Joe Biden is picking up speed in Iowa and New Hampshire polls as the clear Democratic primary front-runner, yet President Donald Trump just threw a wrench — or a drone — at his foreign policy record. The president's assassination of Iran's top military commander in Iraq cracked open a messy egg in the Middle East, even as he awaits a Senate impeachment trial.
Trump's New Year's resolution for 2020 seems to be: Make tomorrow worse than today. He did not even consult with Congress on striking Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Iraq now wants all Americans out of the ravaged country. This would constitute a "lost war" — just like Vietnam, only longer. All in a day's work from Mar-a-Lago.
The crisis raises questions about who in the Democratic field can quell the fury and anxiety Trump causes in our enemies and allies. At 77, Biden is perceived as a steady, experienced hand, a line he is pressing hard.
"These events put into greater relief that we need a commander-in-chief who can, from the moment they're sworn in — and without needing on the job training — start repairing the severe damage that Donald Trump has done," a campaign spokesperson told The Daily Beast.
Biden's rusty foreign policy resume is a mile long, but it's not what you'd expect from someone who passes as a statesman with 35 years of senatorial experience. In a word, it's amateur. As vice president, Biden advised President Barack Obama against the successful Pakistan raid on Osama bin Laden.
Biden's old, but he was never wise — just an average Joe, truthfully. A good fellow folks like, especially in small town Delaware.
Most central to the fix we're in now, Biden voted for the Iraq War in 2002, after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, based on the falsehood that Iraq was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., later House Speaker, did not fall for that George W. Bush claim. It took courage and foresight to vote against that war of aggression. Only 23 out of 100 senators possessed that wisdom. Few are in office now.
That chain of events set the whole century off on a dark note. If the 21st century had been a Broadway show, it would have closed by now. The Iraq War was a tragedy costing trillions of dollars, hurting our good will and place in the world. It depleted the Army on a mission that soldiers came to question.
Like it or not, Biden bears a brunt of the blame for the Obama administration's failure to bring the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to a swift, clean close as promised. These conflicts were left hopelessly undone for over eight years.
Note the genial, garrulous Biden was the Senate Foreign Relations committee chairman and traveled the globe for years, living the high life with world leaders. As vice president, no doubt he was an affable emissary.
Yet he failed to tell his son Hunter that taking a plum place on a Ukraine gas company board was poor judgment — for both of them. That may be an Achilles' heel if he becomes the nominee. Trump will gnaw at that issue, which Biden has been loath to confront.
I covered Senate Democrats as a rookie reporter and found Biden talked the longest but said little of substance in floor speeches. As a freshman senator, Obama felt trapped in a committee hearing during an endless Biden soliloquy and wrote a private note: "Shoot. Me. Now."
Yet rising star Obama picked Biden as his running mate in 2008. Sen. John Kerry, who, as secretary of state, negotiated the Iran nuclear deal, would have been the best pick for his eloquence, expertise and work ethic.
Don't just take my word for Biden's weak, even inept, grasp of complex foreign policy. Take it from a man who sat in the Situation Room and the Cabinet Room, side-by-side with the vice president.
Obama's secretary of defense, Robert Gates, declared publicly in his memoir that Biden has "been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades."
Boom. Biden's a nice guy, but he's already done his dance with the world.
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