Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Biden's State Department Not Rising to the Call of the Hour

At Issues & Insights, "The State Department Should Rise to the Call of the Hour":

The U.S. Department of State's official mission is to lead America's foreign policy through diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance by advancing the American people's interests, safety, and economic prosperity.

For a situation that is bringing us closer to World War III and the worst inflation in 40 years, partly triggered by global events, the State Department is failing to lead in its core mission. Secretary Antony Blinken sounds like a cross between a media analyst and a military general rather than the lead diplomat of the free world.

During his March 17th remarks to the press, Blinken chided Russia as he has been doing for weeks. Switching hats, he then announced a laundry list of weapons to assist Ukraine. He sounded more like Lloyd Austen, the Secretary of Defense: "We're also helping Ukraine acquire longer-range anti-aircraft systems and munitions at President Zelenskyy's request." There was no mention of the State Department leading diplomatically, other than a vague promise: "We'll support Ukraine's diplomatic efforts however we can."

Leaving rookie Ukraine, whose leader has been in political office for fewer than three years, to negotiate peace with wily Russia will not cut it. For weeks, the parties have been talking while Russia mercilessly attacks Ukrainian civilian targets. Each hour's delay brings about additional carnage.

Blinken has been relentlessly pursuing a strategy to strangle Putin, isolate Russia, and inflict so much pain that Putin would initiate serious diplomatic overtures. "I have not seen any meaningful efforts by Russia to bring this war to a conclusion through diplomacy," Blinken said to news media this week.

But this "lead-from-behind" approach, relying on Russia to bell the diplomatic cat, makes no sense. History has repeatedly shown us that pariahs do not initiate peace talks. Even the appearance of conceding defeat would spell the death knell for them back home.

If anything, Putin's speech in Moscow shows that he feels vindicated by his actions in Ukraine. Putin has upped the ante by firing hypersonic missiles, which can travel at ten times the speed of sound. Russia is a powerful country spanning nine time zones and boasting a larger nuclear arsenal than any other country. It is more likely that Putin will dig in rather than bail out; take risks than ask for help.

This is where American diplomacy can make a difference...

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