Biden brain fart turns up the nuclear notch

United States President Joe Biden has declared Russian President Vladimir Putin ‘cannot remain in power’ in a speech in Warsaw, Poland.  The words appear to have been a deviation from his prepared script by a 79 year old man carried away by the emotion of events he is now central to, and possibly unaware of what they may imply, or careless of the implication.

 

 

According to the ABC US officials were quick to wrap some words around what appears to be a straight out call for regime change.

Even as Mr Biden’s words rocketed around the world, the White House attempted to clarify them, saying soon after Mr Biden finished speaking in Poland that he was not calling for a new government in Russia.

A White House official said Mr Biden was “not discussing Putin’s power in Russia or regime change”.

The official, who was not authorised to comment by name and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Mr Biden’s point was: “Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbours or the region.”

The official did not respond when asked whether Mr Biden’s comment was part of his prepared speech for the address in Warsaw or was made off the cuff.

“For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power,” Mr Biden said at the very end of a speech in Poland’s capital that served as the capstone on a four-day trip to Europe.

 

Politico was quick to note the comments were ‘off the cuff

WARSAW, Poland — President Joe Biden said Saturday that Russian leader Vladimir Putin cannot remain in power after launching his brutal invasion of Ukraine — a closing, off-the-cuff message issued in the final moments of the president’s tour of Europe that the White House swiftly walked back.

Biden’s impromptu call for an end to Putin’s reign — a month after he launched a deadly and destructive war with neighboring Ukraine — was his first time broaching the subject. For weeks, top administration officials, including Biden’s secretary of state, have stressed that they were not advocating a change in Russian leadership.

The line sent ripples throughout the U.S. foreign policy community, before the White House quickly clarified that Biden was not calling for regime change in his speech, contending that the president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. “He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change,” an official said in a statement.

But the walk back only prompted the question of why Biden uttered the line in the first place and whether he had consciously meant to convey the message. The words had not been in his prepared remarks.

 

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, was quick to dismiss the comments stating the ‘President of Russia is elected by Russians’ but they do feed into the Kremlin line that the actions by NATO/the United States/European Union are an attempt to impose on Russia.

One thing the comments are likely to do for the many Russians who support Putin is cement in that support.  Putin and others close to the administration in Russia have been stating for a generation that NATO expansion is a threat to Russia, and Putin has said himself it is a major factor, in conjunction with NATO’s proposed expansion to include Ukraine, in his attack on Ukraine.  For many Russians it is fairly obvious that the United States and NATO have openly encouraged Ukraine to turn against Russia, through either the series of failed gas negotiations in the early 2000s, overt funding of the anti Russian side of Ukraine politics, direct funding of the 2014 Maidan revolution in Kiev, and for some, the subordination of Russian speakers, the Russian language, and Russian ties  in Ukraine.

While the Russian attack on Ukraine is doing absolutely nothing for those ties and the interests of Russians living in Ukraine, and indeed is turning the anger of many Russian speaking Ukrainians against Putin’s Russia, in Russia, particularly for those close to the Putin administration it is the coalescing of long held concerns that there is a ‘crusade’ being waged against them, and Russian ‘civilisation’, by the ‘West’.  This alone is likely to echo with many as firmer support for their President.

Equally important for many Russians will be the question ‘who or what would be the Russian government if not the Putin administration?’  For those many Russians who assume that prime candidates for any alternative regime in Russia would be the many oligarch related interests who pillaged the country en-route to a couple of banking collapses in the 1990s, Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s contribution to the FT.com, suggesting that they too should be on the receiving end of any economic pain – to facilitate a deeper appreciation by them for the concerns of the rest of the world –  couldn’t have been more unfortunately timed.

Still it must be acknowledged that support for the war is widespread. People know that something is not right but are either afraid to resist or just don’t know how. If you come out on to the street, you will lose your job or end up in jail, and few can afford that in a poor country. An unarmed crowd is powerless against Putin’s armed guard.

Denying the facts offers a psychological escape and the onslaught of propaganda gives people the tools for this: “We are not at war with the Ukrainian people, we’re defending them from Nazis”; “We are not bombing cities, the Ukrainians are doing it to themselves”; “We are not fighting Ukraine, but the Americans and Nato.” And so on.

