He does a better job than I would have. This is from his remarks before he got on Air Force One.
The question he is responding to is an explicit variant of Kaitlan Collins’s question, to which he had responded curtly earlier. It’s a silly question, like the other “killer” question the media are obsessed with. I’ll paraphrase it: Mr. President, we just heard Vladimir Putin say the same things he always says. Why haven’t you changed his behavior? My even curter answer would be “That’s because it’s not how this works.” But Biden was much kinder. [There are cuts between the quote boxes. Bolding mine.]
I started on working on arms control agreements back all the way during the Cold War. If we could do one when the Cold War, why couldn’t we do one now? We’ll see. We will see whether or not it happens.
But what do you — I mean, the thing that always amazes me about the questions — and I apologize for having been short on this before.
If you were in my position, would you say, “Well, I don’t think, man, anything is going to happen. This is going to be really rough. I think it’s going to really be bad”? You’d guarantee nothing happens. You’d guarantee nothing happens.
There’s a value to being realistic and put on an optimistic front, an optimistic face.
He then goes through a litany (I’ve edited generously): “Look, you said the G7 wouldn’t buy my stuff. Did that happen?
When I went to meet with NATO — “Oh boy, they’re not going to be happy. They’re all going to be against Biden meeting with Putin. They’re not going to want that.” Did you hear a single, solitary syllable?
And the same way when I met with the EU. “The EU is not going to like the way Biden is operating.”
Now, what would have happen if I had said, before I went into those negotiations, “You know, I think it’s going to be really hard. I think it’s going to be really difficult. I’m not so optimistic about — I don’t see anybody really changing”?
I don’t have to trust somebody — we didn’t have to trust somebody to get START II. It wasn’t a about our trust — “Well, I trust the Russians. I can tell, man, they’re really — they’re — I can look in his eye, and they’re really very, very truthful.” It’s not that at all.
You have to figure out what the other guy’s self-interest is. Their self-interest. I don’t trust anybod- — look, I’ve got to get in the plane, but I’ll say it — you’ll hear me say this more than once.
It makes no sense for me to negotiate with you. It makes no sense for me to tell you what I’m about to do. It makes — not because I want to hide anything from you. Why would I telegraph that?
I’m of the view that, in the last three to five years, the world has reached a fundamental inflection point about what it’s going to look like 10 years from now. I mean it literally. It’s not hyperbole. It’s not like I’m trying to pump it up. I think it’s a genuine reality.
And so each of the countries in — around the world, particularly those who had real power at one time or still do, are wondering: What — how do I maintain and sustain our leadership in the world? That’s what the United States is going through right now. How do we sustain us being the leading, the most powerful, and most democratic country in the world? A lot is going on.
I don’t know about you, I never anticipated, notwithstanding no matter how persuasive President Trump was, that we’d have people attacking and breaking down the doors of the United States Capitol. I didn’t think that would happen. I didn’t think we’d — I’d see that in my lifetime. But it’s reinforced what I’ve always known and what I got taught by my political science professors and by the senior members of the Senate that I admired when I got there: that every generation has to re-establish the basis of its fight for democracy. I mean, for real, literally have to do it.
So, there’s a lot at stake. Each of the countries, we have our own concerns and problems, but we still — as long as I’m President, we are going to stick to the notion that we’re open, accountable, and transparent. And I think that’s an important message to send the world.