A number of you have asked me, where’s President Biden? Why aren’t we seeing him on TV? Note that he has a State of the Union address coming up which will provide an extremely high profile setting. But the real reason is almost certainly that the U.S. administration wants to have Europeans taking the most visible role announcing new sets of sanctions. I suspect they also want to avoid taking the bait of President Putin’s nuclear saber-rattling. Reports suggest that — wisely and unsurprisingly — President Biden has chosen not to match Russia’s nuclear forces alert status. First, there’s no need to. Our strategic nuclear forces are already on plenty of alert to manage the unthinkable. There’s no need for that kind of tit for tat escalation. We also don’t need competing press availabilities.
With all this said, though, there’s clearly something more happening here than just allowing Europe to take the lead in announcing measures the U.S. was trying to persuade them to take. There’s also clearly a sea change, both in the willingness to contemplate crippling economic sanctions as well as to openly arm the Ukrainian army.