It's Time for Biden to Stop 'Mollycoddling'

Critics say he needs to arm Ukraine for victory, not compromise
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2022 11:27 AM CDT
It's Time for Biden to Stop 'Mollycoddling'
A man stands in front of a damage building ruined by attacks in Hostomel, outskirts Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 26, 2022.   (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

(Newser) – America is spending billions of dollars to arm Ukraine, while holding back weapons that could provide victory over Russia—an apparent plan to force the two sides into a stalemate and give Ukraine more power at the bargaining table, the Economist reports. But not everyone is pleased with the strategy: "Enough mollycoddling," writes Max Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in the Washington Post. "Russia must suffer such a devastating defeat that it will be many decades before another Russian leader thinks of attacking a peaceful neighbor." He dismisses the concern that Vladimir Putin will be "humiliated" and "go nuclear," calling the odds "infinitesimally small." For more:

  • No compromise: "Washington can and should do more," argues retired US Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman in Foreign Affairs. He urges President Biden to embrace the goal of Ukrainian victory and "discard the desire" to see "Ukraine ultimately compromise with Russia for the sake of a negotiated peace." What's needed? "Squadrons of advanced unmanned combat aerial vehicles, battalions of multiple rocket launchers, and multiple batteries of surface-to-air missile and antiship missile systems."
  • Rocket launchers: Washington is providing M777 howitzers that fire three miles farther than Russia's most common artillery, per the New York Times, but they pale in comparison to the Multiple Launch Rocket Systems that Ukraine requested—and was denied. The Biden administration feared Ukraine might use the longer-range MLRS to strike inside Russia and prolong the war, Politico reports.

  • Small savior: Ukraine has also sought reusable attack drones and Harpoon anti-ship cruise missiles; the latter were provided by the small country of Denmark. Some experts feared that might be seen as an escalation, per the Washington Post, but Navy veteran Malcolm Nance dismissed this concern on Twitter: "What they gonna do," he wrote. "Invade Ukraine?"
  • Disunited Europe: Yet European countries aren't all on the same page. As the Economist notes, Germany, Italy, and France are pushing for peace talks, while Britain, Poland, and the Baltic states want to punish and weaken Russia. America's own message has shifted between the two camps, but its limited armament strategy seems clear. Meanwhile, Vladimir Putin shows no interest in a ceasefire—which might change as sanctions cut into his energy exports and weapons production, per the Times.

  • Status quo: Others are doubling down on peace talks. The New York Times editorial board argued that "real negotiations" with Russia will have to include "painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand." Henry Kissinger struck a similar note by saying Ukraine should "return to the status quo ante" that existed before the war—apparently including the concession of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014.
  • Abe Lincoln: But counter-arguments are rippling across the political spectrum. In the National Review, former Sen. Jim Talent says America must prevent Russia's expansion into Eastern Europe and "weaken both the will and the capacity of its leaders to commit further aggression in the future." In the Atlantic, Eliot Cohen, a Johns Hopkins University professor, calls on America to muster the persistence of Churchill and Lincoln: "There is a time for clever policies, subtle diplomacy, considered overtures, and exquisite compromise," he writes. "This is not it."
(See how the war could create a worldwide food and energy crisis.)

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