President Joe Biden and his administration, are slow to react to events. This sluggishness may have deadly consequences as Russia’s Vladimir Putin prepares to invade Ukraine and China’s Xi Jinping ramps up his military’s practice runs to conquer Taiwan.
By next month, the world may be at war or America, and her allies, may be utterly discredited and seeking détente with the strongest adversarial bloc we’ve faced since the British torched Washington, D.C., in 1814.
The danger is driven by both perception and reality, with the entire U.S. leadership chain, from the commander in chief to the executive branch departments appearing to suffer from age-related cognitive decline exacerbated by an inability to adjust to reality due to ideological stubbornness.
This combination of being slow to understand developments compounded with a pervasive left-wing mindset led to the rapid disintegration of border security just as Biden took office in January, followed by the Taliban’s blitz of Kabul in August.
Three additional decisions, driven by ideology may be just as important, even if less widely known.
On Inauguration Day, Biden canceled permission to finish the Keystone XL Pipeline that would have supplied Canadian crude oil to American refineries. Further, during his campaign, he signaled additional regulatory measures against the American oil and gas industry that started a relentless rise in prices – oil up 84% from Dec. 7, 2020, to Nov. 1, 2021; natural gas up 162% from Dec. 7, 2020, to Oct. 5, 2021, with price hikes up to 48% for oil and 53% for natural gas today due mainly to fears over a slowing economy.
Soon after taking office, the Biden administration signaled Iran that it was keen to restart the Iran nuclear deal – backing off crippling sanctions imposed under Trump that curtailed Iran’s support for terrorism while slowing their drive to acquire nuclear weapons. Biden’s moves revitalized Tehran just as the mullahs were nervously eyeing their fat overseas bank accounts and the exits.
Hostilities between nations are not reliably contained – violence can escalate quickly.
In May, Biden waived U.S. sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, allowing the export of natural gas to Germany while bypassing the current pipelines that transit Ukraine. The company building and operating the pipeline is led by Matthias Warnig, a former East German intelligence officer. Gas deliveries are pending as natural gas prices soar in Europe.
The confusion and sluggishness emanating from the White House and why it’s so dangerous can be best understood in the theories of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot and military strategist, Col. John Boyd. Boyd passed away in 1997. A decade earlier, when working as a Reagan appointee in the Pentagon, I was directed to attend one of Boyd’s seminars. There, in a modest Washington brownstone, Boyd energetically laid out his decision cycle theory to our small group.
As Boyd explained it, all organizations or people – such as fighter pilots – make decisions by observing, orientating themselves to the information gathered, deciding to act, and then physically acting. Boyd called it the "OODA loop" for Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action. Boyd hypothesized that victory is won by the competitor who can create situations where they can make informed decisions more quickly than their opponent.
America’s opponents – authoritarian Russia and a China ruled by the Chinese Communist Party – are both revanchist, that is, they seek to regain lost territory and status. And, if possible, to do so at a minimal cost. They likely believe that they can act and that, if they launch their military operations in a decisive, rapid and forceful manner, they can run circles around President Biden and his team, forcing them into an embarrassing and costly retreat.
But the biggest immediate danger isn’t from a sidelined America pressed into an era of decline, but rather that Russia and China, seeing weakness and confusion, will overreach, miscalculating that the violence of their actions will cow America into inaction. But hostilities between nations are not reliably contained – violence can escalate quickly.
Modern communications systems and concern over controlling the narrative have increasingly involved the president and his staff in front-line military decisions, frequently to the detriment of military effectiveness. But, while Biden may be slow, the American military – and our allies and friends – are not likely to be caught off guard. This is because military commands, such as the Pacific Command in Hawaii, have unprecedented intelligence capacities and the ability, if required, to take immediate defensive measures without approval from the president.
But after the first day of conflict, all bets are off as a president and his administration lacking situational awareness and the ability to quickly make informed decisions will hamper an effective American response.