Biden’s betrayals abroad and at home

Americans didn’t get tired of winning, as President Donald Trump said they would. They just got tired of him. Regrettably, they replaced him with a leader apparently indifferent to winning anything except reelection. This is a failing that, ironically, may cost President Joe Biden dearly in November.

His weather-vane approach to policy, principles, and alliances signals indifference or hostility toward America’s staunchest friends, and weakness, cynicism, and credulity to remorseless enemies. It threatens U.S. global leadership, the cause of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law.

Back from Easter recess, Congress will try to approve legislation to help Ukraine in its fight against imperial Russia and to aid Israel in its death match against Islamist terrorists. This will test House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA). One hopes he manages to get a serious package through with big support from his Republican conference, a wing of which prides itself on being “America First” — a good thing in principle — but often fails to see that it is damaging this country, as well as the foreign nations that would be beneficiaries of passage.

However, for all the chaos of the House GOP, it should be understood that intransigence on the Republican Right is not entirely genetic. It does not spring simply from deep-seated isolationist instincts but has, rather, been nurtured and cultivated by Biden. His dithering and cynicism have prolonged the Ukraine conflict until it seems to fit into the category of “endless wars” lamented and resented by the Trumpian GOP.

It was clear two years ago that Biden’s calculated response just two months after Russia invaded was to send Ukrainians weaponry insufficient to beat Russian President Vladimir Putin’s neo-Tsarist aggression. It was only enough to stave off Kyiv’s defeat. Some of us argued back then that Biden should be decisive and principled, escalate the battle, and give the good guys the tools to finish the job.

Instead, he dragged out the conflict, demonstrating that he was willing to fight to the last Ukrainian (as sardonic aphorists put it). Now, Ukraine’s prospects in the war have dwindled from a choice between winning and not losing to one between stalemate and clear defeat. Alexander Pope captured the malignant equilibrium of Biden’s policy nearly three centuries ago in the 1734 Epistle to Arbuthnot as “willing to wound, and yet afraid to strike.”

If Johnson cannot send Ukraine aid, Republicans will be accused by Democrats and their sympathizers of betraying an ally at the behest of a tyrannical enemy favored by Trump. There will be a measure of truth in this, but it is far from the full story. For it is Biden who has engendered the sense of ennui and pointlessness about the war with his failure to make the case for victory.

On this foreign policy and on another, he is sidling up to the presidential election behind the mask. It is intended to make him look like he cares about America’s friends and reputation, but he is willing, in truth, to sacrifice both.

He is doing the same in the Middle East. He astringently condemned Hamas in October for “pure unadulterated evil” for which there is “no rationalizing [and] no excusing,” as Barton Swaim noted in the Wall Street Journal, but now, six months later, Biden is pressing Israel to hand the terrorists an unprecedented victory.

He has warned Israel that it would “cross a red line” if it invaded the city of Rafah, which is the only way to achieve a complete victory over the Gazan monsters, he has called for a ceasefire leaving Hamas in power even while it holds American hostages, and he is pressing Jerusalem to reward the killers with a state of their own on Israel’s doorstep.

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At a moment when Israel is in the toughest position since its founding three-quarters of a century ago, when the international Left has turned it into a pariah for the crime of being a mass murder victim and having the gall to defend itself, Biden is weakly and duplicitously abandoning our close friend in need. He is congenitally incapable of hanging his head in shame, but the rest of us can hardly help doing so. He is disgracing his country in order to pander to Muslim voters, such as those in Dearborn, Michigan, who recently chanted, “Death to America.”

I was wrong about Biden in one supremely important respect back in 2020. I thought such an empty vessel could not win the Democratic presidential nomination and therefore would never take possession of the White House. But it was his lack of principle, his willingness to be whatever his Left wanted him to be, that won him their grudging support. And now he is demonstrating the same qualities again in the hope that he will once more be rewarded for them.

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