What President Biden and His Media Chorus Revealed about Their War-Fighting Capabilities

Lambert here: This is a quietly devastating piece from Helmer. I have been not unimpressed with sentences from Biden on foreign policy. For example, “This is not about trust. This is about self-interest and verification” is quite a refreshing contrast to the blowhard messianism of Responsibility to Protect. But Helmer shows that at the paragraph level, Biden…. Well, Biden has problems. And I don’t think we’re dealing with anything like an equivalent to Eisenhower’s “Don’t worry Jim, if that question comes up, I’ll just confuse them.”

By John Helmer, the longest continuously serving foreign correspondent in Russia, and the only western journalist to direct his own bureau independent of single national or commercial ties. Helmer has also been a professor of political science, and an advisor to government heads in Greece, the United States, and Asia. He is the first and only member of a US presidential administration (Jimmy Carter) to establish himself in Russia. Originally published at Dances with Bears

President Joseph Biden spent 33 minutes speaking at his press confernce to a group of US reporters pre-selected, coached,  and programmed by name, organisation and text of question. This operation made it impossible to allow Russian reporters to attend.

Biden’s speech to his press was longer than he managed by himself in the restricted-format session with President Vladimir Putin and their two foreign ministers and interpreters, which began the summit on Wednesday, and lasted 108 minutes. The 33-minute performance was also longer than Biden managed at the expanded format of the talks, which included press spokesmen, national security advisers, deputy foreign ministry officials and the two state ambassadors. That session lasted 91 minutes.

Biden demonstrated he can rehearse, recite, repeat.

He added nothing, nor did he subtract anything from the G7 communiqué of three days ago, in which he accused Russia of “destabilising behaviour and malign activities, including its interference in other countries’ democratic systems, and to fulfil its international human rights obligations and commitments. In particular, we call on Russia to urgently investigate and credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil, to end its systematic crackdown on independent civil society and media, and to identify, disrupt, and hold to account those within its borders who conduct ransomware attacks, abuse virtual currency to launder ransoms, and other cybercrimes.”

Biden, together with the American journalists appearing at the two presidential pressers, also repeated the accusations of the NATO communiqué of two days ago.

Biden’s 33-minute performance demonstrated the clinical motor and cognitive symptoms which remain state secrets in Washington. They are now better understood in Moscow than by US experts on the 25th Amendment.

In the few impromptu remarks Biden recorded there were flashes of hostility. About China’s President Xi Jinping, he said:  “Let’s get something straight. We know each other well. We are not old friends. It’s just pure business”. Asked what he would do if Alexei Navalny dies, Biden said: “That’s not a satisfying answer: ‘Biden said he’d invade Russia.’  You know, it is not — you know.  By the way, that was a joke.  That’s not true. But my generic point is, it is — it is more complicated than that.”

 “I’m not confident he’ll change his behaviour,” Biden rounded on a reporter challenging his capacity to deter Putin, as he tried to leave the press room. “Where the hell — what do you do all the time?  When did I say I was confident?  I said —  I said — what I said was — let’s get it straight.  I said: What will change their behavior is if the rest of world reacts to them and it diminishes their standing in the world.  I’m not confident of anything; I’m just stating a fact.”

When Putin was asked by a Russian reporter if he has “any new illusions as a result of this meeting?”, he replied: “ I didn’t even have the old ones, and you’re talking about the new ones. Where did you get the idea about illusions? There are no illusions and there can be no illusions.”

Follow Putin’s question-and-answer session, then click to watch Biden’s press conference. The official transcript of Biden’s remarks issued by the White House has been edited and parts of Biden’s speech erased.

Source, left: http://kremlin.ru/ – this is the Russian original; English translation has not yet been completed by the Kremlin. Right, https://www.whitehouse.gov/ — the White House does not publish foreign language translations.

