Sunday, August 31, 2008

What You May Not Know About Joe Biden and Why it Matters

I was never a big fan of war-stories - you know, those times when you sit down with veterans (very often your uncle or grandpa) and hear about how they went to hell and back.
I got enough of them during my travels as a military musician. This war story is different though. It comes not from a soldier, but from a theologian, and the point isn’t to look back. The point is to look at how past experience can shape the future. So here’s a look at Joe Biden and the ways he’s influenced Eastern Europe through the eyes of Dr. Kuzmič.

The last time I saw my father-in-law so excited was 3 weeks ago – when his grandson was born. Petra’s dad couldn’t figure out how to narrow down all of his Biden stories into one small column for the local newspaper. “Do you know” he said with his Croatian accent “that Joe Biden was a prophet here in the former Yugoslavia?”

No, I had no idea. Before last Saturday Joe Biden was Joe Shmoe for all I knew.

“April ’93. Biden came to Sarajevo (Bosnia) and Belgrade (Serbia). He had a chair on the Committee on the Judiciary at that time as you know.”

No I hadn’t a clue.

“Anyway” he continued, “Biden met with Slobodan Milošević in Belgrade and listened to Milošević tell him about how Serbia was not an aggressor, but just the opposite – Serbia was the victim. After giving his speech, Milošević was curious and he asked Biden ‘What do you think of me?’”

“Biden responded bluntly ‘I think you’re a damn war criminal and you should be tried as one!’”

Turns out Biden understood what most of the world didn’t yet know. Milošević was indeed handed over to the International Criminal Court in early 2002.

Dr. K. continued with how Joe Biden again predicted history in Eastern Europe during the atrocities in Kosovo in ’99 when he said that Milošević would no longer be in power in a year. Biden’s influence in ending the violence and convincing world leaders that Milošević was committing genocide led to Milošević’s loss of power in 2000.

Fast forward to August 2008 – just a few weeks ago in fact. Joe Biden went to Georgia to see firsthand what Russian troops were doing there. If you’re like me, you felt like you were getting mixed reports from the media. Biden’s summary when he got back was that Russia’s response (or initiation) was disproportionate to the possible need of military intervention in Georgia.

As we now understand, Russia’s involvement in Georgia was their response to America and NATO recognizing Kosovo’s independence. These are the kind of things Biden recognizes because of his experience here in Eastern Europe.

Whether or not Obama picked Biden as a reaction to the “experience” McCain has firmly in his court, he made a wise choice for a running-mate. Obama is learning what many of his followers are learning – that experience is in fact necessary, especially that kind of experience that has a record of changing war stories into peace stories.

No comments: