Joe Biden on Foreign Policy

Democratic Sr Senator (DE); Vice President-Elect

Time to sit down and talk, talk, talk to enemies

Q: Secretaries of State Baker, Kissinger, Powell, they have all advocated some level of engagement with enemies. Do you think these former secretaries of state are wrong on that?

PALIN: No. Kissinger shared with me his passion for diplomacy. But with some of these dictators who hate America and hate what we stand for, they cannot be met with just sitting down on a presidential level as Barack Obama had said he would be willing to do.

BIDEN: #1, Barack Obama did not say sit down with Ahmadinejad. #2 five secretaries of state did say we should talk with and sit down. Now, John and Gov. Palin now say we have to bring our friends and allies along. Our friends and allies have been saying, “Sit down. Talk. Talk. Talk.” Our friends and allies have been saying that, 5 secretaries of state, 3 of them Republicans. And John McCain has said he would go along with an agreement, but he wouldn’t sit down. Now, how do you do that when you don’t have your administration sit down and talk with the adversary?

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Gov. Sarah Palin Oct 2, 2008

Bush’s approach to middle east has been disastrous

Q: How would you solve Israel/Palestinian conflict?

BIDEN: No one in the Senate has been a better friend to Israel than Joe Biden. I would have never joined this ticket were I not absolutely sure Barack Obama shared my passion. But you asked whether this administration’s policy had made sense. It has been a failure. Bush insisted on elections on the West Bank, when I said, “Big mistake. Hamas will win.” What happened? Hamas won. We kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said, “Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don’t, Hezbollah will control it.“ Now what happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government. We will change this policy with diplomacy that understands that you must let Israel negotiate and stand with them, not insist on policies like this administration has.

PALIN: A two-state solution is the solution. That needs to be done, and that will be a top agenda item under a McCain-Palin administration. Israel is our strongest and best ally in the Middle East.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Sarah Palin Oct 2, 2008

FactCheck: McCain did not refuse to sit down with Spain

Biden said that McCain had refused to meet with the government of Spain, but McCain made no such definite statement. Biden said, “John McCain... wouldn’t even sit down with the government of Spain, a NATO ally. I find that incredible.”

In a Sept. 17 interview, McCain appeared confused when asked whether he would meet with Pres. Zapatero of Spain. He responded that “I would be willing to meet with those leaders who are our friends and want to work with us in a cooperative fashion,” but then started talking about leaders in Latin America. He did not commit to meeting with Zapatero, but it wasn’t clear he’d understood the question.

But the McCain campaign denied that their candidate was confused, responding by email, “Senator McCain knew exactly to whom the question referred. Senator McCain refused to commit to a White House meeting with Pres. Zapatero in this interview.” That’s not a refusal to meet with Zapatero, as Biden said. It’s simply a refusal to commit himself one way or the other.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2008 Vice Presidential debate Oct 2, 2008

The US is less secure and more isolated in recent history

Our country is less secure and more isolated that it has been any time it has in recent history. The Bush foreign policy has dug us into a very deep hole, with very few friends to help us climb out. For the last seven years, the administration has failed to face the biggest forces shaping this century. The emergence of Russia, China and India’s great powers, the spread of lethal weapons, the shortage of secure supplies of energy, food and water. The challenge of climate change and the resurgence of fundamentalism in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the real central front in the war on terror. We once again see the consequences of the neglect of Russia challenging the very freedom of a new democratic country of Georgia. Barack and I will end that neglect. We will hold Russia accountable for its action and we will help Georgia rebuild. I have been on the ground in Georgia, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and I can tell you in no uncertain terms, this administration’s policy has been an abysmal failure.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Even Bush recognizes we should talk to Iran

After 7 years of denial, even the Bush Administration recognizes we should talk to Iran because that the best way to ensure our security. Should we trust John McCain’s judgment when he says that we can’t have no timelines to withdraw our troops from Iraq or should we listen to Obama who says shift the responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home. Now, after 6 long years, the administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Doctrine of crisis prevention, not preemption

Q: When future historians write of your administration’s foreign policy, what will be noted as your doctrine?

A: Clarity. Prevention, not preemption. An absolute repudiation of this president’s doctrine, which has only three legs in the stool: 1) don’t talk to anybody; 2) preemption; & 3) regime change. I would reject all three. We need a doctrine of prevention. The role of a great power is to prevent crises. And we don’t have to imagine any of the crises. You have Pakistan, Russia, China, Darfur.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Hold China accountable; it’s capitulation, not competition

Q: Many presidential candidates have talked tough about China and its human rights record in the past but, in the end, favor securing our economic interest rather than risk upsetting China. How would you balance human rights and trade with China?

