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BIDEN GARNERS KEY SOUTH CAROLINA ENDORSEMENTS

Revs. Richburg and Jackson Praise Sen. Biden’s Leadership

Wilmington, DE (November 14, 2007) – Two key African American leaders in South Carolina today pledged their support for Sen. Joe Biden’s presidential campaign.  Rev. Caeser Richburg and Rev. Dr. J.J. Jackson III both praised Sen. Biden’s leadership during his thirty-plus years in the Senate and his strong record on civil rights. 

“Sen. Biden is a man of tremendous faith and conviction and his distinguished record in the Senate reflects his core beliefs of equality and justice,” said Rev. Richburg.  “His thoughtful and pragmatic leadership in the Senate and his ability to get things done and bring people together is what this country so desperately needs in a President.” 

Rev. Richburg is pastor of Williams Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Orangeburg. A native of Sumter, Richburg was appointed pastor of Williams Chapel AME Church in November 2006 following an 18-year tenure leading the congregation of Allen Temple AME Church in Greenville.

Richburg is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc., the NAACP and the Board of Trustees of Allen University.  He has also served as president of the Greenville chapter of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, past president of the Ministerial Alliance of Greenville and chairman of the Multicultural Advisory Board of Greenville Technical College.

“Joe Biden is a man with a deep understanding of the needs of working families in South Carolina and has the experience to bring about real change in America,” said Rev. Jackson.  “I fully support Sen. Biden and his candidacy and know that he will once again restore credibility and bring the people’s voice back to the White House.” 

Rev. Dr. Jackson is pastor of Israel Metropolitan CME Church in Greenville, South Carolina.  A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Jackson holds a number of leadership roles in the Greenville communitiy and in South Carolina more generally.  He is a Chartered Board Member of the Christian Ecumenical Fellowship, and Vice President and a member of Steering Committee of the RAINBOW Push Coalition in Greenville, SC, among other duties.

Both Revs. Richburg and Jackson were instrumental in pushing for the observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday as an officially recognized holiday in Greenville County. Greenville became the last of South Carolina’s 46 counties to recognize King's birthday as an official holiday in 2006.

“Having the support of Rev. Richburg and Rev. Jackson is a big deal to me and I look forward to their advice and counsel in the months leading up to the January 26th South Carolina Democratic Presidential Primary,” said Sen. Biden.


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STATE REPRESENTATIVE GASKILL ENDORSES JOE BIDEN

Biden has "the breadth of experience on foreign policy and domestic issues our country so desperately needs"

Des Moines, IA (November 14, 2007) Today, Sen. Joe Biden received the endorsement of Iowa State Representative Mary A. Gaskill of Ottumwa. Rep. Gaskill becomes the thirteenth Iowa State Legislator to endorse Senator Biden.

Rep. Gaskill has dedicated a lifetime of service to Iowa. Prior to her service in the Iowa State House, Rep. Gaskill served six years as Clerk to the County Auditor and sixteen years as County Auditor in Wapello.

“I believe that Sen. Joe Biden has the breadth of experience on foreign policy and record of bipartisan leadership on domestic issues our country so desperately needs,” said Rep. Gaskill. “From the Biden exit plan for Iraq to his landmark Violence Against Women Act, Sen. Biden has proven he can build bipartisan consensus on the most important challenges facing our country. He is sincere, authentic and I believe he is the best candidate the democrats have -- and that is why I am supporting him.”

Sen. Biden noted, “Rep. Gaskill has dedicated a life of service to the people of Wapello County. Like many Iowans, she is concerned about the course America is on and knows the next president will need the experience to restore our reputation internationally and put an end to the gridlock in Washington. I am proud that Rep. Gaskill believes I am that candidate and has pledged her support to my campaign.”
Rep. Gaskill is currently serving her second term as the Iowa State Representative for the 93rd District, which includes Ottumwa in Wapello County. She serves on several committees in the Iowa House: the Environmental Protection Committee, the State Government Committee, the Transportation Committee, and as the Chairwoman of the Local Government Committee. She also serves on the Administration and Regulation Appropriations Subcommittee.

Rep. Gaskill joins an impressive group of Iowa state legislators who have endorsed Senator Biden including: State Sen. Joe Seng (Davenport), House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Des Moines), Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Polly Butka (Clinton), Rep. John Whitaker (Hillsboro), Rep. Doris Kelley (Waterloo), Rep. Lisa Heddens (Ames), Rep. Jim Lykam (Davenport), Rep. Mike Reasoner (Creston), Rep. Dick Taylor (Cedar Rapids), Rep. Roger Thomas (Elkader), Rep. McKinley Bailey (Webster City), and State Senator Herman C. Quirmbach (Ames). 


