WASHINGTON: Presidential candidate Joe Biden went on the offensive in the third Democratic debate of the 2020 White House race, taking on the Afghanistan issue and saying that a future United States strategy in the war-torn country could depend on bases in Pakistan.
“We can prevent the United States from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing airbases and insisting the Pakistani provide bases for us,” said Biden, according to the New York Post.
The statement appears to be in ignorance of the American military’s difficult relationship with Pakistan. In 2011, 24 Pakistani soldiers were killed when a NATO team from Afghanistan attacked a border base. Both the Afghan and American government claimed that the attack was in response to Afghan border forces receiving fire from the Pakistani side, but the American government apologized for the actions in 2012.
Pakistan’s sustained relationship with the Haqqani network, an organisation designated as a “terrorist group” by the US, also has been a source of severe strain in US-Pakistan relations.
Biden also clashed with top rivals on the issue of health care in America and brushed off attacks from his challengers.
Under pressure to appear in command — and dispel doubts over his stamina — the 76-year-old Biden pushed hard against liberals Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren in an almost three-hour showdown in Houston, Texas.
While the 10 Democrats seeking the party nomination found common ground in their determination to oust Donald Trump, and on the urgency of tackling climate change, their differences were on stark display when it came to health care reform – a stated priority for them all.
In a high-octane clash, Biden accused his fellow candidates, senators Sanders and Warren, of pushing pipe dreams without a plan to fund them.
“I lay out how I can pay for it, how I can get it done, and why it’s better,” the former vice president said of his plan, which maintains and builds on the Affordable Care Act known as Obamacare.
Warren, a rising star in the race, and Sanders, a fixture from the 2016 campaign who launched a liberal political revolution, each put up a spirited defense.
“I know what’s broken, I know how to fix it and I´m going to lead the fight to get it done,” promised Warren, who has electrified town halls and impressed voters with her exhaustive policy platforms.
On health care reform she promised “those at the very top” would bear the cost.
Sanders, who advocates a shift away from private health insurance, vowed to “finally make sure that every American has health care as a human right, not a privilege.”
Their three-way battle kicked off a marathon debate, as the rival Democrats highlighted their differences on immigration, trade tariffs, criminal justice reform and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and lower-polling candidates scrambled for breakout moments.
But they stood united on one key factor: ousting Trump — who several candidates frontally attacked as racist — from the White House.
“There’s enormous, enormous opportunities — once we get rid of Donald Trump,” Biden said during his opening remarks.
Addressing a Thursday dinner with Republican lawmakers, Trump’s gloves came off too as he reeled off his favorite insults against Sanders, Warren and Biden — “Crazy Bernie,” “Pocahontas” and “Sleepy Joe.”
“Our country will go to hell if any of these people get in,” Trump warned.