The DEFCON Warning System™

Ongoing GeoIntel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.  DEFCON Level assessment issued for public notification.  Established 1984.

Does Joe Biden Have a Deterrence Problem?

Would you be deterred by an antagonist you believe to be incompetent, irresolute, or both? That question has become part of daily discourse about U.S. foreign policy, if seldom phrased in such stark terms. Contemporary events—in particular Russian aggression against Ukraine and the rise of a domineering China—explain why. The past couple of years, for example, it has become commonplace for rightward-leaning politicians to claim that the U.S. military’s flight from Afghanistan in August 2021 egged on Russian president Vladimir Putin to order the invasion of Ukraine mere months later, in February 2022. 

Exhibit A: On the eve of war former president Donald Trump told Fox News: “How we got here is when [Putin and Xi Jinping] watched Afghanistan, and they watched the most incompetent withdrawal in the history of probably any army let alone just us. . . .” Trump contended that the Eurasian despots “watched that, and they said: ‘What’s going on? They don’t know what they’re doing.’ And all of a sudden I think they got a lot more ambitious.” 

Exhibit B: At a press conference on the day of the invasion, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell lambasted the Biden administration in similar terms: “I think the precipitous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August was a signal to Putin, and maybe to Chinese president Xi as well, that America was in retreat. That America could not be depended upon.” The bottom line for Senator McConnell: “A combination of perception of weakness, and yearning for empire, is what led to the war in Ukraine.” 

Now, clearly some of this is political expediency. It suits Republican magnates’ political interests to blame a Democratic administration for seismic misadventures like the Russian onslaught. And to be sure, it’s impossible to state with any measure of confidence that the Afghanistan pullout emboldened the Kremlin. Putin & Co. have no incentive to reveal the inner workings of Russian policy and strategy, for fear of handing the United States and NATO an advantage in some future imbroglio. So they will keep mum. 

Read more at National Interest

Ongoing Geointel and Analysis in the theater of nuclear war.

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The DEFCON Warning System is a private intelligence organization which has monitored and assessed nuclear threats by national entities since 1984. It is not affiliated with any government agency and does not represent the alert status of any military branch. The public should make their own evaluations and not rely on the DEFCON Warning System for any strategic planning. At all times, citizens are urged to learn what steps to take in the event of a nuclear attack.