There are several key facets to Vice President Joe Biden’s view on U.S. foreign policy, but terrorism being an existential threat is not one of them.
“Terrorism is a real threat,” Biden told the Atlantic’s Steve Clemons. “But it’s not an existential threat to the existence of the democratic country of the United States of America. Terrorism can cause real problems. It can undermine confidence. It can kill relatively large numbers of people. But terrorism is not an existential threat.”
The vice president’s view on terrorism comes as part of his “Biden Doctrine.” One of the facets of his policy outlined by Clemons is the need to have a sense of perspective and respond to threats in a proportional manner. Following this rationale, Biden sees high-profile events like nuclear strikes as an existential threat to the U.S., but not terrorism.
While nuclear strikes certainly have the ability to create more immediate havoc than even the most dangerous of terrorist attacks, Biden’s mitigation of the terrorist threat is odd, given he is part of an administration that has radically increased the targeting of terrorist leaders in drone strikes.
Many terrorists have made ending the existence of the U.S. their primary goal, even though Biden may not think of terrorism as an existential threat.
Radical Islamic terrorist groups often have goals that surpass simply trying to kill scores of people. A primary objective of former al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden was to topple the U.S. economically by getting it involved in a stagnant war, just like he did to the Soviet Union in the 1980s. The Islamic State goes further, and has openly said its goal is to destroy the U.S. in an apocalyptic battle.
Biden’s views on terrorism aren’t too surprising, considering fellow Obama administration alumni former Secretary of Defense Bob Gates once wrote that the vice president has been “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.”
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