Presidential candidate shares his thoughts on war in Iraq
An excited audience was on hand at Mackey Auditorium to see presidential hopeful Joseph R. Biden speak at one of the final events of the 59th annual Conference on World Affairs.
After an introduction and mini-biography by moderator John Voorhees, Biden began with a joke and reassurance to students that he is not so old as some of his fellows in the U.S. Senate.
“Although there are only four senators that have served longer than me there are still 42 that are older than me,” Biden said to laughs.
Biden continued on with a more solemn attitude to explain to the assemblage the intricacies of the international scene and to give his position on a numerous of foreign affairs issues.
He discussed the growing totalitarian nature of Russia and the growing military and economic power of China. He talked of the genocide in Darfur and the deterioration of communications with the rest of the world.
“There are astounding opportunities for the United States and the world,” Biden said. “I am a realist. The next president, the next generation literally has the opportunity to change the world for the better. It requires some straight talk and some stark and straightforward action.”
Biden then moved to the main topic of the afternoon, the war in Iraq.
Biden first reprimanded President Bush and the current administration’s priorities and handling of the war in Iraq. Having been a U.S. Senator since the days of Vietnam, Biden has seen the worst of wartime politics.
“I never thought I’d hear another president blame a failed war on a failed policy. We, the critics of that war, are not emboldening the enemy,” Biden said. “Emboldening the enemy is the only mission this administration has accomplished during the war.”
However, Biden was quick to note that a solution for Iraq is absolutely necessary and that immediate withdrawal would not necessarily be the best course of action if the United States is to retain its “flexibility and credibility” to deal with many of the other problems facing the international stage today such as Darfur and Iran.
“It is not enough for a plan to leave Iraq, we need a plan for what we leave behind,” Biden said.
Biden is the only member of the Senate to have proposed a solution that is anything other than military.
Biden’s plan would create peace accords and completely de-centralize Iraq into a confederacy so as to allow the various religious, ethnic and political identities to have control over their own populations equal to that of every other group and to protect every citizen in Iraq.
According to Biden, U.S. military involvement would be limited to protection of U.S. soldiers, training the Iraqi military and preventing Al-Qaeda from gaining any new footholds for insurgency.
Biden said that all of this can only be obtained with increased communication within the world community.
“We have to make clear to our friends as well as our foes that we precipitated this problem with a failed policy,” Biden said. “A decentralized federation in Iraq is their last and best hope.”
Biden concluded with outlining the fact that over one trillion dollars has been spent in Iraq and that currently the United States spends over eight billion dollars a month to fund the war in Iraq. With that money, Biden said, imagine the things that could be accomplished.
He extrapolates that the sort of money being spent in Iraq could easily be used to provide health care for every American or to enhance public education.
“Folks, you know this war, it’s not rocket science, as they used to say. We could build a better nation we could fund so many things, but until we have a sound foreign policy to end this war, there will be none,” Biden said. “Remember, everything is about priorities.”
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