The shirtless, horseback-riding Russian strongman and our shaky, ice cream cone-eating president will meet this month. It shouldn’t happen. Leaders carry a big stick, but President Biden seems to think he can reinforce American hegemony with carrots and toothpicks.
Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and George H. W. Bush all negotiated with Russian leaders from a position of strength. Russian President Vladimir Putin knows Mr. Biden has no such ability. His hands are tied by globalists in his increasingly left-wing dominated party who would gladly cede U.S. policy to multilateral organizations. Others in Mr. Biden’s orbit favor a strategy of appeasement to ensure focus on a radical domestic agenda.
The American president still holds all the right cards, but Mr. Biden’s weakness means Mr. Putin comes into this meeting with a head of steam.
Russia has roughly the same GDP as Spain. It’s not a top-10 world economy and likely will never be. While Putin has invested in military infrastructure to help modernize aging systems and fleets, Russia’s military spending at this point is roughly the same as the United Kingdom and less than one-third that of China.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is the senior player now. If Mr. Biden wanted to send a message to Mr. Putin, he would have dismissed the notion of a meeting outright. He could have hit the Russian dictator’s massive ego where it hurts by treating him as a clear subordinate to the Chinese leader. Instead, Mr. Biden will deal Mr. Putin a win just by showing up, after acquiescing to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline.
With America under increasing attack by Russian hackers, and mounting evidence that China was responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, Mr. Biden goes to the table in Geneva with no rational agenda or strategy.
The president should realize that, as with China, collaboration with Mr. Putin on issues like climate change, digital espionage and human rights aren’t really on the table. Equally absurd is the Biden team’s hope that Russia will aid in minimizing the destabilizing impact of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
As China’s stock soars, Mr. Putin has increasingly relied on the new asymmetrical warfare of digital terrorism to influence and disrupt the West. Digital warfare is cheaper than nuclear missiles, tanks and ground troops. Continuing to focus on hacking as his weapon of choice is the smart play for Mr. Putin. It is a significant tool in his arsenal, hard to trace and a natural remake of old KGB tactics for the 21st century.
Even with the SolarWinds, JBS USA meat production and Continental Pipeline attacks all originating in Russia, Mr. Biden isn’t prepared with an offensive strategy.
The Russian dictator, whose entire economy is based on oil and gas, has absolutely no interest in addressing climate change according to Biden, Europe’s or anyone else’s prescriptions. China has already indicated that they intend to increase emissions over the next decade, not reduce them and Russia will likely follow suit.
Mr. Putin will attempt to capitalize on our Afghan pullout. Russian disruption of other nations has been going on for years. Mr. Putin has installed proxy leaders or has attempted to destabilize Belarus, the Czech Republic, Ukraine, and others. He perceives regional instability as an opportunity to exert influence.
Finally, in his address on Memorial Day, Mr. Biden said the U.S. “won’t stand by” and let Russia abuse human rights. Talk is cheap. Here too Mr. Putin has no reason to take Mr. Biden seriously. His surrogates are already employing communist China’s strategy of parroting the Democrats’ police brutality and systemic racism hysterics against Mr. Biden as a way of deflecting.
America is under attack. Dictators like Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin are rising. President Biden shouldn’t be clamoring for meaningless photo ops. He should attend the G7 and head back home until he has a workable strategy to counter our growing threats.
• Tom Basile, host of Newsmax Television’s “America Right Now,” is an author and adjunct professor at Fordham University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, where he teaches earned media strategy.
Sign up for Daily Opinion Newsletter