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.

James R. Poplar III, of Quicksburg, proudly served with the U.S. government for over 40 years. He specialized in national security affairs at both Vanderbilt and the National Defense University.

(41) comments


1. The United States intelligence community penetrated multiple points of Russia’s political leadership, spying apparatus and military, and found Vladimir Putin preparing for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

In the Oval Office in October 2021, President Biden’s top advisers presented him with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war plans for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. U.S. intelligence agencies had used satellite imagery, intercepted communications and human sources to show that Putin was massing troops along Ukraine’s border with the aim of seizing the capital, Kyiv, and much of the country, leaving only a rump Ukrainian state in the west.


Critics call for Biden to 'immediately end' Iran nuclear talks following attempted murder of Salman Rushdie

Iran has offered a bounty to anyone who assassinates Salman Rushdie," Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted on Friday. "Today he was stabbed in America. Why is Biden still negotiating a ‘deal' with these terrorists in Tehran?"

Iran’s leaders have been calling for the murder of Salman Rushdie for decades," Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton tweeted. "We know they’re trying to assassinate American officials today. Biden needs to immediately end negotiations with this terrorist regime."

"This White House statement on Salman Rushdie is appalling," author Gary Weiss said in response to the White House’s reaction to the attack. "No mention is made of Iran putting a price on his head. Or that the fatwa was reaffirmed by the ayatollah in 2005 and in 2019. Is Joe Biden is THAT anxious to move ahead with the lousy JCPOA?"

"The silence of @POTUS in response to the attempted murder of Salman Rushdie looks increasingly the result of one thing: A desperation to return to the Iran deal," Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz tweeted. "American desperation increases regime aggression. It always has."


James, whatever you say about Biden, I doubt he will ever be under investigation for violating the Espionage Act.


Valley Native, please stay on the subject my friend, my Reader Commentary has nothing to do with DJT and in America all are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


You should know well about changing the narrative. You are a master. I also know you don't like being reminded of Trump who most assuredly voted for.


Steve, thank you for the articles from the Economist.


Dear "Valleynative," i write these Reader Commentaries to stimulate an exchange of ideas and civil discourse. Unlike other authors i make a conscious effort to respond to every comment and respect the indvidual making them; however, at this juncture i think we are both talking past each other and having nothing further to add on the subject under discussion. Only time will tell how the issue is ultiamtely resolved . You have a good week Sir.


I respond to Reader Commentaries when I believe they present misleading and untrue facts. I think truth is important to readers. I provide sources to back up my comments and take exception to false information. Promulgating lies needs to not be a part of discourse.


Yes agree and thank you for all that you do. Have a good week. Best, Ros


Valley Native -- thank you for your thoughtful input but suspect at the end of the day we will agree to disagree. Have a good week, signing off ...

The list of concessions that follows is long, detailed, disturbing, but also somewhat technical. But this much is clear to me: The deal being negotiated in Vienna is dangerous to U.S. national security, to the stability of the Middle East, and to the Iranian people who suffer most under that brutal regime. The lack of evidence to justify a removal of U.S. sanctions is illegal, and the deal that will be foisted upon the world without the support of Congress will be illegitimate. This deal will not serve U.S. interests in either the short or long term.

With Robert Malley in the lead, the United States has promised to lift sanctions on some of the regime’s worst terrorists and torturers, on leading officials who have developed Iran’s WMD infrastructure, and has agreed to lift sanctions on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) itself. In exchange, Iran will receive fewer limitations than those imposed under the JCPOA, and the restrictions on its nuclear program will expire six years sooner than under the terms of the old deal. And that’s just the beginning.

Iran is set to get access to a massive windfall of cash: My latest estimate (derived from figures declassified during my tenure at the State Department) is $90 billion in access to foreign exchange reserves, and then a further $50-$55 billion in extra revenue each year from higher oil and petrochemical exports, with no restrictions on how or where the money can be spent.

