The Associated Press took a rare swipe at President Joe Biden over his characterization of Russia’s war on Ukraine as “genocide,” joining a chorus of world leaders uncomfortable with using a term that has international implications.
“When President Joe Biden declares Russia’s Ukraine war ‘genocide,’ it isn’t just another strong word,” the AP wrote in an article titled “EXPLAINER: Why the term ‘genocide’ matters in Ukraine war.” “A formal U.S. follow-up accusing Russia of a campaign aimed at wiping out a targeted group could carry obligations on the world to consider action. That’s because of a genocide treaty approved by the U.N. General Assembly in the years immediately after World War II, signed by the United States and more than 150 other nations.”
That treaty declares that countries that commit genocide “shall be punished,” and if one of the signers acknowledges that a genocide is taking place, it means they are “committed to ensuring investigation and prosecution, at the least,” the AP reported.
In another article, written by two other authors, the AP chastised Biden for saying he was “speaking from the heart.”
“There’s no such thing as a purely personal opinion from the Oval Office on policies that matter. Armchair quarterbacking when you’re the president is fraught when you’re the one with the ball. Armies can move on your words; markets can convulse; diplomacy can unravel,” the outlet reported. “That has not stopped President Joe Biden from viscerally weighing in on the Ukraine war — labeling Russia’s Vladimir Putin a war criminal, appearing to advocate an overthrow in Moscow, branding Russian war actions as genocide — then saying it’s all his personal, not presidential, opinion. It’s sowing confusion in dangerous times.”
Hot Air’s Jazz Shaw noted that a scan of the AP news feed found “more overt criticism of Biden, or a least an acknowledgment that his efforts at leading the nation on the domestic front haven’t been working out.” The outlet also accused Biden of “thinking small” when it comes to his domestic agenda and “scrounging” for ways to salvage his falling poll numbers.
The genocide criticism is key, however, as other international leaders have avoided the term. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for example, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine “doesn’t look far short of genocide,” but his administration has not officially made a declaration.
French President Emmanuel Macron has also refused to label Russia’s actions as genocide, saying an “escalation of words” wouldn’t help the situation, The Guardian reported. Macron reportedly said that the Russian army had committed war crimes, but said he was “prudent with terms today.”
“Genocide has a meaning. The Ukrainian people and Russian people are brotherly people,” Macron said, according to the Guardian. “It’s madness what’s happening today. It’s unbelievable brutality and a return to war in Europe. But at the same time I look at the facts, and I want to continue to try the utmost to be able to stop the war and restore peace. I’m not sure if the escalation of words serves our cause.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison also declined to say the current invasion was a “genocide,” but said Russian President Vladimir Putin should be “held to account” for his actions in Ukraine.
Reporting from The Daily Wire.