Joe Biden on War & Peace

Democratic Sr Senator (DE); Vice President-Elect

Joe Biden on Iraq War

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

2002: Waiting to be sure of Saddam danger could be too late

"Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts. That he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons."
--Sen. John Edwards, Sept. 12, 2002

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaeda members."
--Sen. Hillary Clinton, Oct. 10, 2002

"Saddam Hussein certainly has chemical and biological weapons. There's no question about that."
--Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Nov. 17, 2002

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."
--Sen. Edward Kennedy, Sept. 27, 2003

"If we wait for the danger to become clear, it could be too late."
--Sen. Joseph Biden, Sept. 4, 2002

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 28-29 Oct 1, 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

Post-colonial countries like Iraq need federal system

Biden insists that we have to destroy Iraq in order to save it. He says the only way to solve the bloody mess the US has created is through what amounts to a partition, providing autonomous states for the main ethic and religious groups, with the whole thing monitored by a UN-sponsored Iraq Oversight Group.

A central government would sit atop of this regional setup, responsible for “common interests, like border security and the distribution of oil revenues.” Shared oil resources would most likely restore Iraq to an earlier status: The country, after all, was once a colonial appendage of Britain before World War I, acquired solely for its oil.

Biden said in Feb. 2007, “Any country that comes into being as a consequence of the pen of a diplomat has never been able to be stable except by (a) an imperial power dominating it, (b) a dictator or strongman, or (c) a federal system.” Biden clearly believes in the third of these options, but in practice his plan may well recreate the first.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.182-3 Nov 11, 2007

Third way: federalize Iraq; troops home; no chaos behind

Biden favors a phased troop withdrawal down to a “residual” force, but made enemies by voting for the May 2007 supplemental war funding bill, insisting that a no-vote would constitute abandoning the troops. But he also favors a controversial plan that differs from any of the other candidates--as he describes it, a “third way”:

“President Bush does not have a strategy for victory in Iraq. His strategy is to prevent defeat and to hand the problem off to his successor. As a result, more and more Americans understandably want a rapid withdrawal, even at the risk of trading a dictator for chaos and a civil war that could become a regional war. Both are bad alternatives.“

”There is a third way that can achieve the two objectives most Americans share: to bring our troops home, without leaving chaos behind. The idea is to maintain a unified Iraq by federalizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis breathing room in their own region.“

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.181-182 Nov 11, 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

Changed mind on Iraq pullout, not about political solution

Q: Your presidential campaign has a political ad about Iraq:
NARRATOR: “In a world this dangerous, with a crisis as tough as Iraq, hard truths need to be told. Joe Biden says this war must end now.”
Q: 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’ve changed your mind?

A: Well, I have changed my mind, but I haven’t changed my mind in any fundamental way. If you go back, I [always said] you need a political solution. And there’s time, I thought back then, if the administration had been wiser, to generate a political solution allowing us to pull out. Now the situation we’re in, if the president continues to insist on this strategically-flawed notion of being able to establish a central government that can control Iraq before we leave, I ain’t buying into that.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Sep 9, 2007

Worth losing election to protect our troops

Q: Will you insist on a firm withdrawal date?

A: I will insist on a target date to get American combat forces out, all but those who are necessary to protect our civilians that are remaining there, and to deal with al-Qaeda.

Q: If the president does not accept a firm withdrawal date, will you vote to cut off funding?

A: I will vote, as long as there’s a single troop in there, for the money necessary to protect them, period.

Q: Many Democrats who will vote in the primary will say “The only way to stop this war is to cut off funding. Everything else is small talk, and unless you’re willing to do that, you will not be the Democratic nominee.”

