Biden’s Dangerous Words

I apologize for being off line. I had a health scare, a “TIA,” which is like a stroke only temporary. I’m fine now. But I spent 24 hours in hospitals getting MRI’d and CAT scanned and electrocardiographed and I don’t know what all, and I’m really tired. You’ll know I’m back to normal when I start cranking out long posts again.

So President Biden is being criticized for speaking the truth.

Biden broke his long streak of message discipline during a speech in Poland today, when he added an apparently unscripted ending: “For God’s sake, this man”—meaning Putin—“cannot remain in power.”

Tom Nichols continues,

What Biden was doing, of course, was being Joe Biden. He was speaking for all of us, from the heart. One of the more endearing things about the president—at least for those of us who admire him—is that he has almost no inner monologue and regularly engages in the kind of gaffe where a politician says something that is impolitic but true.

This was not the time for such a moment, and even those who think Biden has exhibited sterling leadership during this crisis should admit that the president’s remarks were an unforced error. Putin has already made himself a pariah in the West, and though Biden has been right to call Putin a thug, a butcher, and a war criminal, it is another thing entirely to use language that could be misconstrued by both the American public and the Kremlin as a suggestion that the United States is interested in changing the Russian regime.

Right now, I’d say a large part of the population of planet Earth is “interested” in changing the Russian regime, but at the moment nobody intends to follow through on it.

An international crisis requires steadiness and prudence, and though Biden has shown those qualities in spades, his ad-libbing in Warsaw is a reminder that even small slips pose major risks during tense times. It is especially challenging to stay on message in a 24/7 media environment in which far too many commentators and pundits have already shown an unseemly interest in courting a new world war. When John F. Kennedy was making his way through the Cuban missile crisis, he had only to contend with more easily controlled newspapers and three short newscasts each evening. Biden, by comparison, is living with a Greek chorus of millions offering their commentary and advice—some of it breathtakingly reckless.

The no longer sensible Glenn Greenwald actually thinks the U.S. is using Ukraine as a “proxy war,” kind of ignoring the actual nature of the war. Greenwald continues,

The central question for Americans from the start of the war in Ukraine was what role, if any, should the U.S. government play in that war? A necessarily related question: if the U.S. is going to involve itself in this war, what objectives should drive that involvement?

It’s like geopolitics is way over his head now. The role of the U.S. government is to stand with NATO; not getting involved with whatever NATO is doing is not an option.  The objectives driving our involvement are, first, preventing escalation; second, helping Ukraine maintain its independence within the limits of preventing escalation; and third, addressing the humanitarian crisis resulting from Putin’s invasion. This is blatantly obvious. I have to assume anyone not seeing this is brain damaged.

The White House immediately issued a “clarification”

“The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region,” a Biden administration official said on background. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”

I appreciate that the remark was dangerous. It may have put ceasefire negotiations in jeopardy. However, I doubt the ceasefire negotiations were going to bear fruit anytime soon, anyway.

12 thoughts on “Biden’s Dangerous Words

  1. Maha – glad your TIA was tranient. I had a TIA a decade back – nothing confirmed by testing but it was scarey. Good to see you back with good medical news.

    I disagree that the unscripted remarks were an unforced error or unintentional. If you think about the end game and what the outcome should be, not only for Ukraine but for normalized relations between Russia and the rest of the world, the picture does not include Putin. This was the message but who was the intended audience?

    Not the regular Russian people. Putin controls the people who count the votes in any election, so Putin won't be "unelected." But Putin is not king. He's kept in power by a derivation of the Russian Mafia. When the USSR imploded, the Russian Mafia filled the power vacuum. Putin has flourished by assisting in the plundering of the wealth of Russia. Much of that wealth exists outside Russia because it's not safe within Russia. And some of it has been frozen and a lot more could be frozen if it is found. All at risk because Putin has personal visions of grandeur. 

    I submit that they are not happy. Unlike the powerless masses of Russia, these aristocrats have power. Putin is stronger than any one of them, but can he control ALL of them?  I do not know, but these princes are not pacifists, nor is the Russian Mafia known for a 'kinder, gentler mode of management. 

    Was Joe signaling those people that Putin in power will be an albatross around their collective necks as long as he's in power? This doesn't require Putin's assassination – just Putin's retirement. Putin's successor could order the withdrawal from Ukraine.   Granting Russian oligarchs access to the West (and the wealth they have stashed in the west) can/could be made conditional and gradual based on secret negotiations and conditions.

    And understand who I'm suggesting we negotiate with – the Russian Mafia. Because they pull the strings and they don't want a war that's bad for business. 

    First, allow a free press in Russia which can include dissent. Break the government stranglehold on the media. Open up two-way interaction through social media. Second, open up free and fair elections. (Free the political prisoners whose 'crime' is criticizing Putin and corruption. Yeah, let the mafia think they can maintain control of a more open government (maybe even more control than they had with Putin and his delusions.) Let the Russian people have access to the truth and give them the freedom to try to organize for justice. In exchange, let the oligarchs have their yachts and money. 

