By Sohrab Ahmari, The American Conservative
Much has been made of Joe Biden’s instantly reversed call for regime change in Moscow. Speaking in Warsaw, the president said of Vladimir Putin, “For God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.” The words sent his staffers scrambling to cleanup on Aisle Three and prompted European leaders to firmly distance themselves from Washington. It was bad, awful, terrible—a reminder why the campaigner who told the Corn Pop story to a group of befuddled black youngsters may not have been quite ready for a global crisis.
Yet as hair-raising as Biden’s Warsaw declaration was, it could be charitably—okay, extra-charitably—interpreted as a mere gaffe. Indeed, the administration’s line is that Biden was referring to Putin exercising power over Russia’s neighbors, not Russia itself. Or something. Like I said, it’s a stretch, but the White House is trying.
Far worse and more irreparably damaging was the statement Biden tweeted on Saturday that read: “We are engaged anew in a great battle for freedom. A battle between democracy and autocracy. Between liberty and repression. This battle will not be won in days or months, either. We need to steel ourselves for the long fight ahead.”
This was no typical big-mouth Biden whoopsie-daisy. This was a deliberate, apparently considered expression of what might be called the Bush-Biden Doctrine: one that harks back to the worst of the George W. Bush years, when America was in the business of dividing the whole planet into two camps—light and dark, good and evil, free and unfree, Autobots and Decepticons. As foolish as such a Manichaean foreign policy was after 9/11, it is even more so today, because much as Biden is a feebler man than Bush at the height of his powers, so is the America of 2022 feebler than the country that set out to remake Iraq and Afghanistan.