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Biden Explains the Democratic Iraq Plan

4:23 PM, Apr 3, 2007 • By INFLUENCE PEDDLER
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It's hard to catch a Democrat who will actually explain the party's vision for Iraq after they complete the troop pullout they advocate. Joe Biden is universally regarded as one of the party's brighter and more sober minds, as well as an important leader on foreign policy. His comments on Countdown are illuminating.

I don't have an official transcript; this is my own rendition. Biden first discusses the period right after the liberation of Baghdad, and says that at that time, a 'surge' was the right policy:

...We did not do what we were supposed to do then - what many of us urged, which was to immediately get paramilitary police in there - to increase the number of troops we had to stabilize the country to begin to pass on responsibility to the Iraqis quickly.

What did we do? We had too few troops. We didn't do any of what I suggested and Civil War broke out.

He then explains indirectly, that a surge will not work today. He says that our experience now shows that violence in Iraq is like a water balloon--you bring order to one neighborhood and violence pops up in another. He cites Tal Afar as an example of a place where a 'surge' was tried--where we joined Iraqi forces in putting down the insurgency, only to see it return after we departed. He says that in the current surge we may bring order to a neighborhood, but we do not have enough troops to bring order to the whole country. And even if we did, the senator says, that does not create a 'political solution.' He says that a political solution requires that the parties be separated, that they have local control with a limited central government.

Biden then seems to say that he thinks the President will sign the Iraq supplemental, because of the change in mission it calls for:

It says something else, Keith. It changes the mission. It says Mr. President, here's what you do: you cannot thrust these troops in the middle of a civil war. You can use them to train Iraqis, keep al Qaeda from occupying large swaths of open territory, and protect our troops. If you do that Mr. President, you need a lot fewer troops, you can start to bring our troops home, and you can then move to a political solution of local control.

Biden is saying that Iraq is currently experiencing a civil war and that our troops should have no part in it. We should train Iraqi troops--presumably those of the Maliki government. However, Iraq needs a system of local control with a weak central government. So since we cannot militarily step in and help set up such a system, we should... what? Encourage civil war, as long as it's leading to the system that Biden says Iraq needs? That's Biden's 'political solution?'

What if our troops become targets in the Iraqi civil war? What if--sitting at their bases and training troops--insurgents attack them? Are we allowed to move among the general Iraqi population to weed out the insurgents? Because that sounds rather like what we're doing now. Or should U.S. troops simply stay on base and accept the 'slow bleed' as part and parcel of being in Iraq?

And what if we determine that al Qaeda is closely aligned with one of the parties to the civil war? Can we effectively take sides to keep terrorists from seizing large swaths of Iraqi territory?

Does anyone think that the Democratic 'plan'--insofar as it does not involve retreat--can actually work?