From Afghanistan to Ukraine: Strategy, Tactics, & Biden’s Foreign Policy

(This post is also available as a podcast episode.)

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone but diehard partisans say that President Biden has been a strong president.

His promise to bring America together has failed. His unrealistic prediction that Republicans would snap out of it once the election evicted President Trump from the White House has not manifested. His presidential press conferences, rare as they may be, are the most worrying of my lifetime, save only those of his predecessor. Although the American Rescue Plan protected a fragile recovery, it was fair for critics to worry about the long-term effects on prices and productivity, and even those critics may have underpredicted inflation, now at a 40-year-high of 7.9%. Meanwhile, his Build Back Better budget plan never got through Congress — a Congress his party controls.

For these and several other reasons, I think Republicans are virtually assured of a House takeover this November (perhaps the Senate as well), and Biden’s inability to stop it will make him look even weaker. His greatest singular accomplishment to his party and our country remains that he won an election his opponent was determined to steal, a victory that gave his party control of the executive and legislative branches and our democracy control of itself. Since then, however, victories for this overmatched chief executive have been few and far between, and he should do us all a favor and not run again in 2024.

When his party loses control of Congress in January, his domestic agenda will be even more ineffectual, making his foreign policy all the more critical when either he runs for re-election or the Democrats scramble to replace him. For that reason, and with the Ukrainian conflict now in its second month, I want to consider Biden’s foreign policy through the lens of the two primary crises he’s faced: the withdrawal from Afghanistan and the ongoing Ukrainian conflict.

It’s been a mixed bag. Although I actually agree with Biden’s strategy in Afghanistan, his tactics were abysmal. Then, in Ukraine, it was the strategy that was laughable but the tactics laudable.

Here’s what I mean.

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Two Days Out: Presidential Politics for America Op-Ed

For a few years now, my “About the Writer” page labels me a “radical moderate.” At first I thought it a cute, oxymoronic coupling of words, but I’ve since grown to proudly wear the label.

I feel confident in few political positions; I neither watch cable news nor subscribe to slanted newsletters, so I haven’t bought into an army of one-sided talking points, incomplete facts, and uncontextualized claims. Through my fairly balanced Twitter feed and media diet, however, I’ve encountered all of those things. This approach has taught me that few political issues are as clear cut as a devout partisan suggests.

As a result, one of the few beliefs I do feel strongly about is that one shouldn’t feel too confident in one’s ideology. There’s a virtual guarantee that someone out there is smarter and more informed than you, yet they disagree with your politics. That being the case, my conclusion feels axiomatic: you shouldn’t feel confident in your political positions either.

Thus, as a radical moderate, I can’t say I’m pleased with the state of our political discourse.

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With a Potential Defeat Looming, PPFA Claims a Victory

One of PPFA’s most loyal readers and commenters, “NP,” recently quipped that he was hoping for twice daily posts down the stretch. It was a request I simply could not oblige. When I promised to give you daily posts for the final week, I was giving you all I could.

That said, I thought on this spooky full moon Halloween, I would give NP and other PPFA readers a surprising second post. BOO!

As you’ll soon see, however, I’m kind of cheating here. Most of this column pulls from earlier posts for the purposes of reflecting on the rise of Joe Biden to where he is now: one election from becoming the 46th President of the United States.

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Six Days Out: The Race for the Presidency

Yesterday, I determined that the safest bet of this election was that the House of Representatives stays in Democratic hands. In contrast, I wouldn’t feel confident wagering on the the presidential and Senate results. Of the two, I feel more confident — or, that is, less unconfident — in the presidential race, so today it is on that race I’ll focus. Later this week, I’ll look at the scramble for the Senate.

The Presidency

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