October 5, 2009
President Obama continues to review General Stanley McChrystal's assessment of the war in Afghanistan and anticipated request for up to 40,000 additional troops for the effort. However, according to press reports, a number of senior Administration officials, led by Vice President Biden, are arguing that the U.S. campaign should move away from full-fledged counterinsurgency and draw down troops, placing further emphasis on drone-fired missiles and other remote weaponry. In light of the President's important and looming decision, the House Republican Conference has compiled a list of Biden's previous foreign policy prescriptions and how they turned out:
- Biden on Iraq: In 2006, at a low point during the Iraq war, then-Senator Biden proposed a "partition plan" for Iraq. The Biden plan would have carved up the country into Sunni, Shiite, and Kurdish regions along ethnic lines. Biden made his plan a central theme of his presidential campaign and even created a website to promote it. Under the Biden plan, U.S. troops would have begun redeploying from Iraq in 2006, and most would have withdrawn by 2007. Biden also opposed the 2007 Iraq war troop surge. Arguing against it he explained, "Why do we want to stop the surge? We don't agree with the mission," thus implying that because he had been opposed to the mission he was now for losing the war.
Now: In 2007, President Bush rebuffed lawmakers like then-Senator Biden and pursued a counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq. Rather than withdrawing, additional U.S. troops surged into the country and focused on providing security for Iraqi civilians against the insurgents. This tactic drastically weakened al Qaeda, Sunni insurgents, and Shiite militias. Today, ethnosectarian violence in Iraq has plummeted and U.S. casualties are at record lows.
- Biden on Iran: Vice President Biden has long favored a policy of denial and appeasement towards Iran. In the weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Biden suggested appeasing Iran to show the "Arab world" that the U.S. was not bent on its destruction. Speaking with his Senate staffers, Biden said "Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran." In 2005, Biden said that Iran's quest for nuclear capabilities were understandable and called on the U.S. to address Iran's "emotional needs" by signing a non-aggression pact with Iran. In 1998, Biden was one of only four senators to vote against the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, a bill punishing foreign companies and other entities that sent Iran sensitive missile technology or expertise.
Now: In recent days, Iran has proven that its nuclear and missile ambitions are moving full-steam ahead. On September 28, 2009, Iran test-fired missiles to cap off two days of war games. Moreover, on September 25, 2009, Iran admitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that it was building a second uranium enrichment plant in addition to its existing facility at Natanz. These developments came just days before the first direct talks in decades between the United States and Iran at Geneva on October 1, 2009.
- Biden on the Cold War and the first Iraq War: During the Cold War, Biden opposed many anti-Communist foreign policy actions abroad. For example, in the 1970s Senator Biden opposed giving aid to South Vietnam in its war against the North. Around the same time, he called for defense spending cuts so massive that liberal Senators Edmund Muskie and Walter Mondale balked at them. In the 1980s, Biden also opposed funding Nicaraguan freedom fighters and President Reagan's efforts to aid the government in El Salvador which was battling a Soviet-supported Marxist group. Biden has been a consistent and vocal critic of missile defense. Finally, Senator Biden was a vocal opponent of the 1991 Gulf War, a position he later admitted was a mistake.
Members may be concerned with the counsel being articulated by Vice President Biden regarding the U.S. strategy and resources in Afghanistan that conflicts with the advice of commanders in the field such as Generals Petraeus and McChrystal.
 “Iraq surge critics should admit they were wrong.” Washington Examiner.
2 “Biden’s Baggage.” National Review Online.
For additional information, contact:
The House Republican Conference Policy Office