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Putin - Biden - Michael Johns

‘Putin Extorts the U.S. and Biden Does Nothing’: Michael Johns

Former White House presidential speechwriter claims that thanks to the president our enemies feel empowered to extort money from us

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Tensions between the U.S., NATO, Russia and Ukraine are escalating in the face of the increasingly realistic possibility that Putin will invade Kiev. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden struggles to improve his weakened image in the international community with new threats against Vladimir Putin’s government.

Michael Johns, former White House presidential speechwriter and foreign policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, gave an exclusive interview to El American in which he blamed President Biden for allowing hostile nations such as Russia or China to feel empowered to extort and threaten the United States. He asserts that, in just one year, “decades of bold U.S. leadership are now in question because of Biden.”

Johns was a leading proponent of the Reagan Doctrine under which the U.S. supported anti-communist resistance movements in Africa, Asia, Latin America and elsewhere. He also visited the former Soviet Union and many of the frontline battlefields of the Cold War in its later years and, in February 2009, was a co-founder of the U.S. Tea Party movement, which became the largest independent grassroots political movement in U.S. history.

How do you analyze the role of the United States in this conflict between Russia, NATO and Ukraine? 

For four years, from 2017 to 2021, we were lectured by former President Trump’s opponents that he was somehow weak on Russia and that he was not acting with the assertiveness necessary to contain Putin’s aggressive impulses. I pointed out from the very beginning that it was an absurd allegation. Putin took advantage of Obama’s weakness in 2014, annexing Crimea. Trump, conversely, had a posture toward Russia that both diplomatically and strategically projected strength and yet diplomatic reasonableness, and the result was that Russia’s aggression diminished substantially under his leadership.

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Trump properly pulled the U.S. out of the INF Treaty, which Russia had been violating for years. He signed the new CAATSA sanctions, even though those sanctions were imperfectly crafted by Congress. Imperfect as they were, though, Trump saw the importance of holding Russia accountable for their Ukranian aggression and cybercrimes. Trump properly opposed the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which vastly increases Germany’s reliance on Russia for their energy needs, violating the entire spirit of NATO. Perhaps most important, unlike Obama, Trump provided Ukraine with lethal military aid that sent Moscow the message that there was a seriousness about  deterring any further aggression by Russia against Ukraine–and Putin got that message.

Since Biden entered office a year ago, the entire world, including Putin, sees him as enervated and possibly even compromised by years of family dealings with hostile powers, including Russia. Many of us sought full disclosure of these conflicts during the 2020 campaign, but mainstream media never really held him to account. We still don’t know the extent of foreign financial entanglements of his family in detail except that it is massive and certainly sufficient to prove a factor in the weakness he is now projecting.

After the Holocaust, we promised “never again,” but China’s Communist Party (CCP) is engaged in genocide right now against the Uyghurs; Biden has done nothing. They are wholly responsible for the release of the Covid pandemic, for lying to the world about it and for denying inspectors entry to understand the magnitude of it and the composition of the virus itself. They refused and the result has been the death of hundreds of thousands of Americans and trillions of dollars of economic damage; Biden has done nothing there either. And no world leader could look on as Biden essentially handed Afghanistan to the Taliban and not recognize that his leadership and strength is hugely lacking. In fact, it’s basically non-existent. And now Putin has taken advantage of this Biden weakness to move about 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s border and outrageously issue demands of us, which is essentially extortion. It’s a very serious and tense situation, but it’s one Biden invited by violating all the tested and proven truisms of geopolitical and military strategy.



Since Biden entered office a year ago, the entire world, including Putin, sees him as enervated and possibly even compromised by years of family dealings with hostile powers, including Russia

Michael Johns

Do you think Biden has erred in the way he has confronted Vladimir Putin?

