Biden in Ukraine & Georgia
Visiting Ukraine and Georiga last week, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (shown at left meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko) had some tough words for Vladimir Putin: “As we reset the relationship with Russia, we reaffirm our commitment to an independent Ukraine, and we recognize no sphere of influence or no ability of any other nation to veto the choices an independent nation make.” He told the people of these two besieged nations something they’ve been waiting too long to hear, that America sends “an unequivocal, clear message to all who will listen and some who don’t want to listen, that America stands with you and will continue to stand.” And he said that Russia “used a pretext” to invade Georgia
The people of Georgia were literally begging for these words from Biden: Hundreds lined his motorcade route holding signs imploring him: “Don’t forget us!” They know that, quite literally, the only thing that stands between them and the jaws of bloodthirsty Russian aggression is the power of the U.S. economy and military. Biden gave them even more. He said:
What we can do is make clear to the world, and to the Russians particularly, that we stand with you, and that if they fail to meet their commitments, that it is a problem for them. A lot of you think maybe Russia did what they did, and they paid no price. They paid a pretty big price already diplomatically. The countries that surround Russia, even those that have been very, very loyal to Russia in their freedom, are now saying very harsh things. Russia has isolated itself more. It has not expanded its opportunities.
It’s all well and good to give reassurance to the people of these countries, but what is crucial is to give pause to the people and especially to the government of Russia. Only by doing so can the United States help to guarantee a real future for the tiny countries that otherwise stand at Russia’s mercy, facing the prospect of decades more torture and exploitation such as they faced in Soviet times.
We doubt Biden did so. His remarks were woefully lacking in specific plans to assist Georgia and Ukraine in their struggle with Russia, and immediately afterwards Russia was bellicose. Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin warned: “We will continue to prevent the re-arming of (President Mikheil) Saakashvili’s regime and will take concrete measures against this.” The notion that Georgia should not be allowed to have the capacity to defend itself is ludicrous: Suppose the U.S. insisted that Russia disarm after the USSR collapsed? Russians would have been outraged. Yet Russia feels no hesitation in making such crazed demands on other countries, even in the immeidate aftermath of Biden’s visit. Nothing could more clearly show that Biden’s words had little affect on Russia’s aggressive designs against Georgia.
Russia has also said it has no intention of allowing Ukraine to evict it from its naval base on Ukrainian soil, and it is repeatedly attempting to parade military hardware through Ukrainian streets as if they were Red Square in Moscow. In response, Biden has convinced nobody that either Georgia or Ukraine will be admitted into NATO or the EU any time soon, and he has not offered any alternative for protecting their security. Georgia is begging for U.S. peacekeepers on its borders, but Biden did not give any guarantees or propose any alternatives.
Just like with Obama in Moscow, Biden’s performance in Ukraine and Georgia was an improvement over the feeble Bush administration, whose only competent move in eight years was European missle defense. But the new administration has backed away from that tangible policy initiative, and it has not replaced it with anything but unconvincing, inconsistent, ambiguous and largely empty rhetoric. That is not the way to deal with an evil empire. If Russian tanks roll back into Georgia, Obama and Biden will have blood on their hands.