Joe Biden on War & Peace
Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)
"We know that the Syrian regime are the only ones who have the weapons--have used chemical weapons multiple times in the past, have the means of delivering those weapons, have been determined to wipe out exactly the places that were attacked by chemical weapons," he continued. "And instead of allowing U.N. inspectors immediate access, the government has repeatedly shelled the sites of the attack and blocked the investigation for five days."
A: When the Iranian leadership, the Supreme Leader, is serious. We have made it clear at the outset that we would be prepared to meet bilaterally with the Iranian leadership. We would not make it a secret that we were doing that. We would let our partners know if that occasion presented itself. That offer stands, but it must be real and tangible, and there has to be an agenda that they're prepared to speak to. We are not just prepared to do it for the exercise.
We can all agree on the increasingly desperate plight of the Syrian people and the responsibility of the international community to address that plight. Just this week the international community came together to pledge $1.5 billion for humanitarian support for the Syrian people and refugees fleeing the violence. As part of that effort, President Obama announced that we would be contributing $155 million.
In Libya, NATO acted quickly, effectively and decisively. And now we are working together to support Libya in building effective institutions of governance. We've joined forces in response to the unprecedented promise & unresolved turmoil of the Arab Spring--from Tunis to Tripoli to Sana'a--and it's going to be required to continue.
This, of course, is conceptually identical to Kerry's argument for a "global test" for US foreign policy, namely, that someone else must approve it before it can be considered legitimate.
Interestingly, shortly after Annan's comments, then-Delaware Sen Joe Biden said, "Nobody in the Senate agrees with that. Nobody in the Senate agrees with that. There is nothing to debate. He is dead, flat, unequivocally wrong."
With regard to Afghanistan, he said he will end the war in 2014. Governor Romney said, #1, we should not set a date, and #2, with regard to 2014, it depends.
When it came to Osama bin Laden, the president, the first day in office, he called in the CIA and signed an order saying, 'my highest priority is to get bin Laden.' Prior to Pres. Obama being sworn in, Governor Romney was asked a question about how he would proceed. He said, 'I wouldn't move heaven and earth to get bin Laden.' He didn't understand it was more than about taking a murderer off the battlefield; it was about restoring America's heart.
And lastly, the president has led with a steady hand and clear vision. Governor Romney, the opposite. The last thing we need now is another war.
RYAN: We don't want to lose the gains we've gotten. We agree with the administration on their 2014 transition. And that means we want to make sure our commanders have what they need to make sure that it is successful so that this does not once again become a launching pad for terrorists.
BIDEN: Let's keep our eye on the ball. The fact is we went there for one reason: to get those people who killed Americans, al-Qaida. We've decimated al-Qaida central. We have eliminated Osama bin Laden. That was our purpose. And in fact, in the meantime, what we said we would do, we would help train the Afghan military. It's their responsibility to take over their own security. That's why, with 49 of our allies in Afghanistan, we've agreed on a gradual drawdown so we're out of there in the year 2014. [Ryan & Romney] say it's based on conditions, which means it depends. It does not depend for us. We are leaving in 2014, period.
The Obama administration referred to these drone attacks as "targeted killing," rather than "assassinations." The euphemism was of legal significance. In the 1970s, President Ford issued an executive order that banned assassinations. The administration's formal reasoning for why its overseas killings did not constitute assassination went like this: Congress had authorized the use of force against al-Qaeda. Therefore, America was at war, and under the law of war, America had the right to defend itself "by targeting persons such as high-level al-Qaeda leaders who are planning attacks." Therefore the practice wasn't illegal.
"The president, he went around the table with all the senior people, and he said, 'What is your opinion?' " Biden recounted. "Leon Panetta said go. Everyone else said, 49-51. He got to me. And I said, 'I didn't know we had so many economists around the table.'
Biden is so eager to show how bold and cool Obama was in that teeth-rattling moment that he relishes admitting he gave cautious advice that was ignored. "He knew what was at stake," Biden said. "Not just the lives of those brave warriors, but literally the presidency. And he pulled the trigger." The vice president concluded triumphantly: "This guy doesn't lead from behind. He just leads."
BIDEN: It has the potential to be wound down. It`s in direct proportion to how wound up the Afghan military is, how good they are, how quickly they come online. And how much responsibility the Afghan Government is able to exert politically within Afghanistan. For example, the president said that we were going to withdraw "the surge," 33,000 forces by the end of this summer. And we`re not going to slow this down. This doesn`t mean that we`re going to wait until the last minute to say the other 60,000-some folks are going to come out at the end of 2014. We are going to continue to drawdown forces on a continuous basis, continuing to turn over responsibility to the Afghans, because at the end of the day, our objective is to as responsibly as we can withdraw American forces from Afghanistan.
