Saturday, July 25, 2009


This is my third post in as many days on the strange sayings of VP Biden. This time, Biden talks about Russia, how its leaders are mired in the past. Of course, the Russian government reacted angrily to these assertions, and all this within 15 days of Pres. Barack Obama's cordial visit to Moscow to meet the Russian leaders including President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin.

Andrew E. Kramer writes in today's The New York Times:

"Just weeks after a summit meeting intended to show a thawing in relations between the United States and Russia, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. made blistering references to Russia’s failing economy, loss of face and a leadership that is “clinging to something in the past,” in an interview published on Saturday.

"Speaking on the heels of his trip to Georgia and Ukraine, Mr. Biden said flatly that the Obama administration would make no deals and accept no compromises with the Kremlin in exchange for better relations.

"Russia itself, he said, should find it in its own interest to repair relations."

Biden's comments make an observer wonder whose foreign policy is being followed. Is this Obama's policy and Biden is just the mouthpiece? Or is this Joe Biden going out on his own and expressing his own opinions and prejudices?

Writes Kramer:

"Calling the criticism “perplexing” in light of the diplomatic overtures initiated by the United States and described as “pressing the reset button,” the chief foreign policy adviser to President Dmitri A. Medvedev told the Interfax news agency, “The question is: who is shaping the U.S. foreign policy, the president or respectable members of his team?”

"The adviser, Sergei Prikhodko, said the atmosphere between the countries had improved since Mr. Obama’s visit early this month.

"“If some members of Obama’s team and government do not like this atmosphere, why don’t they say so?” Interfax reported him as saying. “If they disagree with the course of their president, we just need to know this.”"

Biden's comments complicate the approach that Obama took when he was in Russia. Avoid the put-downs and the insults. Instead concentrate on negotiation, discussion and diplomacy. Making Russian leaders mad appears counter-productive and destructive to the gains Obama seems to have made with Medvedev and Putin.

Kramer reports:

"Mr. Biden rejected recent Russian assertions of a restored sphere of privileged interests in the former Soviet Union, made after the war in Georgia. He said he understood that the Russians would not embrace the American stance, but added, “I do expect them to understand we don’t accept” the Russian claims.

"“It’s a very difficult thing to deal with, loss of empire,” he said at another point."

I can only imagine what Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must think of Biden's comments. Why is he shooting off his mouth about relations between the U.S. and Russia given that these things are clearly part of her portfolio? And I cannot fathom how Biden's views represent the Obama foreign policy so centered on diplomacy. Someone please explain what is going on in the mind of VP Joe Biden.

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