As President Joe Biden continues to saber rattle at Russia over Ukraine, former Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is warning that American lives could be at stake if Biden’s posturing leads to war.
Panetta, in an interview with Greta Van Susteren, which will air Sunday, says there is “no question” that American civilians could be caught in the crosshairs should the U.S. and its allies go to war with Russia, which currently has 100,000 troops poised at Ukraine’s border.
“Right now there are military advisors, U.S. military advisors in the Ukraine working with the Ukrainians to try to develop their capabilities,” Panetta said, Fox News reported.
“And so if something happens, there’s no question that U.S. lives are also going to be at stake here.”
His warning wasn’t entirely grim — Panetta also noted that if Russia continues its aggressions, it may end up with a “black eye.”
“But I think this comes down still to a military issue because I think what will persuade Putin is whether or not, if he engages in war, he could get a black eye. And one thing bullies don’t like to do is to get a black eye,” he said. “And I think that’s where our strongest leverage is.”
President Biden, who once bragged he’d pummel now-former President Donald Trump on the schoolyard, appears incredibly eager to deliver that blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
So much so, in fact, that Ukraine’s own president is virtually begging Biden to tone it down a notch.
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On Friday, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said it was a “mistake” for the U.S. and the U.K. to pull families of embassy personnel out of his country and his economy has been unnecessarily impacted by overblown predictions of war with Russia.
Zelensky noted that Ukraine has been in this situation with Russia “for eight years” and has “learned to live with this and develop with this.”
“The threat is constant,” he added.
That same day, Putin spoke to the world about the impending crisis for the first time, telling French President Emmanuel Macron that Russia has yet to determine its next moves in response to the West’s posturing.
Putin did note that Russia’s “principle concerns,” that is, their opposition to Ukraine being admitted into NATO, which would bring NATO troops to step on his toes in disputed regions between Russia and Ukraine, had not yet been addressed.
While the U.S. Joint Chief of Staff Mark Milley made clear on Friday that the U.S. has “no intent whatsoever” of attacking Russia, the Biden administration has nonetheless placed 8,500 troops across the U.S. and Europe on “high alert,” and President Biden said he warned Ukraine it could be “sacked” and to “prepare for impact” on Thursday.
A Russian invasion is now virtually certain once the ground freezes, Biden said to Zelensky, a senior Ukrainian official told @mchancecnn. Kyiv could be “sacked,” Russian forces may attempt to occupy it, “prepare for impact”, Biden said, according to this official.
— Alexander Marquardt (@MarquardtA) January 27, 2022
There’s no doubt that Russia is flexing its military might and trying to stare down the U.S. and its allies and scare them away from admitting Ukraine into NATO.
What is not so clear is why Biden is taking the hysteric approach when Ukraine’s own president is telling the world to tone it down.
As Panetta noted, this is not just about our own military personnel or even Ukrainian lives that could be impacted by what would no doubt be a terrible and violent conflict — American civilians would be caught in the fray as well.
Putin has made clear from the start of Biden’s presidency that he doesn’t take him seriously. Last year, after promising to withdraw troops from Ukraine’s border ahead of key military games held by NATO allies, he turned around and placed more troops there than had been there when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014.
This is a time for the American president to signal coolness and calm to allies, foreign leaders and its own populace alike — but Biden is taking it in the opposite direction.
We’ve already seen his record of handling precarious military situations. Afghanistan was a complete and utter disaster.
Will his actions on Ukraine also result in the loss of American lives?
Let’s certainly pray this is not the case.