This Only Ends When The Tyrannies End
“A gaffe is when a politician tells the truth.” – Michael Kinsley
Biden’s extraneous commentary on Vladimir Putin (“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power”) certainly met the above definition. Within hours, administration staffers walked it back … and, in my humble opinion, made things worse. Yesterday, Biden tried the Trump three-step (walking back the walk-back), insisting that while he wasn’t changing policy, he was “expressing moral outrage” (WaPo).
I suspect the reasons Biden refused to make a Putin-free Russia actual U.S. policy have to do with some of our NATO allies, particularly Emmanuel Macron, whose plan for re-election as President of France seems to be triangulating this whole thing to disarm Marine Le-Pen. In a just world, the French people would put up a more firmly anti-Putin candidate to challenge Macron. In this one, the closest thing the French voters have as an option is Valérie Pécresse. But I digress.
Whatever official policy may be, the cold reality is that the world has grown too small to accommodate both democracy and tyranny. We all hope Ukraine will be the only actual battle space in the Second Cold War, but it won’t be the only contest. Indeed, I would argue it wasn’t the first. That said, we do have to remember how we actually won Cold War I if we want a repeat performance.
We’re stumbling toward the first one: arm those who are willing and able to fight. We’re part of the way there with Ukraine, but more needs to be done; he’s said so himself (WaPo).
The next one has also become a lesson painfully learned: build our existing defenses.
The third part is the most difficult, because in part it will likely be done without the public knowing: support dissidents resisting the tyrants in their homelands (see our efforts for Solidarity in Poland as an example of what I mean).
In the meantime, we need to take care not to limit ourselves to Putin and his puppets. Indeed, Putin’s failures in Ukraine have made it clear he is the junior partner to Xi Jinping at the moment. The Chinese Communist Party has more patience than the Kremlin, but that doesn’t make it less dangerous. We need to help the Russian and Chinese peoples take their countries back from the tyrants who imprison them.