By John Ubaldi
Columnist, In Homeland Security
(First in a series of profiles of Democratic Party presidential candidates)
Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. foreign policy has taken a backseat to domestic considerations. Candidate for the presidency often vow to focus on internal affairs rather than on foreign policy.
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However, once in office, each President has been forced by circumstance to address global challenges; the 2020 presidential election will be no different.
As we begin the 2020 presidential election campaign, we will look at the credentials and polices of all those aspiring to be president beginning with former Vice President Joe Biden.
Experience Biden Would Bring to the White House
Of all the candidates running for the Democratic nomination in 2020, Biden has the most experience. He has a profound grasp of global affairs, having served more than 30 years in the Senate. For 11 of those years, he was either the chairman or ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. On top of that, of course, Biden served eight years as Vice President of the United States under President Barack Obama.
However, Biden’s political experience is not without controversy. He voted against the first Gulf War, voted for the Iraq War, and voted against the surge of forces into Iraq. He also supported the full U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, which some political and national security analysts believe led to the rise of the Islamic State.
Last month, Biden outlined his foreign policy vision by stating that if he is elected president, the center for his foreign policy would be a renewed focus on cooperating with the world’s democracies with the United States serving as the example.
Biden’s platform includes reinforcing U.S. democratic institutions and practices while also restoring the nation’s moral leadership, especially as it relates to immigration. His foreign policy would reflect the economic interests of the middle class through the notion that “economic security is national security.”
Biden Repudiates Trump’s Foreign Policy
In a speech last month that highlighted his national security vision, Biden repudiated the Trump administration, warning that the president, “undermines our democratic alliances while embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity. And make no mistake about it. The world sees Trump for what he is: insincere, ill-informed, and impulsive. Sometimes corrupt. Dangerously incompetent, and incapable, in my view, of world leadership and leadership at home.”
Biden’s national security vision also favors standing up to authoritarian states, including Russia’s military adventurism and China’s greedy economic policies and expansionist plans in the South China Sea. However, opponents of Biden’s national security vision often harken back to his role in the Obama administration when both China and Russia were left unchecked by the United States. How would his administration be any different?
Another challenge Biden faces comes from the pressure being exerted by the most liberal factions of his own Democratic Party. They want to reorient U.S. economic policy at home and abroad by focusing on the needs of ordinary people. This means substantially reducing U.S. defense expenditures and redeploying those resources in fighting poverty.
Biden to Reinstate Obama’s Foreign Policy
The central theme of a Biden foreign policy is the rebirth of President Obama’s national security strategy, one that Trump has systemically being trying to erase. This would mean Biden’s support for Obama’s climate change initiatives, returning the U.S. into the Iran nuclear deal, and negotiating with North Korea only after Kim Jong un demonstrates a commitment to denuclearization.
Biden and the other Democrats running for president have largely focused on domestic policy over national security, mostly opposing anything President Trump as done as president.
However, Biden needs to campaign and promote his detailed plans for homeland security, counterterrorism, and cybersecurity. He also needs to explain how he would deal with Trump’s ongoing trade dispute with China, especially as it relates to Chinese theft of U.S. intellectual property. Biden’s campaign website is noticeably thin on these complex issues.
In the next installments of this series we will look at Biden’s main competitors for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee.