Presidential Candidate Joe Biden on Iraq: No escalation, no surge

As the new chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a candidate for president, Senator Biden has shown a great interest in Iraq. His plan for Iraq has been well publicized and now those of us who somehow got on his mailing list have received a new missive about Iraq. Briefly explained, Biden is against increasing troop levels.

I once tried to figure out how many troops were in Iraq and how many deaths per thousand per day there were. There are some numbers online, but I quickly gave up, concluding that the movement of troops in and out of the region is a shell game. While public announcements are made about troops arriving or troops departing, no one in the public can really tell whether the net troop size is increasing of decreasing. So if Bush wanted to surge the troops, perhaps in anticipation of the execution of Saddam Hussein, which may already have taken place, he has probably already done so without public knowlege.

At least someone is keeping the subject of Iraq in the public eye. For what it’s worth, here is the text of the message:

Dear friends,

As President Bush prepares to announce a new strategy for Iraq, one idea has emerged as his leading option: to surge more troops into Baghdad in a last ditch effort to stabilize the city.

There is one big problem with that option: in the absence of a political settlement among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds, it will not work. We’ve tried the military surge option before and it failed.

If we try it again, it will fail again.

And surging our forces in Baghdad risks terrible consequences: more American lives lost and more unbearable strain on our military for no strategic gain. If the President proposes escalation in Iraq, I will oppose him and so will many of my colleagues in Congress.

In January, I intend to hold a series of hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq. I have already invited Secretary of State Rice to testify. It is my hope that these hearings will generate a bipartisan consensus around the best way to move forward in Iraq and convince the President that “surging” additional forces into Baghdad is not the answer.

I will send further updates about these hearings and the situation in Iraq soon. Until then, I wish you a safe and happy New Year.


Joe Biden

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