Joe Biden on War & Peace

Former Vice President; previously Democratic Senator (DE)


Joe Biden on Afghanistan

Criticized Trump on Russian bounties; then did nothing

PROMISE KEPT: (Presidential Debate at Belmont University in Nashville, 10/22/20): I don't understand why this President [Trump] is unwilling to take on Putin when he's actually paying bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan, when he's engaged in activities that are trying to destabilize all of NATO. I don't know why he doesn't do it but it's worth asking the question. Why isn't that being done?

PROMISE BROKEN: (CNN, 4/15/21): A senior Biden administration official said the US intelligence community had only "low to moderate confidence" in the information about bounties, and said Biden was not taking action to punish Moscow on the issue. "We have conveyed through diplomatic and intelligence channels strong direct messages on this issue," a senior administration official said, saying that if a pattern of behavior continues--presumably with a greater degree of confidence--the US would respond.

Source: CNN on Mueller Report and Biden Administration promises , Apr 22, 2021

Final withdrawal from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021

PROMISE MADE:(CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in, Sep 17, 2020): I was opposed to the significant increase in our presence, at the time [of Obama's "surge"], in Afghanistan, and because I thought the only presence we should have is a counterterrorism presence, not a counterinsurgency presence.

PROMISE KEPT: (Reuters, April 14, 2021): Biden plans to announce at the White House that all U.S. troops in Afghanistan will be withdrawn no later than Sept. 11, senior U.S. officials said. The Democratic president had faced a May 1 withdrawal deadline, set by his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump, who tried but failed to pull the troops out before he left office. Biden's decision will keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan pas

Source: Reuters on Biden Administration promises , Apr 14, 2021

Trump has more troops in Afghanistan than 2016

Q: Serbia is talking to Kosovo and the Arabs and Israelis are talking peace. Does President Trump's foreign policy deserve some credit?

BIDEN: A little, but not a whole lot. We find ourselves in a position where we're more isolated in the world than we've ever been.

Q: Peace is breaking out all over the world. Our troops are coming home--

BIDEN: They have more people there now, by the way, than when we left in Afghanistan. And we find ourselves in a situation where Trump has talked to Putin six times, but hasn't said a word to him about bounties on American military's heads in Afghanistan. And NATO is on the risk of being cracked because they doubt whether we're there. You see what's happened in everything from Belarus to Poland, and the rise of totalitarian regimes in the world. This president embraces all the thugs in the world. I do compliment the president on the deal with Israel recently. But if you take a look, we're not very well trusted around the world.

Source: Second 2020 Presidential Debate/ABC Town Hall Philadelphia , Oct 15, 2020

Support Afghan counter-terrorism; oppose counter-insurgency

Q: Will you end our military involvement in these unnecessary, endless wars that don't have any end in sight?

BIDEN: Yes, I would. It's now public knowledge: I was opposed to the significant increase in our presence, at the time [of Obama's "surge"], in Afghanistan, and because I thought the only presence we should have is a counterterrorism presence, not a counterinsurgency presence. The idea that we're ever going to break up the counterinsurgency network in Western Pakistan is just not going to happen. But we have to be in a position where we can make it clear that if need be, we could respond to terrorist activities coming out of that region, directed toward the United States. It does not require a large force presence. We got that presence down to lower than it is now. This President is the one that has increased the number, not reduced the number.

Source: CNN Town Hall 2020 drive-in with Anderson Cooper , Sep 17, 2020

Afghanistan: against surging troops; not nation builders

I was against surging troops to Afghanistan in the first place. We're not nation builders. We can't build that nation. We should not be in the business of that. But we should have a small footprint to be able to determine whether or not there are terrorist organizations operating in the region that are planning attacks against the United States. And we should have cooperation from the Afghan government on that and a commitment from the Taliban that they will not in any way support that effort.
Source: CNN "State of the Union" on 2020 Presidential hopefuls , Mar 1, 2020

Only deal with terrorism in Afghanistan, not nation-building

And with regard Afghanistan, the only thing we should be doing is dealing with terrorism in that region. I've been in every part of Afghanistan. Here's what I saw, there is no possibility of uniting that country, no possibility at all of making it a whole country. But it is possible to see to it that they're not able to launch more attacks from the region on the United States of America. That's a small footprint that we needed and I argued for that in the beginning.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

I opposed Afghan surge starting in 2009

Q [to V.P. Biden]: A national security official said that there was constant pressure from the Obama White House to produce figures showing the troop surge was working, "despite hard evidence to the contrary." What do you say to that?

Joe Biden: Since 2009, go back and look, I was on the opposite side of that with the Pentagon. I can speak to it now is because it's been published. It's been published thoroughly. I'm the guy, from the beginning, who argued that it was a big, big mistake to surge forces to Afghanistan, period. We should not have done it and I argued against it constantly.

Sen. Bernie Sanders: Joe, you're also the guy who helped lead us into the disastrous war in Iraq. What we need to do, is I think, rethink the entire war on terror. It is time right now, that we bring this world together, to try to end these endless wars and address the root causes, which are causing these wars.

Source: Newshour/Politico/PBS December Democratic primary debate , Dec 19, 2019

2009 Afghan surge does not reflect our national interest

In Feb. 2009, Pres. Obama had authorized an additional 17,000 troops for Afghanistan. From the outset, Biden had contended that a broader commitment to the country did not reflect America's national interest. He had travelled to Pakistan and Afghanistan on a fact-finding mission, and came back from his visit deeply pessimistic about prospects in Afghanistan. What he discovered there helped shape his outlook on how the United States should wage war.

At a National security meeting in March, Biden reminded his listeners of the historical pitfalls of foreign intervention in Afghanistan; he noted that American success was not in sight even with the number of troops already on the ground; he argued that committing more troops was irresponsible amid the worsening conditions, with an unreliable Afghan government, it would result in more casualties, cause a political backlash, and further sink public sentiment toward the war. By sending in reinforcements, he said, "we're just prolonging failure."

Source: Barack and Joe, by Steven Levingston, p.188-9 , Oct 8, 2019

Can't put Afghanistan together: it's 3 different countries

Q: Was it wrong to pull out of Iraq quickly, as you did in the Obama Administration, and then had to return troops? What are the lessons for pulling out of Afghanistan?

BIDEN: I've been in and out of Afghanistan, not with a gun--and it's an open secret that I was opposed to the surge in Afghanistan. The whole purpose of going to Afghanistan was to not have a counterinsurgency, meaning that we're going to put that country together. It cannot be put together. Let me say it again. It will not be put together. It's three different countries. Pakistan owns the three provinces in the east. They're not run it. I will go on and on. But here's the point. The point is that it's a counterterrorism strategy. We can prevent the United States from being the victim of terror coming out of Afghanistan by providing for bases-insist the Pakistanis provide bases for us to air lift from and to move against what we know.

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

End "forever wars" in Afghanistan & Middle East

"The world's democracies look to America to stand for the values that unite us.--Donald Trump seems to be on the other team," Biden said during a foreign policy speech, hammering the president for "embracing dictators who appeal to his vanity" and emboldening a worldwide rise of nationalism, xenophobia and isolationism. Biden promised to "end the forever wars in Afghanistan and the Middle East" and terminate U.S. involvement in the Yemen civil war.
Source: Seattle Times on 2019 Democratic primary , Jul 11, 2019

Out of Iraq as promised; out of Afghanistan soon

On Iraq, the president said he would end the war. Governor Romney said that was a tragic mistake--that he ended it--Governor Romney said we should have left 30,000 troops there.

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.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Out of Afghanistan in 2014, period

Q: We've degraded al-Qaida. So why not leave Afghanistan now?

