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President Joe Biden didn’t make a lot of news with his press conference after sitting down with NATO leaders Thursday, and what he did make was confusing at best, and fundamentally discouraging.
That came in answer to a question about what NATO would do if Vladimir Putin uses chemical weapons in Ukraine, as Biden warned before going to Europe seems to be a real possibility.
“It would trigger a response in kind,” the prez said. Huh? Unless someone’s hiding them, no NATO power has chemical weapons. At best, this seems to mean some serious destructive action against Russia’s forces in Ukraine.
But maybe not, since Biden then added that NATO would decide what to do “at the time.”
Meaning: They haven’t worked it out ahead of time, and will wait ’til it happens to start figuring it out.
NATO has 30 members, some of them highly reluctant to confront Putin; if they all have to agree on a response, it’ll take days if not weeks. Some countries may well demand more proof.
This is the very opposite of what we’ve called for — namely, for Biden to publicly identify in advance a specific US (at least) hard-power response to Putin’s use of chems (or other weapons of mass destruction).
Vague threats aren’t enough, and the suggestion that we’ll negotiate the response with 2½ dozen other countries after Putin strikes makes it not a threat at all.
This is even worse than Biden’s pre-invasion comment that the West might not do anything if Putin merely grabbed a few pieces of Ukraine.
The other notable part of the presser was Biden’s heated insistence that he’d never said the threat of sanctions was meant to deter Putin from invading in the first place.
Hmm. Biden National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Feb. 11, “The president believes that sanctions are intended to deter.” Secretary of State Antony Blinken, a longtime Biden crony, said Feb. 20 that the purpose of sanctions “is to try to deter Russia from going to war” and Feb. 23 that sanctions are a bid “to try to deter Russia from taking further aggression.” Other top officials chimed in a dozen times.
This is Joe Biden: reversing himself and pretending angrily that it never happened. Why should Putin believe any of his threats?
Someone get the president a war-time consigliere.