Speaking at the John F. Kennedy Forum at Harvard Kennedy School in Boston, Massachusetts last night, Vice President Joe Bidengave an extensive rundown of foreign policy challenges and crises that the world and the Obama administration are facing today. Although the vice president expressed confidence in President Obama's policies and leadership, he painted a rather bleak picture of the modern world, quoting as he often does Irish poet William Butler Yeats:
Folks, “all’s changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born.” Those are the words written by an Irish poet William Butler Yeats about the Easter Rising in 1916 in Ireland. They were meant to describe the status of the circumstance in Ireland at that time. But I would argue that in recent years, they better describe the world as we see it today because all has changed. The world has changed.
He went on to allude to the wolves at the door of the United States, and how the post-World War II order is "literally fraying at the seams":
This has all led to a number of immediate crises that demand our attention from ISIL to Ebola to Ukraine -- just to name a few that are on our front door -- as someone said to me earlier this week, the wolves closest to the door.
Each one in its own way is symptomatic of the fundamental changes that are taking place in the world. These changes have also led to larger challenges. The international order that we painstakingly built after World War II and defended over the past several decades is literally fraying at the seams right now.
Biden was particularly hard on Russia and Vladimir Putin:
[P]owers like Russia are using new asymmetrical forms of coercion to seek advantage like corruption and “little green men,” foreign agents, soldiers with a mission but no official uniform...
Putin -- President Putin was determined to deny Ukraine and the Ukrainian people the power to make their choices about the future -- whether to look east or west or both. Under the pretext of protecting Russian-speaking populations, he not only encouraged and supported separatists in Ukraine, but he armed them. He sent in Russian personnel out of uniform to take on the Ukrainian military, those little, green men.
And when that wasn’t enough, he had the audacity to send Russian troops and tanks and sophisticated, air-defense systems across the border...
In spite of the setbacks and dangers, however, Biden says he remains upbeat: "I’m optimistic because I know the history of the journey of this country. And I have never been more optimistic about America’s future than I am today, and that is not hyperbole."