Biden’s State of the Union must declare new emphasis on military and energy

Expect thunderous applause on Tuesday night when President Joe Biden pays tribute to the outnumbered and outgunned Ukrainians who are resisting the Russian invasion.

But words like “freedom” and “democracy” — which Biden invoked Thursday to praise these heroes — aren’t enough. Words must be backed by military might and energy dominance.

The predatory ambitions of Russian President Vladimir Putin will not stop at Ukraine. It is likely targeting Latvia, Lithuania and other Eastern European countries formerly under Soviet rule and now part of NATO.

To ensure NATO stands up to meet this challenge, Biden is expected to announce a 180-degree turn in US energy policy and a shift in military priorities from awake to combat-ready.

NATO’s survival looked doubtful until its second-largest member, Germany, abruptly flip-flopped last week. Calling the invasion of Ukraine a “turning point”, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Germany needed to end its reliance on Russian energy, increase military spending and reassess its economic ties with the EU. Russia.

Scholz’s bold moves were the first sign that the NATO alliance would survive. After all, Germany had turned into an energy supplicant. It shut down its coal-fired power plants, completely banned fracking, shut down its nuclear facilities, and became 40% dependent on Russian natural gas to heat its homes.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz comments on the Russian attack on Ukraine during a press conference at the Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, Thursday, February 22, 2022.
A Ukrainian soldier and a vehicle
A Ukrainian soldier inspects a damaged military vehicle after fighting in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Sunday, February 27, 2022.
AP photo/Marinko Andrew

When the invasion of Ukraine began, Germany dithered, begging the United States not to include energy products in its economic sanctions against the Russians and sending a ridiculous 5,000 helmets to Ukraine.

But Scholz had his revelation. Now it’s Biden’s turn.

Biden and the Democrats have spent the past year dismantling America’s energy independence: suspending new drilling on federal lands, shutting down the Keystone Pipeline and flagging policies that will discourage investment in fossil fuel production. This makes us energy eunuchs. The United States is producing 1.5 billion barrels less per day than the pre-pandemic peak. Prices soar because demand exceeds supply. You pay for it at the pump.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin addresses the nation at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia February 21, 2022.
a Keystone pipeline facility
Biden has spent the last year dismantling America’s energy independence by shutting down the Keystone pipeline.
AP photo/Jeff McIntosh

Months ago, Biden actually called on the Russians to increase their oil production. Music to Putin’s ears: no more US dollars that can be turned into Russian bullets.

Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is the 3 a.m. wake-up call for the United States to become energy independent at home and the main supplier of energy – mostly liquefied natural gas – to the United States. ‘Europe. Putin was no doubt laughing when US climate envoy John Kerry implored countries to stop producing fossil fuels while Russia became an energy superpower.

Don’t count on NATO allies to stand up to Putin if Russia can put out its fire.

Marc Milley
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley speaks during a press conference at the Pentagon, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022, in Washington.
Photo by ap/Alex Brandon

In Tuesday’s message, Biden is also expected to demand military readiness. Democrats lobbied to cut defense spending, and before the invasion Biden wanted to stabilize it. US land forces get high marks in a recent General Accountability Office report, but the navy urgently needs maintenance and new ships.

It’s not just a question of money. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley recently said that under Biden the military has dedicated nearly 6 million man-hours to combating climate change, diversity and extremism. Meanwhile, the Air Force and Navy are cutting pilot training hours. The Air Force reports that hours have been reduced “below what is needed to maintain high skill levels.”

This is good news for Putin – pilots know more about awakening than wingspan.

Chinese President Xi Jinping,
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk to each other as they meet in Beijing, Friday, February 4, 2022.
AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin

Biden should also consider whether doing business with predatory countries like Russia, and even China, is shooting himself in the foot. It naively enriches the economies and arsenals of the countries that want to bring us down.

On Tuesday night, millions of people will listen to Biden — in America, across Eastern Europe, where people fear Putin’s next moves, and even in China, where President Xi Jinping is assessing Biden.

Until now, Putin and Xi, who signed a mutual cooperation agreement on Feb. 4, have felt blood in the water over Biden’s weakness. What they and the world need to hear from Biden is an aggressive course of action. Uplifting words about freedom and democracy will not suffice. Biden must call for energy independence and military readiness. Nothing less will do.

Betsy McCaughey is a former Lieutenant Governor of New York.

Twitter: @Betsy_McCaughey

New York Post

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