Byron York's Daily Memo: A summit about nothing

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Welcome to Byron York's Daily Memo newsletter.

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A SUMMIT ABOUT NOTHING. How to describe President Biden's meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin? Maybe it's best to use a phrase -- "a summit about nothing" -- that has been used to describe pointless high-level sessions in the past. The fact is, there was no reason for the Biden-Putin Geneva summit to have taken place.

Basically, the two leaders talked about talking again in the future. The U.S. president "talked about several things they were going to put their diplomats together to work on," former Trump National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien told Fox News Wednesday. Beyond that, there wasn't much. "There were no breakthroughs, there were no deals," O'Brien continued. "There were no Americans returned, it's now become pretty clear that the United States didn't get anything in return for allowing Nord Stream 2 to finish up...there was nothing in return for the new START extension. It was not a successful summit."

Will journalists come out and say that? They did not hesitate to do so back in 2018, when then-President Donald Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore. Commentators quickly condemned Trump for meeting with Kim without having a big agreement done ahead of time and for making concessions without receiving anything concrete in return. Indeed, one critic, writing for the Weekly Standard, called it "a summit about nothing."

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That was then. Now, it's a different story, with some in the press offering a much sunnier interpretation of the Biden-Putin meeting. The Washington Post conceded that nothing big was done but instead focused on the summit's "incremental progress on a handful of issues." The Post noted that Biden and Putin agreed to return their ambassadors to each other's countries -- no summit required for that. They agreed to resume talks "aimed at reducing the risks of unintentional conflict" -- again, no summit required. They agreed to "organize meetings of experts" on cybersecurity. No summit required. And the U.S. gave Putin "a list of 16 sectors" they consider off-limits to cyber attacks.

It wasn't a very impressive list. Nevertheless, the Post portrayed the Putin-Biden summit in the best possible light, quoting a Rand Corporation analyst who said, "These were clear steps forward. Overall, this is probably the best outcome we could have expected."

In the end, the summit's biggest purpose, from a political perspective, was to allow Democrats to portray Biden as standing up to Putin, in contrast to the Democratic accusation that Trump -- whose policies were quite tough on Russia -- was Putin's "lapdog." In that sense, the summit was far more about PR and politics than it was about substance.

What's next? The news-free summit will likely disappear from the news. Biden is back in the U.S. and attention is focused on the administration's continuing efforts to win a massive spending bill on Capitol Hill. And everyone will forget the latest summit about nothing.

For a deeper dive into many of the topics covered in the Daily Memo, please listen to my podcast, The Byron York Show -- available on the Ricochet Audio Network and everywhere else podcasts can be found. You can use this link to subscribe.

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Original Author: Byron York

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