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BIDEN KEEPS PROMISE TO VETERANS

 

Announces Reforms to Veterans Administration

Onawa, IA (November 11, 2007) – Today,  Sen. Joe Biden announced his plan to keep America's promise to veterans by reforming the Veterans Administration and making it more responsive to the needs of our veterans once they return home from the battlefield as well as our veterans who have already performed their service.   

Sen. Biden believes that all veterans must have access to health care and that the Department of Veterans Affairs has a fundamental responsibility to address their varying care needs in a timely manner. His five-point plan for VA reform aims to improve the handling of claims, eliminate restrictions on veterans’ access to health care, accommodate the long-term care needs of veterans, ensure adequate treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and improve the provision of care to all veterans.

Sen. Biden issued the following statement: 

“This Veterans’ Day we remember and celebrate the heroism and sacrifice of our nation’s veterans.  But we must do more than simply honor their service; we must keep our promise to provide them with quality care and services.  The VA system must be fixed.   

“We have veterans, not just from Iraq and Afghanistan, but from Vietnam and Korea, who wait nearly two years for disability checks.  It takes, on average, 177 days for a VA regional office to process a claim, and it takes more than a year and a half to go through the appeals process.  This is unacceptable.     

“Our praise for these heroes must be matched by action.  As President, I would make sure that the VA’s handling of claims was improved dramatically, eliminate restrictions on veterans’ access to health care, and accommodate the long-term care needs of veterans.  In addition, I would ensure that there was adequate treatment of traumatic brain injuries, which have affected so many of our soldiers.  My plan would create a presumption for TBI and PTSD that would allow soldiers to get treatment immediately instead of having to delay treatment because they have to prove their injury is related to their service. Finally, we need to improve the provision of care and make sure the transition from inpatient to outpatient care and from military to veteran status is seamless.

“In short, our commitment to those who have admirably served our country must be without question.  Just as we must protect them and give them everything they need on the battlefield, we owe our brave soldiers the same support upon their return home.  This is our sacred obligation.”   

 

Keeping the Promise:  Making the VA Work For Veterans

“Whether serving in peacetime or during conflict, our nation’s veterans trained and worked long hours, often times spent long periods away from their families, and served loyally to defend our country. Our nation’s democracy and freedom exist because of the achievements and sacrifices of our veterans. We owe them an immeasurable amount of gratitude and we have a solemn obligation to provide them with the support and care they have earned.”  -- Senator Joe Biden 

Too often veterans are not treated with the respect they have earned and deserve.  Claims are not processed quickly enough – or are approached with skepticism.  Joe Biden believes that the role of the Veterans Administration is advocate for veterans and ensure that they are getting the care they are owed. He will keep the promise we make to those who served this country and make the VA work for veterans by: 

1. Improving Handling of Claims

2. Eliminating Restrictions on Veterans’ Access to Health Care

3. Accommodating the Long-Term Care Needs of Veterans

4. Ensuring Adequate Treatment of TBI and PTSD

5. Improving the Provision of Care for All Veterans 

 

1. Improve Handling of Claims

The backlog of pending claims and delays in the appeals process in the VA is simply unacceptable.   Veterans wait an average of 177 days – almost six months – for benefits.  The waiting period for appeals is over a year and a half – 650 days. To make the VA work better for veterans, Senator Biden would:

Speed up the claims process:

• Establish a 100 day deadline for all claims to be resolved.  If the claim is not resolved within 100 days, the veteran’s claim is awarded at the level requested and the burden switches onto the VA to establish an accurate level.

• Increase funding and staff of the VA to expedite the claims process.

• Establish a lawyer corps to represent veterans free-of-charge during the adjudications process. Based on the JAG model, these lawyers would receive loan forgiveness and be paid a monthly stipend while agreeing to guide veterans and their families through the adjudication process.

• Mandate Transition Assistance Program briefings for all soldiers transitioning from active duty to veterans status so that they are familiar with benefits they are eligible for and they know how to apply for them.

• Provide VA raters access to readily available qualified health care experts who can provide advice and expertise during the claims process.

Streamline the Discharge and Disability Rating System

• Update the VA Rating Schedule over a period of five years, starting with mental health ratings.

• Create specific ratings criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder based on the Diagnostic and Statistical manual for Mental Disorders (DSM).

• Building on the recommendations of the President’s Commission on Care for America’s Returning Wounded Warriors, provide periodic reviews of veterans’ disability status to ensure proper compensation.

• Revise the Physical Disability Evaluation System (PDES) by bringing it all under one command, creating injury specific PDES procedures, making it accessible entirely online.

Increase transparency:

• Require the VA to publish the number of claims that are rejected each year in each region. This could help bring transparency to the claims process and explain variations in disability ratings in different areas of the country.

• Establish a board to review disability determinations of service members separated between September 11, 2001, and December 31, 2009, with a disability rating of 20% or less.

