[this commentary was written for the Unz Review]
By now, you have all heard it. Here is the official transcript:
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Director of National Intelligence came out with a report today saying that Vladimir Putin authorized operations during the election to under — denigrate you, support President Trump, undermine our elections, divide our society. What price must he pay?
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: He will pay a price. I, we had a long talk, he and I, when we — I know him relatively well. And I– the conversation started off, I said, “I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.”
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you know he doesn’t have a soul.
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I did say that to him, yes. And — and his response was, “We understand one another.” It was– I wasn’t being a wise guy. I was alone with him in his office. And that — that’s how it came about. It was when President Bush had said, “I looked in his eyes and saw his soul.” I said, “Looked in your eyes and I don’t think you have a soul.” And looked back and he said, “We understand each other.” Look, most important thing dealing with foreign leaders in my experience, and I’ve dealt with an awful lot of ’em over my career, is just know the other guy. Don’t expect somethin’ that you’re– that — don’t expect him to– or her to– voluntarily appear in the second editions of Profiles in Courage.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Uh-huh. I do.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So what price must he pay?
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The price he’s gonna pay we’ll– you’ll see shortly.
This is truly a historic interview and a watershed moment in US-Russia relations. Let’s deconstruct what is happening here:
“Director of National Intelligence came out with a report”: Ever since 9/11, the US intel community has been under huge pressure to produce not intelligence, but to serve as a kind of criterion of truth, a substitute for any rules of evidence. For example, if tomorrow Biden’s handlers want to accuse Putin of eating newborn babies for breakfast, all they have to do is get the US intel community to produce a report which will say with “great confidence” that it is “highly likely” that Putin does, indeed, like to start his days by snacking on babies. The “logic” here works like this: “since we (the West) are the good guys, our intelligence community is objective, non-political and trustworthy”. QED. And the fact that the history of both the CIA and the FBI prove beyond any reasonable doubt that both of these agencies were totally politicized for decades does not matter. Why? Because the also “objective, non-political and trustworthy” US media says that the intel community must be trusted because it is, you guessed it, “objective, non-political and trustworthy”. Oh the beauty of circular logic….
“What price must he pay?”. This one is so important that Stephanopoulos asks this twice and Biden “reassures” him twice. The message here is that it is not Stephanopoulos who demands a retaliation, it is the vox populi, the outraged people of the United States. And why would the people of the USA hate Putin and Russia and demand retaliation? Why – because the objective, non-political and trustworthy US media fully endorses the claims of the objective, non-political and trustworthy US intel community! How can anybody possibly doubt these two paragons of honesty?! Only a “Putin agent” would doubt their word, right?
“Putin does not have a soul”. This is pretty pathetic, since Stephanopoulos comes from a Greek Orthodox family he should know that all humans have a soul and to suggest otherwise is, actually, a total and categorical rejection of everything Christianity stands for. It is also a clear case of dehumanization, something which all politicians do before they turn to violence and war. It is unlikely that Biden has any idea what he did or did not tell Putin when they met, but even if we assume that Biden did actually tell Putin that he had no soul, I can just imagine the true amazement (and inner giggle) of Putin hearing that. By the way, the “official” response of Putin was “we understand each other” which makes absolutely no logical sense. So what we have is a basically brain dead pseudo “President” who is programmed by his handlers to tell the US public that Putin has no soul and that Biden told him that face to face. What actual purpose such a statement would pursue is neither asked nor answered.
“Is Putin a killer”. First, what a fantastically stupid thing to ask. Why? Because this question has no objective meaning unless the context or scope is specified. It could mean “did he commit murder?“, that is illegal manslaughter, a crime under Russian law. Or it could mean “did he, the President of Russia, order Russian special services to kill Litvinenko, Skripal, Navalnyii and others?“. This would be legal under Russian law and, in fact, the Russians have never denied ordering the execution of, say, Wahabi terrorists (both in Russia and outside). That would be a policy decision similar to one the US used to (putatively) execute Osama Bin-Laden or General Soleimani. Finally, that question could also mean “did Putin as the commander in chief of the Russian armed forces order military operations which resulted in the loss of human life, including possible innocent human life?“. This would also be a policy decision which any commander in chief has to make. These are all completely different questions, but for micro-brains like Stephanopoulos or Biden, the purpose of questions is not to elicit answers, it is to set an emotional tone, a kind of “mental background” which Orwell very aptly called the “two minutes of hate“.