Very few people wish to be outsiders, standing against what “everybody thinks”. Defining what “everybody thinks” is the main task of propaganda. That is why the Kremlin shuts down social networks not under its control.

Russians safely in the west remain gripped by the same propaganda. They have relatives, friends and sources of income in the motherland. They want to be able to visit. The outcome is a successful attempt to convince oneself that the situation is not so simple.

Something needs to be done. Besides humanitarian considerations, we must stop an extremely dangerous process. Russian society is at risk of becoming not simply a hostage to the Kremlin’s fascist ideas and crimes, but an accomplice. This would be an extremely dangerous development, not only giving the Kremlin a mandate for continuing aggression, but actually encouraging it.

It is precisely for this reason that sanctions against Russia as a country (something I have always previously been against) are imperative. What is more, they should not be easily lifted.

I have never favoured pushing people, my fellow citizens, to resist in the face of serious risk, but this is war. Either you kill or you get killed. In some places this is still just figurative, but in Ukraine it is very real. In this situation, risk is the price you have to pay for survival, for your own life, for those of other people, and, at the end of the day, for freedom.

 

Very large numbers of Russians whom Mikhail is exhorting economic pain for would note that Mikhail is ‘denying the fact’ that Putin’s elevation to power was originally a reaction to people just like Mikhail.  They are also likely to be thinking that the surprising strength of support for Putin generally reflects a population assuming that the only likely alternative to the Putin administration is people just like Khodorkovsky – who was connected with the collapse of Bank Menatep in 1999, costing millions of Russians their savings.  Much of that support would reflect the view that even if the Putin regime is corrupt too, it has a national interest more aligned to their interests than any likely alternative.

No doubt in the next few hours Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be asked if he thinks the war is about regime change in Russia, or what he made of Biden’s Warsaw comments, and no doubt he will be very careful with how he couches his observations.  He would be only too aware of the risks of anchoring in the support of the Russian people behind Vladimir Putin, and the implications this has for peace in his country.

The Biden and Khodorkovsky comments could easily add up to more support for the Russian government, and add to its desperation to get something out of a military campaign which seems to be receding – if too slowly for the Ukrainians it has been visited upon. The Ukraine military has made some minor moves to push back the Russian held territory near the East of Kiev, following suggestions from the Kremlin that the focus of the attack on Ukraine will now turn to the far East of Ukraine, where shelling has killed thousands over the last 8 years.

Slavoj Žižek, in his superb piece in Project-Syndicate is seeing the world settling into armed camps reflecting culture and values in the face of a series of crises, including one of global liberal-capitalism.

While we should stand firmly behind Ukraine, we must avoid the fascination with war that has clearly seized the imaginations of those who are pushing for an open confrontation with Russia. Something like a new non-aligned movement is needed, not in the sense that countries should be neutral in the ongoing war, but in the sense that we should question the entire notion of the “clash of civilizations.”

According to Samuel Huntington, who coined the term, the stage for a clash of civilizations was set at the Cold War’s end, when the “iron curtain of ideology” was replaced by the “velvet curtain of culture.” At first blush, this dark vision may appear to be the very opposite of the end-of-history thesis advanced by Francis Fukuyama in response to the collapse of communism in Europe. What could be more different from Fukuyama’s pseudo-Hegelian idea that the best possible social order humanity could devise had at last been revealed to be capitalist liberal democracy?

We can now see that the two visions are fully compatible: the “clash of civilizations” is the politics that comes at the “end of history.” Ethnic and religious conflicts are the form of struggle that fits with global capitalism. In an age of “post-politics” – when politics proper is gradually replaced by expert social administration – the only remaining legitimate sources of conflict are cultural (ethnic, religious). The rise of “irrational” violence follows from the depoliticization of our societies.

Within this limited horizon, it is true that the only alternative to war is a peaceful coexistence of civilizations (of different “truths,” as Dugin put it, or, to use a more popular term today, of different “ways of life”). The implication is that forced marriages, homophobia, or the rape of women who dare to go out in public alone are tolerable if they happen in another country, so long as that country is fully integrated into the global market.

