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More headlines: Joe Biden on War & Peace

(Following are older quotations. Click here for main quotations.)


We will end Iraq War; McCain has no end in sight

PALIN: I am very thankful that we do have a good plan and the surge and the counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq that has proven to work.

BIDEN: With all due respect, I didn’t hear a plan. Barack Obama offered a clear plan: Shift responsibility to Iraqis over the next 16 months. Draw down our combat troops. Ironically the same plan that Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq and George Bush are now negotiating. Barack Obama and I agree fully and completely on one thing: You’ve got to have a time line to draw down the troops and shift responsibility to the Iraqis. This is a fundamental difference between us, we’ll end this war. For John McCain, there’s no end in sight to end this war.

PALIN: Your plan is a white flag of surrender in Iraq and that is not wha our troops need to hear today. We’ll know when we’re finished in Iraq when the Iraqi government can govern its people and when the Iraqi security forces can secure its people. We are getting closer to that point, that victory that’s within sight.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Gov. Sarah Palin Oct 2, 2008

Al-Qaeda & the Taliban have regrouped due to Bush’s neglect

Al-Qaeda and the Taliban- the people who have actually attacked us on 9/11, they’ve regrouped in the mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has echoed Barack’s call for more troops and McCain was wrong and Obama was right. Should we trust John McCain’s judgment? When he rejected talking with Iran and asked what is there to talk about? Or Barack Obama who said we must talk and must make clear to Iran that it must change.
Source: Speech at 2008 Democratic National Convention Aug 27, 2008

Iraq war is sucking up a $150B a year

A lot of you wonder why I always talk about Iraq. Iraq is like a big boulder sitting in the middle road. It’s sucking up a $150 billion a year now. Unless you end that war in Iraq all the things we all care about are not going to be able to be done. But they are going to have to move quickly to end this war, to get the money available to deal with health care, to deal with education, to deal with all the things we’ve all talked about tonight.
Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Troops out by 2013 if no political reconciliation

Q: Gen. Petraeus & Pres. Bush indicated that in January 2009, there will be 100,000 troops in Iraq. What do you do?

A: Everyone says there’s no military solution, only a political solution. We offered a political solution today, the Biden plan, & it go 75 votes. It rejected fundamentally the president’s position that there’s a possibility of establishing a strong central government in Iraq and said we’re going to have a federal system. That is the thing that will allow us to come home without leaving chaos behind.

Q: Will you pledge that you have all troops out of Iraq by January of 2013?

A: If you go along with the Biden plan, and you have a stable Iraq like we have in Bosnia--we’ve had 20,000 Western troops in Bosnia for 10 years. Not one has been killed--not one. The genocide has ended. So it would depend on the circumstances.

Q: You would not make a commitment?

A: I would make a commitment to have them all out if there is not a political reconciliation, because they’re just fodder.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 26, 2007

Patraeus report is wrong strategy; draw down troops now

Q: Do you accept the evaluation and interpretation by Gen. Petraeus as to the situation on the ground in Iraq and leading him to conclude that he needs 160,000 troops until July 2008?

A: Absolutely not. I think it’s the wrong strategy. We should be drawing down troops now. We should be in the middle of the 2008, down to 30,000 to 40,000 troops with an end date of getting out of there based upon a political settlement where you set up a federal system there.

Q: What is it Petraeus believes in that you don’t?

A: I think Petraeus believes in what I believe in, that his troops will do whatever they’re asked. I think Petraeus doubts whether or not militarily he can reach a political solution. He’s given a military mission to try to stabilize as much of the country as he can. As a military man, he’s doing what he’s asked to do, but he knows it will not solve the problem. There is no military solution to Iraq that will allow us to leave without leaving chaos and a civil war behind.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Bush has lied for 7 years; tell truth on Iraq

Q: What if al Qaeda takes over Iraq?

A: You know, Bush has not told the truth for seven years; it’s time we tell the truth. The truth is if al Qaeda establishes a base in Iraq, all these people who talk about going into Pakistan are going to have to send your kids back to Iraq. And so the fact of the matter is it matters how we get out of Iraq. Separate the parties. Give them control over their own security. Begin to draw down our troops. But let’s start talking the truth to the American people.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 8, 2007

We can’t just pull out; one year to remove 160,000 troops

Q: How do we pull out now, without opening Iraq up for Iran and Syria?