Biden returned conveying a plea for urgent help, and Powell joined it, but while Bush "was agreeable and willing to listen, he was also noncommittal," Biden wrote later. Though Bush talked of a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, he had other ideas, and was already giving Cheney and Rumsfeld "the force and resources they requested for a new target"--Iraq.
By now it was becoming increasingly clear to Biden that a critical pivot was under way from the unfinished business in Afghanistan to the neoconservatives' vision of spreading democracy throughout the Middle East, starting with deposing Saddam Hussein.
Biden and Republican Senator Chuck Hagel introduced a bill providing more money for Afghanistan, but the administration opposed it.
Or was it? Joe Biden took a trip there just before the Inauguration at Obama's instruction and reported back to the president that if you asked ten people on the ground what we were doing in Afghanistan you got ten different answers. Counterinsurgency. Nation-building. Protecting population centers. Routing the Taliban. Helping the Kabul government. Building democracy. And so forth. "We got to decide why we're there," Biden told the president when he got home. "It's al Qaeda." Biden figured, "If there was no Al Qaeda, we would not be there. Period."
"The president says he's angry and impatient, but God bless him, so are all of us. But is that a reason to send a whole generation to war?" asked Biden.
"The price is in body bags, in babies killed," said Barbara Boxer, then a member of the House of Representatives.
At the grass roots, the Democratic Party included millions of liberals who, since Vietnam, had been instinctively skeptical about the use of force or other assertions of American power abroad. By contrast, many of the party's foreign policy hands, particularly the alumni of the Clinton administration, had a different outlook. They viewed themselves as heirs to the foreign policy traditions of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John Kennedy, all proponents of national strength and an active leadership role for the US.
BIDEN: I feel like I participated in something that I can be proud of the rest of my life. Had I stayed as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, no matter how engaged I was, I don`t think I would have been in a position to be able to affect events on a day to day basis.
Q: In 2002, you voted for the authorization of use of force to go to Iraq. Is there a lesson learned about how we debate the use of force, how we debate whether or not to go to war?
BIDEN: I hope to God there is, because when that original debate took place, those of us like myself who voted to authorize to use force were based on the president`s commitment not to use force. He had no intention of using force. It was to demonstrate to the United Nations and to the world that we were united in wanting to stop Saddam Hussein.
There was bipartisan support for the operation. Sen. Joe Biden, writing in The Washington Post two months before the strikes, noted the limitation of any policy that left Saddam in power. "Ultimately, as long as Saddam Hussein is at the helm, no inspectors can guarantee that they have rooted out the entirety of Saddam Hussein's weapons program," he wrote, and he observed that "the only way to remove Saddam is a massive military effort, led by the United States."
Biden readily conceded one argument to the Biden [disagreed that] a president could constitutionally declare and wage war without explicit congressional approval. He offered a vigorous insistence on Congress's role. Biden disagreed with the argument that in modern warfare in the nuclear age there unfettered choice to decide by himself whether we could go to war or not go to war, and we launched a revolution to free ourselves from the tyranny of such a system. He was one of only ten Senate Democrats in opposition as the vote narrowly passed. other side. "Finally, we have been told that the congressional debate on war could tie the president's hands or limit his discretion. To this charge I have one simple response: Exactly right. Americans once lived under a system where one man had
Obama had changed his mind about Biden over the six months following the election. He went from not trusting him to keep his mouth shut about personal decisions to trusting him fully to handle one of the biggest portfolios of his presidency. Once in office Obama quickly saw that his V.P. was deeply knowledgeable about the nuances of foreign policy and surprisingly deft with foreign leaders, who, like American politicians, found him to be an irrepressible Labrador.
It was a sign of how busy the president was--and how surprisingly well Iraq went--that he never needed another meeting about Iraq for the rest of 2009.
Obama said, "I opposed this war in 2002 precisely because I feared it would lead us to the open-ended occupation in which we find ourselves today. We should not give the president a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path." Just fourteen senators opposed the measure.
"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
--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
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.
“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.“
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Iran's acquisition of a nuclear weapon not only would present an existential threat to Israel, it would present a threat to our allies and our partners--and to the United States. And it would trigger an arms race--a nuclear arms race in the region, and make the world a whole lot less stable.
So we have a shared strategic commitment. Let me make clear what that commitment is: It is to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Period. End of discussion. Prevent--not contain--prevent.
That's why our focus is on supporting a legitimate opposition not only committed to a peaceful Syria but to a peaceful region. We're carefully vetting those to whom we provide assistance. That's why, while putting relentless pressure on Assad and sanctioning the pro-regime, Iranian-backed militia, we've also designated al-Nusra Front as a terrorist organization.
And because we recognize the great danger Assad's chemical and biological arsenals pose to Israel and the US, to the whole world, we've set a clear red line against the use of the transfer of the those weapons. And we will work together to prevent this conflict and these horrific weapons from threatening Israel's security.