A: You need 67 votes to cut that off. All 51 votes will do is delay building these vehicles [with armor to protect troops]. And if you tell me I’ve got to take away this protection for these kids in order to win the election, some things aren’t worth it. Some things are worth losing over. That would be worth losing over.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series Sep 9, 2007

Leaving Iraq will cause generation-long regional war

There’s much more at stake in our security in the region depending on how we leave Iraq. If we leave Iraq and we leave it in chaos, there’ll be regional war. The regional war will engulf us for a generation. It’ll bring in the Shia, it’ll bring in the Saudis, it’ll bring in the Iranians, it’ll bring in the Turks. We should do is separate the parties, give them breathing room in order to establish some stability. I notice most of my colleagues are coming around to that plan these days.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” Aug 19, 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

Voted for Iraq War resolution to avoid war in Iraq

I made my pitch for Biden-Lugar, [the alternative Iraq war authorization resolution], pointing out the very real constraints it put on the president.

But the president was giving personal assurances that he would try every avenue of diplomacy before he took the country to war. And it was clear that Colin Powell and members of the Joint Chiefs were not eager to go to war in Iraq. With that in mind, I decided to vote for the resolution.

I believed the resolution passed by Congress provided the firm & united support Powell needed to be able to get the United Nations Security Council to pass and enforce a new resolution that got the inspectors back into Iraq, kept Saddam in his box, and thus avoided a war. I wasn’t alone in that.

I made a mistake. I underestimated the influence of Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the rest of the neocons; I vastly underestimated their disingenuousness and incompetence. So Bush went to war just the way the neocons wanted him to--without significant international backing.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.339-342 Jul 31, 2007

Bush invaded Iraq as the weakest of the Axis of Evil

The Bush neo-cons identified the biggest threats--North Korea, Iran, & Iraq. Toppling the Taliban had been a nice start for the Neo-cons, but they thought the way to handle the world’s malcontents and to avoid war was to take out one of the “axis of evil leaders in a way that made the others quake. They wanted to leverage our nation’s awesome military power in a way that sent a strong message: enable terrorists and we’ll wipe you out. You’re either with us, Bush liked to say of his ”war on terror,“ or you’re against us.

I thought this approach was flawed. The facts showed that terrorist groups didn’t base their training camps in countries with strong governments or dictators; they found safe haven in failed states & grew stronger in the vacuum of power.

There was a lot of noise about overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Of the three Axis of Evil countries, Iraq was the country that could put up the least military resistance, and I believed Cheney & Rumsfeld were pushing the president toward an invasion

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.330-331 Jul 31, 2007

End neocon fantasy of remaking Iraq in our image

During the 2004 campaign, Kerry had talked of making me his secretary of state, and I believed we had a real handle on how to fix the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in diplomatic circles around the globe. I knew the first steps I’d take in Iraq to refocus our efforts on providing physical and economic security for Iraqis and basics like electricity, fuel, and sewage removal. I’d put a swift end to the neo-con fantasy of quickly and decisively remaking an Iraq in our image; privatizing industries and building democratic institutions were distant goals that we could not impose on this fragile country. I also knew which key GOP leaders I could count on to build real bipartisan support and I felt I knew where to find the common ground.
Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.354-355 Jul 31, 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

Never de-fund a single soldier in Iraq

The next president, when he or she takes office, will be left with absolutely no margin for error. They will have to immediately end this war in a way that doesn’t mortgage our future for a generation and turn to hotspots in the world before they become new wars. We must recognize the reality on the ground. This is a vicious, self- sustaining cycle of civil war.

But as long as there’s a single soldier left in Iraq, I will not vote to de-fund protecting that soldier. That’s why--and I know I say this straight up--that’s why I voted, and the only one who voted the way I did, for a simple basic reason. I will not vote to delay one week, not one week, getting these new mine resistant vehicles in the field. That will protect and reduce by 80% the lives saved. This war must end, but must end in a way that we not only bring our children home but that we don’t have to send our grandchildren back.

Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum Jul 12, 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

Fund the safety of the troops till 67 anti-war votes reached

The Republicans & Bush have not told us the truth about this war from the beginning. The last thing we Democrats should do is not be telling the truth. We have 50 votes in the US Senate. We have less of a majority in the House than at any time other than the last 8 years. You’re going to end this war when you elect a Democratic president. You need 67 votes to end this war. I love these guys who tell you they’re going to stop the war. We’re funding the safety of those troops there till we can get 67 votes
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

Think about the decade after Iraq, not just the day after

Q: You said in Oct. 2002: “We must be clear with the American people that we are committing to Iraq for the long haul; not just the day after, but the decade after.” Do you believe we’ll be in Iraq for a decade?

A: Before we went to war, I wrote a report saying the decade after, and everyone was talking about the day after. And the point I was making was, if you went in and used force, which he should not have done when he did it, that we were committing and signing on to a decade. That was the minimum requirement. I also pointed out we needed more troops. I also pointed out at that time we would not be greeted with open arms. I also pointed out at that time oil would not pay for this. It was a warning to the president. The objective of us giving [Bush the Iraq war] authority was to get inspectors back in, bring the pressure of the world community. [And to decide] are we going to lift sanctions on Iraq or are we going to put more sanctions on Iraq? That was the context.

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

In 2002 Saddam posed a threat of purchasing a nuclear bomb

Q: In 2002 you said about Saddam: “He must be dislodged from his weapons or dislodged from power.”

A: I was correct about that. I also said at the time that I did not think he had weaponized his material, but he did have these stockpiles everywhere.

A: It turned out they didn’t, but everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them. What he did with them, who knows?

Q: Gen. Zinni, when he heard the discussion about WMD that Saddam had, said, “I’ve never heard that” in any of the briefings he had as head of the Central Command. How could you as a US Senator be so wrong?

A: I wasn’t wrong. When asked about aluminum tubes, I said they’re for artillery. I don’t believe they’re for cascading.

Q: But you said Saddam was a threat.

A: He was a threat.

Q: In what way?

A: If Saddam was left unfettered, with sanctions lifted and billions in his coffers, then he had the ability to purchase a tactical nuclear weapon.

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

US worse off than before Saddam because US lost credibility

Q: Do you believe we’re safer now that Saddam is gone?

A: I believe we are less safe as a nation now because what has happened is the conduct of this war has so badly damaged our readiness. It has limited our credibility around the world and limited our flexibility in terms of the use of force. We could end the carnage in Darfur tomorrow, but why aren’t we doing it? In part we’re not doing it because we are so tied down. We could fundamentally change the dynamic in Afghanistan. Why aren’t we doing it? Because we are tied down. Saddam was a butcher, the world’s happy, may he burn in hell. He deserves it. But in terms of our global positioning, our geopolitical strategy, we are worse off than we were when we had Saddam sitting there because of the impact on our military and the impact on our credibility.

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

Partitioning Iraq is inevitable, as shown by history

Q: The Iraq Study Group said that your idea of partitioning Iraq is, is wrong, and would result in even wider civil war. James Baker, the chairman of that committee, said that he’s talked to experts and they believe it would trigger a “huge civil war.” Major cities are mixed between the Shiites and the Sunnis and that basically your plan just wouldn’t work.

A: Basically, Baker’s in a minority. Henry Kissinger & Madeleine Albright have signed onto the plan. If you look at the Baker report, it goes on to say “We may get where Biden is talking about.” Guess what? We’re getting there. What is this administration implicitly acknowledging by building a wall? They’re building a wall, and they’re talking about a centralized government? There’s never been a time in history where there’s been a self-sustaining cycle of sectarian violence that has ended even remotely reasonably without a federated system. Never. What for the 1st time in history is different? There’s an inevitability to what I’m talking about.

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

Decentralize Iraqi government; local control over daily life

Q: What is your plan to end the war in Iraq?