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.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Drones against al Qaeda instead of ground troops

Obama decided to step up the use of unmanned drones in Pakistan. Vice President Joe Biden recommended that the administration rely primarily on drones or missile attacks against al-Qaeda leaders instead of sending more ground troops. While Obama rejected that approach and decided instead on new troop deployments, the president nonetheless expanded the CIA's drone program.

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.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p.217 , Jun 14, 2012

Advised caution in striking Osama bin Laden

Biden dished up some of the confidential details of how the decision was made to go after Bin Laden in Pakistan. Obama had to make the toughest call of his presidency based on the moon. Would there be too much moonlight that night for the brazen secret operation--the kind that went wrong and marred Jimmy Carter's presidency?

"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."

Source: Maureen Dowd, Op-Ed Columnist , Jan 31, 2012

Withdraw US troops continuously from Afghanistan until 2014

Q: The horizon on Afghanistan is that that war does not end for America next year, but by the end of 2014. Is it possible it could end sooner?

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.

Source: MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on 2012 election , Dec 13, 2011

2002: Iraq pivots from unfinished business in Afghanistan

In 2002, Biden flew to Afghanistan, as mopping-up operations continued. What Biden heard from all quarters were pleas for more of everything--money, troops, security--and a commitment for the US presence to remain, at least until circumstances greatly improved.

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.

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.340-342 , Oct 5, 2010

2008: Afghanistan is forgotten war, & Pakistan is neglected

Biden, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in late February 2008, he flew to Afghanistan, India, Turkey and Pakistan on a fact-finding tour. Afterward, Biden labeled Afghanistan "the forgotten war" and Pakistan "the neglected frontier," calling for a fresh look at the former and more economic aid for the latter. Afghanistan, he said, was "slipping toward failure because it has never been given a priority" as the war in Iraq dragged on.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.405 , Oct 5, 2010

Enemy is Al Qaeda, not Taliban; timetable for withdrawal ok

Biden and Gen. McChrystal, the Afghan Commander, disagreed over the troop surge and the prime enemy in the war. McChrystal insisted it was the Taliban; Biden said it was still al-Qaeda, and he never saw the defeat and destruction of the Taliban as essential, since the American mission was not nation-building as it was under Pres. Bush in Iraq--hence Biden's insistence on a timetable for troop withdrawal. Such sentiments were muted, however, by the time the Afghan strategy had been hammered out.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.475 , Oct 5, 2010

Not necessary to defeat Taliban; it's part of Afghan society

    I wrote to the president, a long, 20-page handwritten memo focused on making the case:
  1. that this is a 3-dimensional problem--al Qaeda, Pakistan and Afghanistan;
  2. that there be a limit on the number of troops so that this wouldn't be a constant, creeping escalation whatever troop level was announced;
  3. that there be a date at which we would begin the drawdown of American forces with the aim of drawing down all combat forces out, a la Iraq;
  4. that it was not necessary to defeat the Taliban because the Taliban was and is part of the fabric of the Pashtun society--20% to 30% of it is incorrigible and must be defeated, and the remainder should be integrated into Afghan society;
  5. that the return of the ability of the Taliban to overthrow the Afghan government was simply not within their power;
  6. that the Taliban was not seeking to establish a new caliphate, they were not an existential threat to the USA,
  7. that al-Qaeda's return to Afghanistan was highly unlikely.
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.463 , Oct 5, 2010

We're in Afghanistan because of Al Qaeda, period

The Af-Park border was the most likely place where American soldiers would die on this president's watch; it was al Qaeda's safe haven and thus the source of the most serious national security threat against the United States.

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."

Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p.132-133 , May 18, 2010

Afghanistan must never again be haven for al Qaeda

We don't have to imagine what a failed state in Afghanistan could mean for America's security; we already know. Afghanistan must never again become a safe haven for al Qaeda. But just as important, if Afghanistan fails, Pakistan could follow, because extremists will set their sights on a bigger prize to the east, not the west. While we win every single battle, we're not winning that war. I believe we're not winning the war because we have not made Afghanistan the priority it should have been.

Helping Afghanistan become self-sustaining is going to be a monumental task. It's going to take up to a decade, and more blood will be spilled and more treasure will be spent. But I think it's important to put this in perspective. It's nothing, nothing, nothing compared to the blood and treasure we've already devoted to Iraq. And, notwithstanding that, it is much more doable than, I think, what we have done thus far in Iraq.

Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 candidates , Feb 25, 2008

Joe Biden on Eastern Europe

Make dictators pay a price; American resolve matters

Russia's Vladimir Putin badly miscalculated.

He thought he could roll into Ukraine and the world would roll over. Instead he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people. From President Zelenskyy to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, their determination, inspires the world. Groups of citizens blocking tanks with their bodies. Everyone from students to retirees teachers turned soldiers defending their homeland.

Let each of us here tonight in this Chamber send an unmistakable signal to Ukraine and to the world. Throughout our history we've learned this lesson when dictators do not pay a price for their aggression they cause more chaos. They keep moving. And the costs and the threats to America and the world keep rising.

That's why the NATO Alliance was created to secure peace and stability in Europe after World War 2. It matters. American diplomacy matters. American resolve matters.

Source: 2022 State of the Union address , Mar 1, 2022

Military & humanitarian assistance, but no troops to Ukraine

Along with 27 members of the European Union, we are inflicting pain on Russia and supporting the people of Ukraine. Putin is now isolated from the world more than ever.

Together with our allies--we are right now enforcing powerful economic sanctions. The U.S. Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs.

Together with our allies we are providing support to the Ukrainians in their fight for freedom. Military assistance. Economic assistance. Humanitarian assistance. We are giving more than $1 Billion in direct assistance to Ukraine.

Let me be clear, our forces are not engaged and will not engage in conflict with Russian forces in Ukraine. As I have made crystal clear the United States and our Allies will defend every inch of territory of NATO countries with the full force of our collective power.

Source: 2022 State of the Union address , Mar 1, 2022

1990s: Support Bosnian Muslims with NATO air strikes

[In the 1990s and] early 2000's, Biden's attention was drawn to the Yugoslav Wars when he gained knowledge on how Serbian's were being abused while the Croatian War was under way. He was one of the first to request the "lift and strike" policy when the Bosnian war began. He not only supported Bosnian soldiers by enforcing the administration of NATO air strikes but also kept a close eye on all war crimes that were being committed despite the reluctance from the Clinton and Bush administrations.
Source: The Democrats, by Alexander Moore, p. 27 , Jul 9, 2019

Inviolate borders for Ukraine; no spheres of influence

[I presented my views on the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the Senate floor], that it is not the objective to collapse or weaken the Russian economy. But President Putin has to make a simple, stark choice: get out of Ukraine or face continued isolation and growing economic costs at home.

"I did stand here six years ago and in the first major foreign policy address of our administration, I spoke about the 'reset,'" We have moved from resetting this important relationship to reasserting the fundamental bedrock principles on which European freedom and stability rest. And I'll say it again: inviolate borders, no spheres of influence, the sovereign right to choose your own alliances. I cannot repeat that often enough. We need to remain resolute and united in our support of Ukraine. What happens there will resonate well beyond Ukraine. It matters to all--not just in Europe, but around the world--all who may be subject to aggression."

Source: Promise Me, Dad,by Joe Biden, p.105-7 , Nov 14, 2017

1993: Arm the victims: end the Bosnian embargo

As a dictator [of Yugoslavia], Tito had a clenched grip on the uneasy alliance. Then Tito died. Order collapsed. In 1991, the power vacuum was filled by Slobodan Milosevic, a Serb. Then, bloodshed.