The new non-alignment must broaden the horizon by recognizing that our struggle should be global – and by counseling against Russophobia at all costs. We should offer our support to those within Russia who are protesting the invasion. They are not some abstract coterie of internationalists; they are the true Russian patriots – the people who truly love their country and have become deeply ashamed of it since February 24. There is no more morally repulsive and politically dangerous saying than, “My country, right or wrong.” Unfortunately, the first casualty of the Ukraine war has been universality.

While President Biden, most European leaders, the leadership of Ukraine, and obviously President Putin, have settled into a simple portrayal of ‘good’ versus ‘bad’ to emphasise the need to fight, they need to recognise the limitations of that as well as the implications it carries.

As things currently stand there will be millions of Ukrainians thinking (rightly) that the rest of the world which has applauded and supported their stand against Russian aggression, will support their future rebuilding needs and quite presumably address the Oligarch infested polity they have experienced for a generation.

When President Biden suggests ‘regime change’ in Russia – even if his diplomats walk back the sentiments – millions of Russians who will recall the overthrow of communism and the applause that too generated from the same nations now condemning them will have a simple choice of reliving the experience of that support vanishing when they attempted to craft a democracy in Russia, amidst a sea of economic crises and corruption, or standing alongside the regime they have.  If there is to be another administration in Russia, someone is going to have to pay for it.  Given that hundreds of billions of dollars of financial reserves have been frozen by the developed world there may be a sharp eye on who that is shaping to be, inside Russia, as well as who that is entrusted to.

It isn’t as simple as good versus bad, and it is going to take incredible bravery to cobble together a deal to save face for everyone from here.

Comments

  1. reusachtigeMEMBER

    Fark Joe Biden! The world needs Trump right now. He would have sorted all this out

    • No mate, that would be a mistake. And make no mistake, Trump put sanctions on Putin almost without provocation around supposed election fraud/manipulation – which everyone knew didn’t happen, including Trump (clearly, because his POTUS win would be a fiction – but he slapped sanctions anyways!). Trump is actually part of the problem.

      From Putins point of view, after Trumps initial actions (with additional sanctions again six months later with no provication), they went hard core self-sufficiency. There has been a litany of strategic mistakes. Russia and China is not a good combination for anyone. Especially us. When they take Taiwan, they are no longer constrained… especially us.

      Feel that China has been emboldened by this. They will move soon.

  2. Ronin8317MEMBER

    Biden believes the US can shoot down anything Russia throws at them. If Europe becomes a radioactive hole in the ground, that is “just too bad”.

    I predict Poland will start shooting down Russian planes this week.

  3. Diogenes the CynicMEMBER

    This is terrible by the US President. It is not just emotion, clearly there is a diminution of his ability due to age or deterioration. Replacing Biden with the VP is also an issue as Kamala seems a lightweight. Whatever you thought of Trump, Mike Pence seemed capable. Having this leadership team being egged by the neocons inside the US administration with Russia embroiled in an European war is a recipe for a maelstrom slide into wider conflict.

  4. seanraceMEMBER

    its a sad day when the free world can only put up these 3 stooges as leaders…. no wonder Trump would think about running again.

  5. Biden’s broken brain is a risk. But a little pot-kettle from this website which was calling for an invasion of the Sollies a couple of days ago – not exactly paragons of diplomatic virtue.

    • Come out of fantasia and live in real world. I would implore you to read alot about human history and human nature before commenting on viture. We can virture all we like but when the Chinese take over it will mean nothing.

      • weren’t you one of the ones telling us that Trump would win? pretty sure you’re batting pretty low averages on your predictions.

        but yeah, reading. highly recommended.

        • Ease up buddy, I was just suggesting that your naive view on virtue and following it through to the end would have us end up in a bad place.
          I still remember when the virtues’ south Korea decided that they would give North Korea money to develop and when they developed they could all be friends. Then when NK got that money they simply used it to get nuclear weapons. This is the problem with these virtue people. So as I said, just educate yourself a little more on human nature and try to envisaged what will happen years into the future if we follow the idea that facts out of your brain.

