What will Biden say? I know, Sarkozy says

February 7, 2009

To many of the hundreds of defence experts, heads of state, ministers and journalists at the Munich Security Conference, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s speech was the keenly awaited highlight of the three-day gathering in Bavaria. Biden, on his first trip to Europe in his new role, was expected to lay out the foreign policy priorities of President Barack Obama’s administration to European allies, including Washington’s future policy on Afghanistan and Iran.

But well before Biden took the stage in the plush Munich hotel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the audience that he, at least, was already in the know about Biden’s speech. As Biden watched on from the front row, Sarkozy deviated from his speech on France’s policies towards NATO and the defence priorities of the European Union, and said with a smirk: “I already know what the vice-president will say … because he sent me his manuscript in advance. “That’s part of good management,” Sarkozy said to loud laughter from the audience. Biden smiled, listening to Sarkozy’s comments over headphones through a translator.

Biden delivered his speech about an hour later, saying the new U.S. administration was determined to set a new tone in America’s relations around the world but also announcing it would ask for more from its partners. After talking about U.S. relations with Russia and Iran and detailing U.S. priorities in the Middle East, Biden turned towards Sarkozy, sitting in the audience. “We warmly welcome the decision by France to fully cooperate in our structures,” Biden said, referring to Sarkozy’s plans to return France to NATO’s command structure. “That’s the main reason the president got our speech,” he added. Sarkozy, sitting in the front row, grinned uneasily and squirmed in his seat. 

It is not unusual for leaders to circulate speeches to allies or journalists before they deliver them, but it is unusual for politicians to reveal publicly they have seen them. British Foreign Secretary David Miliband seemed to know in advance what Sarkozy would say, telling Reuters a day before the
French leader’s speech in Munich that he did not expect any major new announcement on NATO.    

 Jaap de Hoop Scheffer made sure no other leader revealed the details of his speech. Apparently, the NATO chief’s remarks were only finished shortly before he actually delivered them.

(Photo/ U.S. Vice President Biden meets French President Sarkozy at the 45th Conference on Security Policy in Munich. Michael Dalder/Reuters)


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I strongly disagree against sending your speech munuscript in advance to another person.To me is like sharing you privacy with your next door neighbor.

Posted by George | Report as abusive

It simply demonstrates that there is a world government, that we, as citizens, have literally no control over what they do to us. The world opposed the invasion of Afghanistan and it happened. The world’s largest protests were held against the invasion of Iraq and it happened. The citizens of the world want to combat global warming and it’s NOT happening. The rich elite control everything about our lives and fools pretend otherwise. There are idiots who are so stupid they thing invading Afghanistan was the right way to go about capturing bin Ladin, for example, the we should put missile systems on the borders of Russia to protect Russia from attack by Iran. Anyone who believes that one should be considered for a medical prize because they are alive with no brain at all. If anyone thinks they live in a democracy, let me know, I’ll go there. Here in the U.S. 3rd parties cannot even get on the ballot in any serious way because the two corporate parties control 100% of the media. No where in the world is there even a remote semblance of democracy any longer.

Posted by robert1234 | Report as abusive

Hey Robert,

Democracy has always been more concept than reality… in pretty much every aspect the U.S. has always been behind the ideals (and requirements) of its origins. There has always been corruption, and schemes, and power groups that fool the public and bend policy to make themselves rich.

However, the U.S. has slowly lurched forwards over time, moving closer to making the ideals actually happen. Sure there are steps forwards and backwards, but the overall trend is forward.

The rich will always have a big say in things, sometimes more than others. But at least our system allows the public some say, and over time that leads to change… look at the civil rights movement, and sufferage.

The lack of a 3rd (or 4th) party in the U.S. is less about corporate control and schemes, than it is about the size and scope of our country. How do you get the public to support a 3rd group in enough numbers? There isn’t the infrastructure or organization to get it going… it isn’t as if our electorate is super motivated to participate in the parties we have, much less make the extra effort necessary to create and sustain a third national party. It doesn’t have to be about conspiracies.

You talk about “the world” not wanting the invasion of Afghanistan… who is “the world”… yes lots of people protested and were against it, but not everyone. Even if the majority outside the U.S. was against invading Iraq (and I agree with them!) the majority inside the U.S. was for it at the time… so it wasn’t some conspiracy… simply that non-US citizens had limited say in U.S. decisions… that is not terribly strange.

I respect your passion for your point of view, but I think things are a bit more complicated than you are painting them to be.


Posted by Tom | Report as abusive