Will Putin sink Biden? | The hill
Inflation, coronavirus, unruly progressives – President BidenJoe BidenBiden tells Zelensky US allies will “react decisively” if Russia invades Biden, Harris, to speak in the Capitol on the anniversary of the uprising, Biden’s court encounters fierce opposition from the GOP MORE is in trouble, and his lousy approval ratings show it. But all of his domestic problems could be temporary. Inflation could ease, the virus dwindling as a health problem, and progressives could rally around Biden in the face of Trump’s return.
But Biden is serious Wladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinBiden says Zelensky USA, allies will “react decisively” if Russia invades Will Biden’s foreign policy failures in 2021 reverberate in 2022? Biden speaks to the Ukrainian President MORE Problem that is likely to get worse.
Just before Christmas, Putin issued an incredible list of demands on NATO and the West that essentially recreate the Soviet empire and destroy the sovereignty of a dozen nations. The poisonous combination of Putin, who has every incentive to put pressure on NATO, the utter humiliation of the American mainstream media over the collapse of the Trump-Russia collusion allegations, and a fumbling, weak-willed foreign policy team of Biden supporters make a bigger one Crisis more and more likely.
The fundamental problem is Russia and Putin’s weakness – Putin’s problems are profound and growing while his room for maneuver is diminishing.
Russia is stagnating economically and politically with disastrous demographic prospects. Average income has flattened, and Putin increased repression in line with his falling popularity, from 89 percent approval in July 2015 (in the wake of the annexation of Crimea) to 63 percent today – and it is worth noting that the polls are only those register willing to admit disapproval in a semi-authoritative surveillance state. In the meantime, immigration has steadily declined and Russia remains heavily dependent on the extraction of raw materials.
Taken in isolation, these problems are significant and encourage xenophobia paired with foreign adventurism in order to gain domestic political support (nothing new to Putin). But there is more.
Russia is facing a demographic catastrophe. In 2020, the largest cohort of women was aged 30 to 34 years (4.3 percent) just before female fertility declined significantly (age 35). After that, the 25-29 cohort collapses to 3 percent and the 20-24 cohort is only 2.2 percent – incredibly, a lower percentage than any other cohort up to 75-79. A birth crash is not only likely, it is inevitable.
With a birth rate of 1.5, Russia is well below natural reproduction. And since birth rates are declining worldwide due to the COVID crisis, there will likely be depressive births in Russia for at least two years in the critical cohort between the ages of 30 and 34. Russia was already experiencing natural population losses (over 200,000 in 2019). It is within the realm of possibility that Russia could experience an annual natural population loss of nearly 1 million by the late 2020s.
In recent years, Russia’s demographic problems have been masked by a flood of the 1980s, immigration from the former Soviet republics, and the annexation of Crimea. But those wins are over. The deterioration in the economic outlook and repressive policies are not a recipe for attracting immigrants or increasing fertility.
Putin will not accept chairing the dissolution of Russia. Yet forces beyond his control move against him. The Ukrainian people reject Russia as a role model and seek closer ties to the European Union. The quasi-satellite Belarus remains an ally of Russia only through the repression of President Alexander Lukashenko. Putin’s exact future actions are a mystery. Would it create de facto unification with Belarus, add 9 million people and / or confiscate another part of Ukraine? The conquest of Crimea brought Russia 2 million.
Putin may think that it is best to act now. If Biden lost in 2024, any Republican government would be a lot tougher. Even the best Republican for Putin – Trump – would include a hostile GOP security team. Sens. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzElf Interesting Races To Watch In Our Top Political Celebrity Moments In 2022 The 10 Republicans Most Likely To Run For President MORE (R-Texas), Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioRubio Criticizes “Irrational Hysteria” Over Omicron Rising Omicron Cases, CDC Policies Threaten Companies The 10 Races That Senate Majority Will Decide MORE (R-Fla.) And Tom cottonTom Bryant Cotton: 10 Republicans Most Likely to Run for President (R-Ark.) Are downright hawkish about Russia, and chances are any other legitimate Republican candidate would be too.
Encouraging Putin is the Biden government’s weakness. In the most incompetent geopolitical decision since Yalta, Biden dropped sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, allowing Russia to bypass gas pipelines that run through Poland and Ukraine – and thereby eliminate any influence these states have on Russia. It was no coincidence that Putin’s ultimatum to NATO came after the completion of the construction of Nord Stream 2. In return, Biden only received thanks from Angela Merkel – who is no longer Chancellor.
American mainstream media and progressives are not helping Biden. After the Trump-Russia collusion story was whipped for over four years, some were humiliated by revelations that the so-called “Steele Dossier” turned out to be – at best – flawed, more of a joke. The result is that media like CNN, MSNBC and The New York Times hardly talk about Putin’s bold move or his aggressive moves. The issue preoccupies liberals. After all, it was the Obama administration that watched the annexation of Crimea and initially refused to help Ukraine arm itself. Now Putin is making his offer for Eastern European hegemony, and Biden seems to be following a similar path of appeasement.
The Trump administration tightened sanctions against Russia, sent Ukraine military aid and froze Nord Stream 2 – and for all his roar, Putin took few aggressive steps in Europe. For any objective observer, it is the Obama-Biden security team that seems to be riddled with Russian sympathizers.
Pressed by domestic political problems and without pressure from his chastised media and political allies, Biden’s team seems to have decided to shrink from Putin and occasionally send threatening press releases.
If so, Biden is sleepwalking in the direction of disaster.
The American public already has little opinion of Biden’s leadership skills. According to the December 22nd YouGov poll (a poll with a slight democratic bias), 62 percent see Biden as “rather weak” or “very weak,” with the Independents at 71 percent. Even Democrats – more than a quarter of them anyway – consider Biden to be “rather / very weak” at 26 percent – one of the worst numbers in his party. Only 32 percent are “confident” of Biden in an international crisis, including only 23 percent of the independents.
While Americans put foreign policy at the bottom of their list of priorities, it doesn’t when they perceive a real security threat. Aggressive steps by Putin could very well change that. But even if there is little direct erosion in the polls, the political impact would be devastating. Two key issues that the Democrats and the mainstream media have promoted – that Biden is the man who is restoring confidence in America’s allies (especially the Europeans), and that Trump was a Russian chess player – would be left in absolute ruins.
Putin is being held in check for the time being – not by the foreign minister Antony BlinkAntony Blinken2021 brought security headaches – and worse could come in 2022 Former Afghan President Says He Had No Choice But To Leave Kabul When The Taliban In The US Was Closed, Condemns “Unjust” Media Arrests In Hong Kong MORErumbling, but rather by the reluctance of an obscure German authority to give final approval for the pipeline. But Biden can hardly rely on official German bureaucrats to save him forever. He’s headed for a confrontation with Putin one way or another, and he doesn’t look up to it at all.
Keith Naughton, Ph.D., is a co-founder of Silent Majority Strategies, a public and regulatory affairs consultancy. Naughton is a former political campaigning advisor in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter @ KNaughton711.