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Biden in Romania

Vice President Joe Biden went to Romania to extol his fond memories of the end of the Cold War:

“Twenty years ago, the world watched in awe and admiration as the men and women throughout this region broke the shackles of repression and emerged a free people,” Mr. Biden said in the auditorium of the rebuilt library. Now, he said, Romania and its neighbors must help countries like Armenia and Azerbaijan develop their own democracies. “You’ve delivered on the promise of your revolution,” he said. “You are now in a position to help others do the same.”

Oh really? And what is the Obama administration doing to help other democracies? Obama can’t muster a visit to celebrate the symbol of the triumph of democracy over tyranny — the destruction of the Berlin War. We just yanked missile defense out from two other democracies that emerged from the Soviet Union’s defeat. (And if that seemed out of kilter with Biden’s message of solidarity, he hastened to disabuse his hosts of their misconception. “As he did in Warsaw, Mr. Biden denied that the decision to cancel former President George W. Bush’s missile defense system in Eastern Europe was made to appease Moscow.”) How about just rhetorical support for Iranian democracy? No, not much of that coming from America either. (Although we’re awfully picky about Afghanistan’s election decorum.)

The hypocrisy, even for Biden, is rather breathtaking. The president has plainly made a choice, and it’s not to promote or defend democracy as a central tenet of American foreign policy. Engagement, multilateralism, and conflict avoidance — certainly these rank high. Global warming is right up there too. But democracy? No, if that were a critical consideration for Obama, he’d be going to the Berlin Wall ceremony, standing by Poland and the Czech Republic, speaking out forcefully for democracy advocates around the world, seeking to combat the influence of Hugo Chavez in our hemisphere (rather than bolster his minion Manuel Zelaya), and insisting on respect for human rights and the development of democratic institutions in the “Muslim World.” Alas, he does none of these things. Instead, he sends Biden to lecture the Romanians about their duty to spread democracy. Remarkable.



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