Biden’s Straight-Talk To John McCain


joe biden.jpg
Joe Biden has an important oped today, “The Real Surge Story,” that really goes after Senator John McCain’s continued embrace of military deployments in Iraq.
From Biden’s piece:

If the president’s plan won’t work, what will? History suggests only four other ways to keep together a country riven by sectarian strife:
We allow or help one side to win, which would require years of horrific bloodletting.
We perpetuate the occupation, which is impossible politically and practically.
We promote the return of a dictator, who is not on the horizon but whose emergence would be the cruelest of ironies.
Or we help Iraq make the transition to a decentralized, federal system, as called for in its constitution, where each major group has local control over the fabric of its daily life, including security, education, religion and marriage.
Making federalism work for all Iraqis is a strategy that can still succeed and allow our troops to leave responsibly. It’s a strategy I have been promoting for a year.
I cannot guarantee that my plan for Iraq will work. But I can guarantee that the course we’re on — the course that a man I admire, John McCain, urges us to continue — is a road to nowhere.

Biden’s assessment is quite bleak but realistic.
But what is really odd about John McCain’s position is that he used to believe that a post-invasion deployment force needed to be around the 300,000 troop level that General Shinseki suggested. Zbigniew Brzezinski, who opposes what he has called an “colonial crusade in a post-colonial world”, said that an occupation deployment of more than 500,000 troops could have some impact on the current situation — just to take the counter-point for a moment.
McCain is spending his political capital endorsing a minor surge in troop levels and endorsing sleight-of-hand incremental changes in the duration of deployment terms. He’s staking his political future on a level of US force in Iraq — even if you agreed with his general position — that he never believed was enough to begin with.
— Steve Clemons


24 comments on “Biden’s Straight-Talk To John McCain

  1. Michael F says:

    Go John McCain win the president election. Boo yah


  2. genrikh yagoda says:

    About McCain–a real bad dude ! He is surrounded by zionist for his election. The real kicker he is a habitual liar. Simple–a con artist.
    I like to reminded the readers of his Daddy General in the Isreal bombing of the USS Liberty Navy Ship. The scum bag liad for the thuggish Israelies and they got off .
    No arabs did 911 and Mc Cain knows it..


  3. Pissed Off American says:

    Carroll, the draft never gets “everyone”. The rich and the elite still manage to skate. Besides, what regards are our elected officials showing for the law? Do you really think they would observe the draft law if it was their own kids being sent to die for the Bush/Cheney crimes?


  4. Carroll says:

    Breaking the Army
    by Jim Lobe
    Just chock full of bad news..including:
    “The active army is about broken,” former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who also served as chairman of the Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush 15 years ago, told Time magazine this week, while another highly decorated retired general who just returned from Iraq and Afghanistan described the situation in even more dire terms
    “The truth is, the U.S. Army is in serious trouble and any recovery will be years in the making and, as a result, the country is in a position of strategic peril,” ret. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, former head of the U.S. Southern Command, told the National Journal, elaborating on a much-cited memo he had written for his colleagues at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
    And btw, Turkey has said it is going to send troops into the Kurd region to rout out the Kurdish rebels crossing into Turkey. The US has asked them to “refrain”. Haw!
    Guess we will have to have a DRAFT…to handle all these wars and semi wars and demi wars we got going…I am all for it ..DRAFT everyone…No exceptions.


  5. parrot says:

    Let’s say you wanted to control Iraq’s oil and you wanted to make sure that everyone in the region but yourself was too afraid to get directly involved. And let’s say that you knew there were acceptable loses for your military to sustain so you could get the oil out. How would you go about that? Oh…


  6. Marky says:

    You’re right that McCain never believed this troop level would be enough, but last year he repeatedly said that 20,000 more troops would make a difference “but of course we’ll never get that”. He was trying to position himself outside of blame for Iraq. However, when Bush said he was sending 20,000, McCain was stuck. In fact, I think the coincidence of the number Bush propose initially, and the number McCain asked for, was an intentional act by the White House. Bush made McCain his bitch on Iraq, forever, probably with the idea of killing his presidential hopes.


