Follow us on social

Is Biden taking the public's temperature on Ukraine War?

Is Biden taking the public's temperature on Ukraine War?

If he was he would find that it is cooling toward the concept of "as long as it takes."

Analysis | Europe

After 18 months and billions of dollars spent, there are signs that the American public’s patience is waning with the Biden administration’s Ukraine policy.

A recently published poll by the Eurasia Group Foundation (ESG) found that 58% of Americans think the U.S. should push for a negotiated end to the war in Ukraine, citing the high humanitarian costs. Meanwhile 34% want the defense budget to decrease, 16% would like to see more and half would maintain military spending at current levels.

Such is the change in the public mood that even the mainstream media has picked up on it. Over the weekend, The New York Times published a report which expressed alarm over wavering support for the war, noting:

…even before the war in the Mideast began last week, there was a strong sense in Europe, watching Washington, that the world had reached “peak Ukraine” — that support for Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion would never again be as high as it was a few months ago.

While the seeming shift in public opinion is an important one and should signal to the administration that the time has come to pursue negotiations, it is clear that those whose opinions matter most — in Kiev, Moscow, and Washington — aren't terribly interested in doing so.

In late September, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu delivered widely reported comments interpreted by many to mean that Russia plans on fighting Ukraine until 2025. Recent reports also show that Russian defense spending is up 21.2% year over year with no end in sight.

Here in Washington, the administration remains firmly on a war footing. In a New Yorker profile of Biden national security adviser Jake Sullivan, a former US ambassador to NATO described Sullivan as “the quartermaster of the war — and everything else.”

Sullivan’s hands-on role apparently extends deep into the minutiae of the war, with the New Yorker reporting that “In his office, there is a chart— updated frequently — showing countries’ current stocks of ammunition that might go to Ukraine.”

Instead, the administration should be working diplomatically to end rather than prolong the agony of Ukraine (and yes, we understand that it is ultimately up to the Ukrainians if they want to fight on or not, but that does not mean we are obliged to surrender our agency in matters of intelligence sharing, arming, funding or even diplomacy.)

Leaving the shift in public opinion aside, the administration would still be wise to reconsider its current course given the mounting economic and political costs of the war which include de- industrialization and the continuing rise of the far-right in Germany. Meantime, the recent election in Slovakia indicates that patience with the war is elsewhere wearing out.

Given the continuing and growing geopolitical risks (not least of which is escalation between nuclear-armed Russia and NATO), President Biden might want to take his cue from the American people, seize the mantle of statesmanship, and begin the long, arduous journey toward peace in Eastern Europe.

Analysis | Europe
Japan debuts as a weapons exporter

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sits in a F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet as he boards the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier, at Sagami Bay, off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan November 6, 2022. REUTERS/Tim Kelly

Japan debuts as a weapons exporter

Asia-Pacific

Japan has gone through a gradual process of dismantling its self-imposed ban on exporting lethal weapons, a process that reached a new plateau with last month’s decision to permit the export to third countries of the next-generation fighter aircraft to be developed jointly with the United Kingdom and Italy.

When this policy change is read in conjunction with the U.S.-Japan Joint Leaders’ Statement issued on April 10, 2024, it is likely that Japan has agreed to jointly develop and produce missiles with the United States and export them to third countries. (It also marks the latest development in its departure from its pacifist defense policy that dates back to the immediate post-World War II era.) This article tries to explain the background and implications of Japan’s policy changes.

keep readingShow less
South Korean president faces setback in elections

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol casts his early vote for 22nd parliamentary election, in Busan, South Korea, April 5, 2024. Yonhap via REUTERS

South Korean president faces setback in elections

QiOSK

Today, South Korea held its quadrennial parliamentary election, which ended in the opposition liberal party’s landslide victory. The liberal camp, combining the main opposition liberal party and its two sister parties, won enough seats (180 or more) to unilaterally fast-track bills and end filibusters. The ruling conservative party’s defeat comes as no surprise since many South Koreans entered the election highly dissatisfied with the Yoon Suk-yeol administration and determined to keep the government in check.

What does this mean for South Korea’s foreign policy for the remaining three years of the Yoon administration? Traditionally, parliamentary elections have tended to have little effect on the incumbent government’s foreign policy. However, today’s election may create legitimate domestic constraints on the Yoon administration’s foreign policy primarily by shrinking Yoon’s political capital and legitimacy to implement his foreign policy agenda.

keep readingShow less
Hezbollah leader ups ante after attack on Iranian consulate

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gives a televised address to mark one week since a suspected Israeli strike on Iran's consulate in Damascus that killed several Iranian Quds Force figures, including a top commander, in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Hezbollah leader ups ante after attack on Iranian consulate

Middle East

During a speech in Beirut on Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that Iran will surely retaliate for last week’s attack, presumably by Israel, on its consulate in Damascus that led to the death of seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including senior Al-Quds commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

In a televised address marking “Quds Day,” Nasrallah described the attack as a “turning point,” warning that any scenario was possible in its aftermath.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest