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Biden, the wartime President, is embattled at home

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Joe Biden has become the wartime president. It is a role and responsibility he never thought would unfold when he took office 15 months ago

He ran for the presidency to bring the country together, to recover from Covid, to repair the damage to families across the country, to rebuild the nation and to forge a new era of social programs that would provide more economic security and opportunity and to forge a clean energy future. 

Biden’s foreign policy objectives were to bring the United States back into the international order by supporting – and leading – the institutions that had brought peace, security and prosperity after World War II, and to end the endless wars in the Middle East, most especially Afghanistan.

President Joe Biden arrives to speak from the Treaty Room in the White House on Wednesday, April 14, 2021, about the withdrawal of the remainder of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, Pool)

Biden wanted working relationships with Russia and China, but relationships shaped by a hard, realistic view of those authoritarian leaders and what they were doing in their countries and overseas.

But no one anticipated a land war in Europe, the biggest war on the continent since World War II. No one anticipated such brutality – war crimes – from the Russians and their terrorizing of the people of Ukraine.

Given his experience over several decades as Senator and Vice President, his deep involvement in global issues and his personal knowledge of so many world leaders and given his deep commitment to American leadership of the West, and America’s championing the values of democracy and human rights, Biden was the best-prepared president for what was unleashed when Russia invaded Ukraine.  

Biden has built and led the coalition spawned in NATO to meet the Russian threat

NATO is working more vigorously and effectively than at any point in its history.

Countries reluctant for years to step up their defence spending – such as Germany – and other countries outside NATO who now want in – such as Sweden and Finland – are supporting Ukraine with exceptional levels of armaments to repel the Russians, and in humanitarian aid and open borders to support millions of refugees.

From the use of US intelligence to throw Putin and the Russians off-balance in their invasion plans to opening the spigot on weapons transfers to making it clear to Putin that he cannot and will not succeed, Biden has been clear, resolute, firm and unwavering in seeing this crisis through.

But Biden as wartime president has come at a cost to his presidency at home.

Biden’s domestic agenda has receded even as there is huge unfinished business: getting to full normal on Covid, attacking global warming and advancing household economic security and clean energy, and meeting the reckoning the country needs on voting rights. 

And the issue of abortion is coming, with the Supreme Court poised to remove, in late June or early July, abortion as a constitutionally-protected medical procedure available to all women if they so choose.  This will be explosive politically and will present a health crisis for millions of American women.

WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 19: Pro-life activists try to block the sign of a pro-choice activist during the 2018 March for Life January 19, 2018 in Washington, DC. Activists gathered in the nation’s capital for the annual event to protest the anniversary of the Supreme Court Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion in 1973. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

While the war has the attention of the American people of course, their greater concern is with the economy.  While the jobs and employment markets are buoyant, and wages are rising, inflation is rampant.    

Playbook reported on a focus group with Democrats last week.  It’s very sobering.

When asked the first word that popped into their mind about how things are going in the country, here’s what they said: “frustrated,” “disbelief,” “aggravated,” “discouraged,” “unsure,” “worrying,” “resigned,” “frightened.” The only positive words offered were “better” and “OK.”

When asked if they personally have experienced sticker shock when going out to buy something, every single participant raised their hands.

Their views of Biden were lukewarm. On the positive side, they viewed him as “decent,” “unifying” and one said that they “personally like him.” On the negative side, they said he was “unrealistic,” “hasn’t really delivered on his promises,” “needs to be stronger,” “gives in too easily”

Time is running out on the clock in Congress to pass major legislation – and Democrats are not united enough to pass significant new programs on health, education, climate, and childcare. Or pass voting rights or gun control or police reform.

Democratic constituencies who care about these issues are disappointed and unenthusiastic about what Washington is not delivering for them.

The Republicans are pushing the hot button issues of inflation, crime, immigration, what is taught to children in schools, transgender women in sport, abortion, gun rights – and are amped up.

The result is a president whose approval is at 42% — too low today to give the lift Democrats need to prevent losing control of the House of Representatives in the November midterm elections, and perhaps the Senate as well.

