When Barack Obama chose Senator Biden for his running mate, on the one hand, he gained an important ally for his cause, someone who is quite intelligent and capable of thinking on his feet, acting as both attack and guard dog for the Democrats, while on the other hand, he also gained someone who presents several significant liabilities which Obama needs to address and deal with. Certainly anyone who looks at the choice can see that Obama has hurt many of the important and positive messages he had; if a Democrat wants to run as the voice for change, one doesn’t go out and pick Biden, someone who is as tied to the establishment as one can find. Obama, to be sure, wanted someone who could advise him if he were elected president, but if that is the case, does it actually have to be someone who has had any political background? Could he not have gone looking through political science departments and found an outsider who represented his own ideals better than Biden? And that is where the problems begin. Biden and Obama, despite the bond of friendship which has developed between them, represent two different ideals, and Biden brings with his experience various positions which undercut Obama’s stated beliefs, and indeed, represents a real set back to the kind of dialogue Obama has said he wanted in the political environment. While it would be ill-advised to single out Biden with hate, it is wise for one to look at him and see what kinds of concerns one can and should have with his nomination. Let’s take a look at some of the more important ones.
First, by serving in the Senate for so long, Biden has been able to dig himself into the establishment. He has accepted many of the establishment’s finer points, from American and Israeli exceptionism, to the dark side of the American liberal experiment, that is, an individualistic understanding of freedom and liberty which looks more to the social contract than to natural law as the means by which a nation is to be governed. For the first point, Joe Biden is the one who makes it clear he is a Zionist; he thinks Israel is America’s greatest friend and asset in the Middle East, and it seems that is enough to make him one of the great defenders of Zionism. He thinks Israel helps defend America’s interests by its presence and that justifies our open-ended support to a nation which at least borders on terrorism in its world-actions (if it doesn’t actually cross it). It’s fine by him because this makes the need for less of an American military presence in the Middle East while we still have nominal hegemony in the region. Thus, it is also clear, he follows through with another general Americanist mistake: the belief that might makes right, and that through a strong military power, Americans help produce world peace. From a Catholic standpoint, such a view is to be denounced as strongly as possible: the threat of violence is a form of violence, and it encourages the kind of “king of the hill” mentality that ultimately leads to conflict and wars between nations. We need to think of different ways of establishing peace, as Pope Benedict wisely stated, “Thus there is an urgent need, even within the framework of current international difficulties and tensions, for a commitment to a human ecology that can favour the growth of the ‘tree of peace.’ For this to happen, we must be guided by a vision of the person untainted by ideological and cultural prejudices or by political and economic interests which can instill hatred and violence.” That is, nations need to work for peace, not through the force of arms, but by overcoming those prejudices in the world which lead to hate and violence, especially the kind (such as any nationalistic form of exceptionism) which looks down upon an other simply because they are other and a potential threat. We must establish peace, not by the force of arms, but by actually working with the other, even one’s enemies, and finding ways to make them friends. “We would like to be able to dispel this threatening and terrible nightmare by proclaiming at the top of our voice the absurdity of modern war and the absolute necessity of Peace – Peace not founded on the power of arms that today are endowed with an infernal destructive capacity (let us recall the tragedy of Japan), nor founded on the structural violence of some political regimes, but founded on the patient, rational and loyal method of justice and freedom, such as the great international institutions of today are promoting and defending.” Biden, however, has made it clear through his many years in the Senate that he accepts the belief that peace is best held by power, and America must remain in the world state as a world power which enforce peace by its power, by its arms. This is a policy which is not in line with Christian ethics; peace by power is a false peace; it creates resentment and hatred by those who feel that power is squashing their own desire for liberty. As we saw on 9-11, the end product of this is terrorism, because it is the only way those who feel marginalized by the powers that be think they can express themselves and be heard. If this is the kind of result that comes out of peace established purely by force, even on a secular level, such a policy can not be deemed acceptable.
