Biden Gets Russia Right
I think we vastly underestimate the hand that we hold. [The Russians have] a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely to be able to withstand the next 15 years, they’re in a situation where the world is changing before them and they’re clinging to something in the past that is not sustainable.
Those words might just as easily have been written by this blog, but they were said by the Vice President of the United States instead — and that’s encouraging.
Biden has yet to follow up his insights with any specific proposals for policy action, but that is obviously the fault of his boss, Barack Obama. Biden can’t force Obama to adopt concrete policies, it’s Obama’s job to create them. The U.S. has rejected Georgia’s plea for defensive weapons to repel another Russian invasion, and it is still considering Georgia’s request to station observers along the disputed border with Russia, something that would be far more valuable than weapons. No tangible policy response has been suggested by the Obama White House regarding Georgian security, and this amiguity places Georgia at risk.
Biden delivered a firey speech before the Georgian parliament, Biden shocked the Russians by demanding that they withdraw from Ossetia and Abkhazia. At the level of rhetoric, Biden’s comments seem to go a good way towards balancing the damage done by Barack Obama himself when he was in Moscow. But words are only a prelude to actions, not a substitute for them, and the lack of policy steps by the Obama administration can only give encouragement to those in Russia who plan aggression in former Soviet space. And as if to emphasize the chronic confusion and inconsistency of the Obama government on Russia, Hillary Clinton made a bizarre comment about Russia being a “great power” soon after Biden exposed the country’s fundamental weakness.
Biden himself admits that though Russians are once again busily destroying their economy, they are still capable of short-term actions that could seriously undermine international secuity.