          • you’re like the conservative skippy – short on comprehension skills and high on your own supply.

            yes, China is Australia’s main strategic threat. yes, we need to counter their attempts to woo Pacific countries – it should be our primary strategic objective. no, writing articles suggesting we invade sovereign countries does not help our long term strategy. it makes us look exactly like the enemy we’re telling these countries are a risk. sure, it’s just one article on a glorified blog…but it’s the same type of ammo we pick up from the other side.

          • Comprehension lmmao …

            That you can’t keep up or hold more than one concept in your cranial space at the same time is not my problem, filling it with rigid ideology and rewarmed – thoughts of others – aside.

            Considering War Inc MIC and friends set a precedent for preemptive strikes on lies and then publicly gave a big finger to so called international laws when it does not suit its agendas this whole gnashing of teeth display is absurd. Not to mention the the unprecedented level of actions which are tantamount to theft and a declaration of war by historical standards and issued from the WH without any debate in congress – see extraordinary executive powers back in Bush Jr days never being rolled back.

            Fun fact … Oligarchy is a condition when the rich dictate to the political class … pin that tail on the real donkey …

  6. I actually quite like Joe Biden. And the off the cuff comment was nothing compared to some of the things Kennedy of Reagan said. I think theres a good chance Vlad joins his defence minister – a man with no military training – in suffering a ‘heart attack’.

  7. It’s a sad indictment that for the last two elections the choice of leaders for the only remaining superpower was Hillary, Biden or Trump.

    • Know IdeaMEMBER

      It certainly is illuminating to observe what different political systems push to the top.

    • I remember the 1980’s when people were making fun of Ronald Reagan because of his age. Those same people now support Biden.

      • Narapoia451MEMBER

        And the people that said it was disrespectful to call into question the mental capability of their president are now gleefully pointing out gaffes and mocking a president they see as being in metal decline because he is on the other side.

        No one owns the high ground on this one.

        ETA: While I was too young to know first hand – my understanding was that it wasn’t age they were mocking – but like Biden there was concern that there were symptoms of a degenerative disease being displayed. Which was actually the case.

  8. Biden just said what everyone is thinking.

    Don’t be afraid, this blog has been wrong about that war from the start and is wrong on what’s going on over there.

    Ukraine has won the war and you need to look at what’s happening northwest of Kyiv, there’s a rout taking place.

    Additionally, Russia is no longer a super power, but a pumptik village.

    • Grand Funk RailroadMEMBER

      Biden just said what everyone is thinking.

      Thats right, now all everyone has to do is think a bit more about what is going to happen in Russia. Because if Russia descends into chaos and carnage then that may have some global implications, right? (including in Ukraine too maybe) Also, if Russians are assuming that too, then they may have sentiments about another journey into the sort of ‘democracy’ they got 30 years ago and wonder if Putin is better than the alternative – couldnt they?.

      Don’t be afraid, this blog has been wrong about that war from the start and is wrong on what’s going on over there.

      Sure, Care to give an example?

      Ukraine has won the war and you need to look at what’s happening northwest of Kyiv, there’s a rout taking place.

      Sure. But Zelenskyy is now talking non NATO neutrality now isnt he? (or he is here at least – Ukraine willing to be neutral, says Russia wants to split nation and here Ukraine prepared to discuss adopting neutral status – Zelensky)
      And if he had had that on the table six months ago there probably wouldnt be any of this now, would there? Then theres the not insignificant issue of parts of his country, which may be winning as you say, but appear to be occupied, and Zelenskyy is now suggesting the Russians are trying to partition his country…..which was something alluded to in earlier MB pieces written be me for starters.

      That doesnt mean any of the above is ‘right’ just that it ‘is’ – and yeah I totally get the idea that the Russian army doesnt appear to be doing all that well, but just as a comparison Russia lost 16 thousand people to road deaths last year, and countless analysts have noted for yonks that Russian military kit is intended to be ‘expendable’ so they do make a mess when they invade their neighbours. Russia is the sort of country where they will just muddle on regardless even if everyone else thinks they arent doing things properly.