According to Biden, “the reason [the talks] didn’t go longer is when the last time two heads of state spent over two hours in direct conversation across the table going into excruciating detail? You may know of time; I don’t. I can’t think of one. So we didn’t need, as we got through and as we brought in the larger group, our defence, our intelligence, our foreign – well, my foreign minister, foreign minister, my Secretary of State was with me the whole time, our ambassador, et cetera, brought everybody in, we had covered so much, and so there was a summary done by him and by me of what we covered. Laberov [Lavrov is the spelling in the White House text] and Blinken talked about what we had covered. We raised things which required more amplification… And — and so it was — it was — kind of, after two hours there, we looked at each other like, ‘Okay, what next?’”

Compare what the two presidents said and how they said it:

  • Confiscation of diplomatic property, expulsion of officials. PUTIN said: “With regard to the ambassadors returning to their stations – the US ambassador to Moscow, and the Russian ambassador to Washington, we agreed on this matter, and they will be returning to their permanent duty stations. When exactly – tomorrow or the day after tomorrow – is a purely technical issue. We also agreed that the Foreign Ministry of the Russian Federation and the US State Department would begin consultations on the entire range of cooperation on the diplomatic track. There are things to discuss, and an enormous backlog [of unresolved issues] has piled up. I think both sides, including the American side, are committed to looking for solutions.”   BIDEN: “He knows I will take action, like we did when — this last time out.  What happened was: We, in fact, made it clear that we were not going to continue to allow this to go on.  The end result was we ended up withdrawing — they went withdrawing ambassadors, and we closed down some of their facilities in the United States, et cetera.  And he knows there are consequences.”
  • Ukraine: PUTIN:  “With regard to Ukraine, indeed, this issue was touched upon. I cannot say that it was done in great detail, but as far as I understood President Biden, he agreed that the Minsk agreements should be the basis for a settlement in southeastern Ukraine.As for Ukraine’s potential accession to NATO, this issue was touched upon in passing. I suppose there is nothing to discuss in this respect. BIDEN: “I communicated the United States’ unwavering commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. We agreed to pursue diplomacy related to the Minsk Agreement.”  
  • Strategic arms limitation: PUTIN: “I think it is obvious to everyone that President Biden made a responsible and, we believe, timely decision to extend New START for five years, that is, until 2024. Of course, it would be natural to ask what next. We agreed to start interdepartmental consultations under the aegis of the US Department of State and the Foreign Ministry of Russia. Colleagues will determine at the working level the line-up of these delegations, the venues and frequency of meetings.” BIDEN: “I am pleased that today we agreed to launch a bilateral strategic security dialogue – diplomatic speak for saying get our military experts and our diplomats together to work on a mechanism that can lead to control of new and dangerous sophisticated weapons that are coming on the scene now…”

The Russian security guard at President Putin’s aircraft on the Geneva airport tarmac, awaiting his descent from the gangway. The Geneva press reported that Putin had requested no ceremonial welcome by Geneva canton or federal Swiss officials, implying the Russian president was snubbing the Swiss. In fact, this was a security issue: no Swiss personnel were allowed inside the perimeter formed by the Russian guards and vehicles. Source: https://www.youtube.com/ Putin met the Swiss federal president later in the day indoors, when the combined Swiss and Russian security was optimum. Putin then gave President Guy Parmelin more time and attention than President Biden had given him.

