Joe Biden Touts Foreign Policy Expertise at Democrat Debate, Despite Troubled History

WESTERVILLE, OHIO - OCTOBER 15: Former Vice President Joe Biden smiles during the Democratic Presidential Debate at Otterbein University on October 15, 2019 in Westerville, Ohio. A record 12 presidential hopefuls are participating in the debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Win McNamee/Getty Images

Joe Biden attempted to paint himself as an expert on foreign policy at the fourth Democrat presidential primary debate on Tuesday, despite his decades-long history of “judging the [international] situation incorrectly.”

“We have an erratic, crazy president who knows not a damn thing about foreign policy and operates out of fear for his own reelection,” Biden said, proceeding to attack President Donald Trump for his decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria.

Biden said:

It has been the most shameful thing that any president has done in modern history in terms of foreign policy. The fact of the matter is [that] I have never seen [such] a time and I’ve spent thousands of hour in the situation, I’ve spent many hours on the ground in those very places in Syria.

Despite Biden’s tough rhetoric and his positioning as an expert on international matters, the former vice president has long been castigated by members of the military and national security officials over his foreign policy credentials. In particular, Biden has faced consternation for supporting the Iran Nuclear Agreement, proposing a controversial agenda for partitioning Iraq, and downplaying the threat posed by China.

Some of the former vice president’s biggest critics have been Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and James Mattis, two men beloved by the international affairs experts.

Gates, who led the Pentagon under both George W. Bush and Barack Obama, asserted during a May interview with CBS’s Face the Nation he stood by statements made in his 2014 memoir that Biden had “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” The show’s host, Margaret Brennan, looped Gates’ prior comments into a broader question about whether Biden had the ability to “be an effective commander-in-chief.”

“I don’t know, I don’t know,” Gates said. “I stand by that statement. He and I agreed on some key issues in the Obama administration, we disagreed significantly on Afghanistan and some other issues.”

“I think that the vice president has some issues with the military, so how he would get along with the senior military and what that relationship would be,” Gates continued. “I just think it would depend on the personalities at the time.”

Mattis, a former general who served as Trump’s first defense secretary, echoed a similar sentiment in his newly released book.

Biden “exuded the confidence of a man whose mind was made up, perhaps even indifferent to considering the consequences were he judging the situation incorrectly,” Mattis wrote when discussing the former vice president’s strategy for the Iraq War.


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