Truesee's Daily Wonder

Truesee presents the weird, wild, wacky and world news of the day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Joe Biden is on the wrong side of history

Joe Biden: the worrying rise of Barack Obama’s Mr Wrong

Vice-President Joe Biden has been on the wrong side of history on all the big questions, argues Toby Harnden


Toby Harnden

Telegraph UK

4:17PM BST 17 Oct 2009


Joe Biden: Afghanistan war will claim more British casualties

Joe Biden's overseas expertise amounted to having spent a long time as chairman of the Senate foreign affairs committee Photo: EPA

Want to know how to deal with a momentous issue of war or grand strategy? You could do a lot worse than check out what Vice-President Joe Biden thinks – and plump for the opposite.

Mr Biden was chosen as Barack Obama's running mate last August because he was old, white and supposedly knew a lot about foreign policy. I say "supposedly" because really Mr Biden's overseas expertise amounted to having spent a long time as chairman of the Senate foreign affairs committee, knowing the names of lots of world leaders, and being able to josh around amiably with them during congressional junkets across the globe.

What Mr Obama overlooked was that Mr Biden, who served as a senator for tiny Delaware for 36 years, had never run anything in his life, or taken decisions rather than talking about things, at legendary length. Even in the United States Senate, that august body which each week produces enough hot air to transport 1,000 six-year-olds across America, Mr Biden – who sports hair plugs and a set of porcelain-enhanced gnashers that would blind a polar bear – is renowned for his wordiness.

His speech is littered with the word "literally" and he glories in meandering anecdotes about his family and Irish ancestry. When Obama aides tried to muzzle him during the campaign, Mr Biden agreed but would then muse on the stump: "I try to cut this stuff down, not dumb it down, just get down to the quick of the matter, the essence of the matter."

Making fun of Joe Biden is a bipartisan affair. A quip about Biden being a windbag is guaranteed to bring a Democrat and Republican together in Washington.

Mr Obama himself even dabbled in it in February when he responded to a question about yet another Biden gaffe by saying, "I don't know what Joe was referring to, not surprisingly", prompting stifled sniggers from White House staffers at the back of the room.

A miffed Mr Biden used his weekly lunch with the President to ask him not to "diss" him in public. Mr Obama agreed, scheduling a photo op of the pair eating hamburgers together to demonstrate they were still buddies. The real difficulty with Mr Biden, however, is his judgement.

On all the big questions, he has been – to put it politely – on the wrong side of history. In 1990, he voted against American forces expelling Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. He voted for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and advocated splitting it into three states along ethnic lines. He opposed the Iraq troop surge of 2007 that pacified the country and rescued the US from the jaws of defeat.

Now, Mr Biden is pushing a policy of what he terms "counter-terrorism plus" – a scheme which involves a much smaller military presence in Afghanistan, with al-Qaeda elements being targeted at long range by military drones and smart missiles.

This runs entirely against the counter-insurgency doctrine convincingly outlined by Gen Stanley McChrystal, who wants an extra 40,000 troops to enable Nato forces to protect and influence the people while mentoring the Afghan army and police, and gathering intelligence on the ground.

The problem is that Mr Obama may now be listening to Mr Biden. Having supposedly already settled on an Afghan strategy in March, he is giving a very public impression of Hamlet as he wrings his hands and conducts endless White House debates – with details leaked to the press – about what to do. These Afghanistan policy seminars are principally designed to demonstrate that Mr Obama is not the hot-headed "decider" President George W Bush. But the dithering is projecting a dangerous uncertainty about the West's intentions to an Afghan people craving assurance that Nato is fully committed, and in for the long haul. More seriously, Mr Obama's inclination on troop levels seems to be to seek a middle way – a "splitting the baby" option that could be the worst of all possible worlds.

The Left, sensing that Mr Obama is wavering and beginning to rethink his campaign contention that Afghanistan was the "good war" as opposed to Mr Bush's evil Iraq adventure, is throwing its lot in with Mr Biden. There's a solidifying conventional wisdom in Washington that Mr Biden's star is in the ascendant. This week's Newsweek front cover sporting the vice-president's steely visage beside the headline "Why Joe is No Joke" is no doubt already framed in the Biden downstairs loo. If Mr Obama really believes that's true then we could all be in big trouble.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home


June 2021   May 2021   April 2021   March 2021   February 2021   January 2021   December 2020   November 2020   October 2020   September 2020   August 2020   July 2020   June 2020   May 2020   April 2020   March 2020   February 2020   January 2020   December 2019   November 2019   October 2019   September 2019   August 2019   July 2019   June 2019   May 2019   April 2019   March 2019   February 2019   January 2019   December 2018   November 2018   October 2018   September 2018   August 2018   July 2018   June 2018   May 2018   April 2018   March 2018   February 2018   January 2018   December 2017   November 2017   October 2017   September 2017   August 2017   July 2017   June 2017   May 2017   April 2017   March 2017   February 2017   January 2017   December 2016   November 2016   October 2016   September 2016   August 2016   July 2016   June 2016   May 2016   April 2016   March 2016   February 2016   January 2016   December 2015   November 2015   October 2015   September 2015   August 2015   July 2015   June 2015   May 2015   April 2015   March 2015   February 2015   January 2015   December 2014   November 2014   October 2014   September 2014   August 2014   July 2014   June 2014   May 2014   April 2014   March 2014   February 2014   January 2014   December 2013   November 2013   October 2013   September 2013   August 2013   July 2013   June 2013   May 2013   April 2013   March 2013   February 2013   January 2013   December 2012   November 2012   October 2012   September 2012   August 2012   July 2012   June 2012   May 2012   April 2012   March 2012   February 2012   January 2012   December 2011   November 2011   October 2011   September 2011   August 2011   July 2011   June 2011   May 2011   April 2011   March 2011   February 2011   January 2011   December 2010   November 2010   October 2010   September 2010   August 2010   July 2010   June 2010   May 2010   April 2010   March 2010   February 2010   January 2010   December 2009   November 2009   October 2009   September 2009   August 2009   July 2009   June 2009   May 2009   April 2009   March 2009   February 2009   January 2009   December 2008  

Powered by Lottery PostSyndicated RSS FeedSubscribe