  • Cyber-war: PUTIN: “The question of who, on what scale and in what area must make commitments should be resolved during negotiations. We have agreed to start such consultations. We believe that cyber security is extremely important in the world in general, for the United States in particular, and to the same extent for Russia.” BIDEN: “We agreed to task experts to work in both our countries to work on specific understandings about what is off limits and to follow up on specific cases that originate in other countries, in either of our countries.”
  • Syria: PUTIN was not asked and did not say anything. BIDEN spoke of “the urgent need to preserve and reopen the humanitarian corridors in Syria so that we can get food, just simple food, and basic necessities, to people who are starving to death… They asked me why I thought that it was important to continue to have problems with the President of Syria. I said, ‘Because he’s in violation of an international norm. It’s called a Chemical Weapons Treaty. Can’t be trusted.’”
  • Arctic: “Question: …The US has long accused Russia of militarizing the Arctic, and so have its allies. Recently, in May, we heard from Secretary Blinken about his concerns about the actions of the Russian military. What exactly was said? PUTIN: Yes, we discussed this topic in a broad format and in sufficient detail. This is a very important and interesting topic, bearing in mind that the development of the Arctic in general and the Northern Sea Route in particular is of great interest to the economies of many countries, including non-regional ones. These concerns of the American side about militarization have absolutely no basis. We don’t do anything there that wasn’t done in the Soviet Union. We are restoring the infrastructure that was once completely destroyed. Yes, we are doing this at a modern level: the military and border infrastructure, and what was not there-the infrastructure related to nature protection. We are creating an appropriate base there for the Ministry of Emergency Situations-the Ministry of Emergency Situations, meaning the possibility of saving people at sea, if it comes to that, God forbid, or protecting the environment.” BIDEN: “We discussed how we can assure the Arctic remains a region of cooperation rather than conflict. I caught part of President Trump’s [name omitted in White House transcript] uhh, Putin’s uhh, press conference, and he talked about the need for us to have some kind of modus operandi dealt with making sure the Arctic was in fact a free zone.”
  • Elections: BIDEN:  “Let’s get this straight. How would it be if the United States is viewed by the rest of the world as interfering directly with the elections of other countries? And everybody knew it?  What would it be like if we engaged in activities that he’s [Putin] engaged in. It diminishes the standing of a country that is desperately trying to make sure it maintains its standing as a major world power.”

  • Biden’s mother: PUTIN: “If you asked me what kind of interlocutor and partner President Biden is, I can say that he is a very constructive, balanced person, as I expected, very experienced, it is immediately evident. He remembered a little bit about his family, about what his mother talked to him about-these are important things. They do not seem to be directly related to the case, but nevertheless still show the level or quality of his moral values.” BIDEN: “There were — as a matter of fact, I heard he quoted my mom and quoted other people today. There was — it was very, as we say — which will shock you, coming from me — somewhat colloquial. And we talked about basic, basic, fundamental things.”
  • Red lines: PUTIN: “I can tell you that in general, we understand what our American partners are talking about, and they understand what we are talking about when we talk about ‘red lines’. I must tell you frankly, we have not reached this point, of course, by placing accents and dividing things up so far and in such detail. But bearing in mind that we agreed to work on cybersecurity and strategic stability during these consultations, as well as on joint work in the Arctic and in some other areas, I think all this should gradually be the subject of our discussions and, I hope, agreements.” BIDEN: “Question: Did military response ever come up in this conversation today? Did you — in terms of the red lines that you laid down, is military response an option for a ransomware attack? And President Putin had called you, in his press conference, an ‘experienced person.’ You famously told him he didn’t have a soul. Do you now have a deeper understanding of him after this meeting? THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you very much.”
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Banana republic, Guest Post, Media watch, Politics, Russia on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Maritimer

    Here’s a list of conferences of interest to PRs, Spin Doctors, Messagers, Obfuscators, Omissioners and other benders of the Human Mind.

    And in my Small Pond the frequent Covid Dog ‘n Pony show is stage managed and scripted with a lapdog media zooming in. Just like the Big Boys.

    Of interest recently was that an FOI request on matters Covid turned up nothing, nada. A question about this elicited the fact that it is all done by phone, voice, etc. So in addition to the media sterilization, the Government internal communications are managed to minimize any trails or clues, let alone smoking guns, indicating malfeasance. Get your FOI management degree now!

  2. Acacia

    Biden’s 33-minute performance demonstrated the clinical motor and cognitive symptoms which remain state secrets in Washington.

    Though obvious to everyone residing beyond the beltway reality distortion field. Nicely-phrased sentence, BTW, which has an almost Ballardian ring to it.

  3. ambrit

    I have seen diplomacy described as “a way of fighting a war without anyone getting killed.”
    Putin and his administration seem, on the surface at least, to favour diplomacy. However, and this must be emphasized, the Russians are not afraid to act “on the ground.” Their actions in Syria are a testament to that.
    America’s Neocons play with fire at hazzard. Russia herself needs not reply to an American provocation. Like any reasonably well run world power, Russia has proxies to do that job for her.
    Seeing the climate change disaster coming at the world, a nuclear winter doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.
    Give War a chance.

