. He seems only to have a vague sense that large and powerful countries should not invade their smaller and weaker neighbors. But when they do, how should America respond? What goals or national interests should guide our response? What should our priorities be? Biden does not seem to know.
He had better figure it out and soon. What we need now is that which we have least: a proactive versus reactive foreign and domestic policy that enables the United States to maintain its position of leadership on the world stage.
It may be pain at the pump now, but the larger and more vital issue is our lack a strategic vision employed by all great powers. It is time to step up Mr. President and look beyond your cue cards.