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Gaffes Can Reveal Truths « The Washington Independent

Jul 31, 2020
Vice President Biden was pretty … realabout Russia in a Wall Street Journal interview published this weekend, and it’s being played as something of a gaffe. Among Biden’s observations:
“Russia has to make some very difficult, calculated decisions,” Mr. Biden said. “They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable.”
And, yeah, that’s not diplomatic at all. No surprise that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made a point on “Meet the Press” to call Russia a “great power.” But as former Bush National Security Council staffer Peter Feaver points out, Biden was basically, well, correct:
First, I think he is more right than not in terms of his geopolitical analysis; Putin has overplayed the Russian hand and deft American statecraft should be able to do better. Second, for years I have been giving a version of this provocatively contradictory message in talks about relations between the United States and our transatlantic allies (or, as I puckishly label them, our transatlantic “in-laws”).
I point out that one important and under-appreciated source of transatlantic friction during the first Bush term was President Bush’s willingness to do roughly what Biden described — telling them to “belly up to the bar and pay their dues” — when it came to dealing with the security problems bequeathed from the previous administration (rogue state proliferation, state-sponsorship of terrorism, the Afghanistan sanctuary for Al Qaeda, the second intifadah, etc.). This, I argue, was tantamount to asking an adolescent heading out on a date to pay his own way, and doing so publicly in front of his girlfriend even when it was clear that he couldn’t afford to pay. The result was predictable: adolescent tantrums.
I’m not really sure how Feaver can lump Russia in with Europehere, but still. With the need to negotiate a new nuclear-weapons-reduction accord with Russia and secure its cooperation on the Iranian nuclear program, it’s admittedly puzzling why Biden decided to keep it as real as he did. That’s especially true in light of this quote: “My dad used to put it another way: Never put another man in a corner where the only way out is over you.” Biden seems to understand that this whole interview is a microcosm of the attitude that puts Russia into that corner.
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Hajra Shannon

Hajra Shannon

Hajra Shannona is a highly experienced journalist with over 9 years of expertise in news writing, investigative reporting, and political analysis. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from Columbia University and has contributed to reputable publications focusing on global affairs, human rights, and environmental sustainability. Hajra's authoritative voice and trustworthy reporting reflect her commitment to delivering insightful news content. Beyond journalism, she enjoys exploring new cultures through travel and pursuing outdoor photography
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