    1. ddt

      In the last three years, the Russians have gotten between warring parties lessening loss of life. In Syria between Turks and Kurds once Trump left ‘our’ Kurdish allies out to dry by withdrawing and in Nagorno Karabakh when supposedly the Azeris ‘accidentally’ downed a Russian plane. The latter allowed the Armenians some saving of face as they didn’t lose everything. So yes both diplomacy and ability to impose their will on the ground.

    2. Procopius

      … a nuclear winter doesn’t seem like such a bad idea.

      I think you forgot a /sarc tag. At least I hope you did, because it seems to me a (large?) part of our national security apparatus believes exactly that. Seriously.

  4. Donald

    Did anyone follow up with Biden when he made that idiotic comment about America not interfering in elections? On leftist Twitter this was properly met with a lot of ridicule. If we had a functioning press corps in the US they would all be asking for clarification. Instead, from what I can see when they did challenge Biden it was by implying that he might be too trusting of Putin.

    1. tegnost

      It’s funny to me that the woke class is good with being mansplained to by biden, the short answers, the staring down putin…that biden he’s a real tough guy…

    2. Edward

      I have been wondering about that remark too. It would seem to undermine the U.S. position because 1) it is absurd on the level of “war is peace, freedom is slavery”, and 2) it presents something the U.S. is very guilty of as terrible, rather then diminishing its importance.

      The only explanation that I can think of is that Biden is trying to signal to the world that the U.S. is done with “regime change”, which I will believe when I see it. Recently, for example, there have been calls for Biden to end the regime change sanctions against Venezuela. Nevertheless, if this explanation is correct, it indicates some awareness in the White House of how poorly the U.S. is viewed abroad and suggests a willingness to try to cultivate international opinion, something that has been lacking.

      1. djforestree

        I am sincerely curious: has any US president—or any person occupying a high official position in the US government (secretaries, congress people, military and intelligence, etc.)—ever admitted that the US has been destroying democracies, that is, democratically elected governments left and right through the 20th century and until today? In my opinion Biden is just stating a lie that most people around the world who aren’t American know well and often by painful, first hand experience: the USA (and its allies) have done more to destroy democracies around the world than the former USSR ever did, and more than Russia, China, Iran et al have never been able to do on this front. That the US press refuses to even have a meaningful follow up on Biden’s comment is very telling and reflects a consensus about what can’t and shouldn’t be discussed. And by the way Biden’s government and the American regime, beyond the circumstancial team now in charge in DC, is very much engaged in regime change as we speak: Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Iran (and of course Russia) are only some of the most visible targets today.

        1. Edward

          I can’t think of an example. The Brits unsuccessfully lobbied the Truman administration to overthrow Iran’s democracy (which Eisenhower later consented to). That is the closest case I can think of.

          I looked at the video of Biden’s statement and I don’t think he was renouncing regime change. I guess he thinks Americans will swallow this nonsense.

          1. squarecoats

            My take on this quite bizarre diatribe of his was that it must have been intended purely for u.s. audiences. Though I kind of assume his entire press conference was only directed at the u.s., or else I imagine journalists from other countries might have made it onto his preapproved list of whose questions to take. (sorry if I’m repeating points made elsewhere)

    3. Dr. R.k. Barkhi

      Im guessing that in Washington d.c. assassinating democratically elected presidents at least once a decade is Not considered “interfering with elections” or “meddling with election results” (courtesy of the CIA,history’s greatest terrorist group).

      Btw Mr. Strether, thanks 4 the side by side comparison of remarks. It appears that this supposedly great country isnt allowed to have a fully functional president any more.

