Joe Biden's History of Making the Wrong Call

The Atlantic
Joe Biden's History of Making the Wrong Call

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Joe Biden's History of Making the Wrong Call

Joe Biden prides himself on his foreign policy experience, but one can't help but look at the scoreboard of foreign policy decisions Biden has gotten utterly wrong over the last 20 years.

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Over the weekend, the lovably salty vice president confessed to advising President Obama not to order the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound because there wasn't absolute proof that the Al Qaeda leader was in the Abbottabad residence. "Mr. President, my suggestion is, don’t go." Biden reenacted for an audience at a congressional retreat.

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Surely, no one should fault a leader for hesitating over a commando raid that posed such significant risks to everyone involved. And it certainly took guts to admit the flawed decision in public (even if he was just trying to make his boss look good). But it was also a reminder that he may want to downplay the foreign policy aspect of his political biography. 

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The Persian Gulf War In 1991, Biden voted against the successful Gulf War though most historians now believe it was a well-executed, agile use of American power. According to a report in The New York Times back then, Biden "scorned the other members of the anti-Iraq coalition" because they saddled the U.S. with most of the hard sacrifices. 

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Weapons of mass destruction Biden's biography on the White House website touts his credentials as a former chairman or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who's been "at the forefront of issues and legislation related to ... weapons of mass destruction." Scott Ritter, the chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq prior to the invasion, probably wouldn't agree. In 2002, Ritter said "Sen. Joe Biden is running a sham hearing. It is clear that Biden and most of the Congressional leadership have pre-ordained a conclusion that seeks to remove Saddam Hussein from power regardless of the facts, and are using these hearings to provide political cover for a massive military attack on Iraq." 

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The Iraq War Biden voted for the Iraq invasion of 2003. He has since said it was a mistake to invade the country. 

Carving up Iraq In 2006. he made a full-on push to carve Iraq into three semi-autonomous regions, saying the idea that the Iraqi people would unite behind a strong central government was "fundamentally and fatally flawed." The jury is still out on whether Iraqis can rally behind a central government but it's safe to say that he's no longer pressing for a soft partition while inside the Obama White House. The last time Biden spoke with a reporter about the 2006 plan was last year when he said he approved of how the Iraqis were distributing power. "They're in negotiations right now to figure out how to allocate the power within that government. In other words, share power," he told Jake Tapper. 

The bin Laden raid You can see his remarks in the clip below, courtesy CNN:

In 2010, these foreign policy "shortcomings," shall we say, did not go unnoticed by The New York Times, which quoted Foreign Policy writer Thomas Ricks posing a rather blunt question. “When was the last time Biden was right about anything?” We wouldn't go quite that far (he was right about the Balkans!) but it's certainly not a record to hang your hat on.

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