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Weak Joe Biden no match for Vladimir Putin and other foes: Goodwin

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Weak Joe Biden no match for Vladimir Putin and other foes: Goodwin

When it comes to making a deal with Russia, Joe Biden has a problem. He wants to talk, Vladimir Putin wants Ukraine — and has massed 175,000 troops on the border to prove it. 

Biden has a similar problem with China and Iran. The president wants to talk about a range of issues and differences, they want to expand their territorial control and crush their enemies. 

Our adversaries have clear goals and iron fists, we have a fumbling, mumbling president who leads an alliance of largely disarmed welfare states formerly known as NATO. Our military is a woke but sleeping giant. 

As presidents go, Biden is an especially weak one. He can’t unite his own party in Congress, and members of various factions feel no need to give him the legislation he wants. Nobody fears him. 

His poll numbers are underwater on virtually every issue. On foreign policy, his approval is a meager 36 percent, according to the Real Clear Politics average of recent surveys. 

One reason could be that, whatever the flashpoint, the Biden White House reflexively and repeatedly stresses its commitment to diplomacy. Sometimes it promises “robust” diplomacy, which is supposed to convey a stronger brew, but you have to be steeped in Foggy Bottom word games to know for sure. 

Ukrainian soldiers patrolling near the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels on December 7, 2021.
Ukrainian soldiers patrolling near the line of separation from pro-Russian rebels on December 7, 2021.
AP Photo/Andriy Dubchak

Either way, diplomacy is an admirable process, but not an outcome. For Russia, China and Iran, the outcome is the whole point. 

Instinctively, Americans get that. They don’t want war, but neither do they want to see their country pushed around on the world stage. 

The botched withdrawal from Afghanistan showed other world leaders Biden's poor foreign policy leadership.
The botched withdrawal from Afghanistan showed other world leaders Biden’s poor foreign policy leadership.
REUTERS

Which brings us to Biden’s weakest link: Afghanistan. His craven, chaotic withdrawal last summer revealed a willingness to abandon friends and allies, not to mention US citizens. 

The ghost of that disaster hangs over every foreign-policy challenge, and Putin, China president Xi Jinping and Iran’s mullahs certainly factor it into their thinking. Afghanistan may turn out to be a tragic foretaste of what awaits Ukraine, Taiwan and Iraq. 

Indeed, the Iranians are probably wondering how far Biden would go to protect Israel. No doubt Israelis themselves aren’t sure, which is why they are taking matters into their own capable hands by blowing up the mullahs’ nuke plants and eliminating their scientists. 

Israel can't wait for Biden to help with the growing nuclear threat from Iran.
Israel can’t wait for Biden to help with the growing nuclear threat from Iran.
Photo by ABEDIN TAHERKENAREH/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

For Israelis, Iranian nukes are existential threats, and they would be nuts to wait for Biden to save them. 

If there is such a thing as wanting peace too much, Biden is guilty. As even the ancient Romans knew, “If you want peace, prepare for war.” 

Like Chamberlain in 1939, Biden is a sucker for every war-plotting tyrant who says the magic word only to buy time and concessions. 

The president talks frequently about the “power of our example” rather than our power itself. It’s a feel-good sound bite for domestic audiences, but it’s an invitation to the global malevolent. 

China and Russia have been building up their military capabilities.
China and Russia have been building up their military capabilities.
AP Photo/Ng Han Guan, File

Every president is tested by foreign actors and up to now, Biden was able to finesse those tests. Now they are growing and converging in threatening ways. 

Russia and China have done joint military exercises and are helping Iran avoid economic sanctions. Russia and China also developed hypersonic missiles that apparently surprised US intelligence, and proved we are lagging far behind. 

“We’re not as advanced as the Chinese or the Russians in terms of hypersonic programs,” Gen. David Thompson, vice chief of space operations, admitted recently. 

Chinese President Xi Jinping has been reportedly developing hypersonic missiles that took US intelligence leaders by surprise.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has been reportedly developing hypersonic missiles that took US intelligence leaders by surprise.
Li Gang/Xinhua via AP

It was surely a coincidence that the Biden-Putin virtual summit took place on the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor that drew America into World War II. It’s safe to assume neither man wants another global conflict, but they are not equally risk-averse about Ukraine. 

