Final Word from Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Commentators who rely too heavily on the White House for understanding U.S. foreign policy run the risk of being labeled soft on Vladimir Putin. That what's happened to us on Mon. when one of our regular readers didn't like the way we referred to Petr Pavel as "escalator in chief" for wanting to send fighter jets to Ukraine. The White House had already rejected the idea. It's true, though, that quoting U.S. Pres. Joe Biden is rather risky because it's hard to know how long his stated policy will last. First he rejects sending something like Abrams tanks to Ukraine and then he gradually comes up with a reason to do so. Chances are it will now be the same with F-16s. New U.S. Amb. Bijan Sabet, who presents his credentials to Pres. Miloš Zeman on Feb. 15, could face some uncomfortable questions about Biden's flip-flops if Czech journalists do their job properly. Perhaps Sabet could reduce the risk of himself being labeled pro-Russian by limiting his public appearances to, say, one per week, thereby giving the White House time to retract, clarify or amplify Biden's statements before the ambassador has to respond to them. [ Czech Republic United States embassy creeping escalation ]

Glossary of difficult words

credentials - a letter or certificate that demonstrates a person's identity or qualifications;

flip-flop - an abrupt reversal of policy;

to retract - to withdraw (a statement or accusation) as untrue or unjustified;

to amplify - to enlarge upon or add detail to (a story or statement).

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