Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden : on War & Peace

Joe Biden: 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

Joe Biden: 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

Joe Biden: 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

Joe Biden: 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

Joe Biden: 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

  • The above quotations are from Promises to Keep:
    On Life and Politics
    , by Joe Biden .
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