Feature

Joe Biden's Russian gaffe

Did Biden set back efforts to mend relations by suggesting that Russia's power is waning?

Joe Biden should shut up, said Russia's Pravda. After President Obama's "remarkable visit" raised hopes for better relations between Washington and Moscow, the American vice president "spoils it all" by suggesting to The Wall Street Journal that Russia is a declining power, so the U.S. shouldn't make any compromises with it. What a "shocking display of insolence and ignorance."

Poor Joe Biden "was just calling it as he sees it on Russia," said the Los Angeles Times in an editorial. But insulting Russia—by pointing to its dwindling population, "withering economy," and doomed banking system—was "immensely counterproductive" for an administration trying to improve relations frayed during the Bush years. President Obama chose Biden for his foreign policy expertise—but "this can't be what the president had in mind."

Surely not, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. But "before the Obama administration wipes away this supposed gaffe, we think" Joe Biden deserves support. The vice president was clearly moved when he visited Ukraine and Georgia, so he should be applauded for standing up to their former masters in Moscow. "Mr. Biden may not like the comparison. But in his willingness to speak the truth about Russia, Mr. Biden reminds us of Dick Cheney."

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