Biden visited Bosnia, Croatia, and Serbia and he saw the nightmare. He learned of mutilations, beatings, gang rapes. Biden was unafraid to call it what it was: genocide. An estimated 100,000 people would die.

He came back to the Senate, impassioned. He prepared detailed recommendations of air strikes and policy proposals. "The West has dithered so pathetically, and Bosnia has suffered so terribly," Biden wrote in 1993. Biden's basic request: "arm the victims." He urged first George H. W. Bush, then Bill Clinton, to lift the UN embargo against Bosnia and send weapons to those getting slaughtered.

It's a gross oversimplification to suggest that Biden was the only reason that Clinton, finally, moved to intervene. When you look back, Senator Biden got Bosnia right earlier than anyone.

Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, p.112-3 , Oct 24, 2017

1990s: Military intervention to stop Bosnia ethnic cleansing

One of the earliest critics of Clinton's foreign policy was Senator Joseph Biden. From his position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden became a staunch proponent of US military intervention in Bosnia to deter Bosnian Serbs from their campaigns of "ethnic cleansing" against Muslims. Three months after Clinton was sworn in, Biden upbraided the administration for not doing "a damn thing" to stop the Serbs from bombarding women and children in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica. Biden called for air strikes by the US and its NATO allies.

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.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 35 , Jun 14, 2012

1992: lift Bosnian arms embargo; NATO air strikes on Serbs

As accounts of shocking atrocities came to Biden's attention, including reports of massive murder camps run by the Serb Yugoslav army, with Clinton assuming the presidency in early 1993, Biden pushed for lifting the arms embargo to give the Bosnians the means of defending themselves. Biden also called for NATO air strikes on Serb positions encircling Bosnian cities.

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."

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.322-323 , Oct 5, 2010

My push for Bosnian intervention saved 1000s of lives

Q: Senator, you have quite a record of being an interventionist. You argued for intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo, initially in Iraq and Pakistan and now in Darfur. Is this something the American public has the stomach for?

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.

Source: 2008 Vice Presidential debate against Gov. Sarah Palin , Oct 2, 2008

1995: pushed to lift arms embargo in Bosnia

Given the feckless performance of the UN in Bosnia, it was no surprise that the Bosnian Serbs violated UN resolutions with impunity. Emboldened, Milosevic, Karadzic, & their generals overran the safe zone of Srebrenica in July 1995, and it was my saddest day in the Senate.

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

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.283-284 , Jul 31, 2007

1995: pushed Clinton to bomb Serbia to free Kosovo

I pressed Pres. Clinton to begin air strikes against Serb military positions in Kosovo and Belgrade. I kept saying to go ahead, that public opinion in Europe was running against Milosevic. But it was easy for me to say; it was Clinton who had to take the heat.

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.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.285-288 , Jul 31, 2007

Joe Biden on Iran

Assassinations in Iran make America stand alone

I wouldn't have ordered the strike, there is no evidence yet of imminent threat that was going to come from him. I cannot think of a time when NATO has said to the United States and to Iran, made a moral equivalence and said, both of you stand down. We are alone now, alone in that region of the world, without friends, without support, without allies. 64 of our heroes were wounded. They had traumatic brain injury. What did the president say? He said, ""Headaches, that's all they are."
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

Supported wars in Iraq & Afghanistan, but not Iran

Source: Truthout.org, "War and Peace," on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Mar 27, 2019

Don't trust Iran but they met initial conditions of deal

I think the deal is attractive as it is. We don't trust Iran at all. But Iran has met the front-end portion of the deal. Could there be a better deal? Yeah. I mean, the better deal was we could have them foreswear there's no circumstance in which they could ever have peaceful nuclear power, et cetera. But to get from here to there is a difficult choice. I think the president did a hell of a job bringing together a coalition to get this done.
Source: Council on Foreign Relations on 2020 candidates , Sep 21, 2016

Prevent--not contain--Iranian nuclear weapon

We're mindful that pursuing a better future for Israel means helping Israel confront the myriads of threat it faces in the neighborhood. It's a tough neighborhood, and it starts with Iran. It is not only in Israel's interest that Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon, it's in the interest of the United States of America. It's simple. And, as a matter of fact, it's in the interest of the entire world.

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.

Source: Speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference , Mar 4, 2013

Meet Iranian leaders only when they have a serious agenda

Q: Many argue that the time for direct U.S.-Iranian negotiations has come. When is that going to happen?

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.

Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany , Feb 8, 2013

Iran has some fissile material, but no nuclear weapons

Relieved. That's how the Democrats must have felt watching Vice President Joe Biden debate Republican vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan. Time and time again the public saw why, in spite of a proclivity for putting his foot in his mouth, Biden was put on the ticket in the first place. He talks the way real people talk. Right out of the box he told Ryan that his views on Iran's nuclear weapon were "a bunch of stuff." Iran may be making fissile material (the stuff that sustains nuclear explosions) but "they don't have a weapon to put it in."

His attack on Ryan's Medicare plan was one of the strongest points in the evening. Unlike his boss he brought up the infamous 47 percent remark [in which Mitt Romney asserted that 47% of the American public accepted entitlements from the federal government in excess of their taxes] and pointed out that not only were his Mom and Dad in the 47%, so were the soldiers in Afghanistan (soldiers in combat don't pay income taxes.)

Source: Kennedy School's E. Kamarck on 2012 Vice Presidential Debate , Oct 12, 2012

Iran Sanctions are most crippling in history

Q: Last week former Defense Secretary Bob Gates said a strike on Iran's facilities would not work and "could prove catastrophic, haunting us for generations." How effective would a military strike against Iran be, to prevent nuclear development?

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!

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Iran is not close to nuclear weapons; stop the bluster

RYAN: When Barack Obama was elected, Iran had enough fissile material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five. They're racing toward a nuclear weapon. They're four years closer toward a nuclear weapons capability.

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.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Iran is isolated, and will be more so when Syria falls

Q: After the Iraq war, is Iran in a stronger position than it would have been without the Iraq war? Because Saddam Hussein was Iran`s sworn enemy, and now, a new Iraq is in some ways a de facto ally of Iran.

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.

Source: MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on 2012 election , Dec 13, 2011

Accept NIE conclusion that Iran stopped nukes in 2003

Q: Do you agree with the president’s assessment that Iran still poses a threat?

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.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

A military action resolution on Iran is a bad policy

Q: Do you agree that the Kyl-Lieberman amendment was a declaration of war?

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.

Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University , Oct 30, 2007

Joe Biden on Iraq War

FactCheck: removed troops from Iraq, but they went back

Biden spun his role in bringing troops home from Iraq when he was vice president. Biden said, "The president [Obama] turned to me with the entire security apparatus and said, 'Joe, I want you to organize getting 156,000 troops out of Iraq.' I did that."

It's true that in 2009 Biden chaired a committee that oversaw the troop withdrawal, while also keeping an eye on economic and political issues in Iraq. The Biden committee included representatives from the Defense Department, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Treasury Department and other agencies.

But what Biden fails to mention is that later--in Obama's second term, with Biden still vice president--the U.S. sent troops back into Iraq to combat the Islamic State fighters who had occupied much of the country. Near the end of the Obama administration, in late September 2016, the number of U.S. troops deployed exceeded 5,000.

