Time for Biden To Say About Russia: ‘We Win, They Lose’

Communicating toughness and certain victory is not something Biden has ever done, but it’s never too late to start.

President Biden steps off Air Force One at Melsbroek military airport at Brussels March 23, 2022. AP/Olivier Matthys

We need a strong American president to represent us in Brussels at the incredibly important NATO and G7 meetings to deal with the Russian war in Ukraine. President Biden must lead.

He cannot be afraid to call Vladimir Putin a war criminal, to finger him for committing crimes against humanity. As such, the Russian should be tried by the International Criminal Court in the Hague regardless of the outcome of the Ukraine war.

President Reagan called the old communist Soviet Union the “Evil Empire.” He said, “Tear down this wall.” He said the only option was, “We win, they lose.” 

Communicating toughness and certain victory is not something Mr. Biden has ever done, but it’s never too late to start. I believe Bing West is right when he says the economic sanctions should not be lifted until Mr. Putin is gone as the Russian leader.

I also think Mr. Biden should make it clear that America and its NATO allies want the Ukrainians to win this war. He has never said that. I don’t think any of the NATO or G7 leaders have said so. I will bet, though, American voters want Ukraine to win the war and Russia to lose.

There is a growing feeling that the Biden administration strategy is to pursue some kind of standoff or stalemate in Ukraine — that the strategy is to contain Russia, not to defeat it. If Mr. Biden is truly the leader of the forces of democracy and freedom, he should make very clear to Mr. Putin that “we win, you lose.”

Mr. Biden and all of NATO also should make a renewed push to accommodate President Zelensky’s requests for as many weapons as he needs. Carte blanche on weaponry. Soviet MiGs, anti-aircraft weapons, anti-tank, anti-ship — all of it.

Nobody wants troops on the ground, but remember: This business about offensive versus defensive weapons actions is a lot of baloney.

It was Mr. Putin who invaded Ukraine. It is Mr. Zelensky and the brave Ukrainians who are defending their country. Therefore, all forms of assistance to Ukraine are by the very nature of this conflict defensive. This idea that we will somehow make Mr. Putin angry is just utter, wimpy nonsense.

The guy’s not angry, he’s mad. He’s a criminal. It is he who has escalated. It is the West who is defending. Arbitrary distinctions among weapons do not hold up in the face of rigorous logic or analysis.

Mr. Biden should make it clear that the world will come down on Mr. Putin’s head if he dares engage in the use of chemical or biological weapons. No military responses should be taken off the table in the event Mr. Putin ever went that route.

On the economic front, the sanctions have to be toughened. It is time to put the screws to Russia’s oil and gas sales. 

Senator Toomey correctly points out that the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and Europe purposely allow Russia to continue exporting oil and gas — between $5 billion and $7 billion worth that translates to hard currency to finance Mr. Putin’s war machine each week.

We know, in fact, that Europe has increased its imports of Russian energy, as have India and China. Mr. Toomey calls for secondary sanctions on the entirety of Russia’s banking sector. 

These penalties would prohibit foreign banks anywhere in the world from making payments to Russian banks, including for oil and gas, under the threat of U.S. sanctions. As Mr. Toomey puts it bluntly, “Do business with the U.S. or do business with Russia. but you can’t do both.”

Also, a Wall Street Journal columnist, Holman Jenkins, has suggested setting up an escrow account. So if Europeans buy Russian energy and pay for it in euros or dollars or anything else, it won’t go to Russia — it’ll go to the special escrow account.

Mr. Putin wouldn’t like that, but if he doesn’t want to sell his energy on that basis then he can go ahead and cap his oil and gas wells. Fine. That’ll put them out of commission for years, because reopening a mine or well is a very difficult and expensive proposition.

Also, news reports today say Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House are now proposing secondary sanctions on any American entities knowingly buying or selling Russian gold, which is estimated to be worth $132 billion. This would also stop banks in China and India. 

I’m sure my list of proposed actions at the NATO meeting is incomplete, but to me, the most important thing is for President Biden to truly act like the leader of the free world. He must make it plain that Mr. Putin is a criminal, that the Russian system — an authoritarian, statist, virtually totalitarian society with a puny, centrally controlled economy and its lack of freedom in speech or anything else for its citizenry — is wrong.

Yes, the Russian model is wrong. it should be consigned to the dustbin of history. Come on, Mr. Biden, “We win, they lose.” Just say it.

From Mr. Kudlow’s broadcast on Fox Business News.

The New York Sun

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