US and NATO must reverse strategy of surrender with Ukraine

AP

Aside from his well-publicized gaffe on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s power, President Biden’s speech in Poland this weekend followed the same song sheet that his administration and NATO have been singing from for the duration of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Their “relentless diplomacy” and internal focus on uniting the alliance have contrasted sharply with the valiant efforts of the besieged nation to whom they have pledged allegiance. Ukraine, under the inspirational leadership of President Volodymyr Zelensky, has defiantly resisted Russia’s atrocious attacks on civilian populations, with its citizens and soldiers alike vowing to never surrender. The West, on the other hand, has been slow to act, stupid in strategic approach and uncommitted to help Ukraine achieve its primary objective in the war — total victory over Russia.

{mosads}It was a national embarrassment before the invasion when the U.S. government offered to facilitate Zelensky’s leadership in exile and he responded to the global media, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” Encouraging him to abandon his people and land was as morally bankrupt as the administration’s abandonment of our partners in Afghanistan. We should have begun surging the material then that came only later when Congress pushed for it. One of our country’s strongest values from the time of the American Revolution, to our response to Pearl Harbor and then after 9/11 has been to never quit. Relentless resolve is the theme of our masterfully written national anthem, and it is a defining element of our national character. Yet, with Ukraine, our message to their government’s leadership was, “giving in is okay.”

Our strategic approach to appease Putin has been similarly weak and unwise. It is no secret that Putin only speaks the language of strength. So when Biden stated before the invasion that he would not even consider troop deployments to Ukraine, he lost all strategic leverage. Of course, we never want to send our sons and daughters in harm’s way, but by voicing a will not to do so, he precluded their powerful potential to deter. It brings to mind the words used by a former U.S. Secretary of State, the late Madeline Albright, to then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Colin Powell, “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”  Putin has kept “all options on the table,” and because the U.S. has not, the U.S. arguably emboldened him to invade.

Lastly, and most appalling of all, there were signs last Thursday that the Biden administration is pressuring Ukraine to negotiate a deal with Russia rather than fight and win. The U.S. has a long tradition of defending democracy across the globe, and it is unconscionable for us to cede ground to a tyrant who represents every principle we have opposed since our founding nearly two and a half centuries ago.

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Additionally, Ukraine is winning. Russia recently announced a halt to its advance on Kyiv, claiming that the Donbass region was its only aim all along. It is clear to many that Russia’s staggering losses are giving it pause. Now is the time for NATO to shift from its current “long haul” position to one of urgency, stand up to Russia’s nuclear saber-rattling, and give Ukraine every means it has requested to secure victory over Putin and convince him of the futility of such future aggression against Ukraine or any member NATO.

Exceeding the expectations of our best intelligence estimates, the brave Ukrainian nation is making a stand against Putin — who may be the worst war criminal and threat to world peace since Adolph Hitler. Not only is Ukraine holding fast for its freedom, it is making a valiant sacrifice on the altar of democracy for the entire West. Let’s follow the example of the steadfast citizens and soldiers of Ukraine by leading NATO to turn around the current strategy of surrender to secure a permanent victory over Putin.

Rear Admiral (ret.) Tim Gallaudet, Ph.D., is a former acting undersecretary and assistant secretary of commerce and served for 32 years in the U.S. Navy. He is the CEO of Ocean STL Consulting, LLC and a member of the Consensus for American Security and the Renew America Movement.

Tags Colin Powell Diplomacy Joe Biden Military National security Russia surrender Tim Gallaudet Ukraine Vladimir Putin White House

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