Kudlow: Biden bungled what could've been a great opportunity to provide American leadership

The president and his minions would be happy with a stalemate in Ukraine

Following on Edward Lawrence's report of President Biden with NATO in Brussels, please recall that last night I asked whether the Biden administration really wants Ukraine to win this war. After today's Biden presser, I think the answer is "no." 

I think the president and his minions would be happy with a standoff, a stalemate, willing to concede a lot of turf to Vladimir Putin. Humanitarian assistance is always good. Permitting Ukrainian refugees into the U.S. is okay, but those things just make the stalemate easier. 

They don't get to the main point: "We win, they lose." I think Senator Cruz the other day correctly called Biden's approach a "managed decline" — and by that, I believe he meant a managed U.S. decline in world leadership and power. And to that point, I will say that idea of a managed decline in American power is something that should be devoutly opposed, which I know Ted Cruz agrees with. 


U.S. President Joe Biden speaks while meeting with business leaders and governors in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, March 9, 2022.  (Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Biden was on the world stage earlier today and bungled what could've been a great opportunity to provide American leadership. He failed. He did not call for a Ukrainian victory. 

He did call Putin a "brute," but he should've just called him a war criminal. I don't know what "brute" means. I know what "war criminal" means. We all know what crimes against humanity mean and why Putin should be brought to the Hague, regardless of the outcome of the war. 

I didn't hear any reference to tougher energy sanctions on Russia, like Sen. Pat Toomey’s call for secondary banking sanctions or Holman Jenkins' call to put oil cash in a special escrow bank account and thus, stop financing Putin’s war machine. 

It does look like Sen. Bill Hagerty, who will be on a bit later, and his bipartisan group will succeed in getting secondary sanctions on Russian gold sales, but that's a congressional proposal that Biden did not mention at his NATO press conference today.

I didn't hear Biden endorse the transfer of Soviet MiG fighter jets from Poland to Ukraine. Frankly, I don't care about sanctioning a bunch of Russian politicians in their parliament. That has no bearing on Ukrainian fighting. 

Oddly, Biden mentioned "the most significant sanctions, economic sanctions, regime ever, in order to cripple Putin's economy and punish him for his actions." But then later he repeats his goofy point that sanctions were never meant for deterrence. Huh? Either they're going to deter or they're not going to deter, Mr. President. Make up your mind. 

Speaking of sanctions, didn't we sanction Vladimir Putin? Didn't Europe sanction Vladimir Putin? So, if NATO was totally unanimous about sanctioning Putin, why haven't we seized Putin’s boat, which is sitting offshore in Italy, badly furnished and all? It's nothing but a big toy, but it's Putin's big toy, and if we took away his big dingy, it would be a great worldwide embarrassment. 


vladimir putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a flag raising ceremony via a video link at a state residence outside Moscow. (ALEXEY NIKOLSKY/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Not only is Putin a war criminal, but he's a corrupt oligarch as well. Haul off his trophy to the Brooklyn Navy Yard and strip it down to sell the metal and perhaps electronic component parts. Do something to Putin for a change. 

Anyway, I'm still not hearing any echoes of Ronald Reagan's "we win, they lose" or "evil empire" or "tear down this wall." That would send an "America first" message. Do you want to win, Mr. Biden, or not? 

This article is adapted from Larry Kudlow's opening commentary on the March 24, 2022, edition of "Kudlow."