Biden lays out foreign policy strategy in rebuke of Trump

Tyler Pager
Bloomberg News

Davenport, Iowa – In a fierce rebuke of Donald Trump’s foreign policy, Joe Biden outlined Wednesday how he would address the conflict unfolding in Syria, calling on the U.S. to lead in brokering peace talks instead of retreating from the region.

Biden painted a stark picture of the consequences of Trump’s decision to withdraw American troops from northern Syria, which cleared the way for Turkish forces to attack the Kurds, reversing the U.S. military’s commitment to provide protection.

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a community event, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Davenport, Iowa.

He said he would first reach out to NATO and the United Nations “to bring more responsible parties to the table” with the goal of mediating a resolution between Turkey and the Kurds. He also called for the U.S. to provide humanitarian support to address the refugee crisis unfolding from the conflict and work to prevent the resurgence of the so-called Islamic State.

“The United States should be willing to set up and facilitate those talks and engage all sides,” Biden said in Davenport. “Leading the free world requires us to show up. To put skin in the game. We shouldn’t be delegating this” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump’s actions in Syria have been condemned by Democrats and Republicans.

For Biden, the speech was an opportunity to contrast his decades of foreign policy expertise against the relative inexperience of his Democratic presidential rivals. Biden served as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and was chosen as the vice presidential nominee by Barack Obama in large part because of his foreign policy background.

The campaign stop in Davenport was initially billed as a community event, but Biden did not take any questions or deliver his normal stump speech. This scripted address follows a solo campaign swing in New Hampshire last week when he ditched his stump speech for a script to call for Trump’s impeachment.

“Donald Trump is demolishing the moral authority of the United States,” Biden said. “His incompetence is so extreme and his abuse of power is so rampant – that he is torching America’s influence and our ability to get things done.”

Biden’s forceful speech also comes at a crucial moment for his candidacy. After a long stint as front-runner for the Democratic nomination, he is statistically tied for first place with Elizabeth Warren and he has become embroiled in the ongoing controversy over his son’s business dealings in Ukraine and China.

In his speech, which he read from a teleprompter, Biden sought to reassure voters that he is not only the most electable Democrat, but also the most seasoned politician to serve as commander-in-chief.

“We need a leader who can, on day one, pick up the phone to call our NATO allies and there won’t be any question of whether or not the United States will meet our treaty obligations or stand up for democracy and freedom,” Biden said. “I’ve personally met and built relationships with almost every world leader.”

Biden also criticized Warren, questioning her statement during the debate that she supported removing American forces from the Middle East. Warren’s campaign later clarified that the senator was referring to combat troops, but Biden has seized on the line to draw a distinction with her.

“I quite frankly was surprised,” Biden told reporters in Columbus, Ohio, on Wednesday morning. “I have never heard anyone say, with any serious background in foreign policy, that we pull all troops out of the Middle East.”