  5. Carolinian

    Clearly Biden isn’t–perhaps has never been–a word man and his gaffs go back to when he was surely dementia free. Meanwhile Putin has a mannered way of speaking that can seem almost robotic (perhaps it’s the transalations). To the narrative obsessed press this translates as lovable goof versus inscrutable evil genius and Putin does look a bit scary–no having a drink in a bar with him.

    To those of us who aren’t press hacks, however, it’s obvious that Putin is the smart guy our meritocracy always claims to be seeking while giving us the likes of Dubya, “feel your pain” Clinton, cool cat Obama. Being the real deal Putin is naturally hated by America’s way too superficial elites. Of course he may indeed be secretly evil but there’s no case being made that is at all convincing.

  6. Erelis

    Don’t see much being accomplished post-summit. A picture of both groups sitting at separate tables showed Victoria Nuland. Starting with Clinton as Sec. of State, the State Department was transformed into a war policy institution. Anybody remember Clinton ordering UN personnel to start active spying activities? Nuland and her ilk will subvert any progress. Both the Pentagon and State Department deep state showed they can countermand any executive order at any time.

  7. LowellHighlander

    I must first state that I’m no historian, and that I invite actual historians to correct what I’m about to offer.

    Because of presidents like Reagan, W., Trump, and now Biden, anyone should be able to clearly discern one more indicator showing how the U.S. has devolved into empire. Such knaves must be taken seriously by other countries’ leaders, but only because they command such vast arsenals. LIke a Caligula or other such emperors. [I do wish to state for the record that I give Trump some credit for seeking better relations with Russia than the others. Nevertheless, he qualifies to be included with the Presidents I’ve mentioned here.]

    Oddly, I think the last people on Earth to discern how this country has descended will be those who put such people into power time and time again.

  8. Temporarily Sane

    BIDEN spoke of “the urgent need to preserve and reopen the humanitarian corridors in Syria so that we can get food, just simple food, and basic necessities, to people who are starving

    When Biden says ‘Syria’, he means Idlib – the large section of northern Syria that’s under “rebel” control.

    Syrians who live in “Assad regime” areas, of course, are deliberately deprived of “food, just simple food” and other necessities of life thanks to the economic sanctions, which old Joe fully supports.

    1. The Rev Kev

      That humanitarian corridor to Idlib is up for UN renewal so it will be interesting if Russia & China puts a block on it unless food is allowed into the rest of Syria as well. As it stands, the US/Kurds are occupying the wheat-growing area of Syria and those crops are now being shipped to Iraq last I heard. Malnutrition is an increasing problem among Syria’s children in spite of Russian wheat shipments to that country but to Washington I am sure that “the price is worth it”.

  9. HH

    U.S. plutocrats put weak and malleable politicians in the White House. In Russia and China, the government controls the plutocrats. In the U.S. it is the reverse. The problem with plutocracy in the U.S. is that it does not provide coherent governance, just a playground for billionaires, so the nation drifts and stumbles into foreign and domestic trouble.

    1. erelis

      Right on comments about the countries. Looks like the meandering of US foreign policy is driven by the plutocrats on what sanctions to impose on Russia. For example, trying to push out Russia as a supplier of natural gas with Nord Stream 2 which could have ruined relations with the Germans and Austrians for years to come.

    2. Dr. R.k. Barkhi

      I think u have summed up the general situation except 4 one thing: “our” policies arent meandering,they are planned. For example, Afghanistan has been a disaster in every sense but not if u look at it from the oligarchy’s point of view. Now trillions of our tax dollars richer ,with expanded budgets, contracts n permissible illegal n unethical activities its a roaring success. And none of Their children even got a scratch.

  10. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

    The story behind the ‘Socialism was a failure’ story about the end o the USSR looks a lot like the Americans forced the Soviets to maintain a higher level of military spending than they could really sustain. So now it’s going the opposite direction. The Anglo-Americans and their satraps trying to swamp Russia with a military-diplomatic encirclement like they did with Germany 1910-1914. It’s a dangerous game they play but they seem to think ‘Game Theory’ will box Russia into a situation in which they will have to shoot first, someplace.

    1. synoia

      Interesting to consider how the US could “encircle” Russia. Russia is rather large, and all of its neighbors (China for one) are not US Satraps.