Cut down red tape:

• Allow veterans with service-connected disabilities that are rated and certified by the VA to be eligible for SSDI benefits without having to be re-evaluated by the Social Security Administration (SSA) if they meet the other requirements for SSDI benefits. Currently, SSA evaluates all applicants (veterans and non-veterans) to determine their eligibility for SSDI benefits.

• Allow survivors to step in and pursue undecided claims or those under appeal that were pending at the time of a veteran’s death. This would prevent claims from having to start over again and delaying benefits for the surviving family members.

Guarantee Funding:

• Funding for veterans’ care should be guaranteed. Instead of the budget for the VA being a discretionary item that can be cut, Senator Biden would make it mandatory.

• Link benefits with cost-of-living increases.

2. Eliminate Restrictions on Veterans’ Access to Health Care

According to a study conducted by Harvard Medical School, the number of uninsured veterans jumped to 1.8 million in 2004. Most uninsured veterans, like other uninsured Americans are in working families. Many earn too little to afford health insurance, but too much to qualify for free care under Medicaid or VA means testing. 

In 2003, President Bush decided to exclude some veterans from accessing health services at VA facilities because of their income. It is estimated that many veterans who are excluded may have incomes as low $30,000 to $35,000 annually on average.  Senator Biden believes that veterans – all veterans – are owed care and should not be restricted from accessing benefits.  It is part of the contract the country makes with those who serve.   

Senator Biden would reduce the number of uninsured veterans by: 

• Ending the administrative freeze in access to care and means testing policies of the Bush administration. Allow currently ineligible Priority Group 8 veterans to access VA health services.

• Enrolling any eligible veteran and ensuring proper funding for VA health facilities and providers.

• Increasing outreach efforts to veterans so that they are aware of VA health services they may qualify for.

3. Accommodate the Long-Term Care Needs of Veterans

More than 2 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will enter the VA system in the next 3 years – many with Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Advances in military medicine have greatly improved the ratio of soldiers surviving their wounds, but this also means that thousands will have multiple care needs and require health services from the VA for the remainder of their lives.  The VA must have a plan in place to ensure they receive adequate care and support services.   Senator Biden would: 

• Require the Department of Veterans Affairs to report on long-term care needs for the next 50 years.

• Require the Department of Veterans Affairs to conduct a study of disabled veterans to obtain information about the ancillary benefits that these veterans and their families need most.

• Allow specially adapted housing grants to be issued multiple times to accommodate changes in life circumstances and provide greater automotive adaptation benefits to more veterans.

• Strengthen the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment program so more veterans can take advantage of this program to help them adjust to their new challenges and assist them with employment opportunities.

• Extend eligibility for the Civilian Health and Medical Program of the Department of Veterans Affairs (CHAMPVA) to parent or non-spouse caregivers of severely disabled veterans and create a “caregiver” allowance.

4. Ensure Adequate Treatment of TBI and PTSD

Soldiers returning from Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom are suffering traumatic brain injuries (TBI) at much higher rates than past wars and many also suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  A recent study showed that between FY2003 and FY2007, about 60,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have been diagnosed with mental health issues. 

According to military mental health experts, if current trends continue, over 30 percent of soldiers in high combat situations in Iraq and Afghanistan and almost 50 percent of National Guard members will develop a mental health problem like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

There is a crisis in the mental health treatment system that compounds these problems.  There just aren’t enough mental health practitioners to treat these soldiers – not to mention the stigma that is attached to seeking treatment which prevents people from seeking treatment in the first place.

To address the growing demand for TBI and PTSD services and other needs of our Armed Forces and veterans, Joe Biden would: 

• Strengthen case management for veterans with PTSD, including better coordination with vocational and other ancillary services, and provide reevaluations every 2-3 years.

• Expand mental health services in the VA, especially the number of providers that have experience with treating PTSD or TBI.

• Establish a protocol for pre-deployment assessment and documentation of cognitive function of members that can be used for comparison after deployment to assist in the diagnosis of TBI and PTSD.

• Require the Secretary of Defense to establish two centers of excellence - one for TBI and one for PTSD – to develop the best treatment and screening practices.

• Authorize the use of non-VA facilities for the implementation of rehabilitation and community reintegration plans for veterans with TBI, allowing veterans to get the care they need, wherever they live.

• Establish a pilot program for assisted living services for veterans with TBI.

5. Improve The Provision of Care for All Veterans

We owe our troops and veterans the highest quality care.  The care our soldiers receive in the battlefield and in military hospitals is state-of-the-art and has saved countless lives. But we need to improve the transition from inpatient to outpatient care and the transition from military to veteran status. We can improve the communication methods between provider and patient as well as between the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs. To ensure that our veterans receive the proper provision of care Joe Biden would: 

• Direct the DOD/VA Interagency Program Office to develop and implement a joint electronic health record keeping system.

