Who’s up, who’s down? Who hit whom? Who looked the best? That’s one way of viewing the Biden-Putin summit, the media way. An alternative way is to credit Biden with relieving tensions that have built up between the U.S.and Russia and proposing a practical way out that’s also relevant to the rest of the world. We must take the world as it is, he says, and do businss with it on that basis. High flown rhetoric and moralizing are not needed. We’re all in this together.
It was vintage Biden. As Vice President, he was about the only adviser who argued against President Obama’s dubious wars and drone attacks. As President, he has been prone to fumble on domestic issues or not altogether understand them. With foreign affairs he is on familiar ground. After his meeting with Putin, he spoke clearly and decisively with words that reflected firm belief.
What he accomplished, of course, was to stop the panicky talk about war with Russia. War is hardly possible when the leaders of the two countries are so cozily and publicly communicating. For Biden the key issue, ignored in the clamor over minor matters, is the nuclear deadlock. He and Putin agreed on steps toward a Strategic Stability Dialogue to reduce the chances of a nuclear exchange beyond which all other issues pale.
He scoffed at the notion of trusting Putin to behave the way we want. He might have mentioned President Franklin Roosevelt’s fatal error in World War Two of earnestly trying to inspire trust in Soviet Dictator Stalin, who couldn’t have cared less. He relentlessly pursued his own self-interest, as all rulers do, says Biden. Let’s deal with what we’ve got.
Biden’s summit also stopped the mindless drive to push Russa and China together by denouncing and threatening both nuclear powers, even envisioning a two-front war, a danger understood and averted by Nixon and Kissinger in their Cold War opening to communist China. Biden didn’t mention Iran, a key link in the China-Russia chain. He wants to remove it by renewing the nuclear agreement rejected by President Trump. Iran is emotional politics in the U.S. because of its rivalry with Israel. To Biden it’s geopolitics.
Will Biden be able to implement his policy in view of the opposition to such realism? It’s anathema to the war-minded neocons, in particular, who see no trace of their influence in what Biden proposes. They have basically run foreign policy under four Presidents with the eventual goal of removing the present Russian regime and replacing it with one of their own choosing or maybe even themselves, Bolshevik style.
This they accomplished in Russia’s neighbor Ukraine by supporting a timely revolution. With followers throughout the media, they have already gone on the offensive against Biden. He is vulnerable on some grounds like the over run Mexican Border and the White Supremacy fantasy. Foreign policy is his strong point. Stick with it.