If Russia really is repulsed from Ukraine, and Ukraine lives, and democracy wins and autocracy loses, history will judge Biden’s leadership as wartime president as a heroic achievement.  

But right now the trench warfare of politics at home have left Biden wounded on the domestic battlefield. 

Bruce Wolpe is a Ticker News US political contributor. He’s a Senior Fellow at the US Studies Centre and has worked with Democrats in Congress during President Barack Obama's first term, and on the staff of Prime Minister Julia Gillard. He has also served as the former PM's chief of staff.

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How close to a full scale nuclear war are we really?

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Since President Vladimir Putin’s latest warning that he is ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia, the question of whether or not the former KGB spy is bluffing has become much more urgent.

There are several reasons why Putin’s nuclear warnings have the West worried. First, Russia has been increasingly aggressive in its actions in recent years, from annexing Crimea to intervening in Syria. This has led to a feeling that Putin is becoming more and more reckless and unpredictable.

Second, Russia has been beefing up its nuclear arsenal, with reports indicating that it now has more nuclear warheads than any other country in the world. This increase in firepower makes Putin’s threats all the more credible.

Last but not least, there is the fact that Putin is a former KGB agent. This means that he is no stranger to playing games of brinkmanship and bluffing. In the past, he has used nuclear threats as a way to get what he wants. For example, in 2008, he threatened to aim nuclear missiles at European cities unless the United States agreed to drop plans for a missile defense system in Eastern Europe.

The West is worried

Given all of this, it’s no wonder that Putin’s latest nuclear threats have the West worried. Only Putin knows if he is actually bluffing, but given his track record, it’s certainly a possibility.

If a nuclear weapon were used in Ukraine, it would cause a massive humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people would be killed or wounded, and millions more would be displaced. The economic and social damage would be enormous, and Europe would be plunged into chaos.

In addition, the use of nuclear weapons would also have devastating consequences for the rest of the world. The nuclear non-proliferation regime would be dealt a serious blow, and there would be a renewed risk of nuclear war.

The world would become a much more dangerous place.

Nuclear impact

A nuclear explosion in Ukraine would have a regional impact, but it could also have global consequences. The use of nuclear weapons would violate the nuclear non-proliferation regime, and this could lead to other countries acquiring nuclear weapons. In addition, the risk of nuclear war would increase, and this would have a negative impact on the entire world.

The UN has condemned Russia’s threats of nuclear war, and it has called on all parties to refrain from any actions that could lead to the use of nuclear weapons. The UN Secretary-General has said that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and he has urged all sides to return to the negotiating table.

Russia has several allies in its war against Ukraine. These include Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Russia also has the support of China and Iran.

The war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on energy prices.

Due to the conflict, there has been a disruption in the supply of natural gas and oil from Ukraine. This has led to an increase in prices for these commodities.

The West can only threaten Putin further, as they’ve done all year, since President Biden warned that Russia was about to invade Ukraine.

Every step of the way, Putin has done exactly what the West has feared.

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“These are the guys?” Putin’s Dad’s army

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Vladimir Putin’s army is in a bit of a pickle. They’ve been drafting retirees, and telling conscripts to use tampons for bullet wounds.

This isn’t exactly the most impressive fighting force we’ve ever seen. In fact, they look more like dad’s army than anything else.

It’s clear that Putin is desperate to beef up his forces, but it seems like he’s just throwing bodies at the problem instead of actually preparing them for battle.

Pictures from Sevastopol in Crimea show groups of men — many well into their 50s and 60s gripping weapons and wearing uniforms.

Several appear in questionable fighting shape.

This could be a big problem for Russia if they actually get into a serious conflict. We hope for their sake that they never have to find out.

Thousands of Russian men are fleeing the country to avoid conscription. This just goes to show how unpopular Putin’s policies are, even among his own people.

The Kremlin is now trying to catch thousands of Russian men as they try and leave the country. But it’s not going to be easy.

Many of these men are willing to risk everything to avoid being drafted into Putin’s army.

