So spoke Joe Biden, and, though I couldn’t understand why he was talking of himself in the third person, I rejoiced. Seldom does one see a politician capable of such scathing self-laceration.
But then I realised Joe was speaking not of himself but of Putin – and rejoiced even more. Seldom does one see a politician capable of such uncompromising language.
My elation didn’t last. For the entire US political establishment gasped collectively and began to apologise in a truly abject chorus.
Regime change? Don’t be silly. The president didn’t mean it the way it sounded. Of course, he wants Putin to remain in power, upstanding statesman that Vlad is. That was just a slip of the tongue, we all make them. Joe meant to say, “this man MUST remain in power”, but he got momentarily distracted.
Biden’s colleagues were all shaken and Blinken. But they were right to apologise. Joe indeed spoke out of turn, and he indeed didn’t mean to sound so bolshie. And anyway, his actions speak louder than his words.
Biden’s administration proudly announced that its support for the Ukraine’s heroic struggle is unconditional. Just look at the amount of military aid the US is providing: 800 million’s worth a year. That’s 800 big ones. Dollars. Bucks. Clams. Greenbacks. That’s a lot of support, isn’t it?
Well, that depends on how one looks at it. And the best way to look at it is by following Descartes’s dictum that all knowledge springs from comparison (that may explain his weak faith in God, who is, after all, incomparable).
Thus the Duchy of Luxemburg (p. 630,000) is providing $250 million’s worth of military aid to the Ukraine. That’s less than a third of the aid generously offered by the US (p. 340,000,000), but it stacks up quite favourably in per capita terms.
And the Czech Republic’s (p. 11,000,000) contribution of $1 billion trumps America’s not only relatively but also absolutely. Suddenly, one is beginning to fear that Biden indeed meant to say he wanted Putin not only to stay in power but also to reduce the Ukraine to cinders.
The Ukrainian army is using up 500 Stingers a day, and about as many Javelins. The US has just sent over enough of the former to last merely 3.5 days of action, and barely enough of the latter for a day and a half.
One can discern some logic in Nato’s (which, not to cut too fine a point, means America’s) reluctance to enforce a no-fly zone over the Ukraine, stopping thereby terrorist attacks on civilians. Americans fear that even one little dogfight between an F-35 and a MIG might trigger a nuclear holocaust, especially if the F-35 emerged victorious, as it almost certainly would.
Fine, one may accept that – even though there’s much evidence against such a doomsday scenario. After all, in 2015 a Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian SU-24M fighter-bomber, and the Russians swallowed that insult without trying to take out Istanbul. And in 2018, American forces in Syria wiped out at least 200 Russian mercenaries of the Wagner gang (owned by Putin’s close associate Prigozhin). Again, no ICBMs were launched at Washington, D.C.
But even accepting that a direct involvement of Nato forces in the Ukraine is fraught with danger, it’s still hard to understand why the US is refusing to provide effective anti-aircraft systems. You know, the S-300s and Patriots of this world.
Such weapons are purely defensive by definition. Unlike, say, the Javelins, they can’t be used offensively even in theory. What they could do is save thousands of civilians from wanton destruction. And that’s what Nato is refusing to do – as it refused to transfer to the Ukraine some 20 Polish MIGs that had already been promised.
It would be tempting to say that Biden and his friends considered and rejected the argument that the Ukraine is fighting for their freedom as well. But they did no such thing.
This isn’t about arguments. It’s about character and courage. Of course, those American politicians who, unlike Biden, still have all their marbles intact, could be persuaded that the Ukraine is merely the first battlefield in Putin’s war on the West.
But even if they were certain about that, they still wouldn’t change their craven behaviour. What they miss isn’t mental strength but testicular fortitude. Perhaps they should follow fashion and ‘transition’ to men.