Is America ready to return to the Obama-Biden foreign policy?
With some 44 years of collective government service as a U.S. senator and vice president, Joe Biden has amassed a substantial foreign and national security record. An examination of some of his key votes as senator and performance as vice president does not provide a ringing endorsement for his presidential candidacy. Instead, it raises serious questions about whether his votes and decisions detrimentally affected the U.S. economy, U.S. national security, and international peace and security.
In 2008, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama choose Sen. Biden (D-Del.) as his running mate. Obama considered Biden, who had been in the Senate for 36 years, a leading foreign policy authority, with 12 years as chair or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. During their eight years in office, President Obama designated Vice President Biden his point man on many of the most important global security issues.
Many Americans believed Obama and Biden would offer the country a welcome change from the George W. Bush administration and the Afghanistan and Iraq wars that consumed it. Obama and Biden displayed a willingness to make greater use of the United Nations and other international institutions to resolve the world’s most difficult problems.
Obama’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, raised serious questions about Biden’s security judgments. In his 2014 book, “Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War,” Gates wrote that “he (Biden) has been wrong on nearly every foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
In 2000 Biden championed and voted for President Clinton’s initiative to normalize trade relations with China and facilitated its entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001. China’s economic rise contributed to the closing of some 60,000 U.S. factories.
The Economic Policy Institute reported that it also cost about 3.7 million U.S. jobs, mostly in the manufacturing sector.
In 2001 and 2002, Biden voted for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, which resulted in 7,037 American troop fatalities and 53,117 American troop injuries. Post 9-11 wars reportedly cost U.S. taxpayers about $6.4 trillion. About 84 percent of Afghanistan casualties (19,350 of 23,113) occurred under Obama/Biden, while 95 percent of Iraq casualties (35,182 of 37,041) occurred under Bush/Cheney. Only 1 percent of all casualties occurred under Trump/Pence. Overall, it’s estimated that about 800,000 combatants and non-combatants perished in post-9-11 war zones, and about 60 million people were displaced. While initially popular, the American public eventually tired of both wars.
What did the world look like after eight years of Obama/Biden?
The Institute for Economics and Peace’s Global Peace Index provided a general assessment. It reported a decade-long decline in peace, with terrorism at an all-time high, battle deaths from conflict at a 25-year high and the number of refugees at a level not seen in 60 years.
The U.S. State Department reported a 34 percent growth in foreign terrorist organizations since Obama/Biden took office in 2009, with about 75 percent of them operating in Muslim-majority countries.
Freedom House reported that as of 2016, global freedom had declined for 10 consecutive years, with press freedom at its lowest point in 12 years. Of the world’s 7.3 billion people at the time, only 40 percent lived in freedom and only 13 percent enjoyed a free press.
The Obama administration’s director of national intelligence, James Clapper, confirmed the dire global situation during his briefing on the 2016 U.S. Intelligence Community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment.
What significant foreign policy calamities occurred on the Obama/Biden watch?
The Obama/Biden reset policy with Russia (2009-2013) backfired as Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and entered the Syria civil war in 2015, which eventually allowed the Kremlin to establish long-term agreements for a Russian airbase and seaport in that country.
The administration’s Libyan misadventure turned into a disaster, with four American diplomats murdered in Benghazi and Libya becoming a failed state. Their premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq created a security vacuum that allowed the Islamic State terrorist group to grow, seize and terrorize large portions of land and people in Iraq and Syria beginning 2011.
The administration’s unwillingness to take a strong stance against China allowed that communist government to continue stealing U.S. aerospace, energy, satellites and telecommunications information and use it to wage economic, military and political sabotage and warfare, according to a 2013 Mandiant report. Their failure to install adequate security preventive-measures allowed Chinese hackers to breach the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s computer system in 2015, accessing the personnel and security records of some 22 million Americans.
During his nearly four years in office, President Trump has pursued an “America First” foreign policy. His administration has confronted China over its cyber-thievery and illicit trade practices; buttressed East European allies to protect against Russia aggression and suspended participation in the INF Treaty due to Russia noncompliance; terminated the Iran nuclear deal and killed Iran’s Revolutionary Guard terrorist leader; destroyed the Islamic State’s caliphate and killed its terrorist leader; consummated a historic Middle East peace deal between two Arab States and Israel; and is in the process of removing almost all U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.
Joe Biden offers Americans a return to the Obama administration’s globalist foreign policies. Those policies resulted in freedom retreating, terrorism advancing, endless wars, tens of thousands of American plant closures and millions of lost American jobs. It’s up to voters to decide whether they want to return to those policies.
Fred Gedrich is a foreign policy and national security analyst and served in the U.S. departments of State and Defense.
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