Mar 10, 2024

Biden passed the commander in chief test

Peter Bergen: Biden passed the commander in chief test Not since President George W. Bush delivered his State of the Union months after the 9/11 attacks has the commander in chief had so much at stake about national security issues while delivering the Super Bowl of political speeches. The Russians are waging the largest land war in Europe since World War II, yet the US Congress’ support for the Ukrainians seems to be wavering; the war in Gaza rages on with little immediate prospect of a ceasefire in sight, and the conflict is destabilizing the Middle East more than any event since the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. Israel’s conduct of the Gaza war is also alienating a swath of President Joe Biden’s base. Meanwhile, at the border, a record number of immigrants are arriving, which is now the top issue for voters in the 2024 presidential election, according to Gallup. In his State of the Union speech, Biden had to answer the mail on all of these. So, how’d he do? Biden gave a very clear defense of his Ukraine policy, that the US should provide the aid and weapons to the Ukrainians to counter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion and he called out former President Donald Trump – without mentioning him by name – who has opposed sending tens of billions of dollars of additional aid to Ukraine. Biden also weighed in on the crisis at the southern border noting that there was a bipartisan deal on the table in recent weeks in the US Senate that would have sped up rulings on asylum claims, beefed up law enforcement resources at the border and would have discouraged some migrants from coming to the country. Biden swiped at Trump for dissuading members of Congress from passing the deal to keep the political issue alive for him to use in the 2024 campaign. And Biden made his clearest public stance so far on behalf of Gazans, saying “More than 30,000 Palestinians have been killed. Most of who are not Hamas. Thousands and thousands are innocent women and children.” All in all, Biden gave a strong performative speech, and on the crucial national security issues he needed to address – Ukraine, Gaza and the border – he did a more than creditable job. Peter Bergen is CNN’s national security analyst, a vice president at New America and a professor of practice at Arizona State University.