Vice President Biden has attacked Mitt Romney as “fundamentally wrong” and “totally out of touch” on foreign policy. That’s rich coming for Biden, who has been wrong on virtually every important foreign policy issue as far back as anyone can remember.
Biden had the wrong line on the Cold War, as we’ll see below. He also opposed the successful Gulf War, while supporting (at the time of decision) the much more problematic subequent one. While I wouldn’t say that Biden was wrong to support the second war with Iraq, he quickly came to think so. Eventually, he floated a harebrained plan to partition Iraq, on the theory that the country could not be salvaged. But it was salvaged, and Al Qaeda in Iraq trounced, by the surge, which Biden vigorously opposed.
I could go on, but let’s return to Clueless Joe’s attack on Romney. Speaking with his typical level of sophistication, Biden told a NYU audience that “Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive; if Governor Romney had been president, could he have used the same slogan in reverse?”
The answer is no. Romney would not have called off, or modified, the hunt for Bin Laden. Moreover, no competent leader would have nixed the plan to take out Osama. Joe Biden would have, but that only proves my point. The notion that President Obama made a difficult decision plays only in the spineless world of foreign policy “realism” and “smart power” where Biden resides. That’s not Romney territory, thank goodness.
Biden also criticized Romney for having a “Cold War mindset.” Here, he was referring to Romney’s view that Russia represents a threat to the U.S. and to references to the Russians as “the Soviets.”
The latter represent a slip of the tongue, of course, something that Biden should know a thing or two about. And to dismiss Romney’s concerns about Russia as symptomatic of a Cold War mindset reflects a lack of sophistication that would be shocking in anyone other than Joe Biden.
The end of War World I did not mean that Germany could never again pose a threat to the U.S. Similarly, the end of the Cold War does not mean that Russia represents no threat. To be sure, it is not now the threat it once was, and Romney has never suggested otherwise. But it reflects no improper mindset to resist the kind of kowtowing to Russia that Obama has engaged in, much less to be concerned about Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Putin’s combination of ambition and authoritarianism is almost always threatening when manifested in a country of Russia’s size and importance. If Biden possessed a passing familiarity with history, he would understand this.
In any event, no one can accuse Biden of having a Cold War mindset – not even during the Cold War. As Seth Mandel points out, Biden consistently opposed the policies of President Reagan (nuclear modernization and the strategic defense initiative) that former Soviet officials say convinced them that the arms race was unwinnable.
Serious debate over foreign policy differences should be an important part of the 2012 campaign. Such a debate may occur, but not if Joe Biden participates.