Source: FactCheck.org on 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate , Feb 8, 2020

I made a mistake; Bush said he wouldn't go into Iraq

I made a mistake and I said it 14 years ago. I trusted George Bush to keep his word. He said he was not going to go into Iraq. He said he was only using this to unite the United Nations to insist we get inspectors in to see what Saddam was doing. When we got elected, the president turned to me with the entire security apparatus and said, "Joe, I want you to organize getting 156,000 troops out of Iraq." I did that. I did that.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

I made a mistake; Bush said he wouldn't go into Iraq

I made a mistake and I said it 14 years ago. I trusted George Bush to keep his word. He said he was not going to go into Iraq. He said he was only using this to unite the United Nations to insist we get inspectors in to see what Saddam was doing. When we got elected, the president turned to me with the entire security apparatus and said, "Joe, I want you to organize getting 156,000 troops out of Iraq." I did that. I did that.
Source: 8th Democrat 2020 primary debate, St. Anselm College in NH , Feb 7, 2020

As veep, worked to end Iraq war

BIDEN: I said 13 years ago it was a mistake to give the president the authority to go to war if, in fact, he couldn't get inspectors into Iraq to stop what--thought to be the attempt to get a nuclear weapon. It was a mistake, and I acknowledged that. But the man who also argued against that war, Barack Obama, picked me to be his vice president. And once we were elected, he asked me to end that war.

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: When Congress was debating whether or not we go into a war in Iraq, I said that would be a disaster. I helped pass a War Powers Act resolution, working with a conservative Republican, Mike Lee of Utah, which said that the war in Yemen, led by Saudi Arabia, was unconstitutional because Congress had not authorized it. We got a majority vote in the Senate. We got a majority vote in the House. Unfortunately, Bush vetoed that and that horrific war continues.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

Iraq war vote mistake based on Bush/Cheney lies

BIDEN: We should not send anyone anywhere unless the overwhelming vital interests of the United States are at stake. They were not at stake in Iraq. It was a mistaken vote. It was a mistake to trust that they weren't going to go to war. They said they were not going to go to war. They said they were just going to get inspectors in. From that point on, I was in the position of making the case that it was a big, big mistake. And from that point on, I've voted to--I moved to bring those troops home.

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: The war in Iraq turned out to be the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country. We lost 4,500 brave troops. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. We have spent trillions of dollars on that endless war, money which should go into health care and education and infrastructure in this country. Joe and I listened to what Dick Cheney and George Bush & Rumsfeld had to say. I thought they were lying. I didn't believe them for a moment. Joe saw it differently.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

FactCheck:No, didn't oppose Iraq War right after war started

In recent interviews defending his past foreign policy decisions, Biden has misrepresented his past position on the Iraq War. In explaining his 2002 vote to authorize military force in Iraq, Biden told NPR this week that, "Immediately, that moment it started, I came out against the war at that moment."

But a review of Biden's public statements about Iraq in the lead up to the invasion shows he was never entirely opposed to military action against Saddam Hussein:

Source: CNN K-File FactCheck on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Sep 4, 2019

U.S. forces out of Iraq, by whatever path led there fastest

Mattis recounts a meeting with Biden in the run-up to the U.S. withdrawal. "He wanted our forces out of Iraq," Mattis writes. "Whatever path led there fastest, he favored. He exuded the confidence of a man whose mind was made up, perhaps even indifferent to considering the consequences were he judging the situation incorrectly." After the U.S. withdrew at the end of 2011, the Islamic State seized a large part of western and northern Iraq. Obama reluctantly sent forces back to Iraq in 2014.
Source: NPR Morning Edition on 2019 Democratic Primary , Sep 2, 2019

I got 150,000 troops out of Iraq; do same in Afghanistan

Q: You voted for the Iraq war. You have said you regret that vote. Why should voters trust your judgment when it comes to making a decision about war the next time?

V.P. Joe BIDEN: I was responsible for getting 150,000 combat troops out of Iraq, and my son was one of them. I also think we should not have combat troops in Afghanistan. It's long overdue. It should end. We cannot go it alone in terms of dealing with terrorism. I would eliminate the act that allowed us to go into war. That's why we have to repair our alliances. We put together 65 countries to make sure we dealt with ISIS in Iraq and other places. That's what I would do. That's what I have done.

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: Joe voted for that war;I helped lead the oppositio

Source: June Democratic Primary debate (second night in Miami) , Jun 27, 2019

Son Beau served in Iraq while Delaware Attorney General

When Joe visited Beau's National Guard's unit in Iraq, Stephen Colbert offered to film a segment of a father-and-son-reunion. Beau nixed the idea--he didn't want the free publicity, and why should he be treated differently from his fellow soldiers? At the time he was Delaware's attorney general, and clearly that segment would have been good for "optics." Beau wasn't an optics guy. "He didn't want any special attention," remembered Colbert. "He didn't want to leave his unit. He didn't want to be singled out.")

Beau did things the hard way, the right way. At first, Delaware's governor offered to appoint Beau to be the attorney general, filling a vacancy. He turned it down so that, Obama said, he could run in an election and "win it fair and square."

Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, p.159 , Oct 24, 2017

1990 Gulf War: reason enough to send generation to war?

Most of the congressional Democrats determinedly opposed the Persian Gulf War. When Saddam Hussein sent Iraqi troops into Kuwait in August 1990, the Bush administration sought authorization from Congress for the use of force to reverse the invasion. The debate on Capitol Hill made clear that most Democrats still held to the core beliefs that had dominated the thinking of the liberal wing of the party since Vietnam. The Democrats exhibited a deep aversion to the use of force, even for the purpose of repelling one country's invasion of another.

"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.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 28-29 , Jun 14, 2012

OpEd: Iraq war follows tradition of active US leadership

The administration was clearly and openly moving toward war with Iraq. The Democrats did little to slow down Bush's momentum. In the fall of 2002, their acquiescence in this hurried process had been a huge blunder. Most of the prominent Democrats in Congress, including Senators John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Joe Biden, decided to support the Iraq resolution, casting votes that they would all find themselves obligated to justify for years afterwards.

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.

Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 47 , Jun 14, 2012

Proud of involvement in winding down Iraq war

Q: The end of the Iraq war was tasked to you in terms of winding this down. Your son served there. You were involved intimately in all of these decisions. How do you feel about the end of the war?

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.

Source: MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on 2012 election , Dec 13, 2011

1998: only way to remove Saddam is massive military effort

In 1998 Saddam Hussein insisted that international weapons inspectors stop work and leave Iraq. In response, Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Iraq Liberation Act, making regime change in Iraq the policy of the United States government and approving nearly $100 million to fund Iraqi opposition groups working for Saddam's ouster.

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."

Source: In My Time, by V.P. Dick Cheney, p.365-366 , Aug 30, 2011

OpEd: 2003 Iraq vote unmistakably authorized war

Senators Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Harry Reid would later claim that they were not voting to authorize war but only to continue diplomacy. They must not have read the resolution. Its language was unmistakable: "The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the US as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to defend the national security of the US against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and enforce all relevant UN Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq."
Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.240-241 , Nov 9, 2010

No vital interest in Kuwait in 1990; like Vietnam in 1972

playing into the hands of Ho Chi Minh where we disagreed [with administration policy]. Now I hear today we are unknowingly playing into the hands of Saddam Hussein. Boy, oh boy," Biden said in his folksy way, "Here we go again." In another apparent Biden questioned what American vital interest was involved in the [Iraq War] objective, noting that the same question had been raised in the Vietnam War. "I came to the Senate in 1972," he said, "because I was so tired of hearing that we were unknowingly resumed his argument for more time to allow the sanctions to break Saddam's will. "Before we ask Americans to die for the liberation of Kuwait, I would like to be sure we have tried every possible alternative. So far, this has not been the case." analogy to Vietnam, he added that no one had "laid out clearly what our vital interests are sufficient to have 10 thousand, 20 thousand, 30 thousand, 40 thousand Americans killed. I have not heard that one yet. A week before the UN deadline, Biden
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.249-250 , Oct 5, 2010

1990: One man deciding to go to war is tyranny

simply was no time for extensive debate before using force, lest the element of surprise would be lost. Biden said, "[That] has been shown to be a red herring by the UN resolution, at least in this case."