  11. DJG, Reality Czar

    Although John Helmer does an excellent job of showing how Putin’s perceptions and responses are more measured and more deft than Biden’s perceptions and responses, I’m not sure that I am willing to chalk it up to Biden and his mental decline. In fact, I’m wondering if he is in mental decline.

    The reason is that all U.S. politicians talk the way that Biden talks. You can strip out the word BIDEN each time and replace it with Trump or W. Bush. Bush Daddy talked exactly the same way, too. You would recognize the same utterances as typical of them.

    Likewise, Obama, when he wasn’t highly rehearsed and propped at a lectern, talked much the same way. Now that Obama is retired and wants his Grifty Tribune of the People status, he’s saying things even more like this. Let us not forget the “Thanks, Obama” phase of recent U.S. history.

    Likewise so many other U.S. politicians. In fact, I can’t think of anyone of them, off hand, at the national level who doesn’t come off as suffering from logorrhea, intellectual shallowness, and a compulsion to engage in dominance displays. (I can think of two or three Illinois politicians who do seem coherent, but they don’t have ambitions for national office.) I mean, there’s Tammy Duckworth and her spattery tweets and grandstanding–which is more typical of the Senate these days.

    The U S of A has never been known for intellectual depth. Evidently, we are a nation of action (well, no, given how long problems here have been encouraged to fester) and freedom fries.

  12. Lambert Strether Post author

    I think readers have perhaps been mislead by Helmer’s quiet tone into missing the two key points of the post. First:

    Biden’s 33-minute performance demonstrated the clinical motor and cognitive symptoms which remain state secrets in Washington. They are now better understood in Moscow than by US experts on the 25th Amendment.

    And second:

    What President Biden and His Media Chorus Revealed about Their War-Fighting Capabilities

    Leadership does matter in war, as anyone who’s been following Mike Duncan on the Romanovs will know.

    Putin now has the measure of his man* (and by extension, Xi). Key question: What will they do with their knowledge?

    NOTE * Not merely the man, the Czar, but the entire political class whose fortunes were tied to the Czar.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      So we are seeing that the tsar and the tsar’s courtiers, all of them, do believe that the Potemkin village is real, so long as no one impairs their privileges.

      And such a flimsy structure wishes to be a belligerent.

    2. Carolinian

      Putin now has the measure of his man

      And we should be concerned because?…..

      Is there any prospect of war with Russia actually happening? Russia as pretend enemy is useful to the blob. Even they know that Russia as real enemy would be our disaster more than theirs.

      1. Procopius

        It’s hard to say. There certainly is seems to be a segment of the Blob that believes all the stories about the effects of a nuclear explosion, photographs of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, reports about lethality of radiation and fallout, and stories of nuclear winter were all lies to intimidate and control the sheeple. People like John Bolton, Victoria Nuland, Max Boot, Mike Flynn, H.R. McMasters, Hillary Clinton. This group (bipartisan) has been preparing the ground since Hillary was SecState for a hot war with Russia. Even if they were right about the dangers of nuclear war being exaggerated, I don’t understand how they think the Empire would benefit from being the sole hegemon of a devastated Earth, but that seems to be what they think they can get.

    3. ObjectiveFunction

      Late comment here, but I’d note that Wilhelmine Germany’s political class was every bit as off the rails as Czarist Russia. In fact it was the exact same moon-faced gene pool in charge there as in Russia and Britain.

      For all that, Germany’s Generalstabs and industrial machine came quite close to successfully prosecuting the foolish war on 3 fronts that Kaiser Bill and his cheering section blithely sent them into. Russia, Italy, Rumania, Serbia and Greece collapsed (as did Austria Hungary at the end), while France was at breaking point. Only the late entry of the Americans, inflicting a further half a million casualties on Germany, forced them to end the war.

      So in spite of the prevailing meme here about how ‘Team Yankee hasn’t really won a war since 1945’, nobody I know with actual military experience has much doubt that the US military can still wipe the floor with any other armed force that ventures outside its own frontier areas. Force projection across water at division and corps scale remains firmly a US monopoly. The Chinese posture, but their actual forces and vessels remain token.

