Joe Biden, Vice President of the United States, has become a virtual ambassador, effectively using his political stage to spearhead significant diplomatic purposes. From the Balkans to the Mayan pyramids of Guatemala, Vice President Biden has traveled the globe to inject his diplomatic prowess.
Biden’s recent trip to Brazil, according to Reuters, is an example of this underlying ambassadorial purpose behind the Vice President’s travels. Prior to leaving for Brazil, Biden was told to stay home. “People in Washington advocated postponing his trip to Brazil due to turmoil in Iraq,” said Anthony Boadle, Reuter’s senior correspondent in Brazil.
In addition to the Middle East challenges, Boadle explained Biden would also be faced with diplomatic challenges in Brazil. Specifically, he will face the outrage surrounding the National Security Agency acknowledgement that it spied on Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff and other Brazilian officials. Still, Biden saw a diplomatic opportunity to spearhead by catching a World Cup soccer match and spending time with the Brazilian president. “It was a chance to heal relations with a $2.2 trillion economic powerhouse that has growing diplomatic clout,” said Boadle.
According to the Reuter’s reporter, the Brazilian trip was also designed to leverage Biden’s diplomatic talents and encourage a symbiotic relationship between the United States and Brazil. Both country’s are economic forces for the nation, and both country’s have mutual interests. These interests include opening up trade agreements that would benefit the United State’s economy while Brazil would like to access American technology to drill for oil and natural gas
“Brazil is the largest economy in Latin America, and this trip could mean gains for both countries,” said Boadle.
Biden’s vice presidential travels will also take him to Colombia and the Dominican Republic before ending his trip in Guatemala where he will use his diplomatic influence to help quell the influx of thousands of unaccompanied young immigrants flooding across United State’s borders. The Central American visit will include several opportunities for Biden to address the humanitarian crisis with direct language. In addition to meeting with Guatemalan President Otto Molina, Biden will also meet with senior officials from Honduras and El Salvador to curtail the number of minors being sent across the border. Guatemala is also a close ally of the United States, and a critical link in the war against drugs.
“Biden will emphasize the dangers of illegal immigration and that arriving children are not eligible for United States citizenship,” said White House deputy press secretary Josh Earnest.
In 2010, Biden flew an estimated 300,000 miles which is the equivalent to circling the world 13 times. These trips have included spontaneous diplomatic spirit lifting missions to battle fatigued troops in Iraq and to Ukraine to shore up confidence in the United States support for Ukrainian independence. His travel to China and Japan in 2011 and 2013 were designed to ease tensions between the two nation’s disagreements over Taiwan.
However, critics have stated that Biden takes advantage of his travel budget, including spending more than $1 million a year on travel.Many of these journeys are for domestic purposes and could have been accomplished with a phone or e-mail. Air Force Two, the plane that Biden uses is a Boeing C-32, which costs more than $20,000 an hour. According to Fox News, the C-32 is custom designed Boeing 757 commercial jet, which needs a crew of 18 to fly.
Biden continues to insist on making a face-to-face contact whenever possible. In addition, as a seasoned traveling ambassador, it appears Biden will continue to use his stage as a unique spearhead in his role as unofficial ambassador for the United States.
By Vincent Aviani