Biden is inch by inch saving Ukraine from Russia

President Biden may have dreamed up the line to remove Vladimir Putin from power, but his emphatic, vocal assertion that we will defend “every inch” of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is included in the official text: “Don’t even think carry on an inch of NATO territory. We have a sacred duty under Article 5 to defend every inch of NATO territory with the full force of our collective might.”

It’s hard to know what that means. Presumably this means that Article 5 is dormant when the Russian army commits atrocities on the non-NATO side of various borders – say gassing Ukraine or Sweden. But if a Russian boot or armored stripe touches Poland or Latvia, it’s war.

Notwithstanding the multiple confusion routinely stirred up by Mr. Biden’s remarks, his literal line in the sand – “every inch of NATO” – no doubt reflects the consensus view of this war held in some of the Alliance’s capitals, notably Washington, Berlin and Paris , is represented. If so, we are in danger in the long term.

The world has managed to mentally demarcate Ukraine. As we look at the war situation map daily, it seems that we will ensure that Putin’s aggression persists by providing the Ukrainians with enough military support to keep fighting thereand never come herenot even an inch.

This is delusion. The Russian dictator and the free world’s chief enemies have been in the US and Europe for years, and our efforts to deter or stop their repeated incursions within our borders have been little more than gestures.

The democratic world has four enemies: Mr. Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Each has armed all modern tools of state power, including nuclear capabilities, to weaken the democratic world. For starters.

It is undoubtedly good that in the space of five weeks, Mr. Putin’s ambitions have fallen from the eyes of the world. Its now awakened leaders say they will upgrade and reset their priorities, for example by seeking a balance between saving the planet tomorrow and saving us today.

But before Ukraine, the overall attack on NATO and other democracies by Russia, China, North Korea and Iran was already amazing.

There is no conceivable battlefield on which these four nations have not tried to carry out internal subversion, using their military, information, trade, internet, space, science and of course nuclear threats. A comprehensive list of their attacks would be impossible.

For two decades, China’s hackers have been stealing weapons data from US defense contractors, the Pentagon, the National Security Agency, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. The 2020 SolarWinds hack by Russian intelligence agency SVR compromised hundreds of prominent US corporations and federal agencies, including defense and homeland security.

Last year, the FBI reported 648 ransomware attacks targeting 16 critical US infrastructure sectors including utilities, agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing. Russia-sponsored gangs have hit hundreds of companies who have no choice but to pay.

The dike of diplomatic agreements to deal with this aggression has broken. Thomas Grant days ago described in these pages how Russia has violated every ceasefire it agreed to under Putin, just as it repeatedly cheated on nuclear and chemical weapons treaties, including New START.

Just as we blink away existing threats, the Biden administration wants to sign a nuclear arms deal with Iran while hoping nothing really bad will happen if it leaves Iran’s ballistic missile program and its terrorist army, the Revolutionary Guard, untouched.

Typically, the US National Institutes of Health mindlessly wandered China giving science grants to Communist Party-controlled virologists.

If we understand the world as it has existed for years, we should realize that we are all Ukrainians now. The four enemies of the free world don’t just do these things to annoy or annoy us. They want to weaken and replace us.

For years during the Cold War, NATO military doctrine was shaped by the belief that any Soviet ground attack would flow through Germany’s Fulda Gap. That diverted serious thinking away from what was seen as a lesser threat.

Those years were an incomparably simpler time. Mr. Biden’s not-an-inch NATO sounds like a fig leaf to avoid recognizing the multiple threats that already exist. This willful self-blinding is the daily warning that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is trying to convey: Ukraine is just the tip of the iceberg.

Talks in Turkey between Ukraine and Russia will inspire belief that “it’s over”. It won’t be over. Ukraine is right to demand future security guarantees from the US and NATO.

Faced for years with a string of threats from these four adversaries, we in the West are debating whether a single aggression, such as North Korea’s long-range ballistic missile test last week, constitutes an act of war. But from their perspective, it’s clearly a war.

We drew a line in the sand – around us. Despite this, Ukraine seems to be different. It’s an opportunity to up our safety game against opponents who don’t recognize physical limitations or moral limitations.

Any sustained attempt to counter this threat requires political leadership. 2024 presidential election anyone?

Write to henninger@wsj.com.

Wonderland: Vladimir Putin is a modern day Adolf Hitler and he is trying to exterminate the Ukrainian people. But while Europe tries to reform itself, the American President is not stepping in. Images: Reuters/AFP/Getty Images Composite: Mark Kelly

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Ethan Gach

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