Snap quiz: who was president when Vladimir Putin gobbled up Crimea?

If you said Barack Obama, go to the head of the class.

What countries did Putin invade while Donald Trump was president?

If you said “None,” you get to stay at the head of the class.

This is a harder one: who was president when Putin once again violated Ukraine’s borders, sending in Russian troops to two breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine?

I say that this is harder because the obvious answer — “Joe Biden” — is not really, or not wholly, correct.

Joe Biden is an empty shell. On...

Snap quiz: who was president when Vladimir Putin gobbled up Crimea?

If you said Barack Obama, go to the head of the class.

What countries did Putin invade while Donald Trump was president?

If you said “None,” you get to stay at the head of the class.

This is a harder one: who was president when Putin once again violated Ukraine’s borders, sending in Russian troops to two breakaway regions in Eastern Ukraine?

I say that this is harder because the obvious answer — “Joe Biden” — is not really, or not wholly, correct.

Joe Biden is an empty shell. On good days, he looks like a mannequin. Really, though, he is a puppet, a creature controlled by others. I have called those others “The Committee.” I am not more specific because I do not know for sure who has seats at that table. Anyway, if you said “Joe Biden” in response to the question, you get full points only if you added an asterisk next to his name.

To appreciate what we are up against, ponder Joe Biden’s performance at this roundtable about Ukraine. A reporter asks, “Do you think you may have underestimated Putin?” Biden smirks, looks vacantly about the room, and then picks at his teeth. Answer came there none. The president of the United States, ladies and gentlemen. It is an unnerving exhibition.

A few observations. First, remember that during the 2020 presidential campaign Joe Biden, or some member of The Committee, emitted this tweet: “Vladimir Putin doesn’t want me to be president. He doesn’t want me to be our nominee. If you’re wondering why — it’s because I’m the only person in this field who’s ever gone toe-to-toe with him.”

Vlad and Joe go “toe-to-toe.” Who wins?

Donald Trump often remarked that it would be “a good thing, not a bad thing” if the US got on well with Russia.

That sent some of my neocon friends into a tizzy.

“Doesn’t Trump know that Putin is a murderous thug who kills journalists, thinks the dissolution of the Soviet Union was a tragedy, and aims to restore as much Soviet territory as he can to Russia?”

Precisely. And that is why it would be important (note the subjunctive) for the US to get along with Russia.

Ronald Reagan’s mantra — “Peace through strength” — was also Trump’s, which is why he spent a trillion or two restoring the military that had been depleted during Obama’s eight years of folly and why he did everything he could to project American strength.

He did not, however, start any wars.

If you want to influence a potentially hostile foreign leader, especially one presiding over a state in demographic and economic eclipse, and double especially if that state happens to be sitting on thousands of nuclear warheads, it is imperative to keep the channels of communication open.

Speaking of economic matters, do you remember the good old days when America was energy independent, nay, when it was producing so much energy that it was actually a net exporter? Probably you do. It was as recent as 2020.

Then came the Biden administration. One of their first acts was to shut down the Keystone Pipeline, a major source of energy production, not to mention thousands of jobs in the US. At the same time, they green-lighted the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to bring gas from Russia to Germany. In response to Putin’s excellent adventure in Ukraine, the German chancellor Olaf Scholz, suspended certification of the pipeline, but since Germany, having shuttered its nuclear power plants, is heavily dependent on the gas supplied from Russia, it is anyone’s guess how long German resolve will last.

I bring in gas in order to present you with this cheery data point. In 2020, when Donald Trump was president, the price of natural gas was $4.36 per 1,000 cubic feet. In 2021, with Joe Biden presiding, prices more than doubled, averaging $9 per 1,000 cubic feet. Not only does that mean that it costs more to heat your house this winter. It also means means that the US is helping to fund Russia’s military adventurism.

I am not sure that most Americans could locate Ukraine on a map. And the truth is our interest in the region is negligible. It has been important to Hunter Biden’s cash flow, it is true, and it has furnished Joe Biden with an opportunity to display his thuggishness on television, but it is a thoroughly corrupt state that is teetering on the edge of economic collapse. Some cynical commentators think that the media and The Committee are riveted on Ukraine as a way of distracting attention from such things as runaway inflation, the stock market disintegration, and the institution of police tyranny in Canada. Sounds plausible.

In any event, as my friend Roger L. Simon observed, the crisis in Ukraine is entirely on Joe Biden. We’re told that Biden’s approval rating is down to 39 percent. That’s the official number. The real number, I suspect, is in single digits.