A: I’ve been pushing, on the Foreign Relations Committee for the last seven years, that we hold China accountable at the United Nations. At the UN, we won’t even designate China as a violator of human rights. Now, what’s the deal there? We talk about competition in terms of trade. It’s capitulation, not competition. Name me another country in the world that we would allow to conduct themselves the way China has, and not call them on the carpet at the UN

Q: So you would call them on th carpet?

A: Absolutely.

Q: You would appoint a UN ambassador who would press for this?

A: It’s the one way to get China to reform. You can’t close your eyes. You can’t pretend. It is self-defeating. It’s a Hobson’s choice we’re giving people here.

Source: 2007 Democratic radio debate on NPR Dec 4, 2007

Move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy

I do not think we should maintain the same aid we’re giving. I have made it clear to Musharraf. If he did not take off his uniform, if he did not hold fair and free elections by the middle of January, I would on the floor of the Senate move to take away the aid we’re giving with regard to F-16s and P-3s, because that’s the biggest leverage you have on him within his military. He is not a sole player. He has to keep his military happy as well. I would use that leverage. We should move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy. Unlike anyone else, within 5 days of this happening, I laid out a detailed plan. You have to move from military aid to giving to the middle class there. The middle class is overwhelmingly the majority. They get no connection with the US. We have to significantly increase our economic aid relative to education, relative to NGOs, relative to all those things that make a difference in the lives of ordinary people over there, and not be doing it through the military side.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate in Las Vegas, Nevada Nov 15, 2007

Pakistani elections will be a sham if emergency not lifted

Q: General Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, says the elections are going to take place before the 9th of January. But there is no word when the state of national emergency is going to be lifted. And a lot of critics are already saying how can you go ahead and campaign, how can you have elections, how can the opposition operate if this state of emergency continues

A: Well, it can’t. Musharraf called me about six days ago. I had a long conversation with him. And he indicated to me that the elections would go off within this 60-day timeframe, that he would take off his uniform, and that as soon as possible before--BEFORE--the election date, the state of emergency would be lifted. Absent him lifting the state of emergency, this will be a sham. And if he does not do that, then I think there is not much hope for there to be the kind of accommodation and power sharing that everybody hopes will occur as a consequence of this election.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Nov 11, 2007

Pakistan is potentially most dangerous country in the world

Q: [to Biden]: Why isn’t Senator Obama ready?

BIDEN: Look, I think he’s a wonderful guy. It was about Pakistan we were talking about. The fact of the matter is, Pakistan is potentially the most dangerous country in the world. A significant minority of jihadists with nuclear weapons. We have no Pakistan policy; we have a Musharraf policy. That’s a bad policy. The policy should be based upon a long-term relationship with Pakistan and stability. We should be encouraging free elections. There is an overwhelming majority of moderates in that country. They should have their day.

Q: But when you were asked, “Is he ready?” you said, “I think he can be ready, but right now I don’t believe he is. The presidency is not something that lends itself to on-the-job training.”

BIDEN: I think I stand by the statement.

OBAMA: If we have Osama bin Laden in our sights and we’ve exhausted all other options, we should take him out before he plans to kill another 3,000 Americans. I think that’s common sense

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 2007

China holds the mortgage on our house, to pay for war

Q: Is China an ally or an adversary?

A: They’re neither. The fact of the matter is, though, they hold the mortgage on our house. This administration, in order to fund a war that shouldn’t be being fought and tax cuts that weren’t needed for the wealthy--we’re now in debt almost a trillion dollars to China. We better end that war, cut those taxes, reduce the deficit and make sure that they no longer own the mortgage on our home.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 8, 2007

American troops on the ground in Darfur now

Q: In the past, you’ve talked about NATO troops in Darfur. What about American troops?

A: Absolutely, positively. Look, I’m so tired of this. I heard the same arguments after I came back from meeting with Milosevic: We can’t act; we can’t send troops there. Where we can, America must. Why Darfur? Because we can. We should now. Those kids will be dead by the time the diplomacy is over. 2500 American troops can stop the genocide now. I have called for a no-fly zone, but you need troops on the ground.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

US troops on ground in Sudan to end Darfur carnage

Q [to Sen. Dodd]: Darfur is the second time that our nation has had a chance to do something about genocide in Africa. The first came in Rwanda in 1994, when we did nothing.

DODD: We’ve unfortunately, as a result of our conflict in Iraq, have lost our moral authority. And as a result of that, our ability to mobilize the world on issues like Darfur has been severely damaged. But the United States should be able to take some unilateral action here

BIDEN: I have been calling for three years to stop talking and start acting. We don’t have to wait to get out of Iraq to regain our moral authority. We’ve lost part of our moral authority because we stood by and watched this carnage. And if need be, if the rest of the world will not act, we should, and should have already--two years ago--imposed a no-fly zone, and we should have--two years ago, absent the willingness of the rest of the world to act--put American troops on the ground to stop the carnage.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Biggest threat to US is from North Korea, Iran, & Russia

Q: What three nations, other than Iraq, represent, to you, the biggest threat to the United States?

