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Biden: ‘Terrorism Is Not An Existential Threat’ to America

Lauretta Brown
By Lauretta Brown | August 23, 2016 | 2:58 PM EDT

Vice President Joe Biden (AP Photo)

Vice President Joe Biden said in an interview with the Atlantic on Monday that while “terrorism is a real threat … it’s not an existential threat to the existence of the democratic country of the United States of America.”

Biden spoke with the Atlantic about his approach to foreign policy, arguing that Americans tend to over-react to the “wolf at the door” without recognizing that there are other wolves out in the field.

“My dad used to say to me, ‘Champ, if everything is equally important to you, nothing is important to you,’” Biden said. “So the hardest thing to do, I’ve found in 44 years, is to prioritize what really are the most consequential threats and concerns, and allocate resources relative to the nature of the threat.”

Biden characterized his system of thought on this as “proportionality.”

“Terrorism is a real threat,” Biden said, “but it’s not an existential threat to the existence of the democratic country of the United States of America. Terrorism can cause real problems. It can undermine confidence. It can kill relatively large numbers of people. But terrorism is not an existential threat.”

Biden told the Atlantic’s Steve Clemons that “wolves in the field,” the real existential threats facing the nation, are not terrorism from ISIS, but the prospect of “loose nukes, and unintended nuclear conflict that erupts with another nuclear power” like Russia or China.

Biden also regards “that not-stable figure in North Korea,” Kim Jong Un, and Pakistan, which he once dubbed the “most dangerous nation in the world,” as big threats.