• Increase the number of caseworkers and prevent the ratio of case managers to patients from exceeding 1 to 20.  

• Require that case managers be property trained in assisting their patients in navigating the VA system and provide them with the authority to advocate on behalf of their patients and their families.

• Authorize medically retired service members to receive the active duty health care benefit for 3 years.

• Require the creation of a single manual for outpatient care services, including information on the Physical Disability Evaluation System, family support, personnel processing and finance requirement, which is available online.


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BIDEN DELIVERS MAJOR ADDRESS ON PAKISTAN

Manchester, NH (November 8, 2007) – This morning at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester, Sen. Joe Biden delivered a major foreign policy address calling for a “new approach to Pakistan.”   Below are excerpts from the speech.  Attached to this release is a copy of Sen. Biden’s entire address as prepared for delivery. 

“Pakistan has strong democratic traditions and a large, moderate majority.  But that moderate majority must have a voice in the system and an outlet with elections.  If not, moderates may find that they have no choice but to make common cause with extremists, just as the Shah’s opponents did in Iran three decades ago.   

“But unlike Iran, Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. 

”It is hard to imagine a greater nightmare for America than the world’s second-largest Muslim nation becoming a failed state in fundamentalist hands, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a population larger than those of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea combined. 

“To prevent that nightmare from becoming a reality, I believe we need to do three things: 

“First, deal pro-actively with the current crisis. Second, and for the longer term, move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy that gives the moderate majority a chance to succeed. And third, help create conditions in the region that maximize the chances of success, and minimize the prospects for failure.”

“It is time for a new approach.   

“We’ve got to move from a transactional relationship -- the exchange of aid for services -- to the normal, functional relationship we enjoy with all of our other military allies and friendly nations.   

“We’ve got to move from a policy concentrated on one man – President Musharraf – to a policy centered on an entire people… the people of Pakistan. 

“Like any major policy shift, to gain long-term benefits we’ll have to shoulder short term costs.  But given the stakes, those costs are worth it.”

---

  

Senator Joe Biden

“A New Approach to Pakistan”

Center for U.S. Global Engagement

New Hampshire Institute of Politics at Saint Anselm’s College,

Manchester, New Hampshire

November 8, 2007

 

AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY

 

I’ve been saying for some time that Pakistan is the most complex country we deal with – and that a crisis was just waiting to happen.  On Saturday night, it did. 

President Musharraf staged a coup against his own government.  He suspended the constitution, imposed de-facto martial law, postponed elections indefinitely, and arrested hundreds of lawyers, journalists, and human rights activists.  He took these steps the day after Secretary Rice and the commander of all American forces in the region appealed to Musharraf not to take them.

America has a huge stake in the outcome of this crisis – and in the path Pakistan follows in the months and years to come.  Pakistan has strong democratic traditions and a large, moderate majority.  But that moderate majority must have a voice in the system and an outlet with elections.  If not, moderates may find that they have no choice but to make common cause with extremists, just as the Shah’s opponents did in Iran three decades ago. 

But unlike Iran, Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. 

It is hard to imagine a greater nightmare for America than the world’s second-largest Muslim nation becoming a failed state in fundamentalist hands, with an arsenal of nuclear weapons and a population larger than those of Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and North Korea combined.

To prevent that nightmare from becoming a reality, I believe we need to do three things:

First, deal pro-actively with the current crisis.

Second, and for the longer term, move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy that gives the moderate majority a chance to succeed.

And third, help create conditions in the region that maximize the chances of success, and minimize the prospects for failure.

Resolving the Crisis

To help defuse the current political crisis, we must be far more pro-active, not reactive and make it clear to Pakistan that actions have consequences.  President Bush’s first reaction was to call on President Musharraf to reverse course.  Given the stakes, I thought it was important to actually call him – which is exactly what I did.  I also spoke to opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.  President Musharraf and I had a very direct and detailed discussion.  I told him how critical it is that elections go forward as planned in January, that he follow through on his commitment to take off his uniform, and that he restore the rule of law to Pakistan. 

It was clear to me that President Musharraf understands the consequences for his country and for relations with the United States if he does not return Pakistan to the path of democracy. Now, President Bush finally got around to calling Musharraf yesterday.  As a few of you may know, I’m running for President and I can tell you this:  if I’m elected, I won’t wait five days to pick up the phone or delegate matters of this magnitude to my secretary of state or to my ambassador.  There is too much at stake to leave this kind of conversation to others.

If President Musharraf does not restore his nation to the democratic path, U.S. military aid will be in great jeopardy.  I would look hard at big-ticket weapons systems intended primarily to maintain the balance of power with India, not to combat the Taliban or Al Qaeda: hardware like F-16 jets and P-3 maritime surveillance aircraft.  President Musharraf doesn’t want this aid suspension – and neither does the military establishment whose support he needs.  Nor can they afford for this crisis to undermine confidence in Pakistan’s economy, which has already taken a hard hit. So I believe there is incentive for cooler heads in Pakistan to prevail.  But if they don’t and if President Bush does not act, Congress almost certainly will.  

