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Biden: Petraeus ‘Dead Flat Wrong’ on Iraq

A flashback to less than a year ago from NBC’s Meet The Press, September 9, 2007:

MR. RUSSERT:  Joe Biden, welcome back.  Welcome back from Iraq.  What did you see, hear, learn?

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE):  Well, what I saw, heard, learned is a little bit what you heard from a general just a moment ago.  There was a big disconnect between the truth of the matter and the reality.  I mean, the truth of the matter is that, that the—America’s—this administration’s policy and the surge are a failure, and that the surge, which was supposed to stop sectarian violence and—long enough to give political reconciliation, there’s been no political reconciliation.  The reality is that we’re supposed to, as you said, stand up American—or stand up the Iraqis so the Americans could stand down. We’ve been hearing that for five years.  We’re nowhere near being able to do that.

The reality is that, although there has been some mild progress on the security front, there is, in fact, no, no real security in Baghdad and/or in Anbar province, where I was, dealing with the most serious problem, sectarian violence.  Sectarian violence is as strong and as solid and as serious a problem as it was before the surge started

MR. RUSSERT:  Let me show you what you said in Iowa last week.  “If we do not change course in Iraq soon, you’re going to see, two years from now, helicopters hovering over our embassy in the Green Zone in Baghdad with people hanging” onto “the ladders just like Vietnam.  Mark my words.”

SEN. BIDEN:  Absolutely, positively, unequivocally, I believe that.  Look, let me tell you, Tim, there is no possibility—no possibility—of a central government governing Iraq in any near term…

MR. RUSSERT:  General Petraeus said in a letter to his troops that we have not had the political reconciliation we thought we would have at this time. It’s been much slower, but there is some hope.  And then he added this:  “My sense is that we have achieved tactical momentum and wrested the initiative from our enemies in a number areas of Iraq.  We are, in short, a long way from the goal line, but we do have the ball and we are driving down the field.” Is that what you expect him to say tomorrow?

SEN. BIDEN:  I expect him to say that.  And I really respect him.  And I think he’s dead flat wrong.  The fact of the matter is that there is—that this idea of these security gains we’ve made have had no impact on the underlying sectarian dynamic.  None.  None whatsoever…  And can anybody envision a central government made up of Sunni, Shia and Kurds that’s going to gain the trust and respect of 27 million Iraqis?  It’s not going to happen.

MR. RUSSERT:  This hearing tomorrow with General Petraeus is very highly charged politically.  Moveon.org, a liberal Democratic group, is taking an ad in The New York Times, and this is what it’s going to be:  “General Petraeus or General Betray Us?  Cooking the Books for the White House.” What’s your reaction to that?

SEN. BIDEN:  I don’t buy into that.  This is an honorable guy.  He’s telling the truth.  I have his letter here like you just quoted from.  He acknowledges—look, by its own measure, the surge has failed.  What was the reason for the surge?  To provide breathing room.  For what purpose?  To allow the sectarian warring factions to work out a political compromise.  He acknowledges that’s not there.  He’s telling the truth.  There’ve been some tactical gains, but they have no ultimate bearing, at this point, on the prospect of there being a political settlement in Iraq that would allow American troops to come home without leaving chaos behind…  There’s been some limited tactical success, but quite frankly, it’s irrelevant to this central problem. The central problem is a sectarian war.  If every jihadist in Iraq was killed tomorrow, we’d still have a major civil war killing thousands—wounding thousands of Americans and killing hundreds of Americans just since the surge began.

MR. RUSSERT:  Your presidential campaign is on the air with a political ad about Iraq.  Let’s watch it for a second.

(Videotape)

NARRATOR:  (From Biden political ad) 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.

(End videotape)

MR. RUSSERT:  This war must end now.  In, in ‘05, this is what Joe Biden was saying:  “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.

SEN. BIDEN:  Well, I have changed my mind, but I haven’t changed my mind in any fundamental way

You see, Mr. Biden was picked because of brilliant foreign policy expertise.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Saturday, August 23rd, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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