Insult Diplomacy: Does Biden's Vilification of Putin Help?
Several weeks into the war in Ukraine, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked President Joe Biden if he agreed with those who call Russian President Vladimir Putin "a killer."
"I do," said Biden.
Since calling Putin a killer, Biden has progressed to calling him "a war criminal," "a murderous dictator," "a pure thug" and "a butcher."
It is difficult to recall an American president using such a string of epithets about the leader of a nation with which we were not at war.
What is Biden's rationale? What is his purpose here?
Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, to their eternal embarrassment, called Joseph Stalin, a far greater monster than Putin, "good old Joe" and "Uncle Joe" when they sought his cooperation in World War II and the early postwar era.
Richard Nixon toasted the century's greatest mass murderer Mao Zedong in the Great Hall of the People during his historic trip to China in 1972. His purpose: establish relations with America's most hostile adversary -- to help Nixon advance a "generation of peace."
But when it comes to depicting Putin, who launched this invasion of Ukraine, Biden repeatedly reaches for the nastiest of insults.
"Putin deserves it," say the champions of a Cold War II. We need more truth and candor in diplomacy. When Biden referenced Putin in the closing remarks of his address in Warsaw, Poland -- "For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power" -- they were elated.