Biden Should "Back Off" Armageddon Language, Quickly Get Russians To Negotiating Table: Adm. Mullen
When it comes to debate and public discourse in the West and particularly in America over the war in Ukraine, it seems any high profile figure who advocates for de-escalation and negotiations immediately gets branded a "pro-Kremlin" stooge. This was of course on full display last week when Elon Musk dared to explore theoretical paths to a ceasefire with his "Ukraine-Russia Peace Poll" on Twitter. He had emphasized in follow-up comments to detractors that he isn't interested in winning a popularity contest, but hopes the world can avoid nuclear war at all costs.
Simultaneously, it seems anyone who stands staunchly against a negotiated settlement to the war is celebrated and lauded in the public sphere. Finland's Prime Minister Sanna Marine days ago was widely praised for her response to a reporter's question which centered on finding an "off-ramp" amid all the heightening nuclear rhetoric. The head of the newest applicant country to NATO was seen as "tough" and heroic for essentially saying no negotiations are possible so long as Russian forces are in Ukraine...
Finland’s PM Sanna Marin is not having it today. Asked about West possibly giving Putin an ‘off-ramp’ to end Russia’s war in Ukraine, Marin couldn’t have been more direct: pic.twitter.com/3erpWiU9B8— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) October 7, 2022
This is why it's surprising that someone of the stature of the former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff has come forward to urge that all sides must get serious about pursuing negotiations. Admiral Mike Mullen served as America's highest military commander spanning the Bush and Obama administrations.
In a weekend interview on ABC's "This Week", he addressed President Joe Biden's recent nuclear "Armageddon" remarks wherein the US president asserted that Vladimir Putin is "not joking" about possibly using nuclear weapons in Ukraine. Mullen said he thinks Washington needs to quickly "back off" such maximalist language, particularly when nuclear war is being talked about:
"President Biden's language -- we're about at the top of the language scale, if you will. And I think we need to back off that a little bit and do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table to resolve this thing," Mullen told "This Week" co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
(Trigger warning for neocons) Fmr. Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen says he's "a little concerned about the language" from Biden on nuclear war & says the US should "do everything we possibly can to try to get to the table" to negotiate with Russia. pic.twitter.com/3FFrXAufO2— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) October 10, 2022
Mullen continued while being asked about Biden's assertion that "We have not faced the prospect of Armageddon since Kennedy and the Cuban Missile Crisis" by explaining that reaching a point where negotiations can be achieved should remain a central driving policy objective.
Show host Raddatz asked Adm. Mullen: "How do you see him [Putin] saving face if he doesn't come to the table? If Ukraine can't figure anything out?" And the former top commander responded as follows:
Diplomacy and international pressure on both Ukraine and Russia would ultimately be key, Mullen argued. "It's got to end and usually there are negotiations associated with that," he said. "The sooner the better, as far as I'm concerned."
Putin is "pretty well cornered and boxed in," Mullen said. And potential use of tactical nuclear weapons could cause problems for Russia's president at home: "The winds all blow back onto Russia, so he would have to, in a way, contaminate his own country."
Forecasting a possible strike, Mullen said Putin "could pick a symbolic target. He could pick [Ukraine President Volodymyr] Zelenskyy’s hometown, for instance."
More from former Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen: @SecBlinken -- whose job is to be a diplomat -- needs "to figure out a way to get both Zelensky and Putin to the table... The sooner the better as far as I'm concerned." pic.twitter.com/qkA3tCCQ7L— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) October 10, 2022
The White House, for its part, has meanwhile sought to downplay Bidens' Armageddon comments, saying that US intelligence has seen no change on the ground in Russia's nuclear posture or readiness. It remains to be seen whether the administration takes Mullen's urgings to heart.
From a friend in Kyiv this morning. pic.twitter.com/szsRVLxedG— ed mac (@echomadman) October 10, 2022
Yet things continue to escalate rapidly on the ground and in the skies over Ukraine.