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Despite attempts by the White House and its media allies to downplay President Joe Biden’s stunning remarks about his Russian counterpart, world leaders don’t appear to be buying the spin.
Take French President Emmanuel Macron, who on Sunday slammed Biden for having called Russian President Vladimir Putin “a butcher” and for having essentially called for said “butcher” to be removed “from power.”
“I would not use that kind of language. If a ceasefire is to be brokered, we must not escalate — neither through words nor actions,” Macron said in a France 3 interview Sunday.
Macron is criticizing Biden for calling Putin “a butcher”. The French president says it’s not constructive.
“I would not use that kind of language. If a ceasefire is to be brokered, we must not escalate — neither through words nor actions.” pic.twitter.com/REzBTzJWc5
— Visegrád 24 (@visegrad24) March 27, 2022
The remarks came after a devastating day for the U.S. president.
During a speech Saturday at the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland, he said of Putin that “for god’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”
Speaking with reporters after the speech, he called Putin “a butcher.”
President Joe Biden branded Russian President Vladimir Putin a ‘butcher’ during a meeting with refugees who fled the war in Ukraine to the Polish capital of Warsaw https://t.co/RkkusGpADj pic.twitter.com/4Aoki3hV9r
— Reuters (@Reuters) March 26, 2022
According to The Washington Post, the president’s remarks have caused a “global uproar.”
“It was a remarkable statement that would reverse stated U.S. policy, directly countering claims from senior administration officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who have insisted regime change is not on the table,” the Post reported.
“It went further than even U.S. presidents during the Cold War, and immediately reverberated around the world as world leaders, diplomats, and foreign policy experts sought to determine what Biden said, what it meant — and, if he didn’t mean it, why he said it.”
But following the president’s speech, the White House immediately backtracked by claiming that he’d simply misspoken.
“The president’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia or regime change,” a White House official reportedly claimed.
This was used as impetus by some in the press to argue that the president’s critics were being too hard on Biden, and that it’s time to “let his remark pass for what it was—an outburst—and get back to helping Ukraine save its independence.”
From a White House official after Biden’s speech: “The President’s point was that Putin cannot be allowed to exercise power over his neighbors or the region. He was not discussing Putin’s power in Russia, or regime change.”
— Tarini Parti (@tparti) March 26, 2022
Tom Nichols bemoans ‘irresponsible’ CNN chyron repeating Biden’s words instead of spinning them https://t.co/e1xhOGg52o
— Jack Furnari (@JackBPR) March 27, 2022
But critics have pushed back on the spin by noting that it’s no small matter for the U.S. president to be making such remarks about a cornered, nuclear-armed dictator who’s been threatening World War III.
And indeed, real-world consequences of the president’t reckless rhetoric are already being observed:
Russia has launched a missile strike near Poland in what appears to be a deadly warning to the United States. The attack came after President Joe Biden labelled Vladimir Putin “a butcher”. https://t.co/5zYfOfGqUb @geofparry7 #7NEWS pic.twitter.com/KcRvA4MYnQ
— 7NEWS Melbourne (@7NewsMelbourne) March 27, 2022
Not only are the president’s remarks dangerous, critics say, but they’re potentially humiliating as well.
The WH is already walking it back. It was a dangerous, foolish thing to say and it’s dangerous to reveal we have a president who just blurts our grave policy positions that his government isn’t committed to enforcing. https://t.co/ejFtxjwihu
— Michael Brendan Dougherty (@michaelbd) March 26, 2022
Putin long believed the U.S. wanted him out of power.
Now, he has a quote by the president of the United States affirming that concern.
— Alex Ward (@alexbward) March 26, 2022
Critics have also drawn attention to a Bloomberg opinion piece written last week by renowned Scottish historian Niall Ferguson in which he’d claimed that, according to his sources, the Biden administration is looking to put an “end” to “Putin’s regime.”
“‘The only end game now,’ a senior administration official was heard to say at a private event earlier this month, ‘is the end of Putin regime,'” Ferguson claimed.
The alleged senior administration official continued as follows, according to Ferguson’s sources:
“Until then, all the time Putin stays, [Russia] will be a pariah state that will never be welcomed back into the community of nations. China has made a huge error in thinking Putin will get away with it. Seeing Russia get cut off will not look like a good vector and they’ll have to re-evaluate the Sino-Russia axis. All this is to say that democracy and the West may well look back on this as a pivotal strengthening moment.”
The claim from the WH and the media’s Biden defenders that the President made an unfortunate mistake in declaring the US goal to be regime change in Moscow should be compared to @nfergus‘s reporting in @business last week that this is exactly the US goal.https://t.co/4HJBOPYALY pic.twitter.com/wWDf1yPKhR
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 27, 2022
The nature of Biden’s rhetoric this Saturday seems to suggest that Ferguson’s sources weren’t wrong …
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