Building a New Relationship

Beyond the current crisis lurks a far deeper problem.  The relationship between the U.S. and Pakistan is largely transactional — and this transaction isn’t working for either party.  From America’s perspective, we’ve spent billions of dollars on a bet that Pakistan’s government would take the fight to the Taliban and Al Qaeda while putting the country back on the path to democracy.  It has done neither.   

From Pakistan’s perspective, America is an unreliable ally that will abandon Pakistan the moment it’s convenient to do so, and whose support has done little more than bolster unrepresentative rulers.

It is time for a new approach. 

We’ve got to move from a transactional relationship -- the exchange of aid for services -- to the normal, functional relationship we enjoy with all of our other military allies and friendly nations.  We’ve got to move from a policy concentrated on one man – President Musharraf – to a policy centered on an entire people… the people of Pakistan.  Like any major policy shift, to gain long-term benefits we’ll have to shoulder short term costs.  But given the stakes, those costs are worth it.

Here are the four elements of this new strategy.

First, triple non-security aid, to $1.5 billion annually.  For at least a decade.  This aid would be unconditioned: it’s our pledge to the Pakistani people.  Instead of funding military hardware, it would build schools, clinics, and roads.

Second, condition security aid on performance. We should base our security aid on clear results.   We’re now spending well over $1 billion annually, and it’s not clear we’re getting our money’s worth.  I’d spend more if we get better returns—and less if we don’t.

Third, help Pakistan enjoy a “democracy dividend.”  The first year of democratic rule should bring an additional $1 billion -- above the $1.5 billion non-security aid baseline.  And I would tie future non-security aid -- again, above the guaranteed baseline -- to Pakistan’s progress in developing democratic institutions and meeting good-governance norms. 

Fourth, engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers.  This will involve everything from improved public diplomacy and educational exchanges to high impact projects that actually change people’s lives. 

This plan would fundamentally and positively shift the dynamic between the U.S. and Pakistan.  Here’s how:

A drastic increase in non-security aid, guaranteed for a long period, would help persuade Pakistan’s people that America is an all-weather friend… and Pakistan’s leaders that America is a reliable ally.  Pakistanis suspect our support is purely tactical.  They point to the aid cut-off that followed the fall of the Soviet Union… to our refusal to deliver or refund purchased jets in the 1990s… and to our blossoming relationship with rival India.  Many Pakistanis believe that the moment Osama bin Laden is gone, U.S. interest will go with him. 

When U.S. aid makes a real difference in people’s lives, the results are powerful.  In October 2005, after a devastating earthquake, American military helicopters delivering relief did far more to improve relations than any amount of arms sales or debt rescheduling.  And the Mobile Army Surgery Hospital we left behind is a daily reminder that America cares.

To have a real impact on a nation of 165 million, we’ll have to raise our spending dramatically.  A baseline of $1.5 billion annually, for a decade, is a reasonable place to start. That might sound like a lot – but it’s about what we spend every week in Iraq.  Conditioning security aid— now about three-quarters of our package— would help push the Pakistani military to finally crush Al Qaeda and the Taliban. 

Aid to the Pakistani people should be unconditioned — that is, not subject to the ups and downs of a particular government in Islamabad or Washington.  But aid to the Pakistani military and intelligence service should be closely conditioned — that is, carefully calibrated to results.  Like it or not, the Pakistani security services will remain vital players – and our best shot at finding Bin Laden and shutting down the Taliban.  Their performance has been decidedly mixed: we’ve caught more terrorists in Pakistan than in any other country— but $10 billion later, Pakistan remains the central base of Al Qaeda operations.  We must strike a much better bargain.

A “democracy dividend” – additional assistance in the first year after democratic rule is restored -- would empower Pakistan’s moderate mainstream.  The Bush Administration’s Musharraf First policy was understandable -- at first.  Musharraf had broad support, and in the wake of 9/11 he seemed committed to the fight against Al Qaeda.  Six years later, the General is diverting his military, his police, and his intelligence assets from the fight against the terrorists to a crackdown on his political opponents.

The Pakistani people have moved on.  Hundreds of thousands have taken to the streets to protest Musharraf’s unconstitutional rule— and hundreds have been killed or gravely injured in the process.  The Democracy Dividend would help restore the moral currency this administration has squandered with empty rhetoric about democracy.  And it would enable the secular, democratic, civilian political leaders to prove that they—more than the generals or the radical Islamists—can bring real improvement to the lives of their constituents.