A: Many of my colleagues have offered ideas, just capping troops or cutting troops, or removing troops, but none of them offered a political alternative. To be responsible, one has to be able to answer a two-word question: Then what? After we pull our troops out, then what? After we cap troops, then what? After we cut partial funding, then what? Well, I put forward a political solution that’s been referred to as the Biden-Gelb plan. And it’s totally consistent with the Iraqi constitution. The problem in Iraq today is a self-sustaining cycle of sectarian violence. To maintain a unified Iraq, you have to decentralize it. You have to give the courage to the Sunnis and Shias, control over the fabric of their daily lives, control over the local police forces, rules relating to marriage and divorce and education. all the things they’re killing each other over.

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

Biden-Gelb plan: UN & Muslim powers to enforce Iraq unity

I put forward a political solution that’s been referred to as the Biden-Gelb plan:
  1. To maintain a unified Iraq, you have to decentralize it.
  2. Have a limited central government that has concern for its borders, its army, the distribution of oil revenues, its foreign policy.
  3. Secure access to oil revenues for the Sunnis who literally have nothing. Oil should be what binds the country together, not what splits it apart. There should be a guarantee in the constitution for proportional share of oil to get the Sunnis to get out of the business of supporting the insurgency.
  4. Increase reconstruction assistance for Iraq but raise that money from the oil-rich Gulf states, and tie that reconstruction to the protection of the minority ranks.
  5. And lastly, you have to make Iraq the world’s problem. I would call for the permanent five of the Security Council, along with the four largest Muslim nations, to impose a political solution for a unified Iraq.
Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org Apr 10, 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

Decentralize Iraq to give people control over daily lives

What do we do next? I’ve laid out a detailed plan for Iraq that’s been gaining a lot of support. Go to my website, joebiden.com, for the details. But here’s the deal. You got to decentralize Iraq, not centralize. You got to give people control over their daily lives. You got to give the Sunnis a piece of the oil. You got to make Iraq the world’s problem, not just ours, by bringing in the major nations to be part of it. And most of all, you got to get us out by 2008.
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada Feb 21, 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

Joe Biden on Trouble Spots

My push for Bosnian intervention saved 1000s of lives

Q: Senator, you have quite a record of being an interventionist. You argued for intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, initially in Iraq and Pakistan and now in Darfur. Is this something the American public has the stomach for?

BIDEN: I think the American public has the stomach for success. My recommendations on Bosnia. I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives. And initially John McCain opposed it along with a lot of other people. But the end result was it worked. Look what we did in Bosnia. We took Serbs, Croats and Bosnians, being told by everyone, I was told by everyone that this would mean that they had been killing each other for a thousand years, it would never work. There’s a relatively stable government there now as in Kosovo. With regard to Iraq, I gave the president the power, because he said he needed it not to go to war but to keep the UN in line, to keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted.

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

Accept NIE conclusion that Iran stopped nukes in 2003

Q: Do you agree with the president’s assessment that Iran still poses a threat?

A: [The NIE concludes that] in 2003, they stopped their nuclear program. This president is not trustworthy. He has undermined our security in the region. He has undermined our credibility in the world. He has made it more difficult to get cooperation from the rest of the world. He has caused oil to go up roughly $25 a barrel--a security premium--because of his threat of war. It is outrageous, intolerable, & it must stop.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Muslims don’t like us because they do not trust us

Q: Would you speculate on the reasons for Muslims hatred of us?

A: The reason why we are disliked so much is because we are trusted so little. I’m talking about the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world who look at us and, when we say and do things as we’re talking about now with Iran, conclude that this is a war on Islam. When we went into Afghanistan, we did it the right way. They knew al-Qaeda were bad guys & supported us. When we do things that don’t sound rational to them, it undercuts our legitimacy.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate Dec 13, 2007

Strong US intervention in trouble spots around the world

What sets Biden apart from other candidates, more than anything, is his take on Iraq--and more generally, on the US role in a post-Cold War world. Repeatedly, over the past 2 decades, Biden has advocated for strong US intervention in trouble spots around the world (including Iraq) in the name of democracy and human rights, a well-intentioned but highly risky stance that has won him devoted support as well as widespread opposition.

