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September 24, 2008
Some debate prep for Palin
Barack Obama chose Joe Biden to be his Vice Presidential running mate presumably because Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign relations Committee, brings foreign policy heft to the ticket. Critics have noted that Joe Biden's intelligence may be overrated; after all, it was seniority, as much as anything else, that accounted for Biden's chairmanship (he has been a Senator for decades). We know how he responded after 9/11 when he pondered how to assuage Arab anger towards America:
“Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran"Of course, this would have only inflamed Arab anger since Iran (being a Persian nation) is the enemy of Arab nations.He should have known this basic fact. Nor does it recognize how sending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars to an enemy of America would inflame Americans.
But there are many other problems with Biden's sorrowful record on foreign affairs as revealed in Andrew McCarthy's insightful article "Biden's Baggage: That foreign policy heft will be hard to carry". McCarthy notes that Biden is probably the Senator that holds the United Nations in the highest regard:
He is probably the Senate’s most ardent admirer of the United Nations, regardless of how ineptly and corruptly it performs. He has never met a multilateral treaty he didn’t like, no matter how much sovereignty it surrendered. He vigorously supports the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which directs states to “modify social and cultural patterns of conduct” and installs the government as paymaster to enforce equal compensation for jobs of comparable value. He urges ratification of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which vests children with a right to receive and impart “information and ideas of all kinds” over any “media of the child’s choice” — without regard to age or parental consent.
He wants the U.S. to accept the International Criminal Court, which purports to empower an independent prosecutor to bring war-crimes charges against nationals of any country — including ours — whether it has ratified the treaty or not.
Furthermore, Biden has already attempted — so far unsuccessfully — to address his running mate’s shortage of legislative accomplishment by rushing Obama’s proposed “Global Poverty Act” through his committee. This monstrosity of a law would require the U.S. to commit 0.7 percent of its gross national product through 2015 to foreign aid. The 0.7 percent figure is rooted in an oft-repeated and usually ignored aspiration spelled out in a 1970 U.N. General Assembly resolution; the 2015 target was set by international bureaucrats at the U.N.’s “Millennium Summit” in 2000. The effect would be to skyrocket U.S. largesse from its current annual level of about $21 billion (the world’s most generous) to a whopping $85 billion.He also noted Biden's veered wildly over the years on the issue of Iraq: supporting military attacks when a fellow Democrat was President (Clinton) but opposing it when President George H.W. Bush was in the White House. He did support George W. Bush on Iraq-at least initially; but, as the war took a downward course, he went AWOL and started supporting the left's position that the Bush Administration willfully misconstrued intelligence on Iraq. Oddly, during the Clinton years he also made a point about weak intelligence but nevertheless recognized the difficulty of gathering such intelligence and relied on the nature of Saddam Hussein to support Clinton's actions towards Iraq (launching of missiles). McCarthy notes the difficulty of following Biden's reasoning on his foreign policy calls-but recognizes that his shifts are driven by polls and elections calendars, not principles.
His opposition to the Gulf War was an example of Democrats’ post-Vietnam squeamishness about military actions abroad. His 1998 hawkishness dovetailed with growing public anger after the U.S. embassies in East Africa were bombed by bin Laden, in whose activities the Clinton administration suggested Iraq was complicit. Post-9/11, Biden was a top adviser to Senator Kerry’s campaign. Convinced that Democrats could not win unless the public believed they took national security seriously, he pushed his reluctant candidate to talk tougher. Biden's relentless appeasement approach towards Iran might also raise qualms:
Over time, Iraq became more difficult and the expected caches of WMD failed to materialize, but as long as the mission enjoyed public support, Biden maintained that Saddam had been both a long- and a short-term threat to the United States, as well as an “extreme danger to the world.”
There's plenty there for Palin to rock Joe's world on debate night.
Along with top members of Clinton’s inner circle, Biden was in the vanguard of foreign-affairs “engagement” enthusiasts who got goo-goo eyes in 1997 when the Islamic Republic’s then-president, Mohammed Khatami, proposed a “dialogue between civilizations.” The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps had only recently assisted Hezbollah in bombing the Khobar Towers complex in Saudi Arabia, murdering 19 members of the U.S. Air Force. And Iran was busily pursuing its nuclear aspirations. Still, as American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin recounts, Biden stubbornly pushed for cultivating Iranian “reformers” and encouraging trade and dialogue to bring the mullahs around.
The European Union followed just such advice, increasing trade threefold with Iran, which promptly diverted 70 percent of the haul to its military and nuclear programs. The mullahs responded to this sensitive diplomacy by installing as their president a hardliner, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is more clearly reflective of the “Death to America” philosophy.As the Iranians laughed all the way to the bank and continued killing Americans in Iraq, Congress voted last year to designate the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps a terrorist organization, a move that imposes economic sanctions. Only 22 senators opposed that designation; Biden and Obama were prominent among them.