Some Thoughts on Biden Saying He Thinks Putin is “a Killer”

Anyone who follows the news even in a cursory fashion has probably heard about President Biden’s response to what Ben Aris has referred to as a “journalist trap” from George Stephanopoulos during an interview released earlier this week. Stephanopoulos asked Biden if he thought Putin was a killer. Biden said, “Mmhmm. Yes, I do.” The exchange is in the below video:

Needless to say, this – along with the announcement that US intelligence believes that Russia interfered in the 2020 election and more sanctions may consequently be on the way – didn’t go down well in Russia. Moscow has recalled its ambassador from Washington for “consultations.” According to the Wall Street Journal:

A statement by the Russian foreign ministry said the most important thing for Moscow was to identify ways to rectify the relationship, blaming Washington for bringing relations between the two countries to “a blind alley.”

Furthermore, Putin has commented directly on Biden’s remark, suggesting that Biden was engaging in psychological projection. According to an RT report:

Speaking on Thursday, Putin suggested that Biden may be projecting, noting that evaluating other countries “is like looking in a mirror.”

“When I was a kid, when we were arguing with each other in the playground, we used to say, ‘Whatever you say [about others] is what you are yourself,’” Putin added.

Putin also reportedly said he wished Biden “good health.”

Later in the day, it was reported that Putin had offered to have a live public discussion with Biden in the near future. According to ABC News:

“I’ve just thought of this now,” Putin told a Russian state television reporter. “I want to propose to President Biden to continue our discussion, but on the condition that we do it basically live, as it’s called. Without any delays and directly in an open, direct discussion. It seems to me that would be interesting for the people of Russia and for the people of the United States.”

Some are interpreting this as Putin’s way of implying that Biden doesn’t have the cognitive ability to engage in an intellectual exchange with him.

I agree that it is highly unlikely that Biden will agree to this, especially considering the fact that Biden or his handlers are not even willing to subject him to questions from a lapdog DC press corps. The U.S. president has not given a press conference in which he has taken questions since he took office.

I’ll make a couple of points that are just based on thinking aloud more than anything else.

The first is that Biden has a history of not using discretion and running his mouth off. An example is when he bragged at a think tank years ago that he’d gotten Ukraine’s prosecutor fired by using a major financial package as leverage over the Ukrainian government. There were also numerous examples of him saying insulting and/or just off-the-wall things to people during his presidential campaign. If, in fact, this could be characterized as a “journalist trap” as Aris suggested, then Biden is the perfect target for a journalist to pull this on.

Second, there is reporting within the past couple of days that the U.S. will be participating in a Russian-led conference to be held in Moscow on the future of Afghanistan. According to Antiwar.com:

Beginning Thursday, the Moscow Summit is looking to see Russia and the United States trying to sell the interim government peace proposal to both the Afghan government and the Taliban. This summit is the biggest event in awhile in trying to get the peace process revived.

It’s not Russia’s first bid at having influence on post-war Afghanistan. It is, however, the first time the US has acknowledged such a summit as a real thing, and participated in it. Both the US and Russia seem to be united in their proposal.

There was also the renewal of the New START Treaty as soon as Biden took office. Renewal of that treaty may seem like a no-brainer to any rational person, but rationality when it comes to policy vis-a-vis Russia has been in very short supply in DC in recent years. As someone who has been in national politics for decades, Biden may be thinking that in order to have the space to even accomplish these minimal steps that involve cooperation with Moscow, he will need to placate the hawks that pervade Washington. To do this, he may feel he needs to keep the ugly rhetoric toward Putin at maximum volume.

This is not new. During the Kennedy administration, even though the president wanted to tamp down the Cold War with Khrushchev, Kennedy had to throw a bone to the hardliners once in a while. Those bones did not always come cheap and sometimes they caused serious problems with the Kremlin.

So what do you readers think? Am I wishful thinking about what Biden may be up to? Does Biden even still have the cognitive ability to think strategically like this? Feel free to give your opinions on this in the comments.

