As Joe Biden gaffes go, this one’s a …medium. Biden saluted Brussels, Belgium in the opening of his address to the European Parliament with the traditional, obsequious praise all speakers offer to another country when addressing their legislatures — well, almost all, anyway. However, as Biden is wont to do, he goes overboard, and in the process denigrates his peers in the American political system and his own country:
As you probably know, some American politicians and American journalists refer to Washington, DC as the “capital of the free world.” But it seems to me that this great city, which boasts 1,000 years of history and which serves as the capital of Belgium, the home of the European Union, and the headquarters for NATO, this city has its own legitimate claim to that title.
How exactly would Brussels claim that status? Do they spend massive amounts of money defending the free world and policing the trade routes of the world? In Afghanistan, do they play a primary or even secondary combat role in the most obvious Western effort to defend liberty against its enemies? Not exactly. The US still picks up the tab for most of those efforts, as it has for the last sixty-five years. If we hadn’t done so, there wouldn’t be an EU in the form it takes today, and if we stopped, it’s likely that the EU wouldn’t survive under the economic pressures of providing for its own security.
That’s not to say that the EU doesn’t partner with us on those issues; they do. But they hardly take a leadership role. Perhaps Biden is speaking of the future, after Barack Obama successfully concludes his apology tour during his term of office and we withdraw from global affairs, or at the least start asking for EU approval for our foreign policy. At least that would make some sort of sense from the nonsensical and silly claims Biden made in Brussels.