BY EVAN OSNOS, The New Yorker; Photograph by Alex Majoli / Magnum.
Vice-President Joe Biden was on his way to Detroit for a day of light political fare: a fund-raiser, a community-college visit, a speech to progressive groups. Shortly before he landed, an aide told him that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, had crashed in eastern Ukraine, an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists. Details were sketchy, but intelligence suggested that the Boeing 777-200, carrying two hundred and ninety-eight people, had been hit by a surface-to-air missile. There were no survivors. When Biden reached the dais at a convention center in Detroit, he said that the plane “apparently has been shot down.” He added, “Not an accident. Blown out of the sky.”
Of all the foreign crises confronting the White House, none has consumed more of Biden’s time and attention in recent months than the wars in Ukraine and Iraq. A former chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, he has been visiting Eastern Europe since the nineteen-seventies, and he was tapped to be Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008 partly to compensate for the candidate’s inexperience abroad. Last year, Biden said that the President “sends me to places that he doesn’t want to go.” (read more)