      ….So I’d opine that this topic, while interesting, is a bit off slant, as is all the beating of war drums lately. No major power — America, China, Russia and least of all Europe — has a pressing lebensraum problem or resource starvation problem, or a huge army on its border threatening invasion (although Russia could readily choose to view China in that way).

      Nor are any of today’s major powers militarized societies in the way that Nazi Germany or prewar Europe were (the late 19th century bourgeois fascination with military drill is a major causative agent for WW1).

      While Chinese would still fight stubbornly to defend their homeland — the thousand years of barbarian invasion era are over and done — foreign crusades are simply not in their nature.

    4. squarecoats

      This is something I have really been wondering about. Should one assume that biden was largely incapable of filling the role of putin’s counterpart during the meeting and it was left up to blinken and others to say well here’s the truth and now several of us will actually discuss things with you? Or would it have gone down as more of crossing their fingers biden lasted through the whole thing while nevertheless it surely not escaping putin that biden is in many ways some sort of figurehead? Was there really so much pressure on biden and putin meeting face to face that it couldn’t be indefinitely avoided, or at least meted out in smaller chunks of time?

      Just some musings, perhaps horribly misguided, and also about 3 days late (so I wonder if I’m querying into a void…)

  13. Susan the other

    This is kind of a nothing burger. Putin is extremely skillful at avoiding future stumbling blocks so he is always as diplomatic as a mother at the dinner table. Read between the lines. Nordstream just went through; the Russians have our cooperation to run their pipeline to northern Europe. That is huge. And no big deal for these vacuous questions and answers. Likewise the casual reference to Biden accepting the Minsk agreement on southeastern Ukraine (and no doubt Crimea) is also a big bombshell for all US Russophobes. But what Biden does not refute or turns into gibberish is summarily ignored because Biden is so goofy it doesn’t matter. But, conversely, it is the perfect opportunity to let some of this stuff get settled in Russia’s favor. And that might be the agenda because China doesn’t seem to be backing down at all. If some of Russia’s oil goes to the EU, so much the better for the West. And if we agree on a rational settlement of the mess in Ukraine that also closes an opening for China. Think China. That conference wasn’t about Russia and the US. It was about China. Imo.

  14. HH

    It has finally sunk in to the dull collective brain of the Washington Blob that the U.S. can’t win a shooting war with Russia and/or China, so the plan is too keep things unfriendly enough to justify massive defense expenditures needed to “win” a fantasy war. Unfortunately, the U.S. public is so ignorant and bellicose that they are willing to go along, wasting trillions and risking accidental catastrophe.

    We can expect the heat to be turned up in Taiwan, Ukraine, or Iran whenever there is a need to sustain or boost U.S. military spending. The price of miscalculation in manipulating international tensions is very high. If the U.S. power elite keep looking for trouble, they are likely to find it.

  15. ObjectiveFunction

    Never thought I’d miss the perfect elocution and incisive clarity of “Poppy” Bush.

    On the other hand, low comedy is not unknown in diplomacy….

    “The time was apt for business, so I said let us settle our affairs in the Balkans. We have interests, missions and agents there. Don’t let us get at cross purposes in small ways.” Churchill went on to propose percentages of their respective interests in each country — 50-50 in Yugoslavia and Hungary; 90 per cent for the Soviet Union in Romania and 75 in Bulgaria; and 90 per cent for Britain in Greece.

    Churchill recorded this on a half-sheet of paper as it was being translated and pushed it across.

    Stalin examined the document, paused for a moment, made a large tick on it with his blue pencil and passed it back. It lay in the centre of the table.

    This casual demonstration of power aroused a sudden scrupulosity in the Prime Minister. “Might it not be thought rather cynical if it seemed we had disposed of such issues, so fateful to millions of people, in such an offhand manner? Let us burn the paper.”

    “No, you keep it,” replied Stalin.

Comments are closed.