Joe Biden has been wrong about nearly every major foreign policy decision for as long as anyone can remember. He was even wrong about the biggest no-brainer ever. Biden counseled President Obama against taking out Osama bin Laden when the opportunity to do so arose. (He now falsely denies this.)
Biden doesn’t want to be wrong again, so he’s waffling on the decision to take out the terrorist general Qasem Soleimani. On the one hand, Biden criticized President Trump for killing Soleimani:
A president who says he wants to end endless war in the Middle East is bringing us dangerously close to starting a new one. This outcome of strategic setbacks, heightened threats, chants of ‘Death to America’ once more echoing across the Middle East, Iran and its allies vowing revenge — this was avoidable.
On the other hand, Biden stopped short of saying that killing of Iran’s Qasem Soleimani was the wrong decision. He explained that, though he is deeply skeptical about the action, he might agree with it if given information showing that “there was an imminent threat that required this extraordinary action.”
On the other other hand (you need three hands to keep up with Biden), the former vice president claimed that “Trump’s impulsive decision may well do more to strengthen Iran’s position in the region than any of Soleimani’s plots would have ever accomplished.” If so, why does Biden say he needs to know whether Soleimani was the author of “an imminent threat”?
Biden has an additional incentive for straddling, in addition to not wanting to be wrong again. He wants to appeal to Trump-hating Democrats (i.e. nearly every Democrat), but doesn’t want to go full Bernie Sanders on foreign policy and national security.
Washington Post reporter Matt Viser has trouble locating Biden on the foreign policy spectrum. He writes:
While some see him as a hawk, Biden has also held dovish positions in the past, opposing the Persian Gulf War under President George H.W. Bush and counseling his boss, President Barack Obama, against a surge of troops in Afghanistan.
Biden is neither a hawk nor a dove. If he were one or the other, he would, like a broken clock, be right at least occasionally about foreign policy.
Biden has no fixed, coherent view of the world. He’s just a hack who relies on a combination of political expediency, conventional wisdom, and a small dose of his own judgment to form his foreign policy/national security positions.
It’s that small dose of judgment, I assume, that keeps him from nearly ever being right.