On the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he has been chair or ranking minority member since the late 1990s. In recent decades, he has consistently taken an interventionist stance, promoting the idea that the US, as the lone remaining superpower, ought to step in--with the UN, with NATO, or on its own--to prevent genocide, keep the peace, and promote democracy. Under Clinton, he pushed for intervention in Bosnia, and supported NATO’s intervention in Kosovo. More recently, he has argued for an immediate intercession in Darfur, with US troops if need be.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.178&181 Nov 11, 2007

A military action resolution on Iran is a bad policy

Q: Do you agree that the Kyl-Lieberman amendment was a declaration of war?

A: It can be used as declaration. It’s not even about going to war. Let’s look at what happened from the moment that vote took place. Oil prices went up to $90 a barrel. Who benefits from that? All this talk of war and declaring people to be terrorists droves up the price of oil. We have emboldened Bush, at a minimum, his talk of world war III--totally irresponsible talk. We’ve emboldened him to be able to move, if he chooses to move. They’re terrorists. The fact that they’re terrorists on one side of the border or the other, we just declare them terrorists. That gives him the right to move against them. Thirdly, this has incredible consequences for Afghanistan and Pakistan. We have no driven, underground, every moderate in Pakistan and in Afghanistan. This puts Karzai and Musharraf in jeopardy. The notion is it plays into this whole urban legend that America’s on a crusade against Islam. This was bad policy.

Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

It’s already US policy to go into Pakistan to get al Qaeda

OBAMA: [to Biden & others]: If we have actionable intelligence on al Qaeda operatives, including bin Laden, [within Pakistan], and President Musharraf cannot act, then we should.

DODD: It was a mistake to suggest somehow that going in unilaterally here into Pakistan was somehow in our interest. That is dangerous.

CLINTON: It may well be that the strategy we have to pursue on the basis of actionable intelligence. But I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that [by publicly stating it and to thereby] destabilize the Musharraf regime.

BIDEN: It’s already the policy of the US, has been for four years, that if there was actionable intelligence, we would go into Pakistan. That’s the law. Secondly, it’s already the law, that I wrote into the law, saying that in fact we don’t cooperation from Musharraf, we cut off his money. It’s time everybody start to know the facts.

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

1995: pushed to lift arms embargo in Bosnia

Given the feckless performance of the UN in Bosnia, it was no surprise that the Bosnian Serbs violated UN resolutions with impunity. Emboldened, Milosevic, Karadzic, & their generals overran the safe zone of Srebrenica in July 1995, and it was my saddest day in the Senate.

7,000 Muslims were killed in Srebrenica. UN forces stood there & watched. I thought about the times I’d been told that the Bosnians were not able to defend themselves against the Serbs. Of course they couldn’t. They had no weapons. The UN had seen to that. The UN had disgraced itself.

I went back to the Senate to go on the record. “Time does not work for these people. They will all be dead by the time the West decides to do anything about this problem. We have stood by and watched something no one thought would ever happen again in Europe. It is happening now.” The next day, nearly three years after I’d called for the plan, the Senate voted to lift the arms embargo on Bosnia. The House followed. NATO began its air campaign

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.283-284 Jul 31, 2007

1995: pushed Clinton to bomb Serbia to free Kosovo

I pressed Pres. Clinton to begin air strikes against Serb military positions in Kosovo and Belgrade. I kept saying to go ahead, that public opinion in Europe was running against Milosevic. But it was easy for me to say; it was Clinton who had to take the heat.

And he did. In March 1999, I introduced a resolution authorizing the president to use any means necessary to stop Milosevic’s ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. With Clinton resolved to act, NATO began bombing Serb targets in 1999.

