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Biden Should Count On Diplomacy To Save His Presidency – OpEd

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By Dalia Al-Aqidi*

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It has been nearly six months since Russia invaded Ukraine. And doubts are now beginning to surface about America’s ability to continue providing military, financial and diplomatic support to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and his country.

Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska traveled to Washington last week, at the invitation of US First Lady Jill Biden, for a series of high-level meetings to mobilize military support for her homeland and to convey the suffering of her people directly to an American audience.

The highlight of her visit was her emotional 15-minute address to bipartisan lawmakers at the US Capitol on July 20. Zelenska urged them to provide the Ukrainian government with more weapons to repel Russia’s full-scale invasion, something she said she would “never want to ask.”

“I am asking for weapons,” she said. “Weapons that will not be used to wage war on somebody else’s land, but to protect one’s home and the right to wake up alive in that home.”

Earlier in the day, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin confirmed that the next tranche of weapons would include more high mobility artillery rocket system launchers.

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US Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Brown said last week that America and its allies are considering providing Ukraine with non-Russian fighter jets, according to USA Today. Washington has provided about $8 billion in military aid alone since the war began in late February, including about $2.2 billion in the past month.

Given that inflation is at a four-decade high, and that energy and food bills are rapidly increasing globally, many commentators feel that the American people may soon begin to question the wisdom of the government placing such a heavy obligation on taxpayers for a war in which America is not directly involved.

Already, the latest developments in Ukraine no longer headline US news bulletins and photos of Zelensky and the Ukrainian flag are disappearing from Americans’ social media accounts. The American public is increasingly focused on domestic issues, including crime; the upcoming midterm elections; new abortion legislation; the Jan. 6 congressional hearing; and a new wave of COVID-19 infections.

At the same time, it seems that high-profile politicians from both parties want to avoid discussing this issue for fear of a backlash that could make it more difficult for their party to connect with its base.

The gap is widening between Democratic and Republican voters regarding the extent to which they are willing to accept the consequences of America’s role in Ukraine, according to a recent opinion poll published by the University of Maryland.

“Seventy-eight percent of Democrats are prepared to see higher energy costs, compared to 44 percent of Republicans, and 72 percent of Democrats are prepared to accept higher inflation, compared to only 39 percent of Republicans,” the poll stated. It added that Democrats and Republicans see Ukraine as faring better than Russia in the conflict so far.

The White House faces a dilemma. President Joe Biden’s approval rating is dropping, and he needs to convince his party and its base that his administration has made the right decisions.

There is no doubt that Washington needs to open a diplomatic channel with Moscow to create a middle ground and find a reasonable settlement for all parties involved. Otherwise, there will be no option for the White House other than to keep providing aid to Ukraine until it is able to defeat the Russian invasion, regardless of how long that might take. That would be a costly and challenging path that could cost Biden his presidency in 2024.

• Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi

Arab News

Arab News is Saudi Arabia's first English-language newspaper. It was founded in 1975 by Hisham and Mohammed Ali Hafiz. Today, it is one of 29 publications produced by Saudi Research & Publishing Company (SRPC), a subsidiary of Saudi Research & Marketing Group (SRMG).

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