Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden says the "least important part" of the Iraq spending bill that recently cleared the U.S. House and Senate is its target date for withdrawal of troops. "It redefines the mission of our troops from fighting in the midst of a civil war to doing what is rational for them to do, which is to continue to train Iraqi Army, to deny al Qaida occupation of swaths of territory…and three for so-called source protection — protecting our own forces," Biden says.
And, according to Biden, you need fewer troops to accomplish those goals. Biden contends President Bush’s current Iraq policy will "careen off a cliff" because it clings to the "flawed strategy" of seeking a strong, central government in Baghdad. "That is not possible and my criticism of my Democratic friends…(is) they implicitly sign on to that strategy," Biden says.
Biden believes Iraq should be allowed to have strong local governments which govern everything from the local police force to marriage laws. "The reason why we put the policy in place of changing the (U.S. military) mission is to get us out of a civil war and put us in the position where our troops have the possibility of providing serious utility of bringing their sustained sectarian violence to an end," Biden says.
President Bush has vowed to veto the congressional spending plan if it includes the timeline for troop withdrawal. Biden says he’s not interested in giving the president a "blank check" but neither Democrats nor Republicans will "leave the troops unprotected."
This past weekend, Illinois Senator Barak Obama, another Democratic presidential hopeful, said congress doesn’t want to "play chicken with our troops" and would rewrite the funding bill — without a troop withdrawal date — if Bush follows through on his veto threat.
Biden, a Delaware Senator, is campaigning in Iowa today and made his comments during an interview with Radio Iowa. Biden is scheduled to deliver a foreign policy address at Drake University tomorrow.
To hear Biden talk about the Iraq war funding issue, click on the audio link below.