“I would never underestimate President Putin’s risk appetite on Ukraine,” Biden’s CIA director, William Burns, said Monday at a Wall Street Journal conference. 

Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting with President Biden to discuss Ukraine on December 7, 2021.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meeting with President Biden to discuss Ukraine on December 7, 2021.
Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP

Putin seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and officially annexed it in 2014, during the Obama-Biden administration, so Biden should know the Russian strongman won’t be deterred by words alone. 

Putin’s massing of troops along Ukraine’s eastern border now certainly makes the point in case Biden has forgotten. 

Whether Putin will actually invade is unknowable, and it’s possible he’s just using the troops as a pressure point for concessions. Or maybe not. 

Biden's own decisions have hurt his chances of dealing Putin's build of troops near Ukraine.
Biden’s own decisions have hurt his chances of dealing with Putin’s build up of troops near Ukraine.
Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images

The one guarantee is that Putin has no intention of allowing the former Soviet state to join NATO or become a Western outpost. Hence the military support for the separatist movement in eastern Ukraine and the menacing buildup. 

Even Biden’s warning of economic sanctions if Russia invades comes with caveats. For sanctions to work, he would need the support of Germany and other European powers. 

But Biden undercut that possibility in May by foolishly waiving sanctions on the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which takes natural gas from the Russian Arctic under the Baltic Sea to Germany, bypassing Ukraine. 

Former president Donald Trump imposed sanctions on the project and its chief executive, a close associate of Putin. Biden canceled the penalties supposedly as a favor to then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel, but the project makes Germany a hostage to Putin’s games. If he shuts off the gas in winter, Germany freezes. 

In total, Europe gets about 35 percent of its gas from Russia, which makes Germany and others in NATO unreliable partners even for imposing sanctions. 

Similarly, Biden’s “diplomatic embargo” of the Beijing Olympics is a weak-tea answer to China’s human-rights abuses, the silencing of Hong Kong dissidents and threats to invade Taiwan. China, like Russia, will not be dissuaded by half-measures that don’t even amount to saber-rattling. 

Iran, although much weaker than Russia and China, is equally bold in giving Biden the brush-off. It won’t meet with his negotiators to restart the nuke deal Trump abandoned, leaving Biden to bid against himself in growing concessions. 

The “diplomatic boycott” of the Winter Olympics in Beijing is a weak response to human rights abuses in China.
Photo by Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Given the growing dangers, Robert Gates’ stinging rebuke can’t be ignored. Biden, the former defense secretary wrote, has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” 

Fortunately, Biden wasn’t president during those earlier blunders. 

Bipartisan respect

The death of Bob Dole is a rare moment that unites both parties and most Americans around the idea that the Greatest Generation was just that. 

Those sentiments will dominate coverage and commentary as his body lies in state at the Capitol Thursday and his funeral Friday. Then everybody in Washington will go back to their corners and resume hating everybody else.

Chris Cuo’s ‘fire’y week

Top radio man Mark Simone uses Twitter to tabulate Chris Cuomo’s very bad week. First CNN axed him, then Sirius radio let him go, leading Simone to tweet: “Chris Cuomo gets fired again. This time it’s Harper Collins who fires him, canceling his book deal. That’s 3 times he’s been fired in one week.”

‘Smashing’ idea for Dem votes

Reader Steve Marcinak has an idea too clever not to share. He writes: “Democrats are missing the boat by not having voter registration booths at all the ‘smash and grab’ robbery locations.”

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

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Sports world reacts to John Madden’s death

Legendary NFL coach and broadcaster John Madden died Tuesday morning at 85, the NFL announced. News of the football icon’s passing hit Twitter on Tuesday evening, and athletes, coaches and broadcasters from across the sports world reacted.

Fellow broadcasting legend Dick Vitale, who is currently battling cancer, called Madden “the greatest analyst of all time of any sport” in his Twitter tribute.

Former Yankees pitcher and notable Raiders fan CC Sabathia said “your legacy will live forever.” Madden coached the then-Oakland Raiders from 1969-78, a couple of years before Sabathia, a Vallejo, California native, was born. Lakers star LeBron James had similar words about Madden’s lasting legacy, adding an infinity emoji.

Former tennis star and social justice activist Billie Jean King recalled meeting Madden as a “privilege.”

Radio voice of the Rangers Kenny Albert, a five-sport broadcaster who’s been with FOX Sports since its inception in 1994, shared a photo circa 26 years ago to remember Madden.

