Does President Joe Biden consider himself King of Europe, with a kind of eminent (or is it "imminent") domain over multi-billion-dollar projects like the German-Russian Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline? That’s sure what it sounded like this week at the joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz. Biden’s royal deportment was discussed yesterday on The Critical Hour, as well as the various visits of top European leaders in recent days; Macron to Moscow, as well as Scholz to Washington.
Never before has the subjunctive mood carried such alarming connotation. Everything depends, you see, on IF Russia Invades Ukraine. I have told my interviewers that, IF Russian troops outrace Godot into Kiev (See: Godot Likely To Arrive Before Russia Invades Ukraine), I will stand corrected. When I recently referred back to my insistence for months that Putin is not stupid enough to invade Ukraine (See, for example, this), my radio hosts mercifully avoided asking whether I thought an invasion was "imminent."
The 'Botch From Hell' on Nordstream 2
Some congress members have been saying for months that, IF the Russians invade Ukraine, "sanctions from hell" will be imposed on Russia. Biden’s misbegotten gaffe, however, might well be described as "the botch from hell", since he asserted imminent – sorry, I mean eminent – domain over Nord Stream 2. Poor Chancellor Scholz was standing right there, no doubt wishing he could hide behind his podium until the next question. He did stay, of course, and in the process proved himself quite accomplished in evasiveness and circumlocution.
By pre-arrangement, Biden picked a Reuters reporter to ask the first question:
Q: Thank you, Mr. President. And thank you, Chancellor Scholz. Mr. President, I have wanted to ask you about this Nord Stream project that you’ve long opposed. You didn’t mention it just now by name, nor did Chancellor Scholz. Did you receive assurances from Chancellor Scholz today that Germany will, in fact, pull the plug on this project if Russia invades Ukraine? And did you discuss what the definition of “invasion” could be?…
And the response:
PRESIDENT BIDEN: The first question first. If Germany – if Russia invades – that means tanks or troops crossing the – the border of Ukraine again – then there will be – we – there will be no longer a Nord Stream 2. We will bring an end to it.
Q: But how will you – how will you do that exactly, since the project and control of the project is within Germany’s control?
PRESIDENT BIDEN: We will – I promise you, we’ll be able to do it.
The coming reaction in Germany to Biden’s gaffe d’etat will go a long way toward telling us whether, after 77 years in vassal status, the Germans now, in the pratfall-prone and highly dangerous current circumstances, will finally start acting as adults – quite able to deal with the Russians “all by themselves” (as maturing children tend to put it).
Don’t hold your breath.