  7. ... says:

    iraq is now all consuming. the politicians can come up with all the great ideas they want, but i happen to agree with poa- they opened pandoras box going over their and they need to be held accountable now… i also agree with vietnam vets ideas… get the hell out of their and acknowledge defeat- something politicians in power never do btw.. biden is more of the same..


  8. Robert M. says:

    As with most other posters, I see Biden’s statement as both realistic and fantastic. Able to see the flaws in others but wedded to his own unreality.
    All proposed solutions, from Bush to Hillary, which involve US troops staying in anyway in major numbers in Iraq other than as air force bases in Kurdistan with army support, are
    The March 32 2008 deadline is the ONLY realistic option. Republicans will peal off the WH Titantic position once they come back from August break — unless Events accelerate which will cause a break much sooner.
    And Events are in the Saddle beyond any American’s control now.
    Oh, all this has been brought to you by Karl Rove. Cheney couldn’t get to the WH without KR’s efforts, whereas KR’s plans for the Republican party had no need of Cheney’s foreign policy programs. 9/11 was a classic opportunity for both. KR got Bush re-elected but Cheney’s program’s failure has destroyed Bush’s control domestically. Karl should sue Dick for divorce.


  9. Realist says:

    120,000, 300,000, or 500,000 – none of it matters if it’s 90% American. If this effort is truly comparable to the magnitude of WWII, it’s time for allies with boots on the ground. Not going to happen with the current commander-in-chief.
    Word of the day: “imperialism”. No one likes it. Study the concept.


  10. MP says:

    And on a more hopeful note…from MJ Rosenberg:
    Arik Bender reports today in Ma’ariv that the Israeli Knesset yesterday heard testimony from Dr. Ibraham Suleiman, a representative of Syrian President Assad.
    Text of Ma’ariv article(translated from Hebrew)
    “Suleiman held a series of meetings in the years 2004-2006 with Dr. Alon Liel, the former director general of the Foreign Ministry, in an attempt to draw up a draft proposal of a peace agreement between Syria and Israel.
    “Suleiman and Liel were invited by Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman MK Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) to address the committee at the behest of committee member MK Zehava Galon (Meretz). Dr. Suleiman will present his views on the current mood in Damascus. ‘Our goal was for the talks to switch tracks to formal negotiations.”
    Who is to blame for this? Speaker Pelosi, no doubt. First she talks to the Syrians and now the Israeli legislature invites formal testimony from their representative. On top of all that, the Israelis and Syrians have been negotiating through intermediaries for years!!!
    What is wrong with these people? Haven’t they heard about the Logan Act?
    PS I’m joking. The whole Logan Act thing is a crock. Members of Congress are not private US citizens, nor are Knesset members!


  11. Kathleen says:

    Again, after the election in Iraq, the newly elected gov’t proposed a peace plan which included an agreement with the Sunnis to lay down their arms if we withdrew within two years. What was wrong with that? Why did we not shake hands and say Mission Accomplished and leave by agreement? Why can we not get back to that proposal for peace? All we have to do is agree to leave within two years, or a new date certain.
    This is not rocket science. It’s their country and they want us to leave.
    I’ve heard of Surf n Turf, but Surge and Purge is a new dish cooked up by the dolts at the top.


  12. VietnamVet says:

    A suicide bomber in a Green Zone cafeteria, a bridge Across the Tigris blown into the water and 15 month Army tours; all in one day. American leaders and media are delusional. They fear a clear truthful discussion. Americans are the hated occupiers of Sunni and Shiite Arabs. Federation does not change this. The Kurds tolerate the infidels only as long as they keep the Turks out of Kurdistan. As long as American troops are around they will remain targets.
    The best of all possible Joe Biden worlds is the Arab League in Al Anbar Province, Turks in Kurdistan and Iranian Revolutionary Guards everywhere else. Talking with regional Middle East powers could settle the borders and grant a short period for US troops to withdraw to Kuwait; rather than a regional nuclear war that seems the inevitable outcome of Dick Cheney’s never ending war to try to colonize Iraq


  13. Mattthew says:

    Steve: Please keep plugging Zbig. His book “Second Chance” is an excellent read. We really need to encourage more analysis–and less “faith based” thinking–in our foreign policy.


