Barack Obama selected Joe Biden as his running in part because of Biden’s alleged expertise with regard to foreign policy. As I demonstrated here, though, Biden has been anything but expert when it comes to Iraq. In fact, he has either been wrong or confessed error on every major decision pertaining to Iraq.
As Michael Rubin shows, Biden has fared no better when it comes to Iran. According to Rubin:
Biden’s unyielding pursuit of “engagement” with Iran for more than a decade has made it easier for Tehran to pursue its nuclear program, while his partisan obsession with thwarting the Bush administration has led him to oppose tough sanctions against hard-liners in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.
In 1997, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami proposed a “dialogue of civilizations.” This triggered much enthusiasm in the west, and Biden was at the center of it. For example, in 2002, Biden headlined a dinner at the American Iranian Council, an organization underwritten at the time by a dozen oil companies and dedicated to ending sanctions on Iran. At the gala, Biden spoke of the dichotomy between hard-liners and the reformers led by Khatami. In order to encourage reform, he invited “the elected representatives in Iran, to meet with . . . members of the United States Congress.” Biden indicated that it would not be his first meeting with Iranian parliamentarians.
Biden’s faith in the Iranian “reformers” turned out to be badly misplaced. As Rubin notes, Khatami left office in 2005 without implementing substantial reform. Meanwhile, European Union trade with Iran had nearly tripled. Yet far from assuming a moderate posture, “the elected representatives in Iran” allocated nearly 70 percent of the hard currency windfall into military and nuclear programs. Even the November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate affirmed that Iran had pursued a nuclear weapons program until 2003 (the NIE’s view that the pursuit may have ended that year seems too optimistic). As former Khatami spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh explained, “we had one overt policy, which was one of negotiation and confidence building, and a covert policy, which was continuation of activities.” In other words, the Iranians were playing folks like Biden while they continued to develop nukes. The phrase “useful idiot” comes to mind.
Biden was even more misguided once the fraudulent nature of the government “reform” movement came to light. While happy to confess “error” on his vote to authorize war with Iraq, Biden never acknowledged his error on Iran. Moreover, and more disgracefully, as evidence mounted that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps was planning and executing terrorist activities in Iraq, Biden voted against bipartisan legislation to designate the Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization, an important step to aid nonviolent efforts to deny it funds and financing. Biden was one of only 22 senators to do so. Biden’s excuse for his vote was that President Bush would use it as a pretext to take military action against Iran. Wrong again, it would seem. Bush has done nothing of the kind.
According to Rubin, Biden is considered “a blessing” among the theocrats in Iran. Thus, in an official sermon, Ayatollah Mohammad Kashani speaking on behalf of Iran’s supreme leader, declared: “This Senator [Biden] correctly says Israel could not suppress Hizbullah in Lebanon, so how can the U.S. stand face-to-face with a nation of 70 million? This is the blessing of the Guardianship of the Jurists [the theocracy] . . . which plants such thoughts in the hearts of U.S. senators and forces them to make such confessions.” The Ayatollah was unaware that divine intervention is not required to induce Biden to produce such non sequiturs.
The theocrats were equally delighted with Biden’s misguided partition plan. The state press greeted it with the headline “U.S. Plans To Disintegrate Iraq.”
Lyndon Johnson reportedly once said (I’m quoting from memory) of a colleague from his Senate who, from his perch on the Foreign Relations Committee, had become an arch critic of the war in Vietnam: “It’s my fault. The good people of ________ decided to send the village idiot to Washington, and I had to find a committee for him. I couldn’t trust him with anything important to people’s daily lives, but he liked to talk about faraway places — it made him feel important — so I put him on the Foreign Relations Committee. So you see, it’s my fault.”
Joe Biden may have more going for him than Johnson’s adversary did. But you couldn’t prove it by his positions on Iraq or Iran.
UPDATE: Some have asked which Senator LBJ disparaged as “the village idiot.” Former LBJ aide turned columnist John Roche, the source of this story, didn’t identify the Senator. With the help of a friend, I’m pretty sure I figured out who it was. But since I’m not certain, I’ll follow Roche’s lead.
I will say this, though: the guy I’m thinking of was never tapped to run for vice president.
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