Daniel W. Drezner

Diplomacy 101 from Joe Biden

Joe Biden gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal after his sojourn to Georgia and Ukraine.  I wouldn’t characterize his remarks as "diplomatic":  The reality is the Russians are where they are. They have a shrinking population base, they have a withering economy, they have a banking sector and structure that is not likely ...

Joe Biden gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal after his sojourn to Georgia and Ukraine.  I wouldn't characterize his remarks as "diplomatic": 

The reality is the Russians are where they are. They 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.

If Biden was just shooting the breeze off the record, I'd be hard-pressed to disagree with anything in the quotes.  I'm pretty sure, however, that part of "smart power" is not being gratuitously insulting to fellow members of the nuclear club.  Maybe, just maybe, they'll take this kind of dumbass statement personally

Joe Biden gave an interview to the Wall Street Journal after his sojourn to Georgia and Ukraine.  I wouldn’t characterize his remarks as "diplomatic": 

The reality is the Russians are where they are. They 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.

If Biden was just shooting the breeze off the record, I’d be hard-pressed to disagree with anything in the quotes.  I’m pretty sure, however, that part of "smart power" is not being gratuitously insulting to fellow members of the nuclear club.  Maybe, just maybe, they’ll take this kind of dumbass statement personally

Don’t take my word for it, though — take Joe Biden’s:

It is never smart to embarrass an individual or a country when they’re dealing with significant loss of face. My dad used to put it another way: Never put another man in a corner where the only way out is over you. It just is not smart.

The word "stupid" has been thrown around a lot this week, but I think it applies pretty well to Biden’s language. 

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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