From the first days of the bombing, the criticism of Clinton by the Republicans was withering. But through the 78 day campaign, Clinton never wavered in public. I got worried about his resolve once. Clinton asked, “What would you say to my halting the bombing?” I said, “I’d call a press conference and say you reneged on a promise. Do not yield. Milosevic will capitulate.”

I have no idea if my advice had any effect on Clinton, but he did not halt the bombings. He kept the pressure on, and it paid off.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.285-288 Jul 31, 2007

Do away with the policy of regime change for Iran

I would do away with the policy of regime change. What we’re saying to everybody in Iran is, “Look, by the way, give up the one thing that keeps us from attacking you, & after that we’re going to attack you. We’re going to take you down.” It’s a bizarre notion, number one. Number two, understand how weak Iran is. They are not a year away or two years away. They’re a decade away from being able to weaponize exactly what the question was, if they put a nuclear weapon on top of a missile that can strike. They’re far away from that. Number three, we’re going to - we have to understand how weak that government is. They import almost all of their refined oil. By 2014, they’re going to be importing their crude oil. There’s much better ways, if we had to get to the point of being real sanctions, of doing economic sanctions on them forcefully that way. But at the end of the day, if they posed the missile, stuck it on a pad, I’d take it out.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College Jun 3, 2007

Replace pre-emption doctrine with prevention

[I would] make two fundamental changes in this administration’s policy. We have to jettison this notion of preemption as a doctrine, and we have to jettison the notion of regime change. Replace it with prevention; open our ears and talk, before things become crises.

And, two, we have to move in the direction of making sure that we deal with the one thing that no one’s talking about, and that is conduct change, not regime change. Think of the folly of what this administration has acted on. It has said, “By the way, give up your weapons, the very thing that’s [stopping] us from attacking you. And once you give them up, then we’re going to take you out.” That’s the logic of this administration. That’s why we’ve lost respect all over the world. My goal would be to reestablish America’s place in the world.

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

Joe Biden on Voting Record

Regrets his war vote because Bush misused war authority

Q: In May 2003 you said, “There was sufficient evidence to go into Iraq.” Then in 2004 you said, “I voted to give the president the authority to use force in Iraq. I still believe my vote was just.” Then in Iowa in 2007, running for President, you said, “It was a mistake. I regret my vote.”

A: That’s unfair. I said it was a mistake between, and you make it sound like I went to Iowa and all of a sudden [changed my position].

Q: Well, there was a change from being a just vote to a mistake.

A: Yeah, because I learned more. We were told at the time that all these Iraqi generals were ready to step up and take on Saddam. We had commitments at the time from the president that he would not move without the international community. There were a whole lot of things that changed.

Q: So what do you regret?

A: I regret having believed that this administration had any competence. If I’d known they were going to misuse the authority we gave them, I would have never ever given them the authority.

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

Vote for war allowed war only after all else failed

Q: Should you have sought out people who had a dissenting view on WMD?

A: Oh, I did. I called every intelligence agency before the Foreign Relations Committee, had them all sit there at once. I pointed out to all my colleagues who came that there was vast disagreement among the intelligence community.

Q: But despite the doubts you heard, you voted for the war.

A: I voted to give the president the authority to avoid a war. We had a more constrictive amendment, but he had 55 votes no matter what.

A: It allowed the president to go to war. It did not authorize him to go to it. You make it sound like it said, “Mr. President, go to war.” It said, “Mr President, don’t go to war.” It said “go to the United Nations. Try to get a deal. Get the inspectors back in. Tell us that that’s what you’re about to do. And, Mr. President, if all else fails, you have authority to use force.” That’s what it said.

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

Introduced legislation barring US Military bases in Iraq

Q: What is your position on permanent army bases & the huge embassy building being built in Iraq?