A: We can’t just pull out now. Let’s get something straight. It’s time to start to tell the truth. The truth of the matter is: If we started today, it would take one year, one year to get 160,000 troops physically out of Iraq, logistically. That’s number one. Number two, you cannot pull out of Iraq without the follow-on that’s been projected here, unless you have a political solution. I’m the only one that’s offered a political solution. And it literally means separate the parties; give them jurisdiction in their own areas; have a decentralized government, a federal system. No central government will work. And, thirdly, the fact of the matter is, the very thing everybody’s quoting is the very legislation I wrote in January. It said: Begin to draw down combat troops now; get the majority of the combat troops out by March of ‘08.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Iraqi leaders unwilling & unable to accommodate with Sunnis

Q: You suggested months ago about the possibility of Iraq partitioning itself into three different sections. Do you think that’s a viable option today?

A: think it’s the only option. We’re not going to be able to sustain 160,000 troops for another year there. There’s going to be drawing down. The civil war is going to get worst. And Iraq is not going to split into three parts. It’s going to splinter into many parts. The biggest problem is the administration doesn’t deal with what’s on the ground. On the ground, you have prime minister that who is incapable--and, I think, does not have the desire--to make the kind of accommodation needed with the Sunnis. We’re in the midst of a civil war with nobody. Nobody in this administration offering a political alternative brought about by the international community.

Source: CNN Late Edition: 2007 presidential series with Wolf Blitzer Jul 15, 2007

Rather lose elections than to lose troops’ lives

There are 160,000 forces in Iraq. 70 percent of all the injuries are caused by the IEDs. If we put in these mine-resistant vehicles, we could save two-thirds of the lives and injuries. My colleagues joined me when I proposed fast-forwarding the funding for that so we could get 2,500 of them into the field by August. If we had voted no and stopped this, it would have delayed that. Lives are at stake. I knew the right political vote, but I tell you what, some things are worth losing elections over.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Start to draw down troops immediately and all out by ‘08

No one has fought harder to change Bush’s policy [than I have]. Matter of fact, the very language that was vetoed in the bill was language that I and, along with Senator Levin, put in, and I suggested over a year ago in a proposal I laid forward, that is, start to draw down troops immediately, have them all out by ‘08.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Start moving combat troops out of harm’s way now

Q: Your vote on Thursday was reported as: “The Senate approved $124 billion Iraq war spending bill that would force troop withdrawals to begin as early as July 1.” Why did you vote for a bill that had a timetable for withdrawal?

A: That language is actually the language that Carl Levin and I drafted, which said that, “Mr. President, you got to start moving combat troops out of harm’s way now.” This tries to get this president to change his strategy. He operates on the premise that, if we put enough troops in the middle of a civil war, we can give breeding room to a group of people in Baghdad to get together and form a strong central government that’s a democracy. That will not happen in your lifetime or mine. I said that four years ago; I say it now. The only rational purpose for troops in Iraq now: train Iraqis, prevent al-Qaeda from occupying large chunks of territory, and we should begin to decentralize the government. That’s the underlying essence of what the language in this bill is about.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Apr 29, 2007

Not micromanaging war to authorize & define mission

Q: When you were here in January, I asked you about Iraq, and you said:
BIDEN: I think it is unconstitutional to say we’re going to tell you, “You can go, but we’re going to micromanage the war.” When we wrote the Constitution, the intention was to give the commander in chief the authority how to use the forces when you authorize him to be able to use the forces.
(Videotape, January 7, 2007)
Q: [By linking spending authorization to a withdrawal date,] aren’t you now micromanaging?

BIDEN: Not at all. We have authority to tell him how to use the forces. We have a responsibility to tell him what the mission is. He does not have the authority to engage in a mission of the use of our force that we do not authorize. And that’s the thrust of what we’re trying to do here. We’re trying to fundamentally change what this president is using our forces for. He’s in the midst of a civil war with a flawed objective of establishing a strong central government.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Apr 29, 2007

Target date ok; deadline not ok; changing failed mission ok

Q: There has been an evolution in your thinking because in 2005 you said, “We can call it quits and withdraw [from Iraq]. I think that would be a gigantic mistake. Or we can set a deadline for pulling out, which I fear will only encourage our enemies to wait us out-equally a mistake.” You’re now setting a deadline.

