Thursday night’s drone strike targeting Qassem Soleimani not only pulverized the murderous Iranian general. It may also have proved a fatal strike to former Vice President Joe Biden’s presidential hopes.
An irony cuts through the heart of the former vice president’s candidacy. He is running as a foreign policy guru; the former Senate Former Relations Committee chairman who knows the world and its leaders. “No member of Congress was more helpful and more knowledgeable about foreign and defense policy than Joe Biden,” Nick Burns, the former undersecretary of state and public backer of Mr. Biden, has said. Mr. Biden “knows world leaders personally, knows the issues and is in the best position to fix the damage [President] Trump has inflicted on U.S. international standing and influence,” added Tony Blinken, the Biden-supporting former deputy secretary of state.
Of course, there was another big event in the early 21st century that “damaged America’s standing and influence” – the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Joe Biden supported it. That not only puts him at odds with vast majority of Democratic primary voters (and the American public at large) but also calls into question the very raison d’etre of his presidency. If Mr. Biden managed to get the biggest foreign policy call of his career wrong, then how much does his vast experience and his full Rolodex really matter? He may be “knowledgeable,” in the words of Nick Burns, but is he wise? Joe Biden running on his foreign policy record is tantamount to Richard Nixon mounting a campaign touting his stellar personal ethics.
The killing of Soleimani has raised fears among Democrats that the United States could be blundering towards a catastrophic war with Iran. That puts a premium on sincere anti-war candidates — not Joe Biden. Democrats have just such a candidate in the form of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Mr. Sanders is already surging; he just announced a massive fundraising haul and it is nipping at Mr. Biden’s heels in national polling. And he’ll certainly get a boost now that foreign wars in the Middle East are back in the political discussion.
Senator Sanders, whose political shrewdness is one of his underrated assets, clearly realizes this. As news of Soleimani’s demise broke, the Vermont senator quickly issued a pithy tweet: “I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one.” He didn’t need to add who was wrong.
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