Jefferson Morley | August 14, 2019
Joe Biden, Standard Bearer of Obamaism
On the Campaign Trail:
In a July 11 speech devoted to foreign policy, the former Vice President savaged President Trump.
What’s Biden’s Record?
The former Vice President was among the more dovish of President Obama’s aides. He argued against Obama’s build-up of Afghan forces in 2009. Unlike Hillary Clinton, he did not favor arming the Syrian rebels.
At the same time, Biden boasted he wrote the template for the Patriot Act, which was used to justify mass surveillance of Americans (reportedly discontinued by Trump.) He also voted to authorize the invasion of Iraq in 2002.
On issues of war and peace, Biden is a status quo candidate who sometimes resists military solutions but sees no need for a fundamental change in the U.S. national security apparatus.
A Biden presidency would be welcomed by the policymaking elites, intelligence chiefs, and military leaders disturbed by Trump’s hostility to intelligence agencies; his indifference to the perceived threat of Russia; his withdrawals from Syria and Afghanistan, and his disdain for the policymaking process.
[Do you like Joe Biden? Tell us why in the comments section. Or DM us @jeffersonmorley. We will publish your comments with minimal editing.]
Trump on Iran: ‘Minimum Results’
Venezuela: Yes to Regime Change
The overriding goal in Venezuela must be to hold free and fair elections so that the Venezuelan people may recover their democracy and rebuild their country. Nicolas Maduro is a tyrant, who has stolen elections, abused his authority, allowed his cronies to enrich themselves, and denied the delivery of food and medicine to the people he claims to lead. I was among the first Democratic foreign policy voices to recognize Juan Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate leader and to call for Maduro to resign.Council on Foreign Relations interview
Maduro rigged the May 2018 election, and today his regime is barely holding on through violent oppression and by dismantling the last vestiges of Venezuelan democracy. Yet, the Trump Administration appears more interested in using the Venezuelan crisis to rally domestic political support than in seeking practical ways to effect democratic change in Venezuela.
The U.S. should push for stronger multilateral sanctions so that supporters of the regime cannot live, study, shop, or hide their assets in the United States, Europe, or Latin America. We should grant Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans already in the United States and support countries like Colombia, which are caring for millions of Venezuelans who have fled their country in desperation. I would also marshal the international community to help Venezuelans rebuild their country after Maduro is gone. Finally, the U.S. should use this pressure and promise to achieve a peaceful and negotiated outcome that leads to the release of all political prisoners and credible new elections. Maduro has used dialogue in the past as a tactic to delay action and concentrate power, so the U.S. should maintain sanctions pressure until negotiations produce results.
Biden supports Trump’s policy of “regime change,” namely replacing President Nicholas Maduro with opposition leader Juan Guaido , who is also supported by many Western governments.
On North Korea:
The next president will almost certainly inherit a North Korea nuclear challenge that is worse than when President Trump took office. After three made-for-TV summits, we still don’t have a single concrete commitment from North Korea. Not one missile or nuclear weapon has been destroyed, not one inspector is on the ground. If anything, the situation has gotten worse. North Korea has more capability today than when Trump began his “love affair” with Kim Jong-un, a murderous tyrant who, thanks to Trump, is no longer an isolated pariah on the world stage.Council on Foreign Relations interview
Diplomacy is important, but diplomacy requires a strategy, a process, and competent leadership to deliver. That is why, as President, I would renew a commitment to arms control for a new era — including on North Korea. The historic Iran nuclear deal the Obama-Biden administration negotiated blocked Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, and it provides a blueprint for an effective negotiation. As president, I will empower our negotiators and jumpstart a sustained, coordinated campaign with our allies and others – including China – to advance our shared objective of a denuclearized North Korea.
His Support for Iraq Invasion: ‘A Mistake’
In 2002 Biden voted to authorize President Bush to invade Iraq and praised his handling of the issue. “President Bush did not lash out precipitously at Iraq after 9/11. He did not snub the U.N. or our allies. He did not dismiss new inspection regimes. He did not ignore Congress,” Biden declared in a floor speech.
“It was a mistake,” Biden said on NBC’s Meet the Press in 2005. “It was a mistake to assume the president would use the authority we gave him properly.”
On Afghanistan: A Pessimist
For eight years, Biden was the Obama administration’s “in-house pessimist” on Afghanistan. He argued that the country would revert to chaos, regardless of how long the United States stayed there. “It doesn’t matter if we leave tomorrow or 10 years from now,” he said at one meeting in 2015. He was, he said, a “broken record” on this issue.
