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Joe Biden: Trying for his Kennedy Moment?

President Joe Biden has declared this week that the United States has an “ironclad” promise of defence to their former colony of the Philippines after a dispute between arose in the South China Sea when two vessels collided with one another in supposedly Chinese waters. The incident adds further pressure to the situation in Taiwan, being America’s primary interest in the region, which has been ever increasing over the past few years.

The renewal in tensions comes at a time of great geopolitical upheaval as conflicts in Ukraine, Israel and now the South China Sea have dragged Joe Biden into a precarious position. Issues such as Afghanistan in 2021, the ongoing Ukraine-Russia war and the wildfires in Maui this year have all dealt Biden severe knocks to his reputation. His commitment to the defence of Israel has seen a mixed reception across the nation and appears to be increasingly unpopular around the world.

With the 2024 Election around the corner and Donald Trump ever rising in Republican polls, Biden needs to prove to the American people that he can guide the nation through an increasingly turbulent time. Foreign policy is an issue of great contention as it was arguably Trump’s greatest asset as a present so further failures from the Biden administration would surely condemn them to defeat in 2024.

The Democrat Party has a history of foreign intervention, from Woodrow Wilson in World War One, Franklin D Roosevelt in World War Two, Lyndon Johnson in Vietnam and Bill Clinton in the former Yugoslavia. Most of these have been successful; however, it has received heavy criticism from Republicans who, except for the Bushes, have kept America out of major, new wars throughout the 20th Century. But one instance where members of both political parties can recognise the success of a Democratic president during a time of military concern was John F Kennedy who held as much power over world circumstances during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962 as any president in history.

The event saw Kennedy execute a blockade of the Caribbean Island to prevent the Soviet import of nuclear warheads into Fidel Castro’s Communist Cuba. After a tense thirteen day standoff, Kennedy was able to reach a diplomatic resolution with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. The grace and skill with which Kennedy deployed to avoid a nuclear conflict is admirable and has since seen him heralded as a saint of the Democrat Party.

 But Joe Biden, so it would appear, is no John Kennedy. Thirty four years Kennedy’s senior at the time of his assassination, Biden lacks the charisma, diplomatic ability and support to exercise the power Kennedy did. The 1960’s saw America as one of two world superpowers and it was not a close competition; however, Joe Biden’s America is weaker, less popular and more internally divided, arguably. So, can Biden muster up Kennedy-esque diplomatic skill to help ease relations in the Middle East, China and Russia or will he live up to his reputation of being too old and incompetent to address these world issues? 

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