Nonetheless, from this, we can begin to see why Biden initially supported the war with Iraq. Not only was it politically expedient at the time, but he believed that such an intervention in Iraq was the way by which the United States should achieve its goals in the world, despite the critical questions raised about the war by moral and religious thinkers. He not only supported the war, but he worked to silence opposition to the war; he was as guilty as G.W. Bush in selling the war to the nation. He willfully ignored the questions which were being raised as to its legitimacy. He worked to make sure they were not raised out in the open. While he supposedly changed his mind on the war in Iraq, when he did so, it was too late, and it looks extremely like it was done to garner political clout for the Democrats as they entered into an election season. There is little to no indication that his opposition to the war became one of a moral rejection by which the principles of war were established, but as to how it was managed and the kind of misinformation which Bush used to get us into Iraq (information he could have checked out more carefully himself, but did not). If anything, one could say that he, more than Bush, is culpable for the outcome of the war, because he, more than Bush, had reason to listen to Pope John Paul II and to know the basis by which an objection to the war could be found, and he should have raised such objections on the Senate floor, even if it made him unpopular.
That he has not learned his lesson, but continues to think along these Americanist lines can be seen in his reaction to the conflict between Georgia, America’s ally, and Russia, a nation which America has questionable, at best, relations with. The conflict is of course seen by him to be entirely Russia’s fault. Biden, with the rest of the Americanist state, wants to stand completely behind Georgia, declare it is free from all blame, and find any way at all to explain away Georgia’s significant (and detrimental) role in the conflict itself. He went to Georgia at that nation’s request, and worked exclusively for them, to provide the kind of support it wanted in America to encourage a more militant stand against Russia. “I left the country convinced that Russia’s invasion of Georgia may be the one of the most significant event to occur in Europe since the end of communism. The claims of Georgian atrocities that provided the pretext for Russia’s invasion are rapidly being disproved by international observers, and the continuing presence of Russian forces in the country has severe implications for the broader region. The war that began in Georgia is no longer about that country alone. It has become a question of whether and how the West will stand up for the rights of free people throughout the region.” His posturing remains one with a militant overtone, trying to use the threat of violence to force Russia to do as the United States wishes, whether or not such wishes are sufficiently just (both Russia and Georgia are guilty of atrocities, and it is quite clear Russia was brought into the conflict through Georgian aggression, placing greater culpability on Georgia; but it is also clear, for the United States, the issue is American hegemony, and that continues to be established by support of Georgia). Biden demonstrates that his international skill, while there, is used for one purpose: American hegemony, and nothing greater.
Thus, when one looks at Biden, one finds two disturbing trends which one could see as being two different aspects of a greater proper: his embrace of the culture of death. When one believes that the method by which one gets their way in the world is through violence, either by its direct use or threat, it encourages a savage, nihilist worldview. The strong survives, the weak either listens to the strong, becomes strong itself, or is killed off. If someone else, on any level, appears to be a threat, one takes them out by any means one deems necessary and one is capable of doing. Abortion, for many in the culture of death, is acceptable, because the child is collateral damage in the war for the woman’s body. Justification for war abroad and justification for abortion end up one and the same in the culture of death; usually, one finds, logically, a separation between the two in a given politician, leading to an internal contradiction in their political views. Alas. Such is not the case for Biden. And for this reason, no Christian, no Catholic can ever abide in hope that with Biden things will get better, and it is clear Obama has chosen a dangerous ally for his own political war against McCain.
 Pope Benedict XVI. “Message For World Peace Day: Jan. 1, 2007,” 10.
 Pope Paul VI. “Message For the Celebration of the Day of Peace: Jan 1, 1978.”
 Joe Biden Quoted in, Jonathan Wiseman. “Biden, Back from Georgia, Speaks Out Against Russian Invasion” (August 18,2008). http://voices.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/08/18/biden_back_from_georgia_speaks.html
 Interestingly enough, he is not as bad as it gets in relation to his stand on choice; Obama certainly is much worse. Biden did vote against public funding of abortion, he supported the partial birth abortion ban, and he has said life begins at conception. But with such a view as the last, it is quite clear how his support for abortion is indicative of a danger, because it shows he is willing to allow human life be taken for the sake of political expediency.
 CF. Pope Benedict XVI. Values in a Time of Upheaval. Trans Brian McNeil (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2006), 40; 48 – 51.