A Progressive Vision for Foreign Policy

Joe Biden challenged and offered progressive alternatives to Sen. McCain’s foreign policy ideas at a CAPAF event.

 (Vice President Joe Biden)
(Vice President Joe Biden)

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“Because of the policies George Bush has pursued and John McCain would continue, the entire Middle East is more dangerous. The United States and our allies, including Israel, are less secure,” said Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) at a Center for American Progress Action Fund event on Tuesday.

McCain “does not have a plan” for Iraq, said Biden. The senator instead offered progressive alternatives to the foreign policy ideas that Sen. McCain (R-AZ) spoke about last week. McCain’s plan is “the same as President Bush’s plan: Stay, Stay in Iraq until the very last of Iranian influence is eliminated. Stay in Iraq until the last member of Al Qaeda is killed. Stay in Iraq indefinitely.”

Sen. John McCain said last week that he has soaring hopes of accomplishing the plans that have been set forth in regards to Iraq, and that he hopes to see the war ended by 2013. Sen. McCain and President Bush both also have insinuated that it would be a large mistake to leave before Al Qaeda in Iraq is defeated. Unfortunately, they have yet to lay out the specific steps that they would undertake to bring about their desired objectives.

Biden challenged their plan, saying that it is imperative to bring home our troops without leaving chaos behind in Iraq. “We are spending $3 billion a week on this war, while losing 30 to 40 U.S. soldiers and personnel a month.”

“John continues to cling to the failed strategy of this administration, which is that it is possible to have a Shia-dominated central government, strong enough that it in fact controls the whole country, and has the support and confidence of the Kurds and the Sunnis. I wish that were true but I don’t believe in the lifetime of anyone in this room that will happen,” said Biden.

Biden argued that the costs of our involvement in Iraq have outweighed the benefits and have ironically strengthened the greatest challenge to U.S. interests in the region: Iran. But “the idea that we can wipe out every vestige of Iran’s influence in Iraq is a fantasy,” Biden said. “Even with 160,000 American troops in Iraq, Prime Minister Maliki, our ally in Baghdad, greets Iran’s leader with kisses—Iran is a major regional power and it shares a long border—and a long history—with Iraq. Right now, Iran loves the status quo, with 140,000 Americans troops bogged down and bleeding, caught in a cross fire of intra-Shi’a rivalry and Sunni-Shi’a civil war.”

Biden explained that by “drawing down, we can take away Iran’s ability to wage a proxy war against our troops and force Tehran to concentrate on avoiding turmoil inside Iraq’s borders and instability beyond them.”

“We are no closer to the President’s stated goal of an Iraq that can defend itself, govern it and sustain itself in peace,” Biden said, and “we can’t keep treading without exhausting ourselves and doing great and permanent damage to our vital interest around the world.”

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