At a time, when faith in the carefully crafted post Cold War global consensus is fraying, when there is a pandemic raging with great human cost, leaders of the top powers badmouthing each other isn’t going to help.
But Joe Biden has shown that he won’t mince words.
Former US president Donald Trump—provided the all the allegations were correct—was loath to stand up to Russian president Vladimir Putin, who is dogged by accusations of savaging human rights, trying to get political opponents eliminated, even corruption. But Joe Biden has shown that he won’t mince words. That may not be the best tactic for a leader seeking to rebuild consensus on many issues of import for the global community, but, in an interview, Biden labelled the Russian strongman president a “killer”, triggering Putin and his aides to label Biden “senile”. What’s more, Putin, on being labelled a killer, retorted “he who said it, did it”, and said he is ready to debate Biden in a live broadcast. Turkish president, with authoritarian streaks, Tayyip Erdogan has weighed in on the name-calling, saying Biden’s ‘killer’ comment was not befitting a president. It doesn’t help that the Biden administration has also got into a fight with the Chinese—secretary of state Antony Blinken accused China of breaking norms that protect against “a more violent world.” This spurred the Chinese to sting back, saying they had perhaps “thought too well of the US” under the new administration.
At a time, when faith in the carefully crafted post Cold War global consensus is fraying, when there is a pandemic raging with great human cost, leaders of the top powers badmouthing each other isn’t going to help. Trade, environment, human rights, resource access, the origin of the pandemic, all have become points of friction, and the need for the global community is to try and resolve these differences rather than find more areas to battle over. To be sure, there is a need to take on illiberal, authoritarian regimes, but this has to be done meaningfully.