Personally, the most troubling transfer of funds will be the $7 billion ransom payment the United States is preparing to pay for the release of four Americans from an Iranian jai


Again you are unable to provide proof that the $7 billion is in the Biden nuclear deal with Iran. You provide a response that in no way addresses that it is. Just unrelated garble. Nope, that $7 billion not mentioned here either. I'm having Nancy Pelosi flashbacks on you saying she supported a no fly zone in Ukraine. lol


"Valley Native" in the world of diplomatic negotiations there is no such thing as "proof" unti the treaty has been signed just posturing by both sides; however, yes if you read the sources i have provided and below it does appear that this option is on the table.

This agreement is astonishingly bad. It lifts sanctions on Iranian terrorists and terrorist organizations, including the Revolutionary Guard Corps. Iran will receive an estimated $90 billion in sanctions relief and an additional $50 billion in extra revenue each year from higher oil exports.

Iran also will get a large cash payment when $7 billion in frozen Iranian assets held in South Korea is released to free four Americans falsely imprisoned by Iran.


I'll keep repeating this. Show me that the agreement includes $7 billion in Ransom. You can't. Whatever the nuances of the agreement none shows $7 billion being a part of it. You lack absolute proof it is. Give it up.


We are not dealing in the world of diplomatic relations here. It is about erroneously saying something is a part of an agreement. The burden of proof is on you and you haven't established it.

Steve F

It is curious that there is no mention of payments or lifting sanctions in any of the "mainstream" sources such as the Economist or the Washington Post. But I did find this: Trump allowed Iran to go nuclear, but Biden will get the blame


So today prices that consumers pay for a variety of goods and services rose 8.5% in July from a year ago so at that rate in a year they will increase 100%. Perhaps time to resurect some of those "Whip Inflation Now" buttons !

Today the inflation rate is 8.5%, up from 7.9% in February and the largest year-over-year rise since 1982. The biggest difference, though, is in the price of goods. In 1974, gas prices averaged 53 cents a gallon and a gallon of milk cost $1.34. Who needs to be reminded of the soaring cost of these and other necessities today, even when adjusted in 2022 dollars?

President Biden's remarks on inflation are like blaming your credit card for excessive spending. The president claimed his administration has reduced the deficit (but not the $30 trillion debt). That claim has been fact-checked by several news organizations and the Congressional Budget Office and found to be mostly untrue. As Daniel Dale writes for CNN’s politics website: “… some experts on fiscal policy say Mr. Biden is distorting reality when he claims that he is personally responsible for the deficit going down.”

Steve F

After a global convulsion caused by the pandemic and the fact that many economies underwent major slowdowns and then a surge of demand for goods and services without workers to provide those things, it is no wonder there is inflation. If everything is Biden's fault, why is it that most nations are experiencing inflation right now? The global trade in petroleum also hit a rough spot, even America being energy independent does not mean we are not a part of the global marker, so blaming Biden for gas prices is foolish. The economy here is still robust. Let's face it, the Republican Party is devoid of answers and depends upon nay saying and negativity to spur their followers.


Steve please see a divergent oinion

Bottom line - "So Biden is wrong: Inflation is not worse everywhere else in the world and a major reason it is so high here is him."

Steve F

Here're a couple of items from the Economist that contradict your headline:>> The Economist is a widely respected publication, given to objective reporting about world news. They do not have an axe to grind unlike some of the sources cited above.

Steve F

Biden has rallied the world to the cause of freedom. Even Switzerland, neutral even as WWII raged around them, has joined the cause of supporting Ukraine. The coalition that Biden drew together is incomprehensible to the GOP, which only understand blunt force, such as fomenting illegal wars based on false intelligence. Do you really think the former guy would have had the skills to put together a coalition such as Biden has put together? In such a complex, changeable situation as the invasion in Ukraine, what other course could we fashion except to leverage the power of the free world and build relationships? There is no quick, simple solution to this, given the irrationality of the Russian criminal.


Steve so lets see .. "fomenting illegal wars based on false intelligence." i seem to recall that that "slam dunk" was provided by the Director of the CIA George Tenant a democrat i beleive apponted by Bill Clinton. A 2005 Inspector General's report found that Tenet bears "ultimate responsibility" for the United States intelligence community's failure to develop a plan to control al Qaeda in the lead-up to 9/11.Tenet has been criticized for personally authorizing the CIA's use of brutal and ineffective torture techniques during his tenure, in contravention of international law.

