Presidential contender Joe Biden has come under fire for his support for the 2003 Iraq War, but continues to tout his foreign policy experience as a key selling point for his candidacy.
His foreign policy record is shameful, though, extending well beyond his Iraq War vote.
After opposing the Vietnam and first Persian Gulf Wars, Biden in the mid-1990s transformed himself into a leading proponent of humanitarian intervention from his perch as head of the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
In his memoir, Promises to Keep, Biden touts as one of his two proudest moments in public life his leadership on the Balkan conflict and his pushing a reluctant Clinton administration first to arm Serbian Muslims and then to use U.S. air power to suppress conflict in Serbia and Kosovo.
The Serbian Muslims included Islamic fundamentalists, however, who were prone to chop off the heads of Serbian fighters, and the bombing of Kosovo caused hundreds of civilian casualties while triggering rather than deterring Serbian ethnic cleansing operations.
The end result was to empower the Kosovo Liberation Army [KLA], which had been designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department only months before the bombing.
Building off his notorious Iraq War vote, Biden’s shameful record fully materialized during his vice-presidency.
In Central America, the former architect of Plan Columbia – a misguided program to arm the Colombian military under the guise of the War on Drugs – championed privatization initiatives, right-wing governments and regime change efforts that were fundamentally neocolonial.
As Obama’s key point man on Iraq, Biden cultivated close ties with Shia fundamentalist Nouri al-Maliki, who aroused and then crushed Arab Spring protests, and later helped ease Maliki out of power in favor of Haidar al-Abadi who was committed to privatizing Iraq’s economy in line with the original goals of the 2003 military invasion.
In Ukraine, the staunchly Russophobic Biden was key point man to the Petro Poroshenko regime which came to power in a February 2014 coup d’état and triggered a war on its eastern provinces that has killed over 13,000 people.
Three months after the coup, Biden’s son, Hunter, famously joined the board of one of Ukraine’s most profitable and corrupt energy companies, Burisma, and then benefitted from his father’s successful blackmailing of the Poroshenko government by threatening to withhold a $1 billion loan if it did not fire the prosecutor general, Viktor Shokin, bent on prosecuting Burisma’s owner, Mykola Zlochevsky.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Biden has claimed to have opposed the war in Afghanistan and Libya, but in both cases, he promoted a light-footprint approach.
In an October 2011 speech at Plymouth State University, Biden stated that “NATO got it right in [Libya]. In this case, America spent $2 billion and we didn’t lose a single life. This is more the prescription for how to deal with the world as we go forward than in the past.”
If this is indeed the prescription to deal with the world as we go forward in a Biden presidency, God help us all, as Libya thereafter emerged as a failed state which saw huge mass migrations and the return of slavery.
Joe Biden is a sad relic of a corrupt era in American politics that has seen both parties support ill-conceived foreign interventions and wars.
One can only hope that he does not emerge victorious in the primaries, and that his chief rival, Bernie Sanders, more forcefully repudiates his foreign policy record.