Last, we’ve got to engage the Pakistani people directly, and address issues important to them, not just to us. On Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinians, Kashmir, Pakistanis want a respectful hearing.  We owe them that at least that much.

Ask an ordinary Pakistani to list his top concerns about America and you may get answers unrelated to international grand strategy: our visa policy and textile quotas. 

Or she might raise Abu Ghraib and Gitmo or water-boarding and other forms of torture the Bush Administration still refuses to renounce.  Pakistanis don’t see these as mere “issues.”  They see these things as a moral stain on the soul of our nation.  In my judgment, so should we.

Creating the Conditions for Success

This new Pakistan policy cannot succeed in isolation.  Conditions in the region and in the broader Muslim world – conditions that the United States can affect – will make a huge difference, for good or for bad.  We’ve got to connect the dots – to be, as I suggested at the outset, smart as well as strong.  First, there’s what we should do. 

To increase the prospects that Pakistan will take the lead in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, we should rededicate ourselves to a forgotten war:  Afghanistan.  When we shifted resources away from Afghanistan to Iraq, Musharraf concluded the Taliban would rebound, so he cut a deal with them. 

Redoubling our efforts in Afghanistan – not just with more troops but with the right kind… and with a reconstruction effort that matches President Bush’s Marshall Plan rhetoric… would embolden Pakistan’s government to take a harder line on the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

Second, there’s what we should not do. Consider all this talk of war with Iran.  It is totally counter-productive to achieving our ends in Iran… but also in Pakistan.  In Iran, it allows President Ahmadinejad to distract the Iranian people from the failures of his leadership… and adds a huge security premium to the price of oil, with the proceeds going from our consumers to Iran’s government.  And in Pakistan and also Afghanistan, anything the fuels the sense of an American crusade against Islam puts moderates on the defensive and empowers extremists.  It is hard to think of a more self-defeating policy.

History’s Verdict

History may describe today’s Pakistan as a repeat of 1979 Iran or 2001 Afghanistan.  Or history may write a very different story: that of Pakistan as a stable, democratic, secular Muslim state.  Which future unfolds will be strongly influenced—if not determined— by the actions of the United States.

I believe that Pakistan can be a bridge between the West and the global Islamic community.  Most Pakistanis want a lasting friendship with America.  They respect and admire our society.  But they are mystified over what they see as our failure to live up to our ideals. 

The current crisis in Pakistan is also an opportunity to start anew… to build a relationship between Pakistan and the United States upon which both our peoples can depend – and be proud.

 


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STATE SENATOR QUIRMBACH ENDORSES JOE BIDEN

JOE BIDEN IS “OUR BEST HOPE TO RESTORE AMERICA’S CREDIBILITY IN THE WORLD"

Des Moines, IA (November 6, 2007) – Last night at a house party in Ames, IA, Sen. Joe Biden received the endorsement of Iowa State Senator Herman C. Quirmbach. Senator Quirmbach becomes the twelfth Iowa State Legislator to endorse Senator Biden.

State Sen. Quirmbach is an Associate Professor of Economics at Iowa State University.

“We need to get out of Iraq, but after all the damage that Bush has done to that country, we owe it to them to leave them with some reasonable hope of stability,” said State Sen. Quirmbach.  “Joe Biden has the clearest vision of how to do both.  He’s our best hope to restore America’s credibility in the world, credibility we’re going to need if we’re going to lead on nuclear proliferation, terrorism, global warming, energy, and a host of other issues.”

Sen. Biden noted, "As someone with extensive knowledge of fiscal policy, Sen. Quirmbach knows well that America only does well when the middle class thrives economically.  Like many Americans, he is concerned for our economic security and knows the next president will have to make fiscally responsible decisions to put America back on track. Sen. Quirmbach knows what economic perils await if our if we continue to let the war in Iraq drain our Treasury, and I am proud that he has pledged to support my efforts to change course."

State Sen. Quirmbach chairs the Local Government Committee, and serves on the Education, Human Resources, Judiciary and Ways & Means committees. In addition to his legislative work, Senator Quirmbach serves on the College Student Aid Committee and the Commission on Tobacco Use, Prevention & Control. Sen. Quirmbach served on Ames City Council from 1995 through 2003 and as Ames' Mayor Pro Tem in 2002. He is an active member of the Ames Kiwanis Club, Ames Patriotic Council, Ames League of Women Voters, Ames Chamber of Commerce, Story County Democratic Party, Iowa Civil Liberties Union, and Story County Tobacco Task Force. He has also been a member of the Story County REAP Committee, the Ames Utility Retirement Board, and the Ames Veterans Memorial Committee.

State Sen. Quirmbach is currently serving his second term in the Iowa Senate. His district includes Ames, Gilbert, Luther, Madrid, Napier, and part of Sheldahl.