President Biden was well aware of the buildup of the Russian troops on Ukraine's border well before the invasion and when asked what he thought Putin would do he responded "Oh he will probably invade." Biden's weakness displayed in the debacle of our withdrwal from Afganistan have only encouraged Putin to invade and encouraged the PRC to threaten Tawian. Putin;s invasion unified NATO not Biden's weakness.

Steve F

I think the fact that the Bush administration relied on one estranged Iraqi citizen to base their illegal invasion is a very flimsy pretense, more likely the hubris and desire to avenge was a driving factor. There were plenty of voices cautioning restraint. It was compounded by the administration's mishandling and misunderstanding of the circumstances they were dealing with. Ultimately it was Bush's responsibility for getting us into protracted wars.


Steve, yes you are correct inb that it is ultimately POTUS's responsibility (right or wrong) to exercise foreighn policy but lets no forget that Congres funded these conflicts and that funding could have been stoped at any time like it was in Vietnam so all are complicit,

Steve F

You presume that Biden could have done more prior to the invasion to forestall Russia. Perhaps Putin was encouraged by the stress that Trump caused among our alliances to think that the partnerships would not hold?

Afghanistan would never coalesce, after twenty years of American support and centuries of history the lesson should have been apparent. By forming alliances, Democratic presidents, and the first Bush, organized united fronts that were better equipped to share the burden and engage countries in the defense of their regions. The Trans-Pacific Partnership would have forged a stronger alliance with Pacific Rim countries as a bulwark against China. Trump abandoned that as well.

Steve F

However, 9/11 fever kept anyone from sounding like they were weak on terrorism. Cheney was quick to use the attack as a hammer to attack anyone that even questioned the policies. One bad decision followed another, and through deceit and maligning a war hero, Bush somehow won reelection.

Steve F

Biden has rallied the world to the cause of freedom. Switzerland, neutral even as WWII raged around them, has joined the cause of supporting Ukraine. The coalition that Biden drew together is incomprehensible to the GOP, which only understand blunt force, such as fomenting illegal wars based on false intelligence. Do you really think the former guy would have had the skills to put together a coalition such as Biden has put together? In such a complex, changeable situation as the invasion in Ukraine, what other course could we fashion except to leverage the power of the free world and build relationships? There is no quick, simple solution to this, given the irrationality of the Russian criminal.

Steve F

The GOP turned a blind eye when the former guy did everything he could to ease Putin's path, by insulting our allies, attempting to pull out of NATO, preferring autocratic tyrants instead of democratic governments, and destroying the confidence that Obama had to rebuild after W's disastrous turn on the world stage.


Steve, that is not correct -- DJT requested our NATO allies pay their share to reamain as members of NATO which they had not been doing, only after Putin invaded Ukraine did they pay their fair share. Not sure why you are fixated on Bush 43, Ros


Actually the NATO countries that are paying their fair share has declined to 8.

See link.

Steve F

Can you really ignore the fact that trump was attacking NATO and doing Putin's bidding? Remember Helsinki? Remember the OVal Office visit where he removed the free press and passed secrets to Russians? Please don't try to whitewash his treatment of NATO, it is ridiculous.


Steve FYI

Former President Donald Trump's time in office left NATO stronger, according to the alliance's Baltic states, who sit on the front line of the West's confrontation with President Vladimir Putin's Russia.

But while the president publicly raged against America's NATO commitments, the U.S. led the way in strengthening the alliance presence along Russia's borders.

In 2016, the alliance agreed—after Russia's annexation of Crimea and support for separatists in eastern Ukraine—to send four multinational battalion battle groups totaling 3,000 to 4,000 troops to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Poland; the four nations perceived as most at risk of Russian aggression.

Steve F

The irresponsible GOP wants only to have a boogeyman that they can attack. Regarding Iran, they were years away from developing nuclear weapons as they honored the agreement. Now they are within months of a weapon, after we unilaterally pulled out of the agreement. The GOP would also like you to think that Iran was paid off, but in reality, the money that was apart of the agreement was Iranian funds that were frozen for years, but would have been released by order of the International Court of Justice in the Hague.


