At one time, some considered then-Senator Joe Biden (D-DE) a foreign policy expert. He served in the Upper Chamber from 1973-2009 and was chairman of the powerful Senate Committee on Foreign Relations from January 2001 to January 2003. One of the reasons some believe former President Barack Obama chose Biden as his second-in-command was because of his foreign policy resume. Still, some believe he got more wrong than right over the years.
Since his inauguration in January 2021, President Biden has faced several glaring foreign policy setbacks. Among them was the pullout from Afghanistan, his pushback on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) visit to Taiwan, and giving Russia a convicted arms dealer in exchange for a basketball player. In each instance, the president somehow managed to do something few have done in Washington, DC, — create bipartisan pushback against his policy decisions.
Foreign Policy Resume Foretold Problems
Over the years, Biden’s policy accomplishments have brought more questions than answers. In 1991, he voted against the Gulf War to push Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. In 2003, he voted for the war on Iraq to remove him. In Afghanistan, the then-Senator claimed the Taliban was not America’s enemy. Years later, as vice president, he argued against the US military raid Obama ordered that terminated terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.
In 2014, former Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush and Barack Obama (as well as the director of the CIA), Robert Gates, wrote a memoir. In it, he noted the former vice president “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
Some believe Biden wasn’t a foreign policy expert but a partisan whose positions were dictated by political winds instead of principles. As a senator, he voted almost entirely with Democratic presidents and against Republican ones.
Biden Elicits Bipartisan Pushback
Over the last 18 months, Biden has elicited bipartisan pushback, which is nearly unheard of in national politics. In August 2021, he ordered the US armed forces to withdraw entirely from Afghanistan. As a result, the Taliban overtook the country. The move caused widespread outrage on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, noted he was disappointed in the administration’s rapid withdrawal that caused “horrifying results.” Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) stated Biden’s team failed to prepare for the Afghan government and military collapse. The New Republic said the debacle unified Congress.
In August 2022, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) openly defied the administration. It encouraged her not to visit Taiwan, citing concern it would irk China. In July, the commander-in-chief told reporters the military thought the visit wasn’t a good idea. When she pushed back, White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan publicly recognized the “One China” policy, which recognizes Taiwan as part of the communist country. Ultimately, Pelosi visited the small island nation despite the rhetoric from the White House.
In early 2022, WNBA star Britney Griner pleaded guilty to drug possession and smuggling charges in Russia. A court ordered her to spend nine years in prison and sent her to a forced-labor camp. On Thursday, November 8, the administration announced a prisoner swap. In exchange for Griner, it handed over famed Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout (the “Merchant of Death”). The government did not secure former Marine Paul Whelan’s release as Russia refused to include him in the deal. Menendez said the move should cause the US government deep reflection and recognize a major problem with hostage-taking scenarios and called it a “deeply disturbing decision.”