ESPN’s Bomani Jones took a bit of a shot at current color commentators, noting that Madden “set an unreachable standard.”

Frank Caliendo, who’s made a career out of impersonations, including one for Madden, said he was surprised how emotional he felt.

Several football players, and others, including Saints running back Mark Ingram II and former Cowboys receiver Dez Bryant, credited Madden with being part of the reason why they love football.

Rams wide receiver and NFL MVP contender Cooper Kupp quote the late coach in his tribute: “The road to Easy Street goes through the sewer.”

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

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Miles McBride’s Knicks role will lessen with Kemba Walker’s resurgence

MINNEAPOLIS — The Knicks got back another body in rookie point guard Miles McBride, who was cleared from protocols Tuesday and rejoined the team in Minnesota.

But there is no longer any hype for the rookie’s return. Kemba Walker is back as the starting point guard and coming off winning Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors with four standout games, including his Christmas Day spectacular. The Knicks have gone 2-2 since Walker regained the starting job.

“It’s great,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “He had a great week. He’s playing great basketball. The team winning helps him get recognized and he was a big part of driving that winning. It’s great for the team.’’

McBride was also spectacular in his last outing before getting COVID-19, when he played the entire second half Dec. 16 in Houston and seemingly earned a spot in the rotation. In fact, McBride had strung together two decent outings before he was ruled out. But things have changed since his emergence and McBride is likely back to being a bit player.

Without a practice, McBride wasn’t even expected to see time when the Knicks faced the Timberwolves to kick off a four-game road trip.

Miles McBride
NBAE via Getty Images

Of course, with Walker’s arthritic knee, anything is possible. The Knicks play Detroit on Wednesday in a back-to-back, so it’s uncertain whether Walker will complete both contests. In addition, Immanuel Quickley is out of COVID-19 protocols but Thibodeau wasn’t sure he was ready for meaningful minutes.

That left Walker against the depleted Timberwolves, who were missing their three top players (Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell), all because of COVID-19 .

Kemba Walker
Kemba Walker
USA TODAY Sports

When McBride got sidelined by the virus and Derrick Rose needed ankle surgery, Walker was resurrected by Thibodeau and it’s been a stunning comeback story.

Though Thibodeau has clear reservations about Walker based on his nine-game banishment due to his defensive malaise as an undersized point guard, he admitted after the Christmas Day triple-double against Atlanta that Walker is playing “much more aggressive.”

Walker’s triple-double that featured 10 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds was a lot different than his prior outing, when he scored 44 points against Washington.

“I thought his passing was terrific,’’ Thibodeau said before the Knicks resumed their schedule.

“Kemba had control of the game. The game tells you what to do. That’s what I loved about the way he played. I don’t think he forced anything. They puts size on him and were aggressive in their pick-and-roll coverage. He didn’t fight it. He attacked pressure the way you like to attack pressure. You don’t fight pressure with pressure. Don’t try to split it. Get rid of it, go to the backside. Let the game tell you what to do.’’

The Knicks coach is finally seeing all the elements of what Walker can do. Before his demotion, Walker was nothing more than a no-defense, 3-point shooter whose plus-minus was an abysmal minus-122.

Thibodeau was also concerned about his durability in sitting out two of the three back-to-back sets. The last load management game in Atlanta in late November triggered Thibodeau’s decision.

But now it’s only superlatives from Thibodeau in judging the last four games.

“Sometimes it’s going to be his shooting, sometimes it’s his penetration and getting in the paint to force a collapse and sometimes they’re being aggressive with their traps get rid of the ball quickly,’’ Thibodeau said. “The overall play, his rebounding. When your guards rebound, those are key to fast breaks. The more guard rebounding we get the better we can be. ‘’

The Knicks still have three players in protocols — centers Nerlens Noel and Jericho Sims and the newly infected Wayne Selden. Quickley and Kevin Knox were cleared on Christmas but were held out for conditioning.

No matter. The Knicks go as Kemba goes.

“He’s much more aggressive,’’ Thibodeau said. “That was the challenge. At the beginning of the year he and Evan were two new starters. Sometimes guys are trying to fit in. he’s being very aggressive which is the way we want him to play. Not deferring at all. When he and Julius [Randle] are aggressive like that our team is different.’’