  14. pauline says:

    “A fool’s voice is known by multitude of words.”
    As captured by C-Span back in July, 2006, the honorable Senator Joseph Biden slurred:
    “In Delaware, the largest growth of population is Indian Americans, moving from India. You cannot go to a 7/11 or a Dunkin’ Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking.”
    In two interviews before the Army took Senator John McCain and 60 Minutes on the heavily guarded visit to Baghdad’s al-Shorja market, the senator said security had improved in Iraq. Upon his return, he also told a news conference he had just come back from a neighborhood one could walk around in freely. The remarks made headlines and he now regrets saying them.
    “Of course I am going to misspeak and I’ve done it on numerous occasions and I probably will do it in the future,” said McCain.


  15. steve duncan says:

    The killing is going to continue in Iraq with or without the presence of U.S. troops. What kind of success or victory is Bush hoping to eventually declare? Upon his pronouncement we’ll be surveying a smoking, bloody mess of a nation. That’s victory? Destroyed infrastructure, broken economy, dysfunctional social fabric, nonexistent educational system, corrupt judicial and penal system, polluted natural resources, feeble, emasculated military. That’s success? History will be most unkind to the United States and George Bush over this episode.


  16. Carroll says:

    I don’t know how many times I have said GET EVERYONE OUT….as in get ALL the foreigners out of Iraq..all of them. That should have been errand Number ONE from day one. I can hardly think about this STUPIDITY any more without going into a fit.. And what INFURIATES me is that the US knows all these assorted agendas and profiteers are operating in Iraq AND THAT THEY ARE ADDING TO THE CHAOS..and YET….they do nothing about it….EXCEPT throw our troops in the middle of it. We have Israelis involved in their own interest with the Kurds and lobbist in DC lobbying for the Kurds…and IS ANYONE looking at solutions for Iraq without their own agenda? NO…and that is reason number one for this FUBAR disaster. MEANWHILE those like McCain and Biden are spouting their vomitous worn out nonsense even though they KNOW what is going on…they ought to be fed the ashes of everyone killed in this mafia operation till they choke.
    Kurdistan’s Covert Back-Channels
    By Laura Rozen
    April 11, 2007
    In June 2004, journalist Seymour Hersh reported in the New Yorker that Israelis operating in northern Iraq under the guise of businessmen were in fact cultivating Kurdish proxies to gather intelligence in preparation for possible future action against Iran. About the same time, I too was hearing about Israelis operating in Kurdish northern Iraq. First, from a former senior American diplomat who was invited by an Israeli American businessman to advise the Kurds on how to get billions of dollars they believed they were owed from the Saddam Hussein-era United Nations Oil-for-Food program. The diplomat gave me the Israeli’s name—Shlomi Michaels—and phone numbers for Michaels in Beverly Hills, Turkey, and Israel……..


  17. JohnH says:

    Shhhhh, Carroll. We’re not supposed to know that Iraq has oil. Only our superiors in the foreign policy and national security mafia have license to talk about that…and then only in back rooms. At least it’s not classified information [yet].


  18. Carroll says:

    Posted by steambomb at April 12, 2007 11:30 AM
    You think Biden is realistic? I don’t see that at all. It seems to me he is parroting the CFR America the globalist stance. And “the plan” is just another way of having out own little colony in the Iraq…and we will stay on the base we built in Iraq that is larger than the town I live in to oversee our creation.
    And just ONCE I would like for Biden and the rest to come right out and say EXACTLY what OUR interst are in the ME and Iraq. Ya..just tell us outright what those interest are boys…dont’ be shy. Is it we want to own the oil and direct it, not buy it or what?
    Our interest,our interest, our interest…if I had a dollar for every time I heard that (unexplained and meaningless) talking point phase I could buy Iraq lock stock and barrel.