It’s estimated that up to 100,000 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine since the conflict began.

This is a huge loss of life for Russia, and it’s all thanks to Putin’s reckless policies.

Many of these soldiers were just boys, barely out of their teens. They had their whole lives ahead of them, but they’ll never get to experience it now.

It’s tragic, and it’s all thanks to Putin. He needs to be stopped.

At the same time, a video shared on social media shows a Russian officer telling new recruits what to expect.

“I say right away if you are near the fire, you are f***ed,” she says, before reeling off a list of items they will need to acquire themselves before entering the war zone.

“Take sleeping bags with you, you will sleep where you have to.”

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IRAN PROTESTS | Are countries using religion as an excuse to violate basic human rights?

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Iran protests are engulfing the country as thousands take to the streets in a revolution against oppression

IRAN PROTESTS – The story of Iran is one of a country that has been through a lot in recent history.

An uprising of both men and women has engulfed Iran, following the death of Mahsa Amini. Women are cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, demanding some form of change to the strict rules that impact their ultimate freedom.

From the Iranian Revolution in 1979 to the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s, the nation’s residents have witnessed their fair share of turmoil.

Many insist that religion, like Islam, is being used as a reason to violate basic human rights in Iran.

“It’s a totalitarian regime… Islam is being used to deny freedom of speech, freedom of education, freedom of movement.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

There is a feeling of discontent among the Iranian people. The economy is struggling, and many young Iranians feel they have no future.

They are fed up with the corruption of the government and the lack of opportunity.

Mahsa Amini’s brutal death

On top of this is the death of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old Kurdish-Iranian woman.

Amini was arrested by the so-called morality police for “improperly” wearing her mandatory hijab.

Reports suggest she was beaten so severely that she went into a coma.

Mahsa Amini protests in Iran

Three days later, she died, and many suspect it was a direct result of this police brutality.

Amini’s death has fuelled further anger and extreme protest, with widespread condemnation from Iranians, denouncing her death and the regime that caused it.

“There were 10-11 blows to her head… She was beaten while still in the van…When her body was delivered to the family they saw bruises to her neck and head.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

The incident has brought attention to the plight of many Iranians who feel they are living under an oppressive regime.

While it is difficult to predict what will happen next in Iran, many hope the death of Amani will not be in vain.

Many pray the protests will lead to real action and a country where women are treated as equals. They want a country where there is opportunity for all.

Women in Iran and around the world are now lifting the veil on Iran’s corruption and human rights violations.

In 2022, many are angry that men are controlling what women do with their bodies and what they wear.

However, the Founder and Director of Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute Mariam Memarsadeghi explained its women who are enforcing the strict rules too.

“It’s actually women also who are policing other women to wear hijab… It’s a very Handmaids Tale situation.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

Will this drive change?

In Iran, many young Iranians are showing the world they don’t want this system any more, that they want democracy.

They’re cutting their hair and burning their hijabs, they’re putting their own safety on the line to take a stand against the regime that has silenced them for so long.

This generation is very different, but it doesn’t guarantee that this uprising will fuel any real change.

However, Memarsadeghi said “there is no way back from here.”

“It’s very dangerous, there is a tremendous amount of respect for the men and women on the streets because each and every single one of them risks being beaten, killed, tortured, maybe even executed.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

How can organisations and world leaders help?

Iran is in the midst of a political upheaval and the world is watching.

Scenes of protest and violence are being shared far and wide on social media. The world has a front-row seat to the unfolding crisis.

However, the Iranian Government has responded by imposing a sweeping internet ban, cutting off the protesters from the outside world.

This only adds to the urgency of the situation, as Iran’s people are now risking their lives to speak out against their oppression.

World leaders and democracy advocacy groups are already discussing ways to help the people of Iran and hold their violations to account.

“The solidarity and attention from celebrities, athletes and world leaders has been extremely helpful… The future of freedom is what these men and women in Iran are doing.”

Mariam Memarsadeghi
Cyrus Forum and Senior Fellow at Macdonald-Laurier Institute

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