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

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.251 , Oct 5, 2010

2009: Monthly visit to Baghdad to wind down Iraq War

In late summer Obama was holding a meeting with Hillary Clinton, Bob Gates, & Joe Biden about the complexities of Iraqi governance. He suddenly turned to Biden and said, "So, Joe, I want you there once a month. You know the players. You take care of it." This was said to be no insult to Clinton, who, with all her globetrotting, hardly wanted to add a monthly visit to Baghdad.

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.

Source: The Promise: Obama Year One, by Jonathan Alter, p.228-229 , May 18, 2010

2007: Supported funding Iraq War, against Obama

In May 2007, the Senate voted on a $120 billion spending bill that included $100 billion for Iraq and Afghanistan. Chris Dodd said he would oppose the spending bill. Joe Biden, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, declared he would vote for it.

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.

Source: The Battle for America 2008, by Balz & Johnson, p. 80-81 , Aug 4, 2009

2002: Waiting to be sure of Saddam danger could be too late

"Almost no one disagrees with these basic facts. That he has weapons of mass destruction and that he is doing everything in his power to get nuclear weapons."
--Sen. John Edwards, Sept. 12, 2002

"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 al-Qaeda members."
--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

Source: The War in Quotes, by G.B. Trudeau, p. 28-29 , Oct 1, 2008

Post-colonial countries like Iraq need federal system

Biden insists that we have to destroy Iraq in order to save it. He says the only way to solve the bloody mess the US has created is through what amounts to a partition, providing autonomous states for the main ethic and religious groups, with the whole thing monitored by a UN-sponsored Iraq Oversight Group.

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.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.182-3 , Nov 11, 2007

Third way: federalize Iraq; troops home; no chaos behind

Biden favors a phased troop withdrawal down to a “residual” force, but made enemies by voting for the May 2007 supplemental war funding bill, insisting that a no-vote would constitute abandoning the troops. But he also favors a controversial plan that differs from any of the other candidates--as he describes it, a “third way”:

“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.“

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.181-182 , Nov 11, 2007

Changed mind on Iraq pullout, not about political solution

Q: Your presidential campaign has a political ad about Iraq:
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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Sep 9, 2007

Worth losing election to protect our troops

Q: Will you insist on a firm withdrawal date?

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Sep 9, 2007

Leaving Iraq will cause generation-long regional war

There’s much more at stake in our security in the region depending on how we leave Iraq. If we leave Iraq and we leave it in chaos, there’ll be regional war. The regional war will engulf us for a generation. It’ll bring in the Shia, it’ll bring in the Saudis, it’ll bring in the Iranians, it’ll bring in the Turks. We should do is separate the parties, give them breathing room in order to establish some stability. I notice most of my colleagues are coming around to that plan these days.
Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate on “This Week” , Aug 19, 2007

Voted for Iraq War resolution to avoid war in Iraq

I made my pitch for Biden-Lugar, [the alternative Iraq war authorization resolution], pointing out the very real constraints it put on the president.

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.

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.339-342 , Jul 31, 2007

Bush invaded Iraq as the weakest of the Axis of Evil

The Bush neo-cons identified the biggest threats--North Korea, Iran, & Iraq. Toppling the Taliban had been a nice start for the Neo-cons, but they thought the way to handle the world’s malcontents and to avoid war was to take out one of the “axis of evil leaders in a way that made the others quake. They wanted to leverage our nation’s awesome military power in a way that sent a strong message: enable terrorists and we’ll wipe you out. You’re either with us, Bush liked to say of his ”war on terror,“ or you’re against us.

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

Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.330-331 , Jul 31, 2007

End neocon fantasy of remaking Iraq in our image

During the 2004 campaign, Kerry had talked of making me his secretary of state, and I believed we had a real handle on how to fix the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in diplomatic circles around the globe. I knew the first steps I’d take in Iraq to refocus our efforts on providing physical and economic security for Iraqis and basics like electricity, fuel, and sewage removal. I’d put a swift end to the neo-con fantasy of quickly and decisively remaking an Iraq in our image; privatizing industries and building democratic institutions were distant goals that we could not impose on this fragile country. I also knew which key GOP leaders I could count on to build real bipartisan support and I felt I knew where to find the common ground.
Source: Promises to Keep, by Joe Biden, p.354-355 , Jul 31, 2007

Never de-fund a single soldier in Iraq

The next president, when he or she takes office, will be left with absolutely no margin for error. They will have to immediately end this war in a way that doesn’t mortgage our future for a generation and turn to hotspots in the world before they become new wars. We must recognize the reality on the ground. This is a vicious, self- sustaining cycle of civil war.

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.

Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum , Jul 12, 2007

Fund the safety of the troops till 67 anti-war votes reached

The Republicans & Bush have not told us the truth about this war from the beginning. The last thing we Democrats should do is not be telling the truth. We have 50 votes in the US Senate. We have less of a majority in the House than at any time other than the last 8 years. You’re going to end this war when you elect a Democratic president. You need 67 votes to end this war. I love these guys who tell you they’re going to stop the war. We’re funding the safety of those troops there till we can get 67 votes
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Think about the decade after Iraq, not just the day after

Q: You said in Oct. 2002: “We must be clear with the American people that we are committing to Iraq for the long haul; not just the day after, but the decade after.” Do you believe we’ll be in Iraq for a decade?

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007

In 2002 Saddam posed a threat of purchasing a nuclear bomb

Q: In 2002 you said about Saddam: “He must be dislodged from his weapons or dislodged from power.”

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007

US worse off than before Saddam because US lost credibility

Q: Do you believe we’re safer now that Saddam is gone?

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007

Partitioning Iraq is inevitable, as shown by history

Q: The Iraq Study Group said that your idea of partitioning Iraq is, is wrong, and would result in even wider civil war. James Baker, the chairman of that committee, said that he’s talked to experts and they believe it would trigger a “huge civil war.” Major cities are mixed between the Shiites and the Sunnis and that basically your plan just wouldn’t work.

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007

Decentralize Iraqi government; local control over daily life

Q: What is your plan to end the war in Iraq?

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.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org , Apr 10, 2007

Biden-Gelb plan: UN & Muslim powers to enforce Iraq unity

I put forward a political solution that’s been referred to as the Biden-Gelb plan:
  1. To maintain a unified Iraq, you have to decentralize it.
  2. Have a limited central government that has concern for its borders, its army, the distribution of oil revenues, its foreign policy.
  3. Secure access to oil revenues for the Sunnis who literally have nothing. Oil should be what binds the country together, not what splits it apart. There should be a guarantee in the constitution for proportional share of oil to get the Sunnis to get out of the business of supporting the insurgency.
  4. Increase reconstruction assistance for Iraq but raise that money from the oil-rich Gulf states, and tie that reconstruction to the protection of the minority ranks.
  5. And lastly, you have to make Iraq the world’s problem. I would call for the permanent five of the Security Council, along with the four largest Muslim nations, to impose a political solution for a unified Iraq.
Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org , Apr 10, 2007

Decentralize Iraq to give people control over daily lives

What do we do next? I’ve laid out a detailed plan for Iraq that’s been gaining a lot of support. Go to my website, joebiden.com, for the details. But here’s the deal. You got to decentralize Iraq, not centralize. You got to give people control over their daily lives. You got to give the Sunnis a piece of the oil. You got to make Iraq the world’s problem, not just ours, by bringing in the major nations to be part of it. And most of all, you got to get us out by 2008.
Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada , Feb 21, 2007

Joe Biden on Trouble Spots

Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized

Over the past few days, we've been in close cooperation with our allies and partners, and {Republican Senate] Leader McConnell, to bring together the international community to address the military coup in Burma. We are united in our resolve.