8 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on Biden Saying He Thinks Putin is “a Killer””

  1. I don’t think Biden or anyone in his administration is interested in cooperating with Putin, they will only be looking for something to leverage on him. There doesn’t need to be much discussion between the two regarding Afghanistan as the US knows the only thing they can do at this point is keep a presence there with a base and some contractors indefinitely as a geostrategic foil on China. And while limiting conventional nuclear weapons is of course a good thing, if other weapons continue to be developed as well as continuing other forms of hybrid war, we will still be in a dangerous situation. As long as people remain ignorant of these dangers and there is no pressure on the MIC, they’ll continue on this path.

  2. It did seem that on the campaign trail Biden was apt to become angry and insult people. His memory is be failing, so he may not recall his responsibility for enmiserating millions of Americans, or causing millions of Middle Eastern deaths. I doubt that the Russian president’s invitation to a genuine live, public conversation will be reciprocated, but one can always dream…

  3. Bidens handlers are unlikely to allow him to face off against Putin, who has international legal degree and all his wits about him. The question then becomes whether Blinkin would be likely to hold his own against Lavrov: doubtful.

  4. I thought the western reporting of this pretty shabby, the whole ‘takes one to know one’ Guardian gambit taken on by a lot of the press is clearly, if unsurprisingly, incorrect. This was clearly not what Putin said. Translated properly is more like:

    “Difficult, dramatic, and bloody events abound in the history of every nation and every state. But when we evaluate other people, or even other states and nations, we are always facing a mirror, we always see ourselves in the reflection, because we project our inner selves onto the other person.
    You know, I remember when we were children and played in the yard, we had arguments occasionally and we used to say: whatever you call me is what you are called yourself. This is no coincidence or just a kids’ saying or joke. It has a very deep psychological undercurrent. We always see ourselves in another person and think that he or she is just like us, and evaluate the other person’s actions based on our own outlook on life.”

    Of course it suits various Govts and the press’ ends not to report these words accurately.
    Another part of this reply did however very much catch my eye:

    “I know that the United States and its leaders are determined to maintain certain relations with us, but on matters that are of interest to the United States and on its terms. Even though they believe we are just like them, we are different. We have a different genetic, cultural and moral code. But we know how to uphold our interests. We will work with the United States, but in the areas that we are interested in and on terms that we believe are beneficial to us. They will have to reckon with it despite their attempts to stop our development, despite the sanctions and insults. They will have to reckon with this.
    We, with our national interests in mind, will promote our relations with all countries, including the United States.”

    Pretty strong stuff. I am thinking Moscow has had enough now and the gloves are coming off regardless of consequences. Long overdue in my opinion.

    Similarly Blinkens meeting with the Chinese this week appears to have been a train wreck with the Chinese schooling baby Blinken in matters of diplomatic etiquette and simply rejecting US ‘rules based order’ as nothing but self interest which doesn’t apply to 90% of the world. Separate story of course but similar (and coordinated?) Expressions of ‘non compliance’

    The stale repetitive western game is being forced into change.

    1. Yes, I also noted that much of the western press reported the mistranslation of Putin’s remarks in response to Biden’s comment. It is not the first time Putin is misquoted in our media and the misquoting, of course, always has the effect of making Putin sound more menacing than is reflected in what he really said.

      Agree that it is inevitable that China and Russia (we are seeing it with Iran, too) will finally have enough of the U.S.’s ever-increasing and delusional nonsense. Something has to give.

  5. The question here, is what does the [ President / US government / blob / deep state / whoever you think is working the levers of power ] want ?
    So far as I can tell from what everyone near to power seems to be saying the US is looking to take on everyone at once – Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, maybe Turkey and Germany too with some kind of combination of sanctions and/or direct regime change efforts, combined with cracking the whip on countries like India and South Korea to get on board. Not much sign of new serious military efforts so far, but that may change.
    Is this a big bluff? Thucydides trap? Overweening arrogance and hubris? Ya got me there, strange times for sure.

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