The usual outcry of “dementia” and “senility” has gone up already. And I would be the last to rule anything out, but even a brief overview of Biden’s career would show that he’s been doing this sort of thing for a long time. He’s been acting like this in the Senate and the Obama White House. Whatever else he’s got, this is who Biden is. He thinks that he’s very smart and that he’s cutting to the chase.
In reality, he’s making a huge mess and embarrassing the United States.
And with a chair in the White House, he’s got more scope to do that than ever before.
Biden on Wednesday sparked confusion and intense criticism over suggestions that Russia would face lesser consequences for launching a “minor” attack against Ukraine, prompting the White House to quickly try to clean up the remarks.
“It depends on what he does as to what extent we’re going to be able to get total unity on the NATO front,” the president said during a press conference at the White House, referring to the allies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“I think what you’re going to see is that Russia will be held accountable if it invades, and it depends on what it does. It’s one thing if it’s a minor incursion and we end up having to fight about what to do and not to do,” Biden said.
This might be true, but it’s a really dumb thing to say out loud, not least because it announces weakness.
Biden’s negotiating posture has been to teeter back and forth between threats and shows of weakness. That’s about as bad as a balancing act can be.
In his disastrous press conference, Biden went from trying to sound tough to announcing that NATO would do nothing in the face of a “minor incursion”.
There’s some history here which telegraphs what a really bad idea this is.
Before the Gulf War, the Bush I administration told Saddam Hussein that the United States would not interfere in a border dispute between Iraq and Kuwait. What the administration meant was that it wouldn’t respond with force over border clashes, but what Saddam heard was that he had the green light to take Kuwait. That obviously was the opposite of what Bush meant but that’s the proverb of the camel’s nose.
The end result of that was a war and all the messy fallout that came from it.