This past Saturday, Vice President Joe Biden gave a troubling speech at the 45th Munich Security Conference. Heritage Director for Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom calls the speech “one of the weakest projections of U.S. leadership on foreign soil in recent memory. The message was confused, apologetic, over-conciliatory, and remarkably lacking in substance and detail.” Gardiner details:
In essence, Biden offered a quid pro quo deal with Iran–the kind the European Union has offered for several years with absolutely nothing to show for it except spectacular failure.
There was no appeal to European Union countries such as Germany to tighten their own sanctions on Tehran or calls for Russia and China to strengthen U.N. Security Council sanctions.
Aside from a refusal to recognize the breakaway Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, there was little evidence in Biden’s speech that the Obama Administration. Significantly, Biden made no mention of U.S. support for Georgian and Ukrainian membership in the NATO Membership Action Plan or Russia’s brutal invasion of Georgia last summer.
While reiterating the importance of the NATO alliance and the need for its renewal in the 21st century, the Vice President supports policies that will undermine the organization and weaken American influence within it. In Munich, Biden backed the full reintegration of France into “NATO structures,” and French officers are reportedly in line to take two senior alliance command positions: Allied Command Transformation and Joint Command Lisbon.
These changes would give Paris (and its key ally Berlin) an extraordinary degree of power and influence within the organization, out of all proportion to its minimal military role in alliance operations. Such a move would ultimately shift power away from Washington and London and toward continental Europe, undoubtedly paving the way for the development of a Franco-German driven European Union defense identity within NATO.
Commenting at Politico, James Carafano adds:
The VP’s comments on missile defense are to say the very least…troubling. First, he said we’ll deploy defenses if they are proven. Sea-based tests are eight for ten. Land-based had thirty-three successful tests. The last land-based test tested every component together. So that statement by Biden means nothing. Biden also says we’ll consult with the Russians and allies. Well we have been consulting with the Russians for years. And our allies….including NATO, has already been consulted and endorsed land-based defense. So that statement means nothing as well.
So we are either pressing ahead or we are not. If we are, in the long term, the Russians will see Biden’s remarks as feckless. If we are not, our allies will see the US an unreliable partner. Which is it Joe?