BIDEN SIZES UP IRAQ
Posted: Aug. 1, 2003
In a speech at the
Brookings Institution Thursday, Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
(D-Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, warned that "there is a war being waged in Washington
over the future of U.S. foreign policy" and issued a strong rebuke
to Bush administration "neoconservatives" whose policy of unilateral
preemption in Iraq has resulted in "the loss of a signification
portion of support around the world."
his support for the war in Iraq, saying that "anyone who can't
acknowledge that the world is better off without [Saddam Hussein] is
out of touch...It is worth it and in our national interest to stay
He called for a
new UN resolution to create a stronger and more diverse
international coalition to deal with Iraq. "We may not like it, but
most of the rest of the world needs it if we expect them to send the
troops we need and to help pay for
the Bush administration's approach to foreign policy and diplomacy,
saying that although he does not believe President Bush lied,
presidential advisers "hyped the intelligence to create a sense of
urgency and a sense of an imminent threat...to rally the country to
war sooner rather than later."
"What happens now
when we need to rally the world about a weapons program in North
Korea or Iran?" the Democratic senator asked the assembled crowd.
"Will anyone believe us?"
administration has turned preemption from a necessary option into an
ill-defined doctrine," said Biden, who instead called for "a
prevention doctrine that diffuses problems before they explode in
his support for "a more enlightened nationalism, one that recognizes
international organization" and that will "bring in the
international community and empower Iraqis to bolster our efforts
and legitimize a new Iraqi government."
"The stakes are
too high and the opportunities too great to conduct foreign policy
at the extremes," said Biden.
Biden also noted
that "we are still at war" and, referring to President Bush's May 1
appearance aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, said, "I wish that the
president, instead of standing on an aircraft carrier in front of a
banner that said 'Mission Accomplished,' would have stood in front
of a banner that said 'We've Only Just Begun.'"
current obstacles facing the United States in Iraq, Biden said that
"there is a short-term fix: more foreign troops to share our
mission, and more Iraqis to guard hospitals, bridges, banks, and
He urged the Bush
administration to provide a sufficient police force and army in Iraq
and to improve local water and electricity capabilities.
The United States
is also losing the propaganda war in Iraq, Biden said. "The
[American] programming makes public access television look good!
Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera and Iranian TV dominates the airwaves 24/7
with more sophisticated programming."
recently visited Iraq, noted that "Iraqis simply can't understand
how the most powerful nation on earth, which toppled Saddam in three
weeks, can't get the lights turned on."
implement his recommendations, in Biden's opinion, would result in a
"paralysis of progress" that would "lose not only the support of the
Iraqi people but the support of the American people as the
discontent and the death toll rise."
He also called on
President Bush to "keep the American people fully informed of the
risks, the costs, and the importance of staying the course in
people are tough as nails, and they will do whatever is expected of
them to maintain our security," said Biden, adding that "no foreign
policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American
people. We learned that lesson in Vietnam, but we haven't applied it
Biden, who spoke
as part of Brookings Leadership Forum, also criticized members of
his own party who opposed going into Iraq in the first place. "The
cost of not acting against Saddam would have been much greater," he
said, "and so is the cost of not finishing the job."
RETURN TO MORE NEWS RELEASES
RETURN TO COVER PAGE