This is not a call to spend tens of billions of dollars and deploy thousands and tens of thousands of boots on the ground, as once occurred. It requires a more integrated strategy, a more coordinated strategy.
It will take a comprehensive approach--employing the full range of the tools at our disposal--including our militaries. That's why the US applauds and stands with France and other partners in Mali, and why we are providing intelligence support, transportation for the French and African troops and refueling capability for French aircraft. The fight against AQIM may be far from America's borders, but it is fundamentally in America's interest.
RYAN: We cannot allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapons capability. This administration watered down sanctions, delayed sanctions, tried to stop us from putting the tough sanctions in place. Now we have them in place because of Congress.
BIDEN: Incredible. These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period. Look, imagine had we let the Republican Congress work out the sanctions. You think there's any possibility the entire world would have joined us, Russia and China, all of our allies? These are the most crippling sanctions in the history of sanctions, period, period. You're talking about doing more; are you going to go to war? Is that you want to do now?
RYAN: We want to prevent war!
BIDEN: We feel quite confident we could deal a serious blow to the Iranians. But #2, the Israelis and the US--our intelligence communities are absolutely the same exact place in terms of how close the Iranians are to getting a nuclear weapon. They are a good way away. When [Ryan] talks about fissile material, they have to take this highly enriched uranium, get it from 20% up. Then they have to be able to have something to put it in. There is no weapon that the Iranians have at this point. Both the Israelis and we know we'll know if they start the process of building a weapon. So all this bluster I keep hearing--Let's all calm down a little bit here. Iran is more isolated today than when we took office. It was on the ascendancy when we took office. It is totally isolated.
BIDEN: It's a different country. It's a different country. It is five times as large geographically. It has 1/5 the population that is Libya. It's in a part of the world where you're not going to see whatever would come from that war. If it blows up and the wrong people gain control, it's going to have impact on the entire region, causing potentially regional wars. And all this loose talk of [Ryan and] Romney, about how we could do so much more there, what more would they do other than put American boots on the ground? The last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East.
RYAN: Nobody is proposing to send American troops to Syria. But we would not be going through the UN.
They were the vanguard of change for the Democrats. In the 1990s, as Biden demonstrated, some of the liberals who had opposed the use of force in the Persian Gulf were willing to support military intervention for the humanitarian purpose of preventing genocide in the Balkans. America was now viewed as, potentially, a force for good in the world, if only it had the will to act.
Biden said the "number one objective" was to get the Syrian regime to stop killing civilians and for Assad to quit power. "The US position on Syria is clear. The Syrian regime must end its brutality against its own people and President Assad must step down so a peaceful transition that respects the will of the people can take place," Biden said.
Biden called for a peaceful transition in Syria and broader global sanctions over the crackdown. "Syria's stability is important. That is exactly why we are insisting on change -- it is the current situation that is unstable," Biden said in response to emailed questions from a Turkish newspaper.
I would give Libya as an example. It was clear that Moammar Gadhafi was really not a good guy at all. But what did the president do? We spent several billion dollars, but we didn`t lose one American life. We didn`t put one boot on the ground. And we had a shared responsibility with the rest of the world, including Arab nations as well as NATO to deal with that issue.
And now, there`s a shared responsibility to the world to help them establish a democracy. That`s very different than going it alone. I hope we`ve learned the lesson that, unless our immediate vital national interest is at stake, going it alone should be the last option.
BIDEN: Well, the argument was made early on that we removed two of Iran`s most greatest concerns, Saddam in Iraq, and the Taliban in Afghanistan. But the result now, in part because of some really outrageous moves that Iran has made, it actually has lost power in the entire region. The fact of the matter is its only ally left in the region is about to be toppled. That is in Syria with Bashar Assad. But the biggest thing that`s happened is the president has been able to unite the world, including Russia and China, in continuing to ostracize and to isolate Iran. So, the truth is, the capacity of Iran to project power in the Gulf is actually diminished. They are less feared. They have less influence than they have had any time, I would argue, in the last 20 years.
In a meeting, Milosevic began by informing Biden that he had the wrong idea of what was going on in his country, pointing out places where the Serbs were being attacked by the Muslims and Croats. "I told him the whole world knew who was doing the attacking, and it was up to him to stop it," Biden wrote. "He was still calm. And he lied to my face. Biden wrote in his memoir, "Milosevic could tell I had just about had it with his lies, and at one point he looked up from the maps and said, without any emotion, 'What do you think of me?'" Biden said he replied: "I think you're a damn war criminal."
Later, Biden told how, after WWII, General Charles de Gaulle was in Paris when suddenly a sniper started firing at him. Everyone ducked or ran "except Charles de Gaulle. He kept marching, head erect and high. He did not flinch. That one defiant act rallied a nation." Biden said he had tried to get the Senate leaders to call the senators back into session to make the same demonstration, to no avail.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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