Rhetorically, Joe Biden’s speech Thursday was his most powerful and best political speech to date.
Many commentators point out that the speech was intended for an American audience and was part of domestic politics. Of course, it also referred directly to the situation in Congress after House Speaker Kevin McCarthy was removed from office, paralyzing the bicameral body and leaving it struggling to make decisions. In the meantime, further aid packages for Ukraine and now Israel need quick action.
Despite this domestic context, Biden’s speech showed something more. Delivered right after he returned from Israel, the remarks linked the war in the Middle East with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Biden clarified what is at stake in both conflicts. Russia and Iran, the forces behind the wars will go further if the U.S. does not stop them. In that case, the current situation may go from a phase reminiscent of the second Cold War to a third world war. And America will have to engage directly in such a clash.
Biden’s speech also clearly stated that the basic assumptions of American strategy is to become the arsenal of global democracy, and thus provide arms and other support to those who have the right to defend themselves, like Ukraine and Israel. In addition, its task is to prevent escalation, that is, to ensure that defensive measures do not exceed permissible limits and that the aggressors do not achieve their strategic goals. In that way, Israel is under the same pressure as Ukraine not to turn their right to self-defense and retaliation into all-out war.
It is worth applying all this to our situation in Poland, particularly since Biden mentioned the danger to the Baltic States and Poland from Putin’s threat to our western border with Germany. So if Russia is not effectively contained in Ukraine, Central and Eastern Europe will become the next stages of war. Then America will have to choose whether to engage directly or deter and arm those who have the right to defend themselves.