Gotta phrase the headline as a question because it’s often hard to tell if Biden meant what he said, meant something different but expressed it awkwardly, or is … confused about what’s going on.
This started with a remark he made to U.S. troops about Ukraine during his trip to Poland. You’ll see the courage of the Ukrainian people firsthand “when you’re there,” he told them.
“There” where? Are American soldiers deploying to Ukraine?
Biden tells the 82nd Airborne they're going to Ukraine:
"You’re going to see when you’re there, you’re going to see women, young people standing in the middle, in the front of a damn tank saying 'I’m not leaving.'" pic.twitter.com/M2nu77yUw7
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) March 25, 2022
Yesterday he took questions from the press and was asked by Peter Doocy of Fox News to clarify what he had meant. We’re not joining the war against Russia, are we?
Of course not, said Biden. When I told my audience in Poland that they’ll see Ukrainian bravery “when you’re there,” I was referring to the Ukrainian troops whom we’re training in Poland.
I seriously don't think he knows what's going on… pic.twitter.com/tnrs6sLRn1
— Faran Balanced (@FaranBalanced) March 28, 2022
You make the call. Did he let slip some highly classified information? Misspeak, as he’s wont to do? Or just fantasize that we’re training Ukrainian troops since he can no longer keep events straight?
Politico notes that Jake Sullivan, Biden’s own national security advisor, denied that Americans were training Ukrainians a week ago when asked. All of that ended once the war began, Sullivan said. Which is the proper answer to give even if it’s not true: At a tense moment, with Russia mulling whether NATO’s arms shipments to Ukraine amount to an act of war, we don’t want to up the ante and invite retaliation by admitting that we’re training Zelensky’s troops to boot.
Sullivan is a young man with the mental capacity to filter the things he says. His boss is … not. And so another clean-up effort has begun:
“There are Ukrainian soldiers in Poland interacting on a regular basis with U.S. troops, and that’s what the President was referring to,” said a White House official.
Multiple congressional staffers on key national security committees said they were unaware of such a training mission. One said that the training would be classified and therefore couldn’t confirm it was happening…
Asked directly on Monday if the U.S. was training Ukrainian troops on these new weapons, a senior defense official told reporters the U.S. is focused on providing weapons that the Ukrainians already know how to use, “so nothing has changed from our perspective on those kinds of security assistance details.”
The idea here, I guess, is that the Americans are “interacting” with the Ukrainians in Poland when they’re handing over weapons to them but they’re not actually training the Ukrainians on those weapons. They don’t need training since they already know how those weapons work. But is that plausible?
They may know how Javelins work, but what about those snazzy new Switchblade drones we just sent them? What about Stinger missiles, which Politico notes Ukraine didn’t have before the war began? Those are just a small part of an enormous $800 million weapons outlay from the U.S., in fact. Do Ukrainian troops really already know how to operate *every type of weapon* in that tranche?
I find that hard to believe, especially since they’re suddenly getting a variety of armaments from Europe too. Some of those arms are destined to be unfamiliar to them and will require training, and Poland is the obvious spot for that training to happen since it’s the main transit point for weapons shipments. Occam’s Razor suggests that Biden blurted out the truth in what he told Doocy, which would make this the second ad libbed remark he’s made that risks escalating the war in the past four days.
No wonder his aides are forced to resort to this to try to keep him on message:
Biden had to have “I was not articulating a change in policy” written verbatim on a notecard so he wouldn’t screw it up… and he still screwed it up pic.twitter.com/OvEwlHQVry
— Jake Schneider (@jacobkschneider) March 28, 2022
He needed a cheat sheet for the talking point, “I was expressing my moral outrage when I said Putin shouldn’t remain in power, not announcing a policy shift”?
At NRO today, Jim Geraghty argues that “Biden’s Mouth Is Now a Serious National-Security Risk”:
Back in August, after Biden’s erratic behavior during the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, I wrote that something was wrong with the president and got a lot of grief for writing that. About a month later, under oath before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the commander of U.S. Central Command, General Frank McKenzie, and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Mark Milley, both said they had recommended that President Biden maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. When asked specifically about this recommendation by George Stephanopoulos, Biden answered that, “No one said that to me that I can recall.” I pointed out that it is possible that the septuagenarian Biden genuinely does not remember what his military advisers recommended a few months ago, on one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency.
Does Biden remember what he’s told in briefings that is supposed to be kept secret?
It’s a fair question. The only silver lining in this past week’s gaffe extravaganza is that Russia may no longer be in a position to respond to Biden by escalating. If I’m right that they’re racing the clock to secure eastern and southern Ukraine before offering Zelensky a land-for-peace deal, then taking a pot shot at Poland or American troops is the last thing Moscow should be willing to do. Even if it really, really wants to.
I’ll leave you with Leon Panetta defending Biden’s regime change comment about Putin on grounds that he’s Irish or something.
Former Obama Defense Secretary Leon Panetta:
Biden made comments that the White House needed to walk back because "Joe Biden, you know, is Irish." pic.twitter.com/LlYSZHFuNN
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) March 29, 2022
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