Trump’s shadow hides behind Biden’s support for Ukraine

“These are complicated calculations but the overall priority is that Ukraine needs to prevail,” said William Taylor, who has served as ambassador and acting ambassador to Ukraine under three presidents. “All the steps the Biden administration takes should be in the name of that goal: to help Ukraine win. Because the outcome of this war will determine the world order to be created in the future.”

Taylor, perhaps more than anyone else on the diplomatic corps, understands how Biden’s approach differs from that of his predecessor. Before retiring in January 2020, he was acting ambassador to Ukraine for Trump, who has been out of office for nearly 14 months but has yet to deny the current conflict.

The same Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to whom Trump tried to leak damaging information about Biden’s family, has emerged as a heroic symbol of national strength. Similar defenses, the Javelin missiles, which Trump had threatened to keep in a plan that would eventually lead to his first impeachment (of which Taylor was a witness), have become instrumental in defense. Ukraine.

The same alliance, NATO, which Trump has criticized and tried to undermine, banded together and sent weapons to the front, while Europe and the US unleashed a wave of increasingly heavy economic sanctions on with Russia. And the same foreign leader, Putin, with whom Trump has repeatedly sided with his government, has been turned into an international advocate.

Trump’s “America First” foreign policy has often turned inward, scorning traditional alliances in favor of a transactional approach to international relations, which, in turn, has often resulted in friendliness with other countries. dictatorship. Some of the United States’ closest allies still doubt whether the world’s leading superpower can still be trusted.

Biden, a long-time internationalist, took a quasi-opposite approach. He relied heavily on the importance of alliances while vilifying Putin for starting a war that became increasingly violent as Russian forces killed hundreds of civilians as they besieged Russian cities. Ukraine.

He has also taken public steps to articulate the limits of his approach. While Trump openly brags about causing widespread damage to nations – declaring at a United Nations speech that he will “totally destroy” North Korea and recently telling the campaign golfer John Daly that he threatened Putin by “hit Moscow” – Biden has ruled out using US forces on the ground in Ukraine, or establishing a no-fly zone, because either of those measures risked causing harm. confrontation with the Russian army and a war between two nuclear powers.

Retired Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, the former director of European affairs for the National Security Council who testified about Trump’s call with the Ukrainian leader, harshly criticized Biden’s decision to publicly announce limits on the US response.

“Mr. President, you are inviting disaster and encouraging Putin. This statement invites Putin to pursue ANY means to subjugate Ukraine,” Vindman tweeted in recent days. “Of course the American people don’t want war with Russia, but they also don’t want to see Ukrainians being slaughtered. We have to do more.”

But foreign policy experts also praised Biden’s restraint and broader approach. The President has repeatedly made clear which lines he cannot cross, both to ensure the public knows the constraints and avoid criticism of the GOP. However, White House aides also say that Biden has set clear landmarks as a means of calling on allies to help with anything they can, while also reassuring that the US will not provoke further. conflict in Europe.

James Stavridis, former NATO supreme commander, said: “The Biden administration instinctively and intelligently realized that the NATO alliance would be their smartest decision. “The Biden team correctly decided not to frame this as Moscow vs. Washington which is Moscow vs. Washington, vs. Europe and vs. the Western and vs. NATO. The White House has largely isolated Putin and has done so by making it clear that the United States is a partner for the rest of the world.”

Biden’s 2020 campaign and first months in office focused on domestic issues, trying to control the Covid-19 pandemic while repairing the economic damage caused by the virus. But when his attention turned to international affairs, he tried to establish a clear separation from Trump, who often puts the interests of Moscow, Beijing and Riyadh over the interests of London, Berlin and even Ottawa.

Biden’s first overseas trip isn’t all that subtle. His transatlantic voyage in June 2021 is intended to reassure allies across Europe that he will prioritize cooperation when rallying the G-7 countries and NATO to fight autocratic forces together. is rising. It was a clear and obvious reversal from Trump.

To emphasize that, he ended the trip by having a tough talk with Putin in Geneva, a dramatic break from Helsinki in 2018 when Trump said he had listened to Putin – judging by the experts. US intelligence agencies – about Russian interference in the election two years ago. Biden’s focus on alliances is the backbone of the nation’s response to Putin, Taylor said.

Taylor, who also served under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, said: “The commitment the Biden administration has made to America’s allies stands in stark contrast to its apparent lack of commitment. from the previous administration.

Trump and his allies have argued that there would be no current conflict if he were in office, arguing that they both have ties to Trump and fear his unpredictability. People close to the former president believe that if Trump is allowed to bring Russia closer to the global world – he wants Moscow’s permission to return to the G-7, back to the G8 – it will quell Putin’s ambitions. . And they assert, without evidence, that Putin would not dare challenge Trump.

But the Biden administration sees it quite the opposite. Their assessment left no doubt that Putin was encouraged after watching Trump strain ties with his democracies, threaten to leave NATO and largely let Moscow’s malice. not objected. Stavridis, who served four years as NATO commander in Europe, said Putin is also likely to misjudge the United States’ readiness to participate on the world stage after two years of being battered and distracted by Covid-19. while still grappling with the divisions that Trump has nurtured.

“The chaos that Trump helped create, the division in his tenure, makes Putin seem like America is broken and unable to react like it is today,” Stavridis said.

While Republicans have attacked Biden for not confronting Putin more directly, such as by refusing to help bring old Soviet-era jets to Ukraine, they have also largely ignored them. how parts of their party warm to Putin during Trump’s term. Instead, the GOP claims that Putin was inspired by the tumultuous early days when US troops withdrew from Afghanistan last summer.

“I think the quick pullout from Afghanistan is a message to people like Putin that America is rethinking our place in the world,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. “And I don’t think if we were to cut and run in Afghanistan, Putin would try this.”

Although Biden has wanted to reduce the US presence for more than a decade, many NATO allies feel they have not been adequately consulted and are appalled by the bloody start of the withdrawal. It raises questions in global capitals about the future of America’s international engagements.

Those questions have subsided during the invasion, but they could resurface as Trump continues to take his first steps back onto the political stage and aims to run for the White House in 2024. Will Biden’s presidency return to normal for American foreign policy? Is he a mistake from the Trump approach? And will Biden’s foreign policy come together to uphold the international order, or preside over a time when American power and influence over authoritarian regimes is waning?

Among those waiting for answers: China, the country that Biden has identified as America’s biggest rival for the next hundred years and has largely stayed on the sidelines, offers nominal support. for Moscow while wondering what lessons could be learned from Taiwan’s future defense.

Aware of those doubts, Biden tried to use the crisis to promote the idea that the United States was regaining its shell as the leader of the free world. He argues that the first battle in the conflict that will define this century, between democracies and autocracies, will be fought and won in Ukraine.

“We see solidarity among people who are gathering in cities, in large crowds around the world – even in Russia – to show their support for the Ukrainian people,” Biden said. said in his State of the Union address. “In the battle between democracy and autocracy, democracies are rising at the moment, and the world is clearly choosing the side of peace and security.” Trump’s shadow hides behind Biden’s support for Ukraine

Fry Electronics Team

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