Only a Democratic victory in the upcoming presidential election will allow for a renewed and focused effort against international threats and stability in the Middle East, Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) said in a foreign policy speech Tuesday in Gaston Hall.

“I start from a very simple and basic premise: We cannot afford another four years of Republican stewardship of our national security,” Biden said.

He added that the upcoming election will be one of landmark implications.

“I believe the next president will have an awesome responsibility – but also the greatest opportunity since [Franklin Roosevelt] – to change the direction of our country . and the world,” he said.

Biden, a former candidate for president, withdrew from the race earlier this year after failing to win any Democratic delegates in the Iowa caucuses in early January. He is currently the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations and the former chairman of the Committee on the Judiciary.

The country must begin to lead by an example in line with our beliefs, Biden said.

“Our military might and economic resources are necessary but not sufficient to lead us into this new century,” he said. “It is our ideas and ideals that will allow us to exert the kind of leadership that persuades others to follow and to deal effectively with these forces of change.”

The senator heavily criticized the administration’s efforts in its “war on terror,” claiming the George W. Bush administration has fallen short of its aims and contributed to the emergence of global extremism, ultimately making the country more vulnerable to attack. He further cited a report from the most recent National Intelligence Estimate that affirms al-Qaeda is now in a better position to attack the country.

“[This administration] has made fear the main driver of our foreign policy. I believe it has turned a deadly, serious but manageable threat – that is, a small number of radical groups that hate America – into a 10-foot-tall existential monster that dictates literally every move we make,” he said.

Throughout the course of the speech, Biden said he believes the Bush administration has committed many foreign policy blunders, including what he described as a narrow focus in Iraq. He said he believes Bush has ignored one of the most potent global threats in Iran, which he said is standing idly by as the Iraqi conflict continues to rage.

The senator also offered a prescription for change, calling for a drastic troop drawdown in Iraq as a way to reduce the high costs of the war and alleviate the strain on the military and the “steeper and steeper” cost of American lives. Furthermore, Biden said that the key to a stable Iraq lies not in military occupation but in supporting a federal, power-sharing state.

After the speech, Biden fielded questions from students in a question and answer session moderated by School of Foreign Service Dean Robert L. Gallucci, ranging from devising solutions to the Iraqi conflict to addressing domestic issues like the country’s anti-drug policy. The senator also received an introduction from University President John J. DeGioia.

Although, at the onset of the address, Biden claimed he would steer clear of discussing the presidential reace, he did tackle one candidate’s foreign policy positions. While lauding some of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) deviations from Bush’s foreign policy, including his understanding of the importance of diplomacy and general aversion to war, he said McCain lacks the vision necessary for the United States to enforce its image as a leading power in the world.

“It is time for a total change in Washington’s worldview. That will require more than a great solider,” he said. “It is going to require a wise leader.”

The speech was sponsored by the Lecture Fund, the College Democrats, the SFS and the Office of Federal Relations.

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