President Joe Biden has gone out of his way to make clear to the world that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin is a killer, which has prompted a quick, angry and predictable backlash from Moscow. Putin ominously wished Biden “good health,” as if to subtly warn him about the health consequences that can befall people who criticize the Russian leader. Some subsequently wind up being poisoned with highly radioactive or toxic substances.
Biden’s outspoken criticism of the Russian leader — long overdue after four years of appeasement by President Donald Trump — was well deserved. The world should be tired of Russia’s blatant violations of international law, including violating Ukraine’s sovereignty, stealing its territory, and poisoning Russian dissidents in Britain among other blatant sovereignty violations. Americans should be particularly fed up after Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential elections (to Trump’s benefit), interfered again in the 2020 election (to Trump’s benefit), and launched the highly sophisticated hacking of the State Department, Department of Homeland Security and Pentagon.
In a March 17 interview, ABC News host George Stephanopoulos asked Biden directly regarding Putin: “You think he’s a killer?”
Biden didn’t hesitate. “Uh-huh. I do,” he responded. “The price he’s gonna pay we’ll — you’ll see shortly.”
Sure, it takes boldness for any American president to speak so bluntly about the leader of another nuclear superpower. But if Biden is so willing to confront Putin, why is he treating the de facto leader of Saudi Arabia so gently?
U.S. intelligence agencies have lots of circumstantial evidence pointing to a direct Kremlin connection to election hacking and attacks on individuals. But the hard evidence linking Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to the death and dismemberment of Washington Post opinion writer Jamal Khashoggi is overwhelming. The clearly premeditated killing and dismemberment occurred inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey. The instigators were top aides to the crown prince. They contacted him before and after the killing.
Biden stated that he had been firm with Saudi Arabia’s king that “we held accountable all the people in that organization.” But Stephanopoulos quickly interjected: “But not the crown prince?”
“Not the crown prince because we have never, that I’m aware of, when we have an alliance with a country, gone to the acting head of state and punished that person. And, and, ostracized him,” Biden replied. Apparently, he’s looked through the history of U.S. excuse-making and appeasement for U.S. allies who strangled and dismembered critics inside diplomatic buildings. Biden must’ve decided he wasn’t comfortable breaking precedent.
The way to make a clear break with the kinds of hypocrisy Biden’s predecessor was notorious for is to speak clearly and consistently: When a foreign leader proves himself to be a murderous thug, the label of ally no longer applies.