Or more reckless posturing?
During an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Tuesday, President Joe Biden shifted into his familiar “tough guy” mode to answer a question about Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the fallout has only just begun.
Stephanopoulos referenced the dubious report from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence that had been released earlier in the day. The document stated that Putin’s intelligence agents had interfered in the 2020 U.S. presidential election by trying to “denigrate you [Biden], support President Trump, undermine our elections, divide our society.”
Stephanopoulos asked Biden, “What price must he pay?”
“He will pay a price. I, we had a long talk, he and I, when we — I know him relatively well,” Biden replied, according to ABC’s transcript of the interview. “And I — the conversation started off, I said, ‘I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.’”
Stephanopoulos noted, “You said you know he doesn’t have a soul.”
Biden answered, “I did say that to him, yes. And — and his response was, ‘We understand one another.’ It was– I wasn’t being a wise guy. I was alone with him in his office. And that — that’s how it came about. It was when President Bush had said, ‘I looked in his eyes and saw his soul.’”
Biden continued, according to the transcript: “I said, ‘Looked in your eyes and I don’t think you have a soul.’ And looked back and he said, ‘We understand each other.’
“Look, most important thing dealing with foreign leaders in my experience, and I’ve dealt with an awful lot of ’em over my career, is just know the other guy. Don’t expect somethin’ that you’re — that — don’t expect him to — or her to — voluntarily appear in the second editions of Profiles in Courage.”
“So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?” asked the ABC host, referring to Putin’s treatment of opponents.
“Uh-huh. I do.”
“So what price must he pay?”
Biden responded, according to the transcript, “The price he’s gonna pay we’ll — you’ll see shortly. I’m not gonna — there’s — by the way, we oughta be able that ol’ — that trite expression ‘walk and chew gum at the same time,’ there’re places where it’s in our mutual interest to work together.
“That’s why I renewed the START agreement with him. That occurred while he’s doin’ this. But that’s overwhelmingly in the interest of humanity, that we diminish the prospect of a nuclear exchange. … He’s been — they’ve done some mischievous things, to say the least. And so we’re gonna have — I’m not gonna announce what I’m doing, but he’s gonna understand that — .”
Were these comments planned as most questions and answers are for Biden these days or did the president recklessly decide to improvise?
As Red State’s Nick Arama pointed out in a column Wednesday, Biden was the vice president in 2012, when then-President Barack Obama was mocking Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney for saying Russia was the country’s top “geopolitical foe.”
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Considering the Obama administration’s history of coddling the Kremlin, starting with then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s infamous “reset” button in 2009. For Democrats, getting tough with Russia seems to be less a matter of principle than a matter of political convenience.
Regardless, Putin wasted no time in immediately ordering Russian Ambassador Anatoly Antonov to leave the U.S.
According to the Russian state-owned Sputinik News, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova issued a statement that said the ambassador had “been invited to Moscow for consultations, to determine the prospects of the future relationship with Washington.”
It continued: “The new American administration has been in power for two months, and a symbolic 100-day anniversary is just around the corner, which is an appropriate milestone to try and assess what the Biden team is successful in, and what it’s not.”
The statement acknowledged that relations with the U.S. “are in a difficult state, which Washington has brought to a dead-end in recent years. We are interested in preventing their irreversible degradation, if the Americans are aware of the associated risks.”
According to Sputnik News, “Zakharova stressed Moscow’s intention to work out possible ways of improving the relationship that ‘Washington has itself sent into a stalemate in recent years.’”
Посол РФ в Вашингтоне вызван в Москву для консультаций – в ответ на оскорбительный выпад Байдена в адрес Путина. Это – исключительный в дипломатии шаг, следующий – отзыв посла и понижение уровня дипотношений. Москва явно настроена на переоценку всей совокупности отношений с США.
— Алексей Пушков (@Alexey_Pushkov) March 17, 2021
“The Russian ambassador to Washington has been summoned to Moscow for consultations – in response to Biden’s insulting attack on Putin. This is an exceptional step in diplomacy, the next is the recall of the ambassador and the lowering of the level of diplomatic relations. Moscow is clearly determined to reassess the entire set of relations with the United States.”
Sputnik reported that, in a Wednesday telephone briefing, U.S. State Department Deputy Spokesperson Jalina Porter was asked if the Biden Administration planned to recall the ambassador to Russia. He answered, “We have nothing to comment on that.”
Biden can’t make threats like this and not expect Russia to retaliate. As the most powerful country in Europe and a major force across Asia and the Middle East, Russia plays a significant role in world politics. Going after Putin personally like this is guaranteed to worsen relations.
No American should have a problem with the government taking a firm line in dealing with aggressive countries like Russia and China. The problem is that Biden has a well-founded reputation for embellishing stories to make himself look heroic, regardless of the truth of the matter, or the consequences of his words.
There’s no issue with retaliation against Putin and Russia, but Biden better have an effective plan in mind that avoids escalation or he risks killing diplomatic ties with a nuclear-armed global power that was, until the rise of communist China, the United States’ principal opponent on the world stage.
Americans need to know that their president has a real plan for handling potential conflicts, and Biden’s history — and the history of the Democratic Party — is no great source of comfort.
There’s no doubt that Putin is a dangerous man. But the United States currently faces a far greater and more powerful threat in Asia that Biden appears far too accommodating toward. If only he would stand up to Xi Jinping and stop making excuses for his abuses and actions.
Is there a reason for that, Mr. President?
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