First, never project weakness to hostile regimes. Second, never enter negotiations, and especially high level negotiations, with a gun to your head. Biden should have first demanded that these troops be pulled back as a condition to any dialogue. I also do not believe any of our NATO defense or NATO inclusion decisions should be made out of fear. These are vital decisions that need to be made because they make strategic sense for the U.S. and all NATO members. If I were to guess what Putin is up to, I’d be more inclined to say that he’s trying to divide and break NATO, as he has been trying to do for years, than to test our will by invading Ukraine. But the latter possibility can never be discounted.

What should Joe Biden’s role be in this situation? 

In normal circumstances, the answer to that question would be challenging but fairly textbook in nature. In this case, however, consider everything the world has already seen in just a year of Biden’s wholly flawed presidency: His first acts, through executive order, were self-sabotaging to our energy needs, to our economy, and to our national strength and sovereignty, including utterly self-destructive decisions that have created an unprecedented border crisis. Then, starting with the outrageous abrupt abandonment of Bagram Air Base in early July, the world saw a series of decisions by Biden that totally unnecessarily handed that entire nation to the Taliban, which is now yet another Biden-created crisis. American Marines were killed. Americans were left behind. Key Afghan war allies are now being hunted down by the Taliban. And Biden left the Taliban billions of dollars in military equipment, opening the door for a terrorist superstate in the heart of Central Asia that will now probably ultimately be aligned with immensely hostile foreign powers, including China’s Communist Party. These are all disgraceful, inexplicable, and I believe impeachable acts.

biden
President Joe Biden. (Image: EFE)

What now? He needs, at this point, to stop the bleeding and completely reverse course. He needs to coordinate with NATO allies on the Russia threat, but he needs to be forceful on this issue and demand that Russia, without conditions, withdraw its troops from the Ukraine border. He should probably take to national television and seek to explain that we are being essentially extorted by Russia with their demands and military threats and then make it clear that we are both committed to peace but also that our resolve should not and cannot be questioned. The rhetoric should not be inviting conflict. But he should make it clear that we do not negotiate under circumstances like this and there will be no concessions until Russian troops pull back. Unfortunately, given Biden’s mismanagement of all these national security matters to date, we need also to be prepared for a worst case outcome. I think Putin fears NATO and the U.S. and is seeking to divide and diminish the alliance rather than test U.S. and NATO resolve through military aggression against Ukraine, but it would be a mistake to discount the possibility of aggression. He annexed Crimea. It’s conceivable he’d seek to seize more of Ukraine.

If I were to guess what Putin is up to, I’d be more inclined to say that he’s trying to divide and break NATO, as he has been trying to do for years, than to test our will by invading Ukraine.

Michael Johns

Biden has only been in the White House for one year, how would you rate his performance in international affairs? 

In twelve months, he has raised doubt in every capital of the world–both with allies and with enemies–about whether the United States is still committed to the global military and geopolitical leadership, or capable of executing it, that we have maintained throughout consecutive presidencies of both parties since World War II. Unlike most major powers throughout history, the U.S. never sought out to conquer or occupy foreign lands. But without U.S. leadership, World War II would have likely ended very differently.


Hostile powers like China, Iran, Russia, and even Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are testing us in ways we have not been tested in decades.

Michael Johns

Without U.S. leadership, the Cold War most certainly would still be ongoing, or worse. In just a year, decades of bold U.S. leadership on the national stage is now in question everywhere because of Biden. You grade him a solid F. He’s failing in every respect. Allies are beginning to act independently, concluding that we are unreliable. Just look at the last week with Olaf Scholz refusing to even take Biden’s call. When the chancellor of Germany refuses to take a call from the president of the United States, we have a deep and systematic crisis.

And all this is playing out in the eyes of the world. Hostile powers like China, Iran, Russia, and even Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are testing us in ways we have not been tested in decades. There is nothing more dangerous to peace and stability than American blood in the water, and Biden’s handling of Afghanistan and inaction on China have left that blood very visible to anyone paying attention. That blood attracts sharks, both small sharks and big sharks. It’s certainly a major factor, and likely the primary factor, behind Putin’s aggression that is a real and present danger to regional and even global peace and stability.

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