In the first part of the current four parts series on facts about the prospective presidential candidates, I focused on the Democrats presidential hopeful; Obama. Let us look now at Joe Biden and his “illustrious” records.
Biden joined McCain in voting for the war resolution in 2002 that propelled the United States into Iraq? Biden has been one of the leading congressional supporters of U.S. militarization of the Middle East and Eastern Europe, of strict economic sanctions against Cuba, and of Israeli occupation policies. Most significantly, however, Biden, who chaired the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during the lead-up to the Iraq War was perhaps the single most important congressional backer of the Bush administration’s decision to invade that oil-rich country.
Biden refused to even allow Scott Ritter who knew more about Iraq’s WMD capabilities than anyone in the US, and would have testified that Iraq had achieved at least qualitative disarmament – to testify. Biden also refused to honor requests by some of his Democratic colleagues to include in the hearings some of the leading anti-war scholars familiar with Iraq and Middle East.
Nor did Biden even call some of the dissenting officials in the Pentagon or State Department who were willing to challenge the alarmist claims of their ideologically-driven superiors. He was willing, however, to allow Iraqi defectors of highly dubious credentials to make false testimony about the vast quantities of WMD materiel supposedly in Saddam Hussein’s possession.
Biden was calling for a U.S. invasion of Iraq and making false statements regarding Saddam Hussein’s supposed possession of “weapons of mass destruction” years before George W. Bush even came to office.
As far back as 1998, Biden was calling for a U.S. invasion of that oil rich country. Even though UN inspectors and the UN-led disarmament process led to the elimination of Iraq’s WMD threat, Biden – in an effort to discredit the world body and make an excuse for war – insisted that UN inspectors could never be trusted to do the job. During Senate hearings on Iraq in September of that year, Biden told Ritter, “As long as Saddam’s at the helm, there is no reasonable prospect you or any other inspector is ever going to be able to guarantee that we have rooted out, root and branch, the entirety of Saddam’s program relative to weapons of mass destruction.”
Calling for military action on the scale of the Gulf War seven years earlier, he continued, “The only way we’re going to get rid of Saddam Hussein is we’re going to end up having to start it alone,” telling the Marine veteran “it’s going to require guys like you in uniform to be back on foot in the desert taking Saddam down.” When Ritter tried to make the case that President Bill Clinton’s proposed large-scale bombing of Iraq could jeopardize the UN inspections process, Biden condescendingly replied that decisions on the use of military force were “beyond your pay grade.” As Ritter predicted, when Clinton ordered UN inspectors out of Iraq in December of that year and followed up with a four-day bombing campaign known as Operation Desert Fox, Saddam was provided with an excuse to refuse to allow the inspectors to return. Biden then conveniently used Saddam’s failure to allow them to return as an excuse for going to war four years later.
Biden supported an invasion in the full knowledge that it would not be quick and easy and that the United States would have to occupy Iraq for an extended period, declaring, “We must be clear with the American people that we are committing to Iraq for the long haul; not just the day after, but the decade after.”
Biden voted against an amendment sponsored by fellow Democratic senator Carl Levin that would have authorized U.S. military action against Iraq if the UN Security Council approved the use of force and instead voted for the Republican-backed resolution authorizing the United States to go to war unilaterally.
In effect, Biden has embraced the neo-conservative view that the United States, as the world’s sole remaining superpower, has the right to invade other countries at will, whether they pose a strategic threat or not. In a speech to the Brookings Institution in June 2005, he declared, “I want to see the president of the United States succeed in Iraq…His success is America’s success, and his failure is America’s failure.” His chastising of the Bush administration mainly focuses on tactical failures to efficiently further the war, not substantive criticisms of the U.S. “right” to occupy a foreign country in violation of international law.
As late as April 2008, Biden criticized President Bush for having “no strategy for success in Iraq…his plan is to muddle through, and hand the problem off to his successor.” He has historically denounced those who favor immediate withdrawal and an end to Iraq funding: “the hard truth is that our large military presence in Iraq is necessary. They are the only guarantor against chaos. Pulling out prematurely or setting a deadline divorced from progress in the areas I’ve discussed will doom us.”
As if the crises born out of the 1916 Sykes-Picot agreement between France and England that dismembered the defeated Ottoman Empire into newly drawn and created Arab states under their respective influence were not enough, we saw Biden/Gelb, in a NYT, May 1, 2006 op-ed, “Unity through Autonomy in Iraq”, from afar calling for breaking Iraq into three parts and decided the ethnic makeup and borders of Iraq in total violation of Article 2.7 of the United Nations Charter as well as International law that forbid nations from domestic interference in of sovereign states.
Like Obama, Biden refuses to condemn plans for permanent military bases, and supports a continued military presence, albeit in smaller numbers than preferred by Bush and other Republicans. His “experience” in foreign affairs consists in absolute fidelity to the conventions of cold war liberalism, the efficient elder brother of “neo-conservatism”. Here again the ticket is well balanced, since Senator Obama has, within a very brief time-frame, exhibited great fidelity to the same creed.
On Israeli/Palestinian crises, Biden, like all presidential candidates, pays his allegiance to Israel to ensure campaign funds, votes, and good press. Recently, Biden declared on Shalom TV, March 28, 2007, “I am a Zionist.” Partitioning Iraq has also been an Israeli goal. Ze’ev Schiff, the military correspondent for Ha’aretz, wrote on June 2, 1982 (during the Iraq/Iran war), “the ‘best’ that can happen for Israeli interests in Iraq is, ‘The dissolution of Iraq into a Shiite state, a Sunni state and the separation of the Kurdish part”.
Biden was one of the most fervent Democratic supporters of the reactionary 2005 legislation overhauling the consumer bankruptcy laws, making it much more difficult for working class and middle-class families to escape debt burdens exacerbated by the corrupt and misleading marketing tactics employed by companies like MBNA. The 2005 law has compounded the problems of distressed homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure. In 2003, MBNA hired the senator’s son, Hunter Biden, fresh out of law school, quickly promoting him to the position of executive vice president. Hunter Biden has since become a hedge fund multi-millionaire).
We are told that Obama picked Biden “to mix youth and experience.” I believe the marriage was for the sole purpose of reassuring most of all, the elites, that nothing dangerous or unusual will disturb business as usual.”
In the light of the above, can we expect a more enlightened, less bloody, more progressive and humane foreign policy from Obama Team? What matters most for us and what we, the wretched and the colonized people of the world desperately need, is someone who is prepared to put an end to the horrors, the bombings, the invasions, the killings, the destructions, the overthrows, the occupations, the tortures, and the American Empire building projects. We do not need interminable clichés and platitudes about hope, etc. Obama and Biden are not the ones who are going to do this.