The world is facing a potential new Iran nuclear deal negotiated by Russia and China on America’s behalf that is even weaker than President Obama’s JCPOA deal, lifts sanctions on Iranian terrorists, provides Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief, pays Iran a $7 billion ransom to free Americans falsely imprisoned in Iran, and sabotages any future president who withdraws from this agreement.


Please provide a viable reference that a $7 billion dollar ransom for hostages is part of the Biden Nuclear Agreement offer to Iran.


The South Korean Foreign Ministry announced on Tuesday that $7 billion in Iranian assets, frozen in two South Korean banks due to U.S. sanctions since September 2019, would be released to Iran following “consultations” with the Biden administration.

“Our government has been in talks with Iran about ways to use the frozen assets, and the Iran side has expressed its consent to the proposals we have made. The actual unfreezing of the assets will be carried out through consultations with related countries, including the United States,” the South Korean Foreign Ministry said. The exact details of the financial transfer were not disclosed.

The Korea Times reported the Foreign Ministry was in talks with Washington last month about unfreezing some of the money to pay Iran’s dues to the United Nations, and possibly to use some of the funds to purchase “humanitarian items such as medicine and medical equipment” from a Swiss organization.

The Korea Times, i24 News, Yonhap News, and other outlets speculated as to a possible connection between the release of funds and Iran’s kidnapping of a South Korean oil tanker and its crew from the Persian Gulf last month. Iranian officials repeatedly linked the release of the ship and crew to South Korea unfreezing the $7 billion in frozen oil revenue.

“Early this month, Tehran said it would release the sailors, except for the captain, which coincided with Seoul’s confirmation on the progress in the talks with Washington about using the frozen money for the U.N. dues,” Yonhap noted.

i24 described Iran’s seizure of the South Korean tanker as a “massive gamble” that “may have just paid off.”

he Jerusalem Post called the $7 billion score “another win for Iran” under the new U.S. administration. Tehran has also been “wringing concessions from Europe, as well as the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency],” while simultaneously “using proxies in Iraq and Yemen to attack U.S. partners and allies.”


Breitbart...that is your viable source. lol. Nowhere does your source say the $7 billion is a part of Biden's nuclear deal. Biden has offered to return only to The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – more commonly known as the Iran Deal – that was struck in 2015 by Iran, the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, Germany and France, together with the European Union. The $7 billion is not a part of this but a separate negotiation to free American and other hostages. You continue to mislead. I ask you again to show proof this is part of the Iran nuclear deal proposed by Biden. See this fact check by the Washington Post.


So "Valleynative" please tell me what is the end state of the war in Ukraine as articulated by POTUS and his Adminstration ....has he articulated this vision to the American people ?


Bill Gates, your hero on Ukraine Days after Finland and Sweden formally applied to join NATO — essentially ending decades of neutrality on the world stage — former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates called the development "huge" and a major defeat for Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin's decision to invade Ukraine was partly driven by a desire to prevent the country from joining NATO, which would put the military alliance right at Russia's border. But last week's move by Finland and Sweden suggests that plan has backfired, Gates told "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"I think it changes the geopolitics in Europe in a dramatic way. Now he's got NATO on his doorstep, not only in Ukraine and elsewhere," Gates said, referring to Putin.

"He's going to have them on his border in Finland. And it's an amazing thing he's done because he's gotten Sweden to abandon 200 years of neutrality," Gates said. "So I think one of his many, huge miscalculations in invading Ukraine is he has dramatically changed the geostrategic posture of Western Europe. And now that you have the Swedes and the Finns as part of that, he's really put Russia in a much worse strategic position than it had before the invasion."

NATO's 30 member countries are now reviewing Sweden's and Finland's applications. If their bids are accepted, the two once-neutral Nordic nations could become members within a few months.

When the leaders of the two countries visited the White House last Thursday, President Biden offered his "strong support" for their applications.

Gates, who served as defense secretary under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said Putin's brutal invasion of Ukraine could continue to hurt Russia's economy and affect the country in other ways. He also doesn't believe Putin could win the war by taking over Ukraine and "absorbing it" into Russia, but he said Putin might still walk away with some strategic areas of Eastern Ukraine.

