As true as it may seem trite — given a constant refrain — this is “the most important presidential election in our lifetime.” This is particularly the case in the realm of foreign policy. President Trump’s foreign policy is a sharp and distinct departure from the staid and failed approaches of past administrations, most notably that of President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.
Now Mr. Biden is seeking to take the helm of the ship of state. If and when he does, he will steer us recklessly toward the rocky, deadly shoals of failure. Mr. Biden is not a stranger to foreign policy issues. In fact, he has been remarkably accurate in choosing exactly the wrong course to take in many foreign policy decisions. A Biden foreign policy will be characterized by misunderstanding, miscalculation, missteps and malpractice. Consider the evidence.
In 1975 our first glimpse of Mr. Biden’s lack of acumen in foreign policy was on full display. In Donald Rumsfeld’s insightful biography of President Ford, the former secretary of Defense relates Mr. Biden’s opposition to support for the Vietnamese boat people. That year, they were desperately trying to escape the torment and revenge of the North Vietnamese on those who had sided with the U.S. during the Vietnam War.
Ford asked Congress for financial assistance to help evacuate desperate South Vietnamese attempting to escape death and resettle in the U.S. Mr. Biden opposed that assistance. What ensued was an embarrassing and disorganized hasty evacuation of U.S. and Vietnamese citizens from Saigon to U.S. naval vessels offshore. It was a shameless spectacle that could have been avoided.
Unfortunately, Mr. Biden and other senators misunderstood the importance of standing by allies. And in a disgusting follow-up when Ford enlisted Christian organizations to offer assistance on a voluntary basis, Mr. Biden made light of those efforts.
Another insight into Mr. Biden’s miscalculation can be found in his prescription for Iraq when he was running for president in 2007 while that country was desperately contending with an insurgency that threatened its national survival. The Biden plan was to partition Iraq into three countries, one of Shia Muslims, Sunni Muslims and the Kurds, that nation’s prominent populations.
In fact, Mr. Biden’s prescription would achieve precisely what terrorist fighting in Iraq were seeking to do. Had a President Biden implemented such a plan — one he said he would have pressed Iraq to accept — Iran would have had a newly-created state within former Iraqi territory from which to foment unhampered terror operations.
This would have been a huge miscalculation amounting to foreign policy malpractice. And more recently, Mr. Biden opposed President Trump’s decision to eliminate Iran’s Gen. Qasem Soleimani, a diabolical terrorist responsible for the deaths of more than 600 American soldiers. Just imagine, a Soleimani operating freely, alive and well within a safe haven carved out by Joe Biden’s irresponsible partition scheme.
Mr. Biden didn’t become president then, but did wind up serving as vice president when the Obama administration formulated a misguided, unenforceable, unverifiable and irresponsible Iran nuclear deal. Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran would not be prevented from proliferation over time, but rather be asked to observe a pause in their nuclear plans.
No thinking person should expect Iran to honor an unverifiable nuclear agreement any more than an open-ended pact to cease their hegemonic activities in the Middle East, including directly funding terror organizations. And in a final indignity, the Obama-Biden administration even resorted to delivering millions of dollars on pallets under the cover of darkness to seal the deal with Iran.
Finally, in May 2019 Mr. Biden’s stunning naivete was center stage concerning China’s rising threat to U.S. national interests. Indeed, Mr. Biden was dismissive of the threat saying, “China is going to eat our lunch? Come on, man!” He went on to characterize our competition with China remarking, “They’re not bad folks, folks. But guess what, they’re not competition for us.” Really? Of Mr. Biden’s misunderstanding of China, Democrat Socialist Bernie Sanders said, “It’s wrong to pretend that China isn’t one of our major economic competitors.” Mr. Biden is ripe to miscalculate when it comes to competition with China, something even Mr. Sanders grasps.
The next few years — indeed the months ahead — may witness significant challenges to U.S. national interest and to those of our allies. Chief among them is the looming threat from Communist China that saw what the Obama-Biden foreign policy team did in their tepid response to Russia’s invasion of Crimea. China has moved to destroy freedom in Hong Kong and will eventually do so to Taiwan, the last vestige of a free Chinese people. Acts of terror are also sure to occur. What will Joe Biden’s response look like? If past is prologue, it will resemble misunderstanding, miscalculation, missteps and malpractice.
• L. Scott Lingamfelter, a retired U.S. Army colonel, combat veteran and former member of the Virginia House of Delegates (2002-18), is the author most recently of “Desert Redleg: Artillery Warfare in the First Gulf War.”