Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said Tuesday that President Donald Trump's escalation of tensions with Iran proves him to be “dangerously incompetent” and puts the U.S. on the brink of war.
Speaking in New York, Biden said Trump used a “haphazard” decision-making process to order the killing of Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani and has failed to communicate the rationale to Congress or U.S. allies around the world. Biden said Trump instead offered “tweets, threats and tantrums” that prove the Republican president to be “dangerously incompetent and incapable of world leadership.”
“Democracy runs on accountability,” Biden said, urging Trump to consult with Congress on acts of war, as required by the Constitution. “No one wants war. But it's going to take hard work to make sure we don't end up there accidentally.”
After news broke Tuesday night of Iran striking back at the U.S. by firing ballistic missiles at two Iraqi bases housing American troops, Biden turned somber at a campaign fundraiser near Philadelphia.
“I just pray to God as (Trump) goes through what's happening, as we speak, that he's listening to his military commanders for the first time, because so far that has not been the case,” Biden said of the president.
The former vice president's remarks were part of his second major foreign policy address of the campaign. This one comes less than a month before the Feb. 3 Iowa caucuses begin Democrats' 2020 voting, with Biden attempting to highlight his international experience in contrast both to Trump and his Democratic competitors.
But the moment presents challenges for the 77-year-old candidate with nearly five decades in Washington. While his resume is longer than any Democratic presidential rival's, it comes with complications.
Progressives hoping to make the world less militaristic point to Biden's 2002 vote authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, suggesting that muddies his warnings about another Middle Eastern war.
Alternately, Trump and Republicans cast Biden as indecisive or weak, seizing on his opposition to the 1991 U.S. mission that drove Iraq out of Kuwait and his reluctance about the raid that killed Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden in 2011, when Biden was President Barack Obama's No. 2.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, a Vermont senator who voted against President George W. Bush's Iraq war powers request, calls it “baggage.” Former Bush and Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in his memoir that Biden has been “wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue” for 40 years.
But in Iowa last weekend, Biden called the Iran crisis “totally of Donald Trump's making,” tracing Soleimani's killing back to Trump withdrawing from a multilateral deal in which Iran had agreed to curtail its nuclear program.