A: I’m against building permanent US Military bases in Iraq, and I’ve led this fight to make sure we don’t do that. Last year I introduced a law barring US Military bases in Iraq. In fact I introduced it three different times because although it passed the Senate each time, it got kicked out by the House. We finally got it put in the appropriations. I’m doing this same thing this year. Just 2 weeks ago, the same provision got through banning a permanent military bases in Iraq by the US. I also feel very strongly that we should be barred from exercising control of Iraqi natural resources, including oil. We have to knock down the belief that we’re there for oil, and we have to knock down the ability of anyone in this administration misguided enough to believe that our mission actually has anything to do with oil or permanent military basing in Iraq. Absent that, we’ll never be able to get it right.

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

Vote for Iraq War was mistake; assumed Bush competence

Q: Like Sen. Dodd and Sen. Edwards, you’ve said your vote was a mistake. Explain why.

A: First of all, I think that I vastly underestimated the incompetence of this administration. I really mean it. Remember, they did it pretty well in Afghanistan. They acted responsibly. Almost every major network, almost every major editorial board in America said that they were acting responsibly. And when [Bush] came forward with this plan for Iraq, his wanting this authority, we assumed he’d act equally as responsibly. But they have been absolutely irresponsible.

I wrote a report six months before we went to war, called “The Decade After Iraq.” It stated we would not be greeted with open arms. There would not be enough oil to pay for the war. We’d be there for five to 10 years, and we better not go unless we’re prepared to go with a lot more forces. And so I assumed they would understand that. And that was a giant mistake I made -- assuming their competence.

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

Voted for Iraq war in 2002, but now a war critic

In 2002 he voted to give Bush the authority to use military force, but since then Biden has become a critic of the war and has advocated a plan that would divide the country along ethnic lines.
Source: People’s Daily (China), “Contenders views on the war” Nov 23, 2006

Voted NO on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.

Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:

Proponents support voting YES because:

Sen. LIEBERMAN: Some of our colleagues thought the Sense of the Senate may have opened the door to some kind of military action against Iran [so we removed some text]. That is not our intention. In fact, our intention is to increase the economic pressure on Iran and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps so that we will never have to consider the use of the military to stop them from what they are doing to kill our soldiers.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

Sen. BIDEN. I will oppose the Kyl-Lieberman amendment for one simple reason: this administration cannot be trusted. I am very concerned about the evidence that suggests that Iran is engaged in destabilizing activities inside Iraq. Arguably, if we had a different President who abided by the meaning and intent of laws we pass, I might support this amendment. I fear, however, that this President might use the designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist entity as a pretext to use force against Iran as he sees fit. [The same was done with the Senate resolution on Iraq in 2002]. Given this President's actions and misuse of authority, I cannot support the amendment.

Reference: Sense of the Senate on Iran; Bill S.Amdt. 3017 to H.R. 1585 ; vote number 2007-349 on Sep 26, 2007

Voted YES on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.

Begins the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq within 120 days of enactment of this joint resolution with the goal of redeploying by March 31, 2008, all US combat forces from Iraq, except for a limited number essential for protecting US and coalition personnel and infrastructure, training and equipping Iraqi forces, and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations. Such redeployment shall be implemented as part of a diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community in order to bring stability to Iraq.

Proponents recommend voting YES because:

Our troops are caught in the midst of a civil war. The administration has begun to escalate this war with 21,000 more troops. This idea is not a new one. During this war, four previous surges have all failed. It is time for a different direction. It is time for a drawdown of our troops.

Opponents recommend voting NO because:

This resolution calls for imposing an artificial timeline to withdraw our troops from Iraq, regardless of the conditions on the ground or the consequences of defeat; a defeat that will surely be added to what is unfortunately a growing list of American humiliations. This legislation would hobble American commanders in the field and substantially endanger America's strategic objective of a unified federal democratic Iraq that can govern, defend, and sustain itself and be an ally in the war against Islamic fascism. The unintended consequence of this resolution is to bring to reality Osama bin Laden's vision for Iraq; that after 4 years of fighting in Iraq the US Congress loses its will to fight. If we leave Iraq before the job is done, as surely as night follows day, the terrorists will follow us home. Osama bin Laden has openly said: America does not have the stomach to stay in the fight. He is a fanatic. He is an Islamic fascist. He is determined to destroy us and our way of life.