Yes, all of the above is completely unprecedented: not even in the worst hours of the Cold War did western politicians use that kind of language. What we witness today is not only truly extremely dangerous, it is also the end of diplomacy. Yes, I know, ever since the Obama administration, US “diplomats” were mostly unprofessional political appointees with a fantastically low level of education, fully compensated by an fantastically high level of arrogance and hypocrisy. But while the likes of Psaki would spew any idiocy imaginable, US Presidents have never sunk to the level of Biden.
You might wonder what the Russian reaction to all that is?
First, the Russian media immediately picked up on this and posted key excerpts of this interview with Russian voice-over, as did the Russian Internet. The goal here is simple: to show each and every Russian how much the West hates Russia and everything Russian. Furthermore, it does not take a genius to understand the implications of the combination of the two following two facts:
- Putin is by far the most popular Russian politician, at least since Stalin
- The West sees Putin as some kind of devil incarnate
- Ergo: the West hates all the Russian people for regularly voting for Putin
Simple and quite undeniable. In fact, an increasing number of Russians are saying “we are the Jews of the 21st century” and, frankly, I cannot disagree with this. The big difference here is that 20th century Jews did not have thousands of nuclear weapons to defend themselves. Russians do.
I wonder if Stephanopoulos and the rest of them understand this? I don’t think so. There is a culture of total impunity in the USA which stems from the fact that the US never fought a war in defense of the US mainland in its history and from the fact that the USA used to be protected by two oceans and two absolutely peaceful neighbors.
In sharp contrast, Russia has no natural borders and 1000 years experience of war, most of them existential and most fought on Russian soil.
I would also add that the other comment many Russian officials are making is that Biden simply lacks even basic manners. To make clear: they are not only saying that Biden has zero understanding of diplomacy, they are saying that Biden simply has no basic manners which any semi-educated person ought to have. On the main Russian TV channel reporters were even asking today whether Russia ought to completely break diplomatic relations with the USA! That would be a very dangerous mistake and I don’t think that the Kremlin will go so far, at least officially, but there is a clear understanding amongst Russian officials while officially the two countries still have diplomatic relations, in reality the US basically terminated them.
Do I really have to spell out here how insanely dangerous this is?
While it is absolutely normal for some tribes still living in the bronze-age to play out ritual threats and displays of macho prowess in order to impress an adversary, to see the (nominal) leader of a nuclear superpower acting like such a bronze-age tribal leader is perplexing to say the least.
And just like the Sentinelese tribesmen believe that their bows and arrows can scare away metal ships and even helicopters, so do the “Biden tribesmen” (let’s call them that) hope that sanctions or US military capabilities will scare Russia into complete submission.
Furthermore, at no time does Stephanopoulos question the moral and legal right of the US President to “punish” Russia and/or Putin. In fact, by repeating this question, he strongly suggests that punishing Russia and/or Putin is not only the right of the US President, but his moral and, possibly, even legal obligation. This is exactly what Dr John Marciano calls “empire as a way of life” (see here and here for details). This ignorant, arrogant, narcissistic, messianic and terminally delusional belief that the USA is some kind of “collective messiah” tasked by nature or some god with policing the planet. The Sentinelese try to “defend” their own shores and land and they don’t have millions of members in an organization called “Veterans of Foreign Wars” (have they really no shame at all?) and they don’t spend on “defense” more than the rest of the planet combined.
Finally, we can rest assured that whoever is in command of the Sentinelese he (or she) is a much smarter and honest leader than the brain-dead vegetable that the theft of the US 2020 election put into power.
In Hans Christian Andersen’s wonderful tale the breaking moment comes when an innocent child explains “he hasn’t got anything on!“, while the rest of the people are under the spell of what is called “pluralistic ignorance“.
In conclusion, let me ask you: how soon do you think that declaring, say, “Uncle Shmuel is truly brain dead…” will become a criminal offense in the so-called “the land of the free and the home of the brave“?