There can be no doubt: In a democracy, force should never seek to overrule the will of the people or attempt to erase the outcome of a credible election.

The Burmese military should relinquish power they have seized, release the advocates and activists and officials they have detained, lift the restrictions on telecommunications, and refrain from violence.

We will work with our partners to support restoration of democracy and the rule of law, and impose consequences on those responsible.

Source: Manchester Ink Link on 2020 New Hampshire Senate race , Feb 4, 2021

Support UN-imposed ceasefire in Yemen

Defense Secretary Austin will be leading a Global Posture Review of our forces so that our military footprint is appropriately aligned with our foreign policy and national security priorities. While this review is taking place, we're stepping up our diplomacy to end the war in Yemen--a war which has created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe. I've asked my Middle East team to ensure our support for the United Nations-led initiative to impose a ceasefire, open humanitarian channels, and restore long-dormant peace talks.

To underscore our commitment, we are ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arms sales. At the same time, Saudi Arabia faces missile attacks, UAV strikes, and other threats from Iranian-supplied forces in multiple countries. We're going to continue to support and help Saudi Arabia defend its sovereignty and its territorial integrity and its people.

Source: Manchester Ink Link on 2020 New Hampshire Senate race , Feb 4, 2021

Pull troops out of Mideast, except to patrol Gulf and ISIS

Q: In the wake of the Iran crisis, Iran has called for all U.S. troops to be pulled out of the Middle East. Yet when American troops last left Iraq, ISIS emerged.

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: What we need to do is have an international coalition. The nuclear deal with Iran was worked on with a number of our allies.

BIDEN: I was part of that deal to get the nuclear agreement with Iran. And it was working. It was being held tightly. There was no movement on the part of the Iranian government to get closer to a nuclear weapon.

Q: So would you leave troops in the Middle East or would you pull them out?

BIDEN: I would leave troops in the Middle East in terms of patrolling the Gulf, where we have--where we are now, small numbers of troops, and I think it's a mistake to pull out the small number of troops that are there now to deal with ISIS. And with regard to this idea that we can walk away and not have any troops anywhere, including special forces, there's no way you negotiate with terrorists.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

Leave special forces in Mideast, not just combat troops

BIDEN: There's a difference between combat troops and leaving special forces in a position. I was part of the coalition to put together 68 countries to deal with stateless terror as well as failed states. That's how we were able to end the caliphate for ISIS. They'll come back if we do not deal with them and we do not have someone who can bring together the rest of the world to go with us, with small numbers of special forces.

Sen. Elizabeth WARREN: We need to get combat troops out of the Mideast. We have to stop this mindset that we can do everything with combat troops. Our military is the finest military on Earth and they will take any sacrifice we ask them to take. But we should stop asking our military to solve problems that cannot be solved militarily. Our keeping combat troops there is not helping. We need to work with our allies. We need to use our economic tools. We need to use diplomatic tools.

Source: 7th Democrat primary debate, on eve of Iowa caucus , Jan 14, 2020

Troop withdrawal from Syria was shameful

I would not have withdrawn the troops [from the Kurdish areas of northern Syria, under threat from a Turkish invasion]. It has been the most shameful thing that any president has done in terms of foreign policy. I would be making it real clear to Assad that he's going to have a problem because Turkey is the real problem here. I would be having a real lockdown conversation with Erdogan and letting him know that he's going to pay a heavy price for what he has done.
Source: October Democratic CNN/NYTimes Primary debate , Oct 15, 2019

1972: young Americans shipped back from Vietnam in body bags

In 1972, a young Joe stood before a crowd "I am announcing today my candidacy for the US Senate." He was 29 years old, a New Castle County Councilman. Joe was squaring off against Republican Cale Boggs, a 62-year-old who served loyally but without stirring anything up.

Biden promised to deliver a liberal, activist agenda on voting rights, civil rights, & water air quality. He called for a national health-care program and, already turning his attention to foreign policy, opposed the Vietnam War. Delaware knew the tragedy of Vietnam up close. "Every week young American men were being shipped to the mortuary at Dover Airforce Base in body bags," Biden recalled. "How many mothers lay awake at night wondering how their sons might return, and wondering what exactly they were risking their lives for?" But Biden was no Hippie rebel. He was respectful, witty, and well groomed. But he was running against not only Bogg's ready recognition against voters but the strength of President Ricard Nixon.

Source: Barack and Joe, by Steven Levingston, p. 16-7 , Oct 8, 2019

US should stand up to aggression of dictators

[At the Munich Security Conference], "The America I see does not wish to turn our back on the world or our closest allies," Biden said, citing a commitment to both NATO and the European Union that has often been in doubt under Trump. "The America I see cherishes a free press, democracy, the rule of law. It stands up to the aggression of dictators and against strongmen."
Source: WashingtonPost.com on 2020 Democratic primary hopefuls , Feb 16, 2019

Vietnam war was horrendous waste based on a flawed premise

[In his 1972 Senate race, Biden] used the Vietnam War as a wedge issue, denouncing it as a "stupid and horrendous waste of time, money, and lives based on a flawed premise," and wondering why the United States was "spending so much energy in Southeast Asia that we had left truly vital interests unattended." (Swap out "Southeast Asia" with "Middle East," and it's easy to spot a coherent through-line from 1972 to the present.)
Source: The Book of Joe, by Jeff Wilser, , Oct 24, 2017

Syria chemical attack violates essential international norm

Joe Biden said there is "no doubt" that Bashar al-Assad's regime is responsible for the chemical weapons attack earlier this month on Syrian civilians. "There is no doubt that an essential international norm has been violated--violated. Chemical weapons have been used," the vice president told the American Legion National Convention. "And there is no doubt who is responsible for this heinous use of chemical weapons in Syria: the Syrian regime."

"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."

Source: ABC News "Candidates stand on Syria" , Aug 31, 2013

Syria's Assad must go, but carefully vet who gets aid

The US and Israel have a shared interest in Syria. Assad has shown his father's disregard for human life and dignity, engaging in brutal murder of his own citizens. Our position on that tragedy could not be clearer: Assad must go. But we are not signing up for one murderous gang replacing another in Damascus.

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.

Source: Speech at the AIPAC Policy Conference , Mar 4, 2013

Assad is no longer fit to lead the Syrian people; he must go

I'll be meeting with the leaders of the Syrian Opposition Coalition. Pres. Obama and I and nearly all of our partners and allies are convinced that President Assad, a tyrant, hell-bent on clinging to power, is no longer fit to lead the Syrian people and he must go.

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.

Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany , Feb 4, 2013

Intel support against extremism in Mali and North Africa

Today, across North Africa and in parts of the Middle East, extremists are seeking to exploit the following: increasingly porous borders; a broad swath of ungoverned territory; readily available weapons; new governments that lack the capacity to contend with extremism; a swelling generation of disaffected young people.

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.

Source: Speech at the Munich Security Conference in Munich, Germany , Feb 2, 2013

Syria not like Libya; intervention would ignite the region

Q: In March of last year, President Obama explained the military action taken in Libya by saying it was in the national interest to go in and prevent further massacres from occurring there. So why doesn't the same logic apply in Syria?