State Sen. Quirmbach joins an impressive group of Iowa state legislators who have endorsed Senator Biden including: State Sen. Joe Seng (Davenport), House Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (Des Moines), Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Polly Butka (Clinton County), Rep. John Whitaker (Hillsboro), Rep. Doris Kelley (Waterloo), Rep. Lisa Heddens (Ames), Rep. Jim Lykam (Davenport), Rep. Mike Reasoner (Creston), Rep. Dick Taylor (Cedar Rapids), Rep. Roger Thomas (Clayton County), and Rep. McKinley Bailey (Hamilton County).


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BIDEN RESPONDS TO GIULIANI COMMENTS

Wilmington, DE (November 2, 2007) – Sen. Joe Biden today responded to Rudy Giuliani’s baseless claim that Sen. Biden had no foreign policy experience:

“Today’s comments come from a guy—Rudy Giuliani—who said Dick Cheney, the architect of Bush’s failed policy in Iraq, was a great choice for vice president and who recommended the now discredited Bernie Kerik to be Secretary of Homeland Security. Once again, Rudy has demonstrated his complete lack of knowledge of U.S. foreign policy.”


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HAPPY HALLOWEEN, RUDY

Wilmington, DE (October 31, 2007) – The Biden for President Campaign today responded to Rudy Giuliani’s latest attacks. 

“Rudy Giuliani seems to be increasingly worried that Joe Biden is questioning his lack of leadership and his use of 9/11 for his own political purposes,” said Biden for President Campaign Manager Luis Navarro.  “This criticism is grounded in reality: there are numerous examples of Mr. Giuliani using 9/11 as a substitute for real experience and real answers to important topics.  In the spirit of Halloween, Rudy, if the dress fits, wear it.”

Giuliani on … Accomplishing our Goals in Iraq. Giuliani said, “Maybe it’s because I was Mayor of America’s largest city and I was Mayor of America’s largest city during periods of crisis. You know about September 11th. … So, to me, when I look at Iraq what I look to is, how well and how effectively are we keeping the civilian order functioning in the right way. Because ultimately that’s going to be enormously important to whether we accomplish our goal in Iraq.”  [Giuliani’s Remarks To The NATO Supreme Allied Command, 10/11/07]

Giuliani on … Gun Control and the Second Amendment. In defending his previous support for lawsuits against gun manufacturers during remarks before the National Rifle Association, Giuliani said, “I also think that there have been subsequent intervening events, September 11th, which cast somewhat of a different light on the Second Amendment and Second Amendment rights.” [Giuliani Remarks to NRA "Celebration of American Values” Conference, 9/21/07]

Giuliani on … Federal Funding for HIV/AIDS.  When asked about federal funding for HIV treatment, Giuliani responded, “My general experience has been that the federal government works best when it helps and assists and encourages and sets guidelines… on a state-by-state, locality-by-locality basis. It’s no different from the way I look at homeland security. Maybe having been mayor of the city, I know that your first defense against terrorist attack is that local police station, or that local firehouse.” [Iowa Independent7/20/07]


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BIDEN CALLS ON COLLEAGUES TO SUPPORT HIS LEGISLATION BANNING WATERBOARDING AND OTHER FORMS OF TORTURE

Washington, DC – Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) called on his colleagues today to support his legislation, the National Security with Justice Act (S. 1876), which among other things prohibits all United States personnel from engaging in waterboarding or any other form of torture.  The full text of the letter is below and it was sent to all 99 other Senators this morning: 

Dear Colleague,

I write today to seek your support for legislation that prohibits United States personnel from engaging in water-boarding or any other form of torture.  On July 25, 2007, I introduced S. 1876, the National Security with Justice Act, which among other things prohibits all United States personnel from using on a detainee any interrogation technique not expressly authorized by the Army Field Manual. 

As the Washington Post noted this morning, it is sad that a nation with a longstanding, proud tradition of condemning torture finds itself embroiled in a debate regarding whether torture is legal.  Both domestic law and international treaties clearly ban torture.  Unfortunately, the current Administration's cramped, disingenuous arguments necessitate such a debate.  Since 2002, the Department of Justice has consistently endorsed harsh and inhumane interrogation techniques that amount to torture.  In July, the President issued an Executive Order that was notably silent on several such techniques, including water-boarding.  And just last week, the President's nominee to be the next Attorney General, Judge Michael B. Mukasey, declined to answer clearly a question regarding whether water-boarding is torture and is therefore unconstitutional. 

The United States cannot continue to equivocate and dissemble on this matter.  When we countenance torture and other cruel and inhumane treatment of detainees, we diminish our ability to argue that the same techniques should not be used against our own troops.  We need to send a clear message that torture, inhumane, and degrading treatment of detainees is unacceptable and is not permitted by U.S. law.  Period.  Therefore, Section 106 of my bill prohibits all officers and agents of the United States from using techniques of interrogation not authorized by and listed in the United States Army Field Manual on Intelligence Interrogation.  I urge you to support S. 1876 and join me in banning all United States personnel from engaging in torture. 

