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Ukraine is Europe’s problem. Why is Biden wasting US energy on this fight?: GEN KEITH KELLOGG

Afghanistan in 2021 and Ukraine in 2022 stand out for their profound shock and the strategic importance of President Biden’s failure in those two situations.

Both are flashpoints in understanding what quickly comes together to become President Biden’s “America Last” foreign policy.

In the field of national security, perhaps more than in any other field, the impact of a single decision by a US president can be felt immediately and change the nature of a policy challenge, if not the broader geopolitical dynamics, such as the aftermath of the Afghanistan and Ukraine can bring crises.

In such situations, a president’s own judgment and instincts are used, and the quality of his advisers is most important.

Biden and his advisers have left us in Afghanistan and appear to be heading in the same direction in Ukraine, as Putin’s Russia continues to massively deploy military forces for a potential invasion.

Unfortunately, the current administration’s position could not be more different from the position we had when President Trump was in the White House. Our America First plan didn’t mean “America Alone,” but it did mean we would first embrace a worldview of what was good for America, and then how our actions would affect the rest of the world.

President Trump had the perfect background to trigger our actions, as he did not have the baggage of a Washington politician and the necessary experience in managing risk, profit and loss that his business background offers.

Biden and his advisers have left us in Afghanistan and appear to be heading in the same direction in Ukraine, as Putin's Russia continues to massively deploy military forces for a potential invasion.  (Above) Biden at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on Friday, January 28, 2022. The president is escorted by Colonel William McDonald, vice commander of the 89th Airlift Wing.

Biden and his advisers have left us in Afghanistan and appear to be heading in the same direction in Ukraine, as Putin’s Russia continues to massively deploy military forces for a potential invasion. (Above) Biden at Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland on Friday, January 28, 2022. The president is escorted by Colonel William McDonald, vice commander of the 89th Airlift Wing.

When it comes to Ukraine, there is no clear path to success, certainly not through the direct use of US power.

When it comes to Ukraine, there is no clear path to success, certainly not through the direct use of US power.

When it comes to Ukraine, there is no clear path to success, certainly not through the direct use of US power.

He saw that other nations were taking advantage of America’s decline and that American families had to foot the bill.

President Trump, and we who helped him carry out his foreign policy agenda, have determined that no American lives or tax dollars should be captured without a clearly articulated benefit to the American people.

This came from a deep appreciation for how exceptional America and Americans are and therefore how important it is to protect and invest in what we hold dear.

That is the exact opposite of what we see and experience today.

In addition to a continued awareness of the dangers of strategic overrun, America First’s foreign policy conducted by the Trump administration has elevated the nation-state to the primary player in geopolitics and has focused all foreign policy decisions on the top priority of protecting of the citizens of our nation.

Where necessary and overwhelming force was deemed necessary, disciplined force was used. There had to be a clear path to winning if conflict was required.

When it comes to Ukraine, there is no clear path to success, certainly not through the direct use of US power.

Ukraine is primarily a European issue to resolve.

But the Europeans fail.

Economically, they have become dependent on Russia for 35% of their natural gas.

Perhaps the most emblematic data point of Europe’s failure is the fact that Germany did not allow the United Kingdom to use its airspace to deliver deadly military aid to Ukraine.

On the other hand, the US has shipped more than $2.5 billion in arms and aid to Ukraine since 2014, which really started in earnest under President Trump.

Keith Kellogg speaks at a press conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, September 22, 2020.

Keith Kellogg speaks at a press conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, September 22, 2020.

Keith Kellogg speaks at a press conference in the James Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, September 22, 2020.

In the past 8 years, no solution has been found for the Donbas issue in Ukraine.

Putin will now determine whether the Russian military will resolve the issue.

For Russia, the Ukraine issue is deeper and more personal. For Russia, it’s about their safety.

Lacking the buffer of the former Warsaw Pact states, Russia believes any further expansion of NATO eastwards poses a threat to its security.

Putin plans to stop that expansion, which will become his red line with Ukraine, NATO and eventually the United States. We look at Putin’s clear understanding of what Ukraine means to him politically and strategically, and his unwavering commitment to seize an opening to pursue his agenda.

Unlike President Biden, Putin thinks strategically and has two direct goals.

Resolve the Ukraine stalemate in his favor and break the NATO/European alliance with the United States.

He can achieve the first goal unilaterally by invading the country, and the second by dragging out the alliance with the United States over Ukraine and causing those negotiations to fail. We are already witnessing a gap between how some European countries see a resolution for Ukraine and how we see it.

The current impasse could be avoided with some ‘diplomatic finesse’.

Russia should have been told that Ukraine is a sovereign nation, but it is not meant to be part of NATO because of government corruption. We could have persuaded other NATO members to do the same to strengthen us.

Ukraine remains in the top third of corrupt governments in the world. In Europe, only Russia is more corrupt.

Rather than get bogged down in a non-NATO European issue, we should have continued the intellectual and strategic move by recognizing China as the emerging threat of choice to America.  (Above) Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen at a show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday, June 28, 2021

Rather than get bogged down in a non-NATO European issue, we should have continued the intellectual and strategic move by recognizing China as the emerging threat of choice for America.  (Above) Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen at a show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday, June 28, 2021

Rather than get bogged down in a non-NATO European issue, we should have continued the intellectual and strategic move by recognizing China as the emerging threat of choice to America. (Above) Chinese President Xi Jinping is seen at a show ahead of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing on Monday, June 28, 2021

As it stands, Ukraine is not eligible for admission. Every country in NATO must agree to add a new member to the defensive alliance, and the United States also needs two-thirds of the US Senate to agree. The matter could have been brushed aside in the short term.

Rather than get bogged down in a non-NATO European issue, we should have continued the intellectual and strategic move by recognizing China as the emerging threat of choice to America.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of Putin’s efforts is how effectively he is dragging Biden deeper into Russia’s priorities and away from the single most important national security issue that matters most to Americans and that should be Biden’s top priority: the increasing and emboldened threat from China.

In early February, China will host the 2022 Winter Olympics — likely when Russia’s plans for Ukraine will materialize.

China will no doubt use this international forum to advance its ambitions, and American institutions, whether corporate boardrooms, Hollywood, universities or professional sports, will be the ones to command Beijing.

There is perhaps no more vivid picture of China’s threat to America and no more stark contrast than when it happens, as Biden and his team’s focus is entirely on the European issue of Ukraine.

Lieutenant General (Retd.) Keith Kellogg is the co-chair of the America First Policy Institute’s Center for American Security. He served as acting national security adviser to President Trump and national security adviser to Vice President Pence. He is the author of War By Other Means: A General in the Trump White House (Regnery Publishing, 2021).

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