Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke believes that the United States is on the verge of losing its status as a superpower to China and Russia unless President Joe Biden is able to counter the expansionist regimes.
Zinke served as a Navy SEAL for over two decades before retiring in 2008 and jumping into Montana state politics, and later into national, politics. After serving in former President Donald Trump’s administration, Zinke is running again for U.S. Congress in Montana’s 2nd District.
The former SEAL said that Biden essentially gave “the green light” to Russia to invade Ukraine after the president — in a January 19 press conference — said that a “minor incursion” would be treated differently than if Russia “invades.”
“Define ‘minor incursion.’ It’s tantamount to giving a green light,” Zinke told The Daily Wire. The former Trump cabinet member said that the United States is out of position to counter Russian aggression, and that the Biden administration’s tepid stance on Russia is empowering expansionist regimes in China and Iran, as well.
In December, Biden ruled out sending U.S. troops to Ukraine. The Biden administration has rushed to prepare for a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine in recent days, ordering thousands of U.S. troops into Eastern Europe and NATO countries, though notably not into Ukraine. During his press conference, Biden said that he expects Russia to invade Ukraine. “My guess is he will move in. He has to do something,” Biden said.
Zinke said that Biden’s weak posturing on Ukraine is motivating Russia to move in and will embolden China and Iran’s aggressive behavior in the Pacific and the Middle East. The situation is exacerbated by a lack of unity among NATO members, Zinke said, as many European countries are hesitant to escalate conflict with Russia, and Germany has grown more reliant on Russian energy.
“There is a perception, and I think it is correct, that the U.S. doesn’t have the appetite to go toe-to-toe to protect freedom,” Zinke said.
“We would have so much more leverage if we were energy dominant as we were in the Trump administration. And the Biden administration, quite frankly, if it continues which I see no change in policy, the United States will no longer be a superpower as a result of the Biden administration,” he added.
While Russia and China have long signaled their interest in taking over Ukraine and Taiwan, respectively, Zinke said that Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan pullout served as a catalyst for Russia and China’s expansion. Afghanistan showed a weakness in American leadership and ability.
“Afghanistan hurt us when we abandoned U.S. citizens. Hell, we welded the gates shut and knowingly and willingly left U.S. citizens outside the perimeter to defend themselves against the Taliban. So if you’re an ally, I don’t think you have the full confidence that we’re going to be there when you need us,” Zinke said.
“When you let off the pressure of these guys, it’s not like they’re going to change their tactic. You let the pressure off and it allows them to expand, and unfortunately, that expansion comes at the cost of a lot of freedoms to people and potentially our allies,” he said.