Former Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday offered another stinging rebuke of President Donald Trump following the president’s decision to remove U.S. troops from Northern Syria, saying the action will have far-reaching ramifications affecting the country’s credibility abroad.
Biden, a Democratic frontrunner seeking the White House in 2020, made his remarks in Davenport amid his latest trip to the first-in-the-nation caucus state. During his 40-minute speech, Biden focused a steady line of attack against Trump, calling the president impulsive, “delusional,” “incompetent” and “a complete failure.”
“It’s not comfortable to say this about a president,” Biden said, “but he is a complete failure, a complete failure as commander-in-chief.”
Earlier this month, Trump called for U.S. military presence to withdraw from Northern Syria, which shares a border with Turkey, leading way to Turkish military strikes by land and air against Syrian Kurdish forces allied with the U.S. Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is among the Turkish leaders who view Syrian Kurds as terrorists, has referred to the mission as “Operation Peace Spring.”
What has resulted, Biden said, is a “humanitarian crisis” that has caught innocent civilians and ethnic and religious minorities in the crossfire and forced flight from their homes, displacing tens of thousands of people.
Biden added that the events of the past week have “brought devastating clarity to just how dangerous this president is to our national security” and the nation’s leadership around the world. And he said Trump routinely “fails to see the consequences of his impulses” and denies responsibility for his own actions.
“The buck never stops at his desk in his view,” Biden said.
Speaking to a crowd of hundreds in the RiverCenter, Biden contrasted Trump’s actions with what he would do in the White House. He described himself as the candidate most prepared to deal with leaders of other nations because he formed international relationships during the decades he spent in elected office.
He also said dealing with foreign leaders diplomatically is more than a series of “handshakes and photo ops.”
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Turkish military strikes began days after the U.S. withdrawal. Concerns raised over the decision have come from U.S. military leaders as well as both sides of the political aisle. Trump, meanwhile, has threatened to “destroy” the Turkish economy if Erdogan does not pull back, and the U.S. announced this week heightened tariffs on steel.
Still, Biden said, “the damage has been done."
“You don't get do-overs when it comes to national security,” he said. “The decisions are deadly serious.”
Biden also expressed a concern, which is shared across the political aisle and among military leaders, that the action could amount to the resurgence of the Islamic State, or ISIS. Biden also said lack of presence there gives Russia and Iran greater power in the Middle-East, comparing Trump’s approach to a bending of will to “strongmen.”
“This is not an end to forever wars,” he said. “It’s a recipe for more forever wars.”