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.

Source: 2012 Vice Presidential debate , Oct 11, 2012

Will track terrorists to end of the earth

Look, Barack understood that the search for bin Laden was about a lot more than taking a monstrous leader off the battlefield. It was about so much more than that. It was about righting an unspeakable wrong. It was about--literally, it was about-- it was about healing an unbearable wound, a nearly unbearable wound in America's heart. And he also knew--he also knew the message we had to send around the world: If you attack innocent Americans, we will follow you to the end of the earth.
Source: Speech at 2012 Democratic National Convention , Sep 6, 2012

Opposed Vietnam but didn't identify with anti-war movement

Joe Biden, the young senator from Delaware. Like other Democrats outside the South, he had opposed the Vietnam War. Yet Biden was never closely identified with the antiwar movement; graduating in 1965, he was a little too old and too interested in electoral politics. "You're looking at a middle-class guy. I am who I am," he once quipped. "I'm not big on flak jackets and tie-dye shirts and--you know, that's not me."
Source: The Obamians, by James Mann, p. 18 , Jun 14, 2012

Syrian brutality must end; Assad must step down

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad threatens to "fan the flames" of sectarian conflict not only in Syria but in the wider region, Biden said. "Assad and his regime are the source of instability in Syria now and pose the greatest danger to fanning flames of sectarian conflict not only in Syria but beyond," Biden told the Turkish president when they met Friday.

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.

Source: Agence France Presse on Naharnet Newsdesk (Lebanon) , Dec 22, 2011

We shared responsibility to bring democracy to Libya

The Iraq War really spiraled out of control pretty quickly. One of the lessons we`ve learned is that you can go into any dictatorship and try to impose democracy, but it`s going to take you $1 trillion, a decade, and you`re going to have to make a judgment whether or not you`d better spend your time and effort doing something else to make the world safer.

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.

Source: MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" on 2012 election , Dec 13, 2011

9/11: Urged Bush to stay in public, like DeGaulle in WWII

On 9/11 Biden called for calm, saying Congress would be going back into session soon and he had heard that the president was "coming back to Washington, and I applaud him for that." Pres. Bush called Biden to commend him for "saying the right things." Biden asked Bush where he was, and was told: "I'm on Air Force One, heading to an undisclosed location in the Midwest." Biden said he urged the president to return to Washington. "I said, 'Mr. President, don't do that. Come home. Let everybody see you.'" But Bush said his security people would not permit it.

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.

Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.337-338 , Oct 5, 2010

1971: Campaigned on wanting Vietnam War over

who had died in a war we simply couldn't understand. But I think it was the fact that the campaign was run by his family. My specific job was to contact each high school in the state so we could get Joe into the classrooms. Whether it was speaking to a [One supporter] later wrote that his recruitment into the Biden Children's Crusade was spurred because "Joe said he wanted the Vietnam War over. That was a biggie for my gang in 1971. Most of us were 17 and 18 and already had friends or knew of someone an opportunity to have our voices heard in a wartime atmosphere that had set the generations at odds. Joe says, 'We've got an issue with Vietnam today, and the young people are concerned. I'm organizing all the young people in the state of Delaware.'" single civics class or to an entire auditorium of students, he began to excite and inspire young people by the thousands. No one had ever really asked young people to get involved before, not at this level. It seemed more like a movement than a campaign,
Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p. 63-64 , Oct 5, 2010

UN approval is not needed for US military action

Secretary General Kofi Annan said that military action taken without council approval constituted a threat to the "very core of the international security system. Only the [UN] Charter provides a universally accepted legal basis for the use of force."

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."

Source: Obama is Endangering our Sovereignty, by John Bolton, p. 19 , May 18, 2010

Muslims don’t like us because they do not trust us

Q: Would you speculate on the reasons for Muslims hatred of us?

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.

Source: 2007 Des Moines Register Democratic debate , Dec 13, 2007

Strong US intervention in trouble spots around the world

What sets Biden apart from other candidates, more than anything, is his take on Iraq--and more generally, on the US role in a post-Cold War world. Repeatedly, over the past 2 decades, Biden has advocated for strong US intervention in trouble spots around the world (including Iraq) in the name of democracy and human rights, a well-intentioned but highly risky stance that has won him devoted support as well as widespread opposition.

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.

Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.178&181 , Nov 11, 2007

It’s already US policy to go into Pakistan to get al Qaeda

OBAMA: [to Biden & others]: If we have actionable intelligence on al Qaeda operatives, including bin Laden, [within Pakistan], and President Musharraf cannot act, then we should.

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.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum , Aug 8, 2007

Do away with the policy of regime change for Iran

I would do away with the policy of regime change. What we’re saying to everybody in Iran is, “Look, by the way, give up the one thing that keeps us from attacking you, & after that we’re going to attack you. We’re going to take you down.” It’s a bizarre notion, number one. Number two, understand how weak Iran is. They are not a year away or two years away. They’re a decade away from being able to weaponize exactly what the question was, if they put a nuclear weapon on top of a missile that can strike. They’re far away from that. Number three, we’re going to - we have to understand how weak that government is. They import almost all of their refined oil. By 2014, they’re going to be importing their crude oil. There’s much better ways, if we had to get to the point of being real sanctions, of doing economic sanctions on them forcefully that way. But at the end of the day, if they posed the missile, stuck it on a pad, I’d take it out.
Source: 2007 Dem. debate at Saint Anselm College , Jun 3, 2007

Replace pre-emption doctrine with prevention

[I would] make two fundamental changes in this administration’s policy. We have to jettison this notion of preemption as a doctrine, and we have to jettison the notion of regime change. Replace it with prevention; open our ears and talk, before things become crises.

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.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC , Apr 26, 2007

With US troops in Korea, we are too committed to war

Q: Do you foresee any serious future involvements with regard to our troops in Korea?

BIDEN: Sure, I can see that happening. We have troops stationed in Korea. Now, if the U.S. is sitting there with its hands in its pockets, troops and military equipment there, and the madman in the north decides to reinstitute open hostilities and invades across the border--we are in a war. There's no time to sit and think about whether or not we want to get involved. We have 42,000 troops there, and you know how the public side of foreign policy works: TV shows American troops 1under siege, and right away the question becomes, "What do we need to do to protect the American boys there?" But what I'm getting at is that, in this situation, we have

Source: People Paper (Newark DE) interview in Congressional Record , Oct 2, 1975

Joe Biden on Voting Record

I shouldn't have voted for Bush's AUMF; he did it wrong way

Q: Obama turned to you to bring the troops home from Iraq. There was a major drawdown, but you then had to send thousands of troops back in. Was it wrong to pull out of Iraq that quickly?

BIDEN: No, it wasn't wrong to pull out. The fact of the matter is that, you know, I should have never voted to give Bush the authority to go in and do what he said he was going to do. The AUMF was designed, he said, to go in and get the Security Council to vote 15-0 to allow inspectors to go in to determine whether or not anything was being done with chemical weapons or nuclear weapons. And when that happened, he went ahead anyway without any of that proof. The big mistake that was made, which we predicted, was that you would not have a circumstance where the Shia and the Kurds would work together to keep ISIS from moving in.

Sen. Bernie SANDERS: The truth is, the big mistake, the huge mistake, and one of the big differences between you and me, I never believed what Cheney and Bush said about Iraq

Source: September Democratic Primary debate in Houston , Sep 12, 2019

Regrets his war vote because Bush misused war authority

Q: In May 2003 you said, “There was sufficient evidence to go into Iraq.” Then in 2004 you said, “I voted to give the president the authority to use force in Iraq. I still believe my vote was just.” Then in Iowa in 2007, running for President, you said, “It was a mistake. I regret my vote.”