    I don't know if this (or something like this) is what Joe is thinking. But the end game can't leave Putin in power. The US can't remove Putin and neither can elections but Putin is not invulnerable. For Russia to flourish, Putin has to go. Joe got it right.

    • The TIA lasted about 40 minutes, but I thought I was having a stroke and the paramedic who checked me thought I was having a stroke too. My left side wasn’t working. I couldn’t talk or see well. But then suddenly the symptoms were gone. By the time they got me in the ambulance I was okay. But I still had to be tested six ways from Sunday. They didn’t find a definite cause. Very scarey.

  2. Getting rid of Putin is the goal. The point of the sanctions is not to get Putin to rethink his objective. It is to pressure the Russian people to get rid of Putin. He's not doing his country any favors, he's doing what he's doing to increase his own power and legacy.

  3. We cannot have globalism when one of the most armed animals on the plain is gobling up the other animals.

    Putin and Russia are pariahs and we all are talking to the Russian people about their responsibility for their own country and toward the rest of us.

  4. I was gathering my "thoughts" about this whole tragedy and the endgame, only to discover that Doug had already set down what I wanted to say, and as usual, said it far better than I  ever could.  Good man, Doug!

    One of the most frightening things on the horizon, for the rest of the world, as well as Ukraine, is the possible return of Trump to the presidency.  Any agreements between Russia and Ukraine would just be so much waste paper and Trump would put out the welcome mat for Putin anywhere he wanted to go.

    I so happy that you're back on your feet, Maha!  We missed you. 

  5. I sometimes miss the reaganites and neocons from days of old.  Not for their jingo ways, but their predictability.  Back then big war daddy would say something tough to the authoritarian whatever of the day, and they’d all line up behind him with arms crossed and stern looks on their faces.

    Today they gasp and faint.

    But then I remember that most of them were chickenhawks.  So maybe they haven't changed at all.

  6. Honestly, I think the statement was spot on, if viewed in the light of "he must lose his next election." And it's a bit weird: we might judge Biden a bit more harshly, simply because we already know the next election will be corrupt, and have a predetermined outcome. Still, tanking the economy, losing (I assume) billions in assets, at the cost of a Javelin missile, and dead/captured Russians would normally be a sure loss in a bid for re-election.

    I'm sure most of the world felt that way about Donald Trump (well, those that care about international relations). That wasn't a call for "regime change," it was a mere acknowledgement that he was an overpowered incompetent… much like Putin.

    Random thought: so many people thought Putin was smart, because he's ruthless. Kinda weird how we reverse virtue and vice like that. Brutal people are rarely smart; and it's normal to want a sane person in charge of a country with significant military might.

  7. If they did not do an echocardiogram, ask for one.  If anyone pouts about the need for, or cost of, that, the spell to cast is "rule out atrial myxoma". If they still won’t approve it, then doctor-shop until you find someone who understands.


  8. I had a health scare, a “TIA,” which is like a stroke only temporary. I’m fine now. But I spent 24 hours in hospitals getting MRI’d and CAT scanned and electrocardiographed and I don’t know what all, and I’m really tired.

    I significantly dialed back my exposure / involvement with politics and the war, and I feel SO MUCH BETTER. Years of chronic negativity will age you, something nobody can withstand for long, much less seniors. Nearly all of my health issues are self-inflicted, and it’s beyond time for that to stop.

    I came to realize that ‘the fight’ is really the purview of the young – it’s their future that’s mostly at stake, not so much mine. I can at best help, and am happy to, but I have more pressing life-issues taking priority.

    Retreating from the daily political fight has brought peace to other formerly contentious relationships, present and past. Some of these people were bitten by the rage virus that drives most of the political fight. I’ve come to see that it’s important to not get sucked into this. Peacemaking is what’s needed, and it begins within.

    I work with two amazing spiritual healers, and offer them here:
    Howard Wills
    Mirabai Devi

    Both offer group zoom sessions, and they work. But the main thing is to pull yourself out of the sewer, because it will age you and kill you.

    This is the spring equinox, a time of rebirth on the earth. What are you going to plant in the collective consciousness at this time?

  9. Really glad you came away from that scary TIA with a good outcome.  But that is the kind of thing that really puts perspective on life, for sure.

    As for Biden's comments, I think his response this morning to the nonsense was spot on, he was having none of the hand-wringing and whining from the media, especially the junior Doocy from Fox.

    Also, on CNN today Don Lemon gave a fiery wake up call to his media peers to quit hyping this all out of proportion.  Biden's words really resonated with everyone in Ukraine, no one thought it was out of line at all and Lemon really pushed back on the media frenzy around this.  So good on him for that, it's long past time that people in the media who know better start calling out their peers for their obsessions.


  10. That little (R) next to a politician means Russia. They get a sugar-high from treason-talk.

  11. Thank the great FSM you're ok, Barbara!

    I take one day off, and look at what happened!

    "Folks, I keep tellin' ya, ya gotta straighten-up and f!y LEFT!!!"

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