Democratic Presidential Candidate Joe Biden lays a wreath at the Shanksville Flight 93 Memorial on September 11, 2020, as the US commemorates the 19th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks

Biden criticizes US 'forever wars' but may up defense spending

In an interview with the military newspaper Stars and Stripes last Thursday Joe Biden former US Vice President presented some of his foreign policy positions.


Ending US 'forever wars'

While claiming that US 'forever wars' must be ended Biden at the same time seemed to rule out any full withdrawals, arguing that the US still had to worry about terrorism and the Islamic State. However in areas such as Iraq the Islamic State has no territory and Iraqi forces are now probably able to meet any terrorist threats on their own. The US continued presence in Iraq is likely aimed at counteracting Iranian influence. Some time ago the Iraqi parliament asked that all foreign troops withdraw. The present Iraqi government is pro-US and is probably content with the reduction of US troops in the country to just 2,000 from over 5,000.

Biden said: “I think we need special ops capacity to coordinate with our allies.” Biden said that a small force of just 1,500 to 2,000 on the ground would be necessary.

Biden claims US ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria were so complicated that he could not promise a withdrawal.

Biden may increase US military spending

At the same time as BIden spoke of the need to end US 'forever wars' he said that he might increase the already huge US military budget beyond present record levels of well over $700 billion.. Biden will focus spending on what he thinks should be US priorities.

One priority is fighting Russia

Biden targets Russia as a main foe and describes Russia as a 'near-peer' power. However the US spends more than ten times what Russia does on its military each year. It is not clear how Russia can be a 'near-peer' power to the US. Biden intends to shift military focus towards unmanned drones and cyber-warfare. He said this could involve an increase in spending not just a shift in where money was spent.

Biden said in the interview: “First thing I’m going to have to do, and I’m not joking: if elected I’m going to have to get on the phone with the heads of state and say America’s back.” Biden said that NATO was quite worried about failure to confront Russia.

Trump's relationship to Russia

Some in the international community have faulted President Trump for being too close to Russia and its President Putin. Perhaps due to fear of such an appearance there has actually been very limited diplomacy between the two nuclear powers. Biden's plans for confrontation, suggest a bleak future in relations between the two countries. The US seems headed for higher military spending and the avoidance of any peace overtures in order to look sufficiently tough.