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Bar raises dramatically for Zach Wilson in matchup with Tom Brady, Buccaneers

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Zach Wilson and Tom Brady

When Zach Wilson stares across the MetLife Stadium field at the opposite sideline this Sunday, it won’t be Trevor Lawrence he’ll be looking at as his game-day counterpart.

Lawrence, drafted by Jacksonville one spot before the Jets selected Wilson at No. 2 overall last April, is a contemporary.

This Sunday at MetLife, the Jets rookie quarterback won’t be staring at a contemporary on the other sideline. He’ll be staring at the GOAT.

Tom Brady.

The bar raises dramatically for Wilson and the Jets, who are coming off of their feel-good, get-well win over the woeful Jaguars and Lawrence this past Sunday.

Brady and Buccaneers, who are 11-4, NFC South division champions and seeking to repeat as Super Bowl champions, play the Jets, who are 4-11 and seeking more signs of development from their rookie quarterback.

To say this is a step up in competition for Wilson and the Jets going from Lawrence and the Jags to Brady and the Bucs is as obvious as pointing out that Tampa Bay receiver Antonio Brown has had a few off-the-field incidents during his otherwise stellar NFL career.

There hasn’t been a lot to keep the interest of the Jets fan this season — other than watching Wilson’s development. That took an unfortunate pause for the four games Wilson missed with a knee injury, but he’s been back for five games and has looked like a better quarterback, throwing only two interceptions in those games (none in the last three) since returning from his injury.

The problem, though, is that Wilson hasn’t been producing enough touchdowns, throwing for three of them and rushing for four others in the past five games.

Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
Zach Wilson and Tom Brady
N.Y. Post: Charles Wenzelberg; AP

Baby steps, though.

Wilson was the better quarterback this past Sunday when matched up with Lawrence, who threw for more yards than Wilson did, but Wilson ran for 91 yards, including his electric 52-yard scoring jaunt, and made key throws when he needed them.

Wilson will not win Sunday’s game against Brady and the Bucs throwing for the 102 yards he had against the Jaguars. He and the Jets will need more.

Consider this: Brady enters the game having thrown 37 TD passes and for 4,580 yards this season and averages a league-high 305.2 passing yards per game.

Then this: The Buccaneers average 29.5 points per game this season, second most in the NFL.

And this: Wilson doesn’t have a single 300-yard passing game, averages 183 passing yards per game and has thrown seven TD passes in 11 games.

Seven TD passes is a pedestrian two-game total for Brady.

Wilson and the Jets are playing with house money anyway in what always has been a developmental season, so Sunday against Brady should, at its very least, be a great measuring-stick learning experience for Wilson, who’s studied Brady on tape.

Wilson revealed this month that he watched film of Brady before the Jets played the Eagles on Dec. 5 in an effort to pick up tips on how Brady worked against the Eagles defense when he played them earlier in the season.

“I thought it was really cool to see kind of how he went through his whole process, how he navigated the pocket, different things like that,” Wilson said at the time.

On Sunday, Wilson gets to see that process up close as Brady tries to dissect a Jets defense that has yielded 29.9 points per game this season, the most in the NFL.

That puts an added onus on Wilson to produce on the other side of the ball, because he knows Brady is going to get his. Wilson will likely need to produce four TDs — any way he can — for the Jets to simply remain competitive with the Super Bowl champs.

That’s a lot to ask of a 22-year-old kid who’s produced just 11 TDs in his 11 starts, up against Brady, who’s thrown 618 TD passes and for 83,784 yards in his remarkable career.

It, too, is a lot to ask playing against an aggressive Tampa Bay defense that’s ranked No. 9 in the NFL in points allowed (20.8 per game) and is led by former Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who’d surely like to send a holiday message to his former employer.

If you don’t think Bowles will be blitzing the bejesus out of Wilson, then you probably think Antonio Brown is a living saint.

The good news for the Jets is that Wilson has shown incremental improvements, particularly when it comes to his decision-making and quicker releases on his throws.

“He’s coming along, he’s getting more comfortable, he’s calmer back there,’’ Jets coach Robert Saleh said Monday. “He’s in a great headspace and it’s going to be fun to watch him grow, continue to grow.’’

A big part of that growth will take place this Sunday as he watches the GOAT operate from the opposite sideline at MetLife.

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