A: The biggest threat to the US is, right now, North Korea. Iran not as big a threat, but a long-term threat. And quite frankly, the tendency of Putin to move in a totalitarian direction, which would unhinge all that’s going on positively in Europe.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

1993: Strongly endorsed $1.6B Russia aid package

In March 1993, I got an assistance program I could support: $1.6 billion in direct aid to help Russia stabilize.

Although a public poll said that 75% of the American people were opposed to giving Russia more money, and we were already in a hard fight for the economic plan, I felt we had no choice but to press ahead. American had spent trillions of dollars in defense to win the Cold War; we couldn't risk reversal over less that $2 billion and a bad poll. To the surprise of my staff, the congressional leaders, including the Republicans, agreed with me. At a meeting I convened to push the plan, Senator Joe Biden, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, strongly endorsed the aid package. Newt Gingrich was passionately in favor of helping Russia, saying it was a "great defining moment" for American and we had to do the right thing.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.506-507 Jun 21, 2004

Voted YES on cooperating with India as a nuclear power.

Congressional Summary:US-India Nuclear Cooperation Approval and Nonproliferation Enhancement Act:

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): Integrating India into a global nonproliferation regime is a positive step. Before anyone gets too sanctimonious about India's nuclear weapons program, we should acknowledge that the five recognized nuclear weapons states have not done nearly enough to fulfill their commitments under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, including making serious reductions in their own arsenals, nor in the case of the US in ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. BARBARA LEE (D, CA-9): In withholding my approval, I seek not to penalize the people of India but, rather, to affirm the principle of nuclear nonproliferation. Jettisoning adherence to the international nuclear nonproliferation framework that has served the world so well for more than 30 years, as approval of the agreement before us would do, is just simply unwise. It is also reckless.

Approval of this agreement undermines our efforts to dissuade countries like Iran and North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. By approving this agreement, all we are doing is creating incentives for other countries to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Reference: US-India Nuclear Agreement; Bill HR.7081 ; vote number 2008-S211 on Oct 1, 2008

Voted YES on enlarging NATO to include Eastern Europe.

H.R. 3167; Gerald B. H. Solomon Freedom Consolidation Act of 2001, To endorse the vision of further enlargement of the NATO Alliance. Vote to pass a bill that would support further expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, authorize military assistance to several eastern European countries and lift assistance restrictions on Slovakia.
Reference: Bill HR.3167 ; vote number 2002-116 on May 17, 2002

Voted YES on killing a bill for trade sanctions if China sells weapons.

Vote to table [kill] an amendment that would require sanctions against China or other countries if they were found to be selling illicit weapons of mass destruction.
Reference: Bill HR.4444 ; vote number 2000-242 on Sep 13, 2000

Voted NO on cap foreign aid at only $12.7 billion.

Adoption of the conference report on the 2000 Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill provided $12.7 billion for foreign aid programs in 2000.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)51; N)49
Reference: H.R. 2606 Conference Report; Bill H.R. 2606 ; vote number 1999-312 on Oct 6, 1999

Voted NO on limiting the President's power to impose economic sanctions.

To kill a proposal limiting President Clinton's ability to impose economic sanctions on foreign nations.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)53; N)46; NV)1
Reference: Motion to table the Lugar Amdt #3156.; Bill S. 2159 ; vote number 1998-201 on Jul 15, 1998

Voted NO on limiting NATO expansion to only Poland, Hungary & Czech.

This amendment would have limited NATO Expansion to only include Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic.
Status: Amdt Rejected Y)41; N)59
Reference: NATO Expansion limit-Warner Amdt. #2322; Bill NATO Expansion Treaty #105-36 ; vote number 1998-112 on Apr 30, 1998

Voted YES on $17.9 billion to IMF.

Would provide $17.9 billion for the International Monetary Fund.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)84; N)16
Reference: McConnell Amdt #2100; Bill S. 1768 ; vote number 1998-44 on Mar 26, 1998

Voted YES on Strengthening of the trade embargo against Cuba.

Strengthening of the trade embargo against Cuba.
Status: Conf Rpt Agreed to Y)74; N)22; NV)4
Reference: Conference Report on H.R. 927; Bill H.R. 927 ; vote number 1996-22 on Mar 5, 1996

Voted YES on ending Vietnam embargo.

Ending U.S. trade embargos on the country of Vietnam.
Status: Amdt Agreed to Y)62; N)38
Reference: For. Reltns. Auth. Act FY 94 & 95; Bill S. 1281 ; vote number 1994-5 on Jan 27, 1994

Multi-year commitment to Africa for food & medicine.