"He has the potential to hold on to a good part of the Donbas. But I think in terms of pushing on to Odessa or trying to bring a change of government in Kyiv or absorb Ukraine, I think if that's winning, I don't see that he can win," Gates said.

"His invasion has weakened Russia and it's got now long-term economic problems," Gates said. "Europe, I think, is very serious at this point about weaning itself away from dependence on Russian oil and gas. So that will weaken Russia significantly."

It is not up to the US to determine the end game in Ukraine. It is up to the Ukrainian Government and its people. They are the ones fighting and dying.


First of all it is Robert Gates not "Bill" Gates. So is SECDEF Gates now speaking for President Biden ? President Biden has yet to both publicaly articulate the strategy (the ends, ways, and means) for this conflict and what is the desired end state. We continue down the slippery slope wiht no end in sight ...


Thanks for correcting my faux pas. Citing Gates was because he refuted many of your points. Perhaps you missed Biden's President Joe Biden speaks at the White House in May. His May 31 op-ed essay in the New York Times summarized U.S. goals and methods for ending the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“America’s goal is straightforward,” Biden wrote in the essay. “We want to see a democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression.”

That succinct, positive formulation of the U.S. objective contrasts with negative goals focused on Russia, such as weakening its geostrategic position or power. It forms a clear message, pro-Ukraine and pro-freedom rather than anti-Russia, that is vital to strengthen the necessary alliances against the Kremlin’s brutal aggression. It helps strengthen the U.S. partnership with Europe.

“I want to be clear about the aims of the United States,” Biden wrote on Tuesday, and he was. It is the positive goals he emphasized—a restoration of Ukraine’s independence and ability to define its future, that will advance the vital U.S. and allied interests in the protection of democracy, sovereignty and rule of law.

Biden’s word choices, describing the “democratic, independent, sovereign and prosperous” Ukraine that America supports, carry real meaning. A democratic Ukraine is one that will continue its tradition, in 30 years of independence, of freely elected governments. It will continue to respond to Ukrainians’ persistent demands, in the face of Russian resistance and corruption, for more transparent governance. An independent and sovereign Ukraine is one that preserves its right to choose its future course, including potential membership in the European Union or NATO.

Biden emphasized that he “will not pressure Ukraine—in private or in public—to make any territorial concessions” as part of any eventual peace process with Russia. Rather, he said, U.S. military aid is meant to help Ukrainians defend themselves well enough to “be in the strongest possible position at the negotiating table.”

As Biden expressed the U.S. goal of a “Ukraine with the means to deter and defend itself against further aggression,” he also signaled a method for achieving it: supplying Ukraine with highly capable defensive weapons.

The first step to any eventual peace process that can protect the basic rights of nations to freedom and democracy is a global rejection of Russia’s unprovoked assault and support for its victims’ self-defense. As President Biden wrote Tuesday, the savagery and criminality of Russia’s attack makes American and international support for Ukraine “a profound moral issue,” not only “the right thing to do” but also “in our vital national interests.” Sustaining that clear message for Americans, Ukrainians, other allies—and indeed, for Russians—is a step not only toward restoring a just peace in brutalized Ukraine, but in preserving hope for an end to the Russian aggression.

Biden says he believes a negotiated settlement will be necessary to resolve the conflict.

To believe at this point that the US should apply conditions to Ukraine to settle this conflict would meet with stiff resistance by Ukraine and not serve our interests.


"Biden’s contradictory — halfhearted and constantly shifting military aid to Ukraine". The Biden Administration has supplied $8.5 billion in military aid to Ukraine, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, counter-artillery radars, ammunition, missile systems, rocket systems, armored vehicles, grenade launchers, Howitzers and more–with the types of equipment offered recently getting heavier and more advanced. Dr. Colin Kahl, the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, announced Monday that Russian casualties are now between 70,000 and 80,000 since the invasion began. Russia is now asking countries like Iran for weapons as they are exhausting their supplies, even resorting to 1960's stockpiles. Russia is not doing well in this war.

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