Former Vice President Joe Biden’s biggest competitor in the 2020 presidential primary race may be his own foreign policy record.
As IJR reported earlier, Obama-era Defense Secretary Robert Gates doubled down on a claim from his memoir that Biden had “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue of over the past four decades.”
During his interview on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Gates couldn’t even say if Biden would be an “effective commander in chief.”
Watch Gates’ comments:
Gates and @JoeBiden served together under @BarackObama. As for how the former VP would do as commander in chief, Gates says it would “depend on the personalities at the time” as Biden “had some issues with the military.” pic.twitter.com/5H8MYM2VMw
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) May 12, 2019
Gates has plenty of reasons to doubt Biden’s foreign policy know-how. Here are five of Biden’s worst foreign policy takes:
In 1979, Iran was in the middle of a revolution and ousted Mohammad Reza Pahlavi — also known as the Shah of Iran — in favor of an anti-American leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. Under the ayatollah’s leadership, revolutionaries stormed the U.S. embassy and held dozens of Americans hostage in Tehran for 444 days.
Under the Shah, Iran was westernized, with Iranian women dressing the same as American women. When the ayatollah took over, Iran became an Islamic theocracy, and Sharia law became the law of the land. Western culture was banned, and women were stripped of equal rights and could no longer go out in public without a veil.
But Biden never saw this coming. As former Assistant Secretary of State Robert Charles told Fox News, Biden thought the ayatollah would improve human rights in the region.
“Back in 1979, this is a guy who celebrated the ayatollah’s coming to power because he thought that was going to bring human rights,” Charles said.
The Soviet Union
Toward the end of the Cold War, then-President Ronald Reagan turned to Congress to increase the amount of funding to go toward defense. Reagan hoped a strengthened military would force the Soviets to the table as their union crumbled.
Reagan, of course, brought the Soviet Union to its knees and oversaw the fall of the Berlin Wall. Biden, meanwhile, was an obstacle to this success.
As Gates noted, Biden refused to vote with Republicans on several defense packages that encouraged the fall of the Soviet Union.
“This is a guy that opposed the defense buildup of Ronald Reagan,” Charles said. “He opposed the B-1. He opposed the B-2 that brought down — that policy direction brought down the Soviet Union. He opposed the MX missiles.”
Biden’s mistakes in Iraq were present from the very beginning. While political figures like President Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) were hesitant to support going to war in Iraq, Biden voted in favor of the war.
When he entered in the White House years later, the Obama administration rushed the removal of troops from Iraq — a mistake that may have helped ISIS grow in the power vacuum they left behind.
After the group formed, Biden and former President Barack Obama failed to take the terrorist group seriously, calling it the JV team.
Killing bin Laden
The death of Osama bin Laden was one of the greatest foreign policy moments of the Obama administration — and Biden opposed the whole thing.
Intelligence officials briefed Obama and Biden about the compound they believed bin Laden was in at the time. During the deliberations about the attack on the compound, Biden told Obama, “Mr. President, my suggestion is don’t go.”
Obama didn’t listen to Biden, and SEAL Team 6 took care of the rest.
During the 2012 elections, then-candidate Mitt Romney claimed that Russia was the biggest “geopolitical foe” of the United States. At the time, both Biden and Obama mocked the Republican for his fears of Russia.
“[Romney] acts like he thinks the Cold War is still on [and] Russia is still our major adversary,” Biden said at the time. “I don’t know where he has been.”
Under the Obama administration, Russia grew its presence in the Middle East, took the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine, and meddled in U.S. elections.
As IJR previously reported, Romney recently called out Biden’s foreign policy after the former vice president claimed that China was not a threat as a competitor to the U.S.
In a statement that seems applicable to several of Biden’s decisions, Romney issued this warning: “This will not age well.”