Biden unwittingly previewed foreign policy during 2016 UT speech

Joe Biden stood on stage at the University of Tampa in May of 2016 and laid out his vision of US foreign policy, with respect to his goals and the techniques used to achieve them.

He spoke somberly for over an hour as he recounted efforts in the Western Hemisphere to expand democracy and advance US interests.

He could not have known that Donald Trump would soon take the United States in a vastly different direction, or that he would be the one in power less than five years later.

"All foreign policy is personal," he said during the address, which was organized by the Tampa Chamber of Commerce. "I have met every major world leader over the last 35 years."

He explained he had traveled over one million miles as vice president, and argued it was in the interest of the United States as he pushed for other countries to improve labor laws, hold free elections or improve food security. 

"The United States can not choose how other nations will govern themselves, but we will always speak out for what we believe is right."

On climate change, which he called an "existential threat," he argued the United States needed to be active in promoting reductions in carbon emissions.

He figures to do so the moment his administration begins January 20.

"These issues will only worsen if we fail to address the existential threat of climate change."

Experts point out the new president will have to deal with an Iran that is re-emboldened on nuclear weapons, with hackers trying to start a cyberwar, and with redefining America's role in NATO.

The Biden Doctrine, that "all foreign policy is personal," will be tested.

"He is talking about the restoration of alliances that he feels the Trump administration, and Trump himself, abandoned, neglected in some capacity, as America pursued an 'America-first' foreign policy," said Dr. Michael Brenes, the Associate Director of the Brady-Johnson Program in Grand Strategy and Lecturer in History at Yale University.

During the UT speech of 2016, Biden argued American interests were furthered even when it helped other countries sign trade pacts or treat their own people with dignity.

"I never attempt to tell another country what is in their interest. I am here to tell you what is in our interest, and why I think it is helpful to you," said Biden. "It is amazing as to how much further along that gets you than going in and attempting to dictate."

After nearly fifty years in public service, his doctrine is days from being tested.