  19. Gadfly says:

    Biden is fishing for what strategy might appeal the most to the American public who are sick and tired of Bush-Cheney’s disastrous debacle in Iraq.
    The American people do not want to face-up to the cold, hard reality that Bush’s foolish and unnecessary decision to attack Iraq has proven to be the worst foreign policy blunder in our nation’s history. For all of Bush’s rationalizations, none have been realized:– we now know that Bush/Cheney/Rice/Rumsfeld/Rove lied about WMDs; lied about Al Qaeda links to Saddam Hussein which were non-existent; lied about Iraq’s linkages to 9/11; etc.– democratisation of Iraq is a tragic joke; for democracy cannot flourish in a war-zone; and, the Iraqi people now hate us. U.S. intelligence reports show that terrorist groups have attracted new recruits because of what Bush has done.
    America has failed, under Bush. And, we’ll be paying a heart-breaking (and back-breaking) price for generations. [Not Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rove & Gonzales & their paymasters at Halliburton, Big OIL, Bechtel, Carlyle Group, the Military Industrial Complex– all of whom have plundered our U.S. treasury to enrich themselves].
    Now Biden is seeking the least worst option. It’s pathetic– but somebody will have to clean-up Bush’s catastrophic messes after he swans-off back to his ranch at Crawford, where he should take-up shovelling shit– the only thing that he might be good at.
    McCain by contrast, has clearly sold-out body & soul to the neo-con Bushies. McCain was told by Bush-n-Rove to fall-in-line and support this Iraq debacle to the hilt– and lie, if need be, to make Americans think that this Iraqi nightmare is wonderful. I suspect that Bush-Rove have “the goods” on McCain and are black-mailing him. McCain is dead politically as he should be:– after having written a book on “courage” [sic], he has shown that he has none whatsoever.


  20. steambomb says:

    He has always been realistic about Iraq. What a pitty that the MSM doesn’t give him more time. I would vote for Biden if I thought he had any kind of chance of winning the Democratic primary. I wont dare vote for Hillary. Something happened to the visionaries that Bill and Hillary were when they entered washington. They truly used to be like JFK. Now they appear to have lost their vision.


  21. JohnH says:

    Once again, Biden is peddling his tired, old proposal. He refuses to admit that the US needs to begin by letting go of its imperial ambitions. Instead Biden continues to blow smoke.
    Fortunately an increasing number of voices are being added to the choir of those who do get it:
    Brzezinski opposes a “colonial crusade in a post-colonial world.”
    Edwards campaign said, “When we say complete withdrawal we mean it. No more war. No combat troops in the country. Period.”
    Baker-Hamilton almost says it:
    RECOMMENDATION 22: The President should state that the United States does not seek permanent military bases in Iraq. If the Iraqi government were to request a temporary base or bases, then the U.S. government could consider that request as it would in the case of any other government.
    RECOMMENDATION 23: The President should restate that the United States does not seek to control Iraq’s oil.
    Hillary is among those least likely to get it:
    And Obama?