 

Sincerely,

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. 


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BIDEN CAMPAIGN RESPONDS TO GIULIANI'S ATTACK ON SENATOR BIDEN

Statement from Biden for President Campaign Communications Director Larry Rasky on the Giuliani Campaign’s Attack on Senator Biden:

“We are well aware that former Mayor Giuliani will attempt to drag this race into the mud where the Republicans like to wage their campaigns.  It’s pretty obvious that they can’t defend themselves on the real charge that Mr. Giuliani walked away from the cops and firefighters who were waiting for the 9/11 Commission to be enacted and the Biden crime bill to be restored.”

 


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BIDEN: AMERICA LOOKING FOR THE NEXT COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF

Wilmington, DE (October 30, 2007) - Tonight in Philadelphia, candidates for the Democratic nomination for President will appear at the DNC/NBC News debate.  Sen. Joe Biden issued the following statement:

"Tonight the American people will be looking for their next Commander-in-Chief.  He or she will have to end the war in Iraq responsibly, because this President has no plan to end it.  And, the next President will have to turn immediately to other hotspots, including Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan to protect America’s interests.

"We all agree that the Iraq war must end. But while leaving is necessary, it is not enough.  We also need a plan for what we leave behind so that we do not trade a dictator for chaos.  The Biden-Brownback plan for a political settlement in Iraq received 75 votes in the Senate, including 26 Republicans. In the meantime, we have more than a hundred thousand American troops risking their lives every day.  We owe them our support as well as our gratitude, and that includes making sure that so long as they are there, they have the equipment to keep them safe, including mine-resistant vehicles.  Some of my colleagues did not vote for that funding.  That was a mistake.  Some of those who will stand on the stage with me tonight also said that there might be troops in Iraq until 2013, the end of their first term as President.  I ask them, 'how can you vote not to fund our troops when you acknowledge that they will still be in harms way years from today?'  The safety of our troops is more important than election year strategy.

"The next President will also need to understand that many of the challenges we face are connected – you can’t deal with one without having an impact on the others.  For example, the next President will have to meet the challenge posed by Iran with smarts as well as strength and without further poisoning our relations with the rest of the Muslim world and, in particular, destabilizing Pakistan and Afghanistan.  I voted against the Senate's amendment to designate Iran's entire Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization because I don't trust this administration not to twist this legislation into a justification for war - just like it did with Iraq.  Democrats need to unite around an approach that is both tough and smart, not back legislation that plays right into President Ahmadinejad’s hands by escalating tensions with Iran.  That only serves to keep oil prices high – with the proceeds going right into the government’s pockets – distracting Iranians from the terrible failures of Ahmadinejad’s leadership and solidifying them against us, while doing nothing to prevent Iran from getting the bomb.

"For the next few months, the American people will be looking for a leader who can face these challenges head on from their first day in office."


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A New Course on Pakistan

Published: 11/12/2007

By Joseph R. Biden Jr.

Baltimore Sun

History may describe today's Pakistan as a repeat of 1979 Iran or 2001 Afghanistan. Or history may write a very different story: that of Pakistan as a stable, democratic, secular Muslim state. Which future unfolds will be strongly influenced by the actions of the United States.

Pakistan is the most complex country we deal with. It was a crisis waiting to happen. America has a huge stake in the outcome of this crisis - and in the path Pakistan follows.

Pakistan has strong democratic traditions and a large, moderate majority. But that moderate majority must have a voice in the system and an outlet with elections. If not, moderates may make common cause with extremists, just as the Shah's opponents did in Iran three decades ago. But unlike Iran, Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. It is hard to imagine a greater nightmare for America than the world's second-largest Muslim nation becoming a failed state in fundamentalist hands.

To prevent that nightmare from becoming a reality, I believe we need to do three things:

First, we must take an active role in the current crisis and make it clear to Pakistan that actions have consequences. After Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed de facto martial law, President Bush's first reaction was to call on him to reverse course. Given the stakes, I thought it was important to actually call him, and I did so. President Musharraf and I had a very direct and detailed discussion. I told him it is critical that elections go forward as planned early next year, that he follow through on his commitment to take off his uniform, and that he restore the rule of law to Pakistan. I also spoke to opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

It was clear to me that Mr. Musharraf understands the consequences if he does not return Pakistan to the path of democracy. For starters, U.S. military aid will be in great jeopardy.

Second, we must move from a Musharraf policy to a Pakistan policy that gives the moderate majority a chance to succeed. The current U.S.-Pakistan relationship is largely transactional - and this transaction isn't working for either party.

America has spent billions on a bet that Pