Joe Biden’s mistake in Ukraine war could trigger war with Russia

Summary: The current war between Russia and Ukraine exemplifies this failure, as the United States ignored diplomatic opportunities to prevent conflict, resulting in significant loss of life and strategic disadvantages.

-Current US policies continue to support Ukraine militarily, despite the unlikelihood of a Ukrainian victory and the increasing risks, including a possible nuclear confrontation.

-The return to diplomatic engagement is crucial to US national security and global stability.

Ukraine War: The Cost of Ignoring Diplomatic Solutions

Diplomacy is practically dead in America today. In its place is an absurd obsession with lethal military power. Supporters of this unhealthy concern claim that it is necessary to keep America safe. Strong and growing evidence reveals that the truth is almost the opposite.

Since abandoning the diplomacy-based foreign policy that served our country well for the better part of two centuries, the United States is spending more on its military but receiving less for it. (US military is smallest since 1930s.) It has less global influence than at any time in living memory and is in real danger of descending into a European war, a war that could spiral out of control and devolve into a nuclear exchange.

Before the 2020 presidential election, I published a book titled “The eleventh hour in 2020 America: How America’s foreign policy was improved and how the next administration can fix it.” In it, she argued that over the previous two decades, American foreign policy had become “a dismal failure.” “If substantial changes are not made,” I warned, “we risk catastrophic losses.” That warning is now getting uncomfortably close to being prophetic.

After laying out in the book a series of pragmatic and positive steps to correct our mistakes, I predicted that regardless of who won in November 2020, the American leadership would likely fail to seize opportunities to improve and would eventually stumble into “a real war.” “That reduces our ability to defend the country and will undermine our ability to prosper.”

Based on US behavior in the four years since I wrote that (behavior that has accelerated in recent weeks), the Biden administration appears to be on track to prove me right, especially when it comes to US actions. United States related to the war between Russia and Ukraine.

The United States should have taken advantage of diplomacy before the outbreak of war. A diplomat from a major U.S. ally told me in Washington last month that in June 2021, when Biden met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, the Russian leader openly told Biden that if the alliance continued with the process to incorporate Ukraine into NATO would mean war. Biden reportedly told Putin that he could do whatever he wanted, but that the West would put overwhelming pressure on Russia if Putin ordered an invasion.

In September 2023, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg openly admitted that Putin told him in the fall of 2021 that if NATO withdrew its membership offer to Ukraine, Russia would not invade. “Of course we didn’t sign that,” Stoltenberg declared. Thus, in two cases, the willingness to recognize the reality on the ground and lead with diplomacy could have preserved Ukrainian sovereignty and avoided an unnecessary war. Instead, Washington relied on threats against Russia and took no action to prevent war.

One could argue that Putin could have invaded anyway. The evidence and 15 years of consistent statements from Putin before February 2022 indicate that if Ukraine’s membership in NATO had been ruled out, Russia would not have invaded. In any case, Washington did not even make the diplomatic attempt.

As a result of the United States’ unwillingness to find a diplomatic way out, millions of Ukrainians have been expelled from their country, and many hundreds of thousands have since paid with their lives and limbs. There is no valid path left by which Ukraine can recover what it has lost. However, American actions – and an obsessive insistence on leading with military power – continue to make a bad situation worse.

There is no viable path to military victory for Ukraine, no matter how much money Congress allocates to kyiv or how many weapons the West provides. Russia possesses irreversible advantages in air power, air defense, armor, engineering resources, artillery munitions, rockets, precision guided weapons, drones and manpower. Ukraine will probably never be able to overcome this mountain of deficiencies. Continuing to ignore this reality and push for a Ukrainian victory is foolish and a danger to the United States.

By refusing to pursue a negotiated settlement for Ukraine on the best possible terms for kyiv, Washington risks Ukraine eventually suffering outright military defeat. It is unknown how long the Ukrainian military will be able to continue to suffer the blows it has experienced over the past year and remain viable.

But the United States also passively watches its strategic position deteriorate.

As of early 2022, China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran were only loosely aligned. Now they have formed a kind of informal alliance. Russia is receiving significant direct support with missiles from North Korea and thousands of drones from Iran, and is reportedly receiving technological support from China.

Biden gave Ukraine permission to use American weapons to attack Russia last month, and in response, Putin has now stated that he will authorize the use of Russian weapons against Western interests elsewhere in the world. It remains to be seen whether he will follow through on that claim, but the risk of American interests being attacked abroad is real. On June 6, Putin also said emphatically that he would use tactical nuclear weapons if he concluded that Russia’s integrity was threatened.

There is no benefit for the United States in continuing to ignore the realities of the battlefield, which scream that Ukraine cannot defeat Russia militarily. By ignoring this reality, the United States is not helping Ukraine, not helping itself, and continuing to weaken its own national security. Instead of taking a diplomatic initiative and trying to negotiate an end to this war as soon as possible, White House spokesman John Kirby told a Fox News reporter from Normandy on Thursday that the United States still supports the military attempt to Ukraine to recover its 1991 borders.

This is unattainable as a military objective, without the direct participation of the US military, which would almost certainly lead to a nuclear attack by Russia. It is foolish for the United States to continue leading with military power, encouraging Ukraine to keep fighting even when serious analysis shows there is virtually no hope for a Ukrainian military victory. Continuing down this path will not change the outcome of the war. It will only increase the cost of a Ukrainian loss and increase the risk that the United States will be drawn into the fight against Russia and possibly suffer a nuclear attack.

It should be more than obvious that it is in the vital national interest of the United States to end support for the Ukraine war as soon as possible, raise diplomatic engagement immediately, and seek to end the conflict on the best possible terms for kyiv. Continuing to rely exclusively on military power may lead to a much worse outcome than Washington imagines.

About the author: Daniel L. Davis

Daniel L. Davis is a retired Army lieutenant colonel, with four combat deployments, and is currently a senior fellow and military expert on defense priorities, and host of the Daniel Davis deep dive show on YouTube.