Photos by John Han
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel
By Pat Murphy
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel
Senator Joseph Biden last week charged Democrat and Republican presidential candidates fail to detail a plan for ending the Iraq War.
Biden, senior senator from Delaware, said the nation faces two challenges — to change national war policy immediately and to reclaim American intregity globally.
He cited domestic challenges unmet due to war spending, speaking before the San Francisco World Affairs Council May 2, 2007.
Biden maintained a difference between the Vietnam War and today’s Iraq War
“Everyone shared one common notion — once that war was ended we could begin to attend to the problems at home,” Biden recalled of the Vietnam War.
“There was not another shoe to drop. There was not another international crisis that was about to explode or implode on the American scene.”
However, when today’s Iraq War ends other conflicts loom if national policy is not changed, stated Biden.
“Would any of you feel that the situation is okay?”, Biden asked.
“And that we have the situation pretty well straightened out in the Middle East, in that part of the world, that there aren’t other areas that are likely to end in conflagration if we don’t change policy very quickly?”
Bush international policy, whom he likened to Richard Nixon, leaves global challenges unmet, Biden continued.
“I never thought I would live to see another president blame the problem on those of us who oppose the war,” said Biden.
President Bush “and his minions have indicated that those of us — which includes the vast majority of the American people who oppose this war — are emboldening the enemy.”
“I remember Richard Nixon… I say to you the only thing that is emboldening the enemy, is emboldening the enemy, is this president’s failed policy. The only mission that he has accomplished is emboldening the enemy.”
The war was unnecessary, Biden asserted.
“The president took us to war unncessarily, without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work, without enough troops, without the right equipment for the troops that we sent, without the proper care for those (wounded) who were taken home.
“But most of all, he went to war without a plan, without a plan whatsoever.
“And the price of that mistake can be measured in the blood we have shed and the treasure we have lost — and on the domestic opportunities we’ve had to forfeit.
“More than 3,300 dead, more than 24,000 wounded and the vast majority of them very seriously wounded, and $1 trillion dollars committed to war with no end.”
The Iraq War must end, stated Biden.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this war must end. This war must end.”
Proposals to end the war from both the Democratic and Republican Parties have not answered critical questions, the senator contended.
“None of them answer the critical two-word question that I believe any responsible president must be able to answer,” Biden said.
“Reduce the troops — then what? Cut the troops — then what? Cut off the funding — then what?
“The two-word question is, ‘Then what?’
Biden is the only candidate for president who has on record a plan to end the war detailed May 1, 2006, he reported.
“Why am I the only one who has put forward a detailed plan?
“Am I the only guy who knows anything about Iraq?”
Lack of a detailed plan from other candidates is “because when your advisors, when you are running for president, they tell you, ‘Don’t put up a target there for everybody to shoot out, don’t lay out something specific, migawd it will be the thing that everyone focuses on, and if it’s adopted and it doesn’t work you’re finished.”
“I’m not running for president to hear Hail to The Chief. I’m not running for president for the honor of living in the White House.
“I’m running for President of the United States of America because I think that I have a better answer how to deal with the most critical problems this nation faces than those in the Democrat and Republican Parties.”
The strategic doctrine of Democrats and Republicans falls short of establishing a democratic government in Iraq, Biden maintained.
“I said before we went to war, I said when we went to war, I’ve said every day since then there is virtually no possibility, none, of establishing a strong central democratic government in Iraq.
“There is no faith that exists in the government that exists.
“There is no trust. There is no prospect of arriving at that and there is no means by which to do it.
“Those the Democrats who say to you, ‘Leave and that will generate… a strong central government in Iraq’ — that’s no different than the president’s plan.
“The president thinks he can do it by using force, surging troops, giving time for peace in a breathing room… (for Iraqi contingents) to arrive at a political settlement.
“The Democrats think the threat of us leaving will force us to look over the precipice, that there is a possibility for reaching an agreement on a strong central government.”
In the past, such internal conflicts have resulted in “one side annhilates the other or one major powers sides with one of the forces to annhilate the other.”
“The second option is occupy for several generations. It is not in our DNA — we are not the Ottoman Empire, we are not the Persian Empire, we are not the British Empire. We don’t have the capacity or interest in occupying that country.
“The third option — which would be the irony of ironies — that is let us find a dictator. Replace the present situation literally. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate irony?
“And the fourth option is a federal system — decentralize the government, not divide the nation. That’s what the Iraqi Constitution calls for. I was there when the (Iraqi) vote took place.
“Article I of the Iraqi Constitution says, and no one’s read it… ‘We are a decentralized federal system.
“Any governate by majority vote can choose to become a region.
“Substitute the word ‘state’ like in the United Sates for ‘region.’
“If so, they write their own Constitution. It cannot preempt the federal Constitution. Nor can the California Constitution.
“But it can make the laws relating to local police, local security, education, marriage, divorce — the very things people are killing one another.
“The president vetoed last night a bill because of a provision that Senator Levin and I wrote in the bill. The so-called Biden-Levin Amendement.
“It set a date of 140-days to begin to redeploy American forces. The target date, we originally had March 2008, the House wanted to change it to April 2008, to remove the bulk of American combat troops and leaving behind the troops that only are needed and necessary for force protection of denying Al-Qaida occupation of territory.
“It also had two other provisions in it.
“It said that, ‘The mission that the president is allowed to pursue with American forces must be changed… Mr. President you can no longer use those forces in the midst of a civil war. You can only use those forces to train an Iraqi army, to deny territorial acquisition by Al-Qaida, and for force protection.’
“The reason that you can draw down forces so drastically is because you don’t need 160,000 troops is because for those three purposes you do not need 160,000 forces.
“Why did (radical Cleric) al-Sadr and… army take off their uniforms and put down their weapons?
“Because we’re killing the Sunnis for them. Literally, not figuratively.
“We’re focusing on 23 Sunni neighborhoods, there are bad guys in those neighborhoods, they’re bad guys, I am not claiming they are good guys.
“But we’re weight in with American force.
“And what is it like — it’s like squeezing a water baloon.
“We bring a little bit more peace and security to those 23 neighborhoods but all of the collar counties around, in terms of Baghad, the number of dead has increased considerably and more American forces are lost.
“Ladies and gentlemen I promise you, the day if it works that we are able to pacificy those 23 neighborhoods those weapons will come out from under the cellars and under the beds, and the uniforms will be put back on by the… army and by the Shiia in order to go after us.
“We could put 500,000 today — like the nursery rhyme,’ All the kings horses and all the kings men cannot settle this civil war.”
Joseph Biden began his first campaign for US Senate in 1972, photographed then and last Wednesday by Sentinel Photographer Bill Wilson.
For the last year, John Han served Sentinel readership as a freelance photographer. He has that natural eye for photography which cannot be developed or learned. He has earned a following of clients, including the World Affairs Council of Northern California. John joined the Sentinel fulltime in April, 2007.
Sentinel Editor & Publisher
In his youth, Pat Murphy worked as a General Assignment reporter for the Richmond Independent, the Berkeley Daily Gazette, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He served as Managing Editor of the St. Albans (Vermont) Daily Messenger at age 21. Murphy also launched ValPak couponing in San Francisco, as the company’s first San Francisco franchise owner. He walked the bricks, developing ad strategy for a broad range of restaurants and merchants. Pat knows what works and what doesn’t work. His writing skill has been employed by marketing agencies, including Don Solem & Associates. He has covered San Francisco governance for the past ten years. Pat scribes an offbeat view of the human family through Believe It or What.