A: No, we’re not setting a deadline. Read what the bill says. It says the target date, left up to the generals to determine whether or not it is appropriate to withdraw all forces.

Q: Well, a target date is setting a deadline.

A: No, no, but it leaves forces behind. We’re trying to change the mission. The problem here is this is also a moving target. I also called for more troops a couple years ago, in order to stop a civil war. Once the civil war began I said all the troops in the world cannot settle a civil war. So what I’m having to respond to, like everyone else, is the president’s initiatives and his failures that required different answers at different times.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Apr 29, 2007

There will be a residual force left in Iraq

Q: Some of your opponents in the Democratic primary say there will be no residual force left in Iraq?

A: They are mistaken. They are making a mistake that is not practical. I don’t know how that can work.

Q: Senators Reid & Feingold have a bill that says: “No funds appropriated may be expended to continue the deployment in Iraq after March 31st, ”2008.“ Do you support that?

A: No.

Q: Why?

A: Here’s where we may end up. This president makes it so difficult to reach the objective--which is to leave Iraq, leaving behind a country secure within its own borders, not a threat to its neighbors, that is a loosely federated republic. It may get so bad that we do not have that option, and the only option we have available to us is to withdraw and try to contain the civil war inside Iraq. We are not there yet. And until we reach that point, I am not prepared to say there are no circumstances under which, after a date certain, we would not have a single troop inside of Iraq.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Apr 29, 2007

Change the fundamental premise of Iraq engagement

Q: Do you agree with Senator Reid that the war is lost?

A: This is not a football game. This is not win or lose. The fact of the matter is that the president has a fundamentally flawed policy. It’s based upon the notion of being able to set a strong, central government in Baghdad that will be democratic. And the real question is: Are we going to be able to leave Iraq, get our troops out, and leave behind something other than chaos? The president should start off by not vetoing the language which we just passed today. Look, there’s only one way. You’ve got to change the fundamental premise of this engagement: you’ve got to decentralize Iraq, you’ve got to give the regions control over their own destiny, get them control over their police forces, and have a limited central government and share their oil wealth. The president better get on the game plan here, or he is just going to drag this out to the point where it’s not recognizable.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Stop training thugs as the national Iraqi police force

Q: The Iraq Study Group report says that, “Iraqi police cannot control crime, and they routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture, and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians.” In effect, the US is sponsoring and training Iraqi police who are engaged in ethnic cleansing. What should Congress do about this?

A: We should stop training the national Iraqi police force. Two years prior to the Iraqi study group report, I wrote a similar report on the very same thing, after visiting Iraq. I pointed out there was no vetting of recruits, no way to weed out criminals, and that in fact, sectarian thugs were making up the police force. That is why it is so critically important to give local control to the Sunni-, Shia & Kurds in their own regions over their police force, so that we don’t end up in a situation where these thugs continue to undermine the security of neighborhoods. There’s room for a national army, but not for a national police force.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org Apr 10, 2007

If Iraq metastasizes into regional war, it’ll take decades

People say, “Well, just get out.” Everybody wants to get out, no one faster than I want to get out. But if that civil war metastasizes into a regional war, we’re going to be sending your grandchildren back. We’re going to be sending your grandchildren back to deal with Iran, to deal with a mess that we leave behind.

There is a way to do this the right way. Not one person but me has offered a specific political solution for inside Iraq. The Iraqis can’t do it by themselves. That’s why I’d get the Permanent Five of the Security Council; I would bring in the major Muslim nations; and I would put immense pressure upon the regional partners there to stay out of Iraq.

I’d put pressure on Iraq for a federal system. That’s what their constitution calls for. It says Iraq is a de-centralized federal state. And this president continues to try to have a strong central power that’s not within the capacity.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 2007

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Page last updated: Aug 17, 2014