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007

Vote for war allowed war only after all else failed

Q: Should you have sought out people who had a dissenting view on WMD?

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.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series , Apr 29, 2007

Introduced legislation barring US Military bases in Iraq

Q: What is your position on permanent army bases & the huge embassy building being built in Iraq?

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.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by MoveOn.org , Apr 10, 2007

Vote for Iraq War was mistake; assumed Bush competence

Q: Like Sen. Dodd and Sen. Edwards, you’ve said your vote was a mistake. Explain why.

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.

Source: 2007 AFSCME Democratic primary debate in Carson City Nevada , Feb 21, 2007

Voted for Iraq war in 2002, but now a war critic

In 2002 he voted to give Bush the authority to use military force, but since then Biden has become a critic of the war and has advocated a plan that would divide the country along ethnic lines.
Source: People’s Daily (China), “Contenders views on the war” , Nov 23, 2006

Voted NO on designating Iran's Revolutionary Guards as terrorists.

Vote on a "Sense of the Senate" amendment, S.Amdt. 3017, to H.R. 1585 (National Defense Authorization Act), that finds:

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.

Reference: Sense of the Senate on Iran; Bill S.Amdt. 3017 to H.R. 1585 ; vote number 2007-349 on Sep 26, 2007

Voted YES on redeploying US troops out of Iraq by March 2008.

Begins the phased redeployment of US forces from Iraq within 120 days of enactment of this joint resolution with the goal of redeploying by March 31, 2008, all US combat forces from Iraq, except for a limited number essential for protecting US and coalition personnel and infrastructure, training and equipping Iraqi forces, and conducting targeted counter-terrorism operations. Such redeployment shall be implemented as part of a diplomatic, political, and economic strategy that includes sustained engagement with Iraq's neighbors and the international community in order to bring stability to Iraq.

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.

Reference: US Policy in Iraq Resolution; Bill S.J.Res.9 ; vote number 2007-075 on Mar 15, 2007

Voted NO on redeploying troops out of Iraq by July 2007.

Voting YEA on this amendment would establish a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. Voting NAY would keep the current situation without a timetable. The amendment states:
  1. The President shall redeploy, commencing in 2006, US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007, leaving only the minimal number of forces that are critical to completing the mission of standing up Iraqi security forces and conducting specialized counterterrorism operations.
  2. The President should maintain an over-the-horizon troop presence to prosecute the war on terror and protect regional security interests.
  3. Within 30 days, the administration shall submit to Congress a report that sets forth the strategy for the redeployment of US forces from Iraq by July 1, 2007.
Reference: Kerry Amendment to National Defense Authorization Act; Bill S.Amdt. 4442 to S. 2766 ; vote number 2006-181 on Jun 22, 2006

Voted YES on investigating contract awards in Iraq & Afghanistan.

To establish a special committee of the Senate to investigate the awarding and carrying out of contracts to conduct activities in Afghanistan and Iraq and to fight the war on terrorism. Voting YES would: create Senate special committee to investigate war contracts, taking into consideration: bidding, methods of contracting, subcontracting, oversight procedures, allegations of wasteful practices, accountability and lessons learned in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Reference: Committee to Investigate War Contracts; Bill S Amdt 2476 to S 1042 ; vote number 2005-316 on Nov 10, 2005

Voted YES on $86 billion for military operations in Iraq & Afghanistan.

Vote to pass a bill that would appropriate $86.5 billion in supplemental spending for military operations and reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan, in Fiscal 2004. The bill would provide $10.3 billion as a grant to rebuild Iraq. This includes:
Reference: FY04 Emergency Supplemental for Iraq and Afghanistan; Bill S1689 ; vote number 2003-400 on Oct 17, 2003

Voted YES on authorizing use of military force against Iraq.

H.J.Res. 114; Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq Resolution of 2002. The administration would be required to report to Congress that diplomatic options have been exhausted before, or within 48 hours after military action has started. Every 60 days the president would also be required to submit a progress report to Congress.
Reference: Bill H.J.RES.114 ; vote number 2002-237 on Oct 11, 2002

Voted NO on allowing all necessary force in Kosovo.

Majority Leader Trent Lott motioned to kill the resolution that would have authorized the president to "use all necessary forces and other means," in cooperation with U.S. allies to accomplish objectives in Yugoslavia.
Status: Motion to Table Agreed to Y)78; N)22
Reference: Motion to table S. J. Res. 20; Bill S. J. Res. 20 ; vote number 1999-98 on May 4, 1999

Voted YES on authorizing air strikes in Kosovo.

Vote to adopt a resolution to authorize the President to conduct military air operations and missile strikes in cooperation with NATO against Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro).
Reference: Bill S.Con.Res 21 ; vote number 1999-57 on Mar 23, 1999

Voted YES on ending the Bosnian arms embargo.

Ending the Bosnian arms embargo.
Status: Bill Passed Y)69; N)29; NV)2
Reference: Bosnia Herzegovina Self-Defense Act of '95; Bill S. 21 ; vote number 1995-331 on Jul 26, 1995

Condemns anti-Muslim bigotry in name of anti-terrorism.

Biden co-sponsored the Resolution on bigotry against Sikh Americans:

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.

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR255 on Oct 4, 2001

No troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq.

Biden introduced opposing troop surge: no military escalation in Iraq

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.

Source: Bipartisan Resolution on Iraq (S.CON.RES.2 ) 07-SCR2 on Jan 17, 2007

Deploy UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Biden introduced deploying UN multinational peacekeeping force in Darfur

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.

Source: Resolution on Darfur (S.RES 276) 07-SR276 on Jul 19, 2007

Opposes letter to Iran from 47 GOP Senators: keep nuke deal.

Biden opposes the Letter to Iran from 47 Republican Senators

Ballotpedia.org summary:Dozens of Republican senators wrote an open letter to the leadership of Iran, warning them that any nuclear deal signed between Iran and U.S. President Barack Obama might not last beyond his presidency, without Congress signing off on it as well. No Democrats signed it. [The letter caused intense backlash. V.P. Joe Biden said of the letter, "In 36 years in the US Senate, I cannot recall another instance in which senators wrote directly to advise another country--much less a longtime foreign adversary--that the president does not have the constitutional authority to reach a meaningful understanding with them." On Twitter, the hashtag "47Traitors" became the top trending topic in the world, and a debate raged as to whether the 47 who signed the letter were traitors or patriots. Here is the text of the letter.

An Open Letter to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran:

Under our Constitution, while the president negotiates international agreements, Congress plays the significant role of ratifying them. In the case of a treaty, the Senate must ratify it by a 2/3 vote. A so-called congressional-executive agreement requires a majority vote in both the House and the Senate (which, because of procedural rules, effectively means a three-fifths vote in the Senate). Anything not approved by Congress is a mere executive agreement.

We will consider any agreement regarding your nuclear-weapons program that is not approved by the Congress as nothing more than an executive agreement between President Obama and Ayatollah Khamenei. The next president could revoke such an executive agreement with the stroke of a pen and future Congresses could modify the terms of the agreement at any time.

We hope this letter enriches your knowledge of our constitutional system and promotes mutual understanding and clarity as nuclear negotiations progress.

Source: Letter to Iran from 47 Republican Senators 15-LTR-IR on Mar 9, 2015

Move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.

Biden co-sponsored the Jerusalem Embassy Act

Corresponding House bill is H.R.1595. Became Public Law No: 104-45.
Source: Bill sponsored by 77 Senators and 78 Reps 95-S1322 on Oct 13, 1995

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