Will President Biden Seize The Moment Or Just Let It Slip?
“Aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged will lead to war.”
History sometimes provides leaders with an opportunity to deliver a memorable speech that captures a historic moment. On June 26, 1963 President Kennedy addressed a huge crowd in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. JFK reminded the Free World that “Freedom is indivisible…All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and therefore as a free man, I take pride in the words, ‘Ich bin ein Berliner.’” (“I am a Berliner”)
Almost exactly 24 years later, President Reagan addressed a crowd at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin. Undaunted by advisers who cautioned him to avoid exacerbating East – West tensions, President Reagan forcefully declared, “General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization: Come to this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate! Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”
President Biden will travel to Europe on Wednesday. He will attend a NATO leaders summit in Brussels. The allies will discuss ongoing deterrence and defense efforts related to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden will reaffirm America’s “ironclad commitment” to the NATO alliance.
The Brussels summit will create forgettable photo ops. But it will not seize the historic moment. Instead of doing the obvious, Biden should go to Lviv, Ukraine. He could rally the Free World and the people of this embattled nation by demanding, “Mr. Putin, stop this senseless brutality! Mr. Putin, end this war!”
Thus far, President Biden has done an admirable job of uniting the NATO countries. But in the United States he has often led from behind. For example, President Biden only banned Russian oil and gas after it became evident the measure enjoyed widespread congressional and public support. All too often, he has allowed Putin to use nuclear saber-rattling to deter American action. This is a mistake. The time has come for bold American leadership.
If FDR were alive, he would remind President Biden that you have “nothing to fear but fear itself.” America and its NATO allies are vastly more powerful than Putin’s flawed war machine. If JFK were alive, he would remind President Biden that, “aggressive conduct, if allowed to go unchecked and unchallenged will lead to war.” And finally, if Lenin were alive, he would remind President Biden that the key tenet of Russian strategic thinking is: “You probe with bayonet: if you find mush, you push. If you find steel, you withdraw.”
History is tapping President Biden on the shoulder by offering him an opportunity to seize the moment. Will he capture the opportunity or just let it slip?
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