Syria: Defending Non-Intervention.
When 51 diplomats criticized Obama’s decision not intervene militarily in Syria in 2016, Biden defended the president saying the critics presented no plausible alternative. “There is not a single, solitary recommendation that I saw that has a single, solitary answer attached to it — how to do what they’re talking about,” he said. (CBS, This Morning, June 21, 2016)
Libya Intervention: ‘Strongly Against’
“I argued strongly against going to Libya. My question was, ‘Okay, tell me what happens? He’s gone. What happens?’ Doesn’t the country disintegrate? What happens then? Doesn’t it become a place where it becomes a petri dish for the growth of extremism? Tell me. Tell me what we’re going to do,” Biden said. (CBS, This Morning, June 21, 2016)
NATO: Expansion Advocate
Biden was an enthusiastic advocate of expanding NATO, the U.S. policy that enraged Russian president Vladimir Putin the most. He was deeply involved in policy of intervening in Ukraine to secure a more pro-Western government.
Israel: Netanyahu’s Friend
I believe a two-state solution is the only path to long-term security for Israel, while sustaining its identity as a Jewish and democratic state. It is also the only way to ensure Palestinian dignity and their legitimate interest in national self-determination. And it is a necessary condition to take full advantage of the opening that exists for greater cooperation between Israel and its Arab neighbors.Council on Foreign Relations interview
At present, neither the Israeli nor Palestinian leadership seems willing to take the political risks necessary to make progress through direct negotiations. This challenge has been made even more difficult by President Trump’s unilateralism, his moves to cut off assistance to the Palestinians, and his equivocation on the importance of a two-state solution.
I will restore credible engagement with both sides to the conflict. America must sustain its ironclad commitment to Israel’s security – including the unprecedented support provided by the Obama-Biden administration. It is also essential to resume assistance to the Palestinian Authority that supports Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation, people-to-people programs, economic development, and humanitarian aid and health care for the Palestinian people.
My administration will urge both sides to take steps to keep the prospect of a two-state outcome alive. Palestinian leaders should end the incitement and glorification of violence, and they must begin to level with their people about the legitimacy and permanence of Israel as a Jewish state in the historic homeland of the Jewish people. Israeli leaders should stop the expansion of West Bank settlements and talk of annexation that would make two states impossible to achieve. They must recognize the legitimacy of Palestinians’ aspirations for statehood. Both sides should work to provide more relief to the people of Gaza while working to weaken, and ultimately replace, Hamas. And Arab states should take more steps toward normalization with Israel and increase their financial and diplomatic support for building Palestinian institutions.
During the 2012 vice presidential debate, getting visibly upset, Biden deflected criticism of strained Israel-U.S. ties from Paul Ryan by insisting he and Netanyahu had been friends for 39 years. In 2007, he told “Shalom TV” in 2007: “I am a Zionist. You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist” (Biden himself is Catholic).On Israel and the Mideast, Will Biden 2020 Be a Repeat of Clinton vs. Trump in 2016? — Haaretz
Guatemala: Elections Matter
On China and Trade:
On Human Rights in China:
The United States should push back on China’s deepening authoritarianism, even as we seek to cooperate on issues where our interests are aligned. It is inspiring to see the brave people of Hong Kong demonstrating peacefully for the civil liberties and autonomy promised by Beijing. The world is watching; we should all stand in support of democratic principles and freedom.Council on Foreign Relations interview
The forced detention of over a million Uighur Muslims in western China is unconscionable. America should speak out against the internment camps in Xinjiang and hold to account the people and companies complicit in this appalling oppression, including through sanctions and applying the Magnitsky Act.
The challenge doesn’t stop at China’s borders. Freedom in the 21st century will be won and lost in cyberspace. The Free World should come together to compete with China’s efforts to proliferate its model of high-tech authoritarianism. The United States should lead in shaping the rules, norms, and institutions that will govern the use of new technologies, like Artificial Intelligence. Through diplomacy and development finance, we can work with democratic allies to provide countries with a digital alternative to China’s dystopian system of surveillance and censorship. These efforts could begin at the global Summit for Democracy that I will host my first year in office.
Most important is that we lead once again by the power of our example. America’s commitment to universal values sets us apart from China. I will reinvigorate and repair our democracy by eliminating the Trump administration’s Muslim ban, increasing our refugee admissions, and ending the indefensible practice of separating families at the border. That is how to project a model that others want to emulate, rather than following China’s authoritarian path.
Defense Sector Campaign Contributions
Biden has not taken a lot of money from the military industrial complex.