      Additionally, Russia is no longer a super power, but a pumptik village.

      Well that would be agreed with by an awful lot of Russians, but even they would be inclined to think they still have some defence and territorial interests, and they may have views about missiles aimed at them from countries next door. Are they that out of their minds?

      You probably need to either read more or learn about the places you assert things about.

      • A. the Ukraine is one of the most corrupt countries top to bottom post Maiden ***cough*** colour revolution[tm], which is something to ponder in this global Gresham dynamic market place paradigm brought too you by the good neoliberalists.

        B. The U.S. has a baked on mentality when it comes to Russia after the cold war, dreams of cheap extraction of natural capital was unceremoniously ended with the Harvard boys being kicked to the curb. Now its fracked its farm land and needs a market for that energy and doesn’t like Russia setting up normal market exchange for its products – stuff Obama did thingy.

        C. Trump was the U.S. equivalent of Zelensky e.g. jawbones a lot, but is not really the buck stops here kinda guy as he shops around for yes men … after firing anyone that does not bring home the bacon.

        E. Don’t expect much from the U.K or U.S. as the elite conformist flexian supply chain facilities formally known as Academia keeps pumping out increasingly crapified products.

        D. fkn Fascist/Nazi whitewashing would have the WWII boyz just bent ….

      • Ukraine are fighting for their right for freedom. Its their sovereign right to decide if they want to join NATO or not. Russia wanted a Regime change in Ukraine. They are free people and elected Volodymyr Zelensky and kicked the the russian puppets through various revolutions.

        Apparently, Medvedev outlined why Russia will use nuclear weapons:

        1: When Russian is attacked by nukes
        2: When nukes are used against Russian allies
        3: When Russian critical infrastructure that paralyze their nuclear forces
        4: When an act of aggression is committed against Russia that threaths its existence

        NATO has never attacked Russia pre-emptively and nothing falls under that umbrella. Some off the cuff marks is not going to cause a nuclear holocaust. So some verbal rhetoric is not going to send nukes flying.

        Russia holds no strategic cities in Ukraine and the occupy roads not land. Their plan A has already been given up on and now they are trying to consolidate where they declared as independent states. They are still acting like they have the upper hand. While who says they can even do that after what they have experienced so far with the Ukraine resistance?

        This blog mentioned that their is absolutely no geopolitical play for the fight in Ukraine, true but Russia has been posturing as a Superpower and the sanctions have in one full swoop knocked them off from the table. Whats happened to Russia has given a ray of light to the liberal world. Zelensky is only to neutrality through a referendum.

        Ukraine has been copied by various power through out its history, agreeing for neutrality before or of this would have just delayed the inventible.

        It was only a few years ago that Turkey shot a Russian plane out of the sky when they wondered over the line, they where not threated with nukes and Turkey is NATO.

        • Grand Funk RailroadMEMBER

          Whats happened to Russia has given a ray of light to the liberal world

          Frame that one. We only need someone to bring God into it.

          A ‘crusade’ ought to do the trick

  9. There has only ever been one leader ratcheting up nuclear tension and that is Putin. His veiled threats are sick and he is a sick man. Putin wants to stay in power so the only launch he’d be overseeing is an accidental one. Biden said the right thing.

    • Fishing72MEMBER

      Huh? The US has been trying to provoke war between Russia and Ukraine for years. Where is the equivalent provocation from Putin? It doesn’t exist. Putin may be a thug but the US are criminally aggressive warmongers.

      • Where is the evidence Fish? I have never been particularly interested in Ukrainian affairs, however, I do take considerable interest in European affairs. I am sure if the USA was actively aiming to destabilise the border region, Europe would have had a lot to say and would have strenuously opposed such an endeavour. The annexation of Crimea barely roused a response from the United States.

  10. – We are all one happy family, right ?
    – Where are the days when Putin said he had “growing trust” in the US president Barack Obama ?

    • Grand Funk RailroadMEMBER

      George Bush said he could see into Putin’s soul.

      Someone should ask him what he saw there

      • “Someone should ask him what he saw there”
        Probably the same self-interest and arrogance that led the US under Bush to invade Iraq.