If perception is often reality, there’s no arguing with what we saw of Joe Biden. Here he was comfortably at home in his basement while running for one of the world’s most demanding jobs. It shows he is temperamentally, maybe mentally unfit for commander in chief, charged the critics. He didn’t move much more in response. Why give up what turned out to be a winning hand?
He seemed to reflect a changing mood in the electorate. a growing weariness with U.S. interventions everywhere for every kind of reason, wars started but never won and never ended, threats of future violence from all over the globe when in fact, the U.S. has never been quite so safe. No overriding ideological menace like Stalin’s Communism is pushing us to the brink.
But where does Biden with his long Senate record fit into this? Not too badly with grounds for optimism. He joined the stampede for the ill conceived ’03 war with Iraq but afterwards exercised more caution. In fact, during his years as Vice President, he almost alone among advisers to President Obama argued against the militarization of U.S. policy, opposing more troops to Afghanistan and the disastrous war in Libya. As usual, there were the scoffs and eye rolling of other advisers, but was it his sometimes halting delivery to blame or his message?
Like President Trump before him, Biden faces the formidable opposition of the so-called deep state, a combination of elements of the intelligence agencies, the unelected bureaucracy and billionaire moneyed interests who are quite content to keep all U.S. wars going. Hated for so many reasons, Trump is not given credit for calming the perceived threat from nuclear armed North Korea. Not a real lasting solution, claim the critics. But in foreign policy half a loaf is better than none. Similarly, Biden says he wants to rejoin the nuclear agreement with Iran that was abandoned by Trump. It has flaws ino doubt, but they can be dealt with. The point is to lessen unnecessary tensions in a world that is all too trigger happy.
Biden is not without baggage: a U.S. investigation of his family’s financial dealings, a large part of the electorate, including a growing populist movement currently allied with the Republican party, who are outraged by what they consider a rigged election. He must also deal with a clamorous, influential left led by Senator Bernie Sanders who will increasingly object to his centrist domestic policies. Yet this same group appears to share his foreign policy views
Then there is chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, who recently commented on the Defense Department budget: “We must take a hard look at what we do, how we do it. There’s a considerable amount that the U.S. spends on overseas deployments, on overseas bases and locations, etc. Is everyone of these absolutely, positively necessary for the defense of the United States?”