Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 21 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/24/21

The Urgent Need for a Biden-Putin Summit

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)   1 comment
Become a Premium Member Would you like to know how many people have read this article? Or how reputable the author is? Simply sign up for a Advocate premium membership and you'll automatically see this data on every article. Plus a lot more, too.
Author 38935
Message Norman Solomon
Become a Fan
  (25 fans)

Last week's outbreak of rhetorical hostilities between the White House and the Kremlin has heightened the urgent need for a summit between Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin. The spate of mutual denunciations is catnip for mass media and fuel for hardliners in both countries. But for the world at large, under the doomsday shadow of nuclear arsenals brandished by the United States and Russia, the latest developments are terribly ominous.

Whatever you think of Biden's assertion during an ABC News interview that Russia's President Putin is "a killer" and whether or not you think the label might apply to Biden, given his pro-war record the existential imperative of U.S.-Russian relations is to avert a nuclear war. Biden's claim during the same interview that Putin does not have "a soul" indicates that much of the new president's foreign-policy thinking is stuck in a cold-war rut.

No doubt many Americans have welcomed Biden's holier-than-thou stance toward Putin. But an overarching reality is routinely hidden in plain sight: Everyone's survival on this planet hinges on Washington-Moscow conflicts not spinning out of control.

Let's face it: Biden is playing to the domestic anti-Russia gallery in the U.S. media and "defense" establishment, while making a dangerous mockery of his own claims to be a champion of diplomatic approaches to foreign affairs.

"Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy," Biden said when he spoke at the State Department in early February. Those who've been heartened by such statements during the first two months of Biden's presidency should insist that he live up to that vow by meeting with the head of the Russian government.

But it's now clear that much more is needed from Biden than just willingness to sit down with Putin. Biden also needs a major attitude adjustment. He would greatly benefit from pondering what happened in a small New Jersey town for a few days in the early summer of 1967.

Keep in mind that at the time, the Soviet Union was in the iron grip of Communist Party leader Leonid Brezhnev and Premier Alexei Kosygin, who saw to it that freedom of the press or the right to publicly dissent did not exist inside their nation. Compared to those days, Russia under Vladimir Putin in 2021 has far more freedom in terms of media, politics and society as a whole.

The Soviet repression and violation of human rights didn't stop President Lyndon B. Johnson from trying to reduce the chances of the world blowing up. He engaged in real summitry with Kosygin. Their extended talks on the campus of Glassboro State College gave rise to what became known as "the Spirit of Glassboro."

That spirit signified only a limited breakthrough. It did not prevent the next year's Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia, or the continuing horrific American escalation of the war in Vietnam. Yet it was genuine diplomatic dialogue at the highest levels of government and it decreased the chances of nuclear annihilation.

In the process, LBJ wouldn't have dreamed of proclaiming his Soviet counterpart "a killer" or declaring him to be without a soul. After more than a dozen hours of direct talks, Johnson stood next to Kosygin and, in effect, made a plea for safeguarding human survival. "We have made further progress in an effort to improve our understanding of each other's thinking on a number of questions," Johnson said.

Fifty-four years later, with mutual hostility now at fever pitch in Washington and Moscow, such understanding is essential. But President Biden is not showing that he has the wisdom to seek it.

A former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack F. Matlock, wrote last month that "the vital interests of both countries are endangered when their governments treat the other as a threat, or worse, an enemy, rather than as a potential and necessary partner." He noted that the shared challenges include dealing with threats posed by "nuclear weapons, pandemics, global warming and ever more destructive technologies if used in warfare."

Matlock, who served as the top American envoy in Moscow from 1987 to 1991, added: "Presidents Biden and Putin now have the opportunity to find ways to cooperate in dealing with global threats, and encouraging others to do so as well. That would constitute a new operating system, suited to the threats of the present and future rather than replaying follies of the past."

Next Page  1  |  2

(Note: You can view every article as one long page if you sign up as an Advocate Member, or higher).

 

Rate It | View Ratings

Norman Solomon Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Norman Solomon is cofounder and national coordinator of RootsAction.org. He was a Bernie Sanders delegate from California to the 2016 Democratic National Convention and is currently a coordinator of the relaunched Bernie Delegates Network. (more...)
 

Related Topic(s): ; ; ; ; ; ; ; , Add Tags
Add to My Group(s)
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Growing Campaign to Revoke Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

Clinton's Transition Team: A Corporate Presidency Foretold

Is MSNBC Now the Most Dangerous Warmonger Network?

Obama's Escalating War on Freedom of the Press

The Long Road to Impeaching Trump Just Got Shorter

Obama's Speech, Translated into Candor

To View Comments or Join the Conversation: