How to Deter Russian Aggression
Biden's Late, Incoherent Reaction to Russia's Invasion of Ukraine Highlights the Incompetence of Our State Department
Putin wants to restore the Russian empire, which means keeping Ukraine close.
Our kinship has been transmitted from generation to generation. It is in the hearts and the memory of people living in modern Russia and Ukraine, in the blood ties that unite millions of our families. Together we have always been and will be many times stronger and more successful. For we are one people. — Vladimir Putin “On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians”
But just before the invasion, the media was talking as if Vlad the Invader might not invade after all.
Why Putin won’t invade Ukraine — Atlantic Council
Why Putin Won’t Invade Ukraine — Forbes
No, Russia will not invade Ukraine — Al Jazeera
Macron says Putin pledges no new Ukraine escalation — BBC
Russia likely won’t invade Ukraine due to enormous costs — CNBC
Russia-Ukraine crisis: Real reason Vladimir Putin WON’T invade — Express.co.uk
There’s a tendency in the West to overestimate rubles over romanticism; physical force (“Russia shouldn’t care if we put military bases on their border because we aren’t going to attack them”) over cultural influence (“But we’ll use our military presence to spread our liberal values into Russia”).
By underestimating Putin’s desire to subordinate Ukraine, the West made little attempt to prevent its invasion. Here’s what a competent administration should’ve done:
The carrot: Biden should’ve promised not to add Ukraine to NATO because it’s unnecessarily provocative. Imagine if Russia built military bases on our border. Ever since the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. has been against foreign intervention in our hemisphere let alone on our border. Declaring that we won’t add Ukraine to NATO would be similar to what JFK did to avoid war during the Cuban-Missile crisis where we removed our nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy.
The stick: Biden should’ve signed into law sanctions and aid that would’ve automatically taken effect if Russian troops crossed a clearly defined red line such as Ukrainian territory “not occupied since 2014.” The US should’ve then jetted around the world to get as many nations as possible to sign on. This would’ve been better than scrambling post-invasion to figure out our sanctions and partners. It’s like rushing to finish your homework as the teacher is going around checking it. By signing this preemptive treaty it would’ve made the cost of an invasion more transparent so Russia would know we wouldn’t just slap their wrist again as we did after Crimea.
A big part of the sanctions should’ve been on Russian oil and natural gas where as a matter of national emergency Biden should’ve opened up the US drilling floodgates as well as tapped into our Strategic Petroleum Reserve so we could promise our European allies that we’d meet their energy needs if Russia invaded Ukraine. The US uses only a tiny fraction of its energy production capacity because Democrats have succeeded in reducing U.S. nuclear energy, natural gas, and oil, therefore, making the world more dependent upon authoritarian regimes for energy. Ultimately, by encouraging the world to move from Russian energy to American energy this would’ve been a realpolitik way for the US to benefit from the invasion.
A bad sanction the Biden administration has implemented is freezing the Central Bank of Russia’s dollar reserves and removing Russian banks from SWIFT because by punishing countries who store dollars we accelerate its demise as the world’s reserve currency. Putin saw this sanction coming, which is why Russia has so few dollars in its reserves relative to other countries. When you couple rising gas & wheat prices with less international trust in the dollar you get massive inflation.
If we had done what I’ve suggested here then best case Russia would’ve accepted the NATO compromise and worst case we would’ve made a lot of money from selling more energy.
But instead, we’re sending an additional $13.6 billion to Ukraine. In 2019, the US government shut down because House Democrats didn’t want to spend $5.7 billion on building more wall on the southern border to help reduce the unprecedented amount of illegal immigration and drugs flowing into the country! Why are we willing to spend billions enforcing other countries’ borders, but not our own? And why has Ukraine been so ill-prepared for this foreseeable invasion? The Ukrainian government has been extremely corrupt and incompetent and so why is it up to American taxpayers to bail them out? Republicans and Democrats are stepping over each other on who can appear tougher on Putin from behind their podiums, which it’s good if Democrats are distracted from implementing their destructive statist agenda, but Republicans should stay focused on freeing America first.