  22. Carroll says:

    Straight talk for Biden..
    Why does he harp on this plan?…and why?
    “The plan would maintain a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis local control over their daily lives – as provided for in the Iraqi constitution. The central government would be responsible for common interests, like border security and the distribution of oil revenues. We would secure support from the Sunnis – who have no oil — by guaranteeing them a proportionate share (about 20 percent) of oil revenues and reintegrating them into society. We would increase economic aid, ask the oil-rich Arab Gulf states to fund it and tie all assistance to the protection of minority rights and the creation of a jobs program. We would initiate a major diplomatic offensive to enlist the support of Iraq’s neighbors and create an Oversight Group of the U.N. and the major powers to enforce their commitments. And we would ask our military to draw up plans to responsibly withdraw most U.S. forces from Iraq by 2008 – enough time for the political settlement to take hold – while leaving a small force behind to take on terrorists and train Iraqis.”
    I don’t get how this would work. A milion things could upset this applecart. How would the country be unified if it was “decentralized” by ethnic or religious groups? This is a Cheney “lite” plan to bust Iraq into three states and as far as I have read the only group pushing for that is the Kurds.
    And the question is how would we set up and enforce this ‘decentralization” in the midst of their civil war as it is?
    Every Arabist expert I have read says this is a bad plan…so evidently just like before Biden is not listening to those who actually know something about the ME and Iraq.


  23. Zathras says:

    I don’t have any problem believing in John McCain’s sincerity, the focus of most of blogospheric commentary on his views about Iraq.
    It is still the case that he is insisting on the importance of pursuing to the end a forceful, imaginative response to the Iraq problem of fall, 2003 in the spring of 2007. Events have moved on in the last three and a half years; tactics that might have made a big difference if applied in time are bound to have a different effect now, and everything we know about Iraq suggests that the effect will not be decisive.
    We really do have to start looking at Iraq policy with a due regard to the unidirectional nature of the time continuum. McCain is the most forceful advocate for an administration strategy that in essence treats Iraq as a do-over — things done wrong before can be done right this time, over three years later, and victory thus achieved. Only using the greatest historical license can one point to any other war in American history where anything like this has ever happened.
    Having said this, I should also add a point about the background of Sen. Biden’s federalism idea. This originated not as a solution to the problem of Iraq, but to the problem of the Kurds. It’s a problem I understand, and I sympathize with the idea behind this proposed solution. But outside the Kurdish region of Iraq federalism seems only marginally more practicable now than it did before — and the improvement is only because of the ethnic cleansing that has taken place in parts of Iraq that formerly had mixed Shiite and Sunni Arab populations.
    In any event, the future of Iraq is not the thing we need to focus on now. All we need from Iraq is that it not become, as Afghanistan once was, a base for international terrorism. This aside, what we most need is to liquidate the American commitment in that country. I’d like it if we could do that and still come up with a palatable political solution for Iraq’s future, but if this can’t be done it can’t be done. Stalling for time has its uses in some situations, but right now all the administration is doing is putting off taking actions it doesn’t want to assume responsibility for. It is fighting the problem, not deciding it.
    I’m not as absorbed as the campaign-centered mainstream media with what the Iraq quandary means for John McCain’s political future, or Joe Biden’s for that matter. But both men, McCain especially, underline the wholly disproportionate importance that most of official Washington continues to assign to the future of one, mid-sized Arab country. This has to change if American foreign policy is to serve American national interests.


  24. Pissed Off American says:

    Iraq is so obviously broken that even Biden’s ideas are a pipe dream. There are too many players that will seek to derail ANY option. The Trurkish/Kurd conflicts in the north. Then, does anyone really believe that Israel will allow an Iranian dominated theocracy to form right next door? Then you have the global oil giants, who are so close to having their goal of stealing the Iraqi oil assets realized, through the original plan of privatization that Bremer originally botched so badly. Beyond all of that, you have the sinister influence of Cheney, a man driven by megalomania and fanaticism. Add centuries old sectarian animosity, and you have an unwinnable situation. The inevitable direction to this is going to be an initial attempt by the Shiites to completely eradicate the Sunnis in Iraq, which will result in the conflict extending out beyond Iraq’s borders, as the Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia seek to level the odds.
    There is no American led solution. We have opened Pandoras’s box.
    The only positive thing that can come of this debacle would be the impeachment, indictment, and imprisonment of the key framers of this hoax called the GWOT. Only by such a course of action can we prevent future leaders from committing such horrendous abuses of power.


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