Reference: US Policy in Iraq Resolution; Bill S.J.Res.9 ; vote number 2007-075 on Mar 15, 2007

Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.

Voting YEA on this amendment would establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Voting NAY would keep the current situation without a timetable. The amendment states:
  1. The President shall redeploy, commencing in 2006, US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces and conducting specialized counterterrorism operations.
  2. The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
  3. Within 30 days, the administration shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth the strategy for the redeployment of US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007.
Reference: Kerry Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act; Bill S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766 ; vote number 2006-181 on Jun 22, 2006

Voted YES on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan.

To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism. Voting YES would: create Senate special committee to investigate war contracts, taking into consideration: bidding, methods of contracting, subcontracting, oversight procedures, allegations of wasteful practices, accountability and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reference: Committee to Investigate War Contracts; Bill S Amdt 2476 to S 1042 ; vote number 2005-316 on Nov 10, 2005

Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan; Bill S1689 ; vote number 2003-400 on Oct 17, 2003

Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.

H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The administration would be required to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has started. Every 60 days the president would also be required to submit a progress report to Congress.
Reference: Bill H.J.RES.114 ; vote number 2002-237 on Oct 11, 2002

Voted NO on allowing all necessary force in Kosovo.

Majority Leader Trent Lott motioned to kill the resolution that would have authorized the president to "use all necessary forces and other means," in cooperation with U.S. allies to accomplish objectives in Yugoslavia.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: Motion to table S. J. Res. 20; Bill S. J. Res. 20 ; vote number 1999-98 on May 4, 1999

Voted YES on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo.

Vote to adopt a resolution to authorize the President to conduct military air operations and missile strikes in cooperation with NATO against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
Reference: Bill S.Con.Res 21 ; vote number 1999-57 on Mar 23, 1999

Voted YES on ending the Bosnian arms embargo.

Ending the Bosnian arms embargo.
Status: Bill Passed Y)69; N)29; NV)2
Reference: Bosnia Herzegovina Self-Defense Act of '95; Bill S. 21 ; vote number 1995-331 on Jul 26, 1995

Condemns anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism.

Biden co-sponsored the Resolution on bigotry against Sikh Americans:

Title: Condemning bigotry and violence against Sikh Americans in the wake of terrorist attacks against the United States on September 11, 2001.

Summary: Declares that, in the quest to identify, locate, and bring to justice the perpetrators and sponsors of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, the civil rights and liberties of all Americans, including Sikh-Americans, should be protected.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR255 on Oct 4, 2001

No troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq.

Biden introduced opposing troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq

Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. BIDEN: This bipartisan resolution opposes the President's plan to escalate the war in Iraq. This resolution says what we and many of our colleagues, Democrats and Republicans, are against: deepening America's military involvement in Iraq by escalating our troop presence. Just as important, it says what we and many of our colleagues are for: a strategy that can produce a political settlement in Iraq. That's the only way to stop Shiites and Sunnis from killing each other and allow our troops to leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind.

Source: Bipartisan Resolution on Iraq (S.CON.RES.2 ) 07-SCR2 on Jan 17, 2007

Deploy UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Biden introduced deploying UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur

Calling for the urgent deployment of a robust and effective multinational peacekeeping mission with sufficient size, resources, leadership, and mandate to protect civilians in Darfur.

Legislative Outcome: Agreed to by Senate by Unanimous Consent.

Source: Resolution on Darfur (S.RES 276) 07-SR276 on Jul 19, 2007

Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Biden co-sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1595. Became Public Law No: 104-45.
Source: Bill sponsored by 77 Senators and 78 Reps 95-S1322 on Oct 13, 1995

Other candidates on War & Peace: Joe Biden on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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