Biden’s Substitute for Victory

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Clifford D. May
Clifford D. May (Via JNS.org)

By Clifford D. May

President Joe Biden is helping Ukrainians defend themselves. But he doesn’t want Russia to suffer a serious defeat.

Biden is helping Israelis defend themselves. But he doesn’t want them to decisively defeat Hamas or inflict harsh punishment on its patron, the jihadist regime in Tehran.

Biden is trying to prevent Houthi rebels from sinking merchant ships in the strategic waterways off the coast of Yemen. But he’s not defeating the Houthis, another of Tehran’s proxies.

Do you spot a pattern here?

There was a time when American leaders took tougher stands. In World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt refused to accept anything less than the “unconditional surrender” of the Third Reich and the Japanese Empire. Ceasefire was not an option.

In 1949, America’s military establishment — formerly known as the War Department — was renamed the Department of Defense. That sounded less bellicose, which was nice, but might it have been an unwise retreat from reality?

The following year, thousands of North Korean soldiers backed by Moscow and Beijing poured across the 38th parallel into pro-Western South Korea. In 1953, the Korean War came to a halt — not in victory for one side and defeat for the other — but in an armistice, a frozen conflict.

Maybe that was the right decision at the time. But more than 70 years later, the same dynastic dictatorship remains in power in North Korea. It now has nuclear weapons and is firmly aligned with both the communist ruler of China Xi Jinping and the neo-imperialist ruler of Russia Vladimir Putin.

Those two rulers embraced on a red carpet in Beijing last week. Xi then took Putin on a stroll through Tiananmen Square, where in 1989 Chinese troops slaughtered pro-democracy protesters.

The two dictators signed a statement reaffirming the “no limits” strategic partnership they first announced in February 2022, just days before Putin launched his war of conquest against neighboring Ukraine.

They proclaimed a “new era” in which their goal is to make America a no longer great nation.

They criticized the United States for thinking “in terms of the Cold War” (if only that were true!) and accused the U.S. of posing “a direct threat to the security of Russia and China.” They warned: “The U.S. must abandon this behavior.”

As I write this, Russian forces are advancing in the northeastern Kharkiv region of Ukraine because the Ukrainians have not received essential weapons and ammunition in the volume they require. Worse still, they’ve been hobbled by Biden’s insistence that military targets on Russian soil are “off-limits” to Ukrainians using the materiel Washington provides.

Both Beijing and Moscow now have increasingly strong ties with the anti-American theocracy in Tehran. Nevertheless, Biden has been attempting to discourage the Israelis from taking on Hamas’ four intact battalions in Rafah, the Gazan city near the border with Egypt.

Under that border, we now know, are at least 50 elaborate smuggling tunnels that have been used — and perhaps are still being used — to resupply Hamas with weapons and ammunition.

That’s one reason John Spencer, chair of urban warfare studies at West Point, has said that “the approach the U.S. has demanded for Israel’s war has prolonged and caused more destruction than if they had gone in with more overwhelming force and speed.”

He added, “The most likely way to continue the violence and the lack of peace in Israel and Palestine is to leave Hamas in power.”

Conventional wisdom holds that Biden is attempting to placate the Islamist/left alliance — think Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Sen. Bernie Sanders — that, he seems to think, is key to the election outcome in November.

I suspect he also believes, as did President Barack Obama, that if he just outstretches his hand, America’s enemies will unclench their fists; that by “respecting the equities” of America’s enemies, he can produce a “realignment” — a new “architecture” of the Middle East that will establish Biden’s legacy as a brilliant geostrategist.

And he may believe, as President Donald Trump too often does, that there’s always a good deal a talented negotiator can cut.

The hard truth is that either America maintains the power and will to deter its enemies or those enemies learn to deter America over and over.

As for the “students” who are waging the “tentifada” on college campuses and calling Biden “Genocide Joe,” they’ve been indoctrinated by the radical ideologues who now dominate the American educational establishment.

They root for terrorists who mass murder, mass rape, kidnap and burn babies, and vow to repeat such atrocities again and again culminating in what they intend to be a second Holocaust. That’s their idea of “social justice.”

The Houthis recently struck an oil tanker in the Red Sea with a ballistic missile. Among their goals is to prove that the U.S., which for decades has been the guarantor of freedom of the seas, is no longer up to the task of enforcing even the most basic international laws.

Biden has the power to defeat the Houthis.

With American support, the Ukrainians could drive the Russians from their lands.

The Israelis could free Gaza from Hamas’ dictatorial and jihadist rule more quickly and with less loss of life if it actually had what Biden calls his “ironclad” support.

I asked if you saw a pattern in all this. I suspect you do but let me spell it out: Tolerating aggression by America’s enemies and limiting support for America’s friends leads, at best, to frozen conflicts. At worst, it leads to vastly increased bloodletting and tragic defeats.

What should be obvious is that such policies never lead to victory, for which, as Gen. Douglas MacArthur famously said, there is no substitute.

Clifford D. May is the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

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