Thursday, September 11, 2008


Biden Was Wrong On the Cold War
September 4, 2008; Page A17

The choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has electrified many conservatives and strengthened John McCain's claim that his administration would be far more reform-minded than Barack Obama's. At the same time, it has triggered accusations that Gov. Palin is far too inexperienced to be vice president, and has little knowledge of national security issues.

Mrs. Palin's lack of mastery of national security issues is often contrasted with Mr. Obama's vice presidential pick, Joseph Biden Jr. Mr. Biden has served in the Senate since 1973, is currently chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, and is often described as a "statesman."
In fact, decade after decade and on important issue after important issue, Mr. Biden's judgment has been deeply flawed.

In the 1970s, Mr. Biden opposed giving aid to the South Vietnamese government in its war against the North. Congress's cut-off of funds contributed to the fall of an American ally, helped communism advance, and led to mass death throughout the region. Mr. Biden also advocated defense cuts so massive that both Edmund Muskie and Walter Mondale, both leading liberal Democrats at the time, opposed them.

In the early 1980s, the U.S. was engaged in a debate over funding the Contras, a group of Nicaraguan freedom fighters attempting to overthrow the Communist regime of Daniel Ortega. Mr. Biden was a leading opponent of President Ronald Reagan's efforts to fund the Contras. He also opposed Reagan's efforts to send military assistance to the pro-American government in El Salvador, which at the time was battling the FMLN, a Soviet-supported Marxist group.

Throughout his career, Mr. Biden has consistently opposed modernization of our strategic nuclear forces. He was a fierce opponent of Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. Mr. Biden voted against funding SDI, saying, "The president's continued adherence to [SDI] constitutes one of the most reckless and irresponsible acts in the history of modern statecraft." Mr. Biden has remained a consistent critic of missile defense and even opposed the U.S. dropping out of the Antiballistic Missile Treaty after the collapse of the Soviet Union (which was the co-signatory to the ABM Treaty) and the end of the Cold War.

In 1990, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and, we later learned, was much closer to attaining a nuclear weapon than we had believed. President George H.W. Bush sought war authorization from Congress. Mr. Biden voted against the first Gulf War, asking: "What vital interests of the United States justify sending Americans to their deaths in the sands of Saudi Arabia?"

In 2006, after having voted three years earlier to authorize President George W. Bush's war to liberate Iraq, Mr. Biden argued for the partition of Iraq, which would have led to its crack-up. Then in 2007, Mr. Biden opposed President Bush's troop surge in Iraq, calling it a "tragic mistake." It turned out to be quite the opposite. Without the surge, the Iraq war would have been lost, giving jihadists their most important victory ever.

On many of the most important and controversial issues of the last four decades, Mr. Biden has built a record based on bad assumptions, misguided analyses and flawed judgments. If he had his way, America would be significantly weaker, allies under siege would routinely be cut loose, and the enemies of the U.S. would be stronger.

There are few members of Congress whose record on national security matters can be judged, with the benefit of hindsight, to be as consistently bad as Joseph Biden's. It's true that Sarah Palin has precious little experience in national security affairs. But in this instance, no record beats a manifestly bad one.

Mr. Wehner, a former deputy assistant to President George W. Bush, is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

(reprinted from the Wall Street Journal of 04/Sept/08)
Iraqi Leaders Opposed Biden's Partition Plan
September 9, 2008; Page A23
On Sunday's "Meet the Press," Sen. Joseph Biden made a series of stunning arguments in defense of his plan for segregation of Iraq along ethnic and sectarian lines. When Mr. Biden first announced his partition plan in May 2006, Iraqi leaders and U.S. officials understood it to mean the establishment of strong Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish regional administrations. The Biden plan would have also begun a phased redeployment of U.S. troops in 2006 and withdrawn most of them by the end of 2007.
Despite deep resistance from the Iraqi government, Mr. Biden tried to turn his plan into U.S. policy, introducing a nonbinding Senate resolution that called for its implementation. But his effort completely backfired in Baghdad. The proposal ended up unifying all the disparate Iraqi factions in opposition.
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who called on the Iraqi parliament to meet and formally reject the Biden plan, immediately went on Iraqi television with a blistering statement: "[Biden] should stand by Iraq to solidify its unity and its sovereignty . . . [He] shouldn't be proposing its division. That could be a disaster not just for Iraq but for the region."
On "Meet the Press" Mr. Biden dismissed Mr. Maliki's objections because the Iraqi prime minister's "popularity is very much in question." Based on what? Most independent analysts who have recently traveled to Iraq point to his heightened popularity as a result of the stabilization of Anbar province, the decimation of al Qaeda in Iraq, and his decision to successfully confront Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army in Basra.
The notion that a number of other Iraqi leaders supported the Biden plan is not correct either. Actually, it was just the opposite.
Abdul Mahdi al-Karbala'i, the representative of Iraq's most senior Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, called the Senate resolution "a step toward the breakup of Iraq. It is a mistake to imagine that such a plan will lead to a reduction in chaos in Iraq; rather, on the contrary, it will lead to an increase in the butchery and a deepening of the crisis of this country, and the spreading of increased chaos, even to neighboring states."
The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars also denounced the plan. "This is a dangerous partitioning based on sectarianism and ethnicity," said Hashim Taie, a member of the Iraqi Accordance Front, the largest Sunni party in the parliament.
Qays al-Atwani, the moderator of the popular "Talk of the Hour" television show, interviewed Iraqi Shiites and Sunnis about the Biden resolution. He concluded: "For the first time in Iraq, all political blocs, decision makers and religious authorities agree on rejecting the [Biden] resolution that contradicts the will of the Iraqi people." The Senate resolution even managed to provoke radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's political supporters to momentarily join their rivals -- all in opposition to the Biden plan.
Secular Sunni parliamentarian Mithal al-Alusi held a news conference in Baghdad to call on the Iraqi government to formally declare Mr. Biden "a persona non grata" in Iraq. As for Iraq's neighbors, The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Arab League both denounced the Biden resolution.
The uproar was unsurprising, as partition would have involved expelling Iraqis from their homes. How would a partition work, for example, in major cities like Kirkuk, which is majority Kurdish but also has a large Sunni population, and substantial Christian and Turkomen populations? The likely outcome would have been forced relocation. This could have sparked a wave of renewed sectarian violence, if not civil war.
On Sunday, when Mr. Biden was asked about the current progress in Iraq, he managed to take the lion's share of the credit: "I'm encouraged because they're doing the things I suggested . . . That's why it is moving toward some mild possibility of a resolution." But we should be grateful that Iraqis did not do as he suggested. Mr. Biden's frustration with the looming Iraqi civil war in 2006 and early 2007 was understandable. The U.S. was on the verge of total defeat and Iraq was at risk of collapse. But Mr. Biden's plan would have inflamed Iraq's already volatile situation.
Mr. Senor is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a founder of Rosemont Capital. He served as a senior adviser to the Coalition in Iraq and was based in Baghdad in 2003 and 2004.
(reprinted from the Wall Street Journal of 09/Sept/08)

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