Biden co-sponsored the Hunger to Harvest bill:

    In an effort to reduce hunger in sub-Saharan Africa, urges the President to:

  1. set forth five-year and ten-year strategies to achieve a reversal of current levels of hunger and poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, including a commitment to contribute an appropriate U.S. share of increased bilateral and multilateral poverty-focused resources for sub-Saharan Africa, with an emphasis on health (including HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment), education, agriculture, private sector and free market development, democratic institutions and the rule of law, micro-finance development, and debt relief; and

  2. work with the heads of other donor countries and sub-Saharan African countries and with private and voluntary organizations and other civic organizations to implement such strategies; and calls for

  3. Congress to undertake a multi-year commitment to provide the resources to implement those strategies; and

  4. the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to report on such implementation.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HCR102 on Apr 4, 2001

Impose sanctions and an import ban on Burma.

Biden sponsored imposing sanctions and an import ban on Burma

A bill to impose sanctions on officials of the State Peace and Development Council in Burma, to prohibit the importation of gemstones and hardwoods from Burma, & to promote a coordinated international effort to restore civilian democratic rule to Burma.

(The two Senate versions currently differ in wording). The Saffron Revolution Support Act states that it is U.S. policy to:

  1. support the democratic aspirations of Burma's people;
  2. condemn the repression carried out by the State Peace and Development Council (SPDC); and
  3. hold accountable individuals responsible for the repression of peaceful political activity in Burma.
Directs the President to submit to the appropriate congressional committees a list of:
  1. SPDC officials who play or have played a substantial role in political repression in Burma or in the commission of human rights abuses;
  2. Subjects persons so identified to U.S. entry prohibition and financial sanctions.
  3. Amends the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 to prohibit the importation into the US of Burmese gems, teak, or other hardwood timber.
  4. Prohibits any U.S. person or corporation from investing in Burma.

Introductory statement by Sponsor:

Sen. McCAIN. The world has reacted with horror and revulsion at the Burmese junta's recent brutal crackdown against peaceful demonstrators. In crushing the Saffron Revolution, killing hundreds and jailing thousands, including countless Buddhist monks, the junta has left no doubt about its blatant disregard for basic human decency. We, as Americans, stand on the side of freedom, not fear; of peace, not violence; and of the millions in Burma who aspire to a better life, not those who would keep them isolated and oppressed. Our response must go beyond statements of condemnation, and the time to act is now. This legislation imposes meaningful and effective punitive action against the cruel, thuggish, and illegitimate Burmese government.

Source: Burma Democracy Promotion Act (S.2257 & S.2172) 07-S2257 on Oct 29, 2007

Remove African National Congress from terrorist list.

Biden co-sponsored removing African National Congress from terrorist list

A bill to exempt the African National Congress from treatment as a terrorist organization. [The ANC is now the ruling party of South Africa; as head of the ANC, Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years by the apartheid government before becoming President of South Africa].

Source: S.2979 08-S2979 on May 6, 2008

Implement Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force.

Biden co-sponsored implementing Darfur Peace Agreement with UN peacekeeping force

Source: S.RES.455 08-SR455 on Feb 14, 2008

Condemns Russia for provocative statements to Georgia.

Biden introduced condemning Russia for provocative statements to Georgia

A resolution expressing the sense of the Senate regarding provocative and dangerous statements made by the Government of the Russian Federation that undermine the territorial integrity of the Republic of Georgia.

Legislative Outcome: Related bills: H.RES.1166 & S.RES.418; Agreed to by Senate; Passed/agreed to in House, by recorded vote: 390-23 (Roll no. 269).
Source: Resolution on South Ossetia (S. RES. 550) 08-SR550 on May 2, 2008

Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s.

Biden co-sponsored acknowledging the Armenian Genocide of the early 1900s

Sen. DURBIN: The definition of "genocide" is "the deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political, or cultural group." Scholars agree that what the Armenian people suffered in 1915 to 1917 fits the definition of genocide. To date, 19 countries and 37 US states recognize the Armenian Genocide. Genocide is wrong. It is evil. It is evil whether its victims are Armenians, Sudanese, Rwandan Tutsis, Cambodians or European Jews. Not to acknowledge genocide for what it is denigrates the memory of its victims. Recognition of genocide is part of the healing process. Official recognition will reaffirm our tradition of protecting the vulnerable and inspire us to not stand by and watch as genocide occurs in our time.
Source: Armenian Genocide Resolution (S.RES.106/H.RES.106) 2007-SR106 on Mar 14, 2007

Urge Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations.

Biden co-sponsored urging Venezuela to re-open dissident radio & TV stations

Source: Radio Caracas Resolution (S.RES.211) 2007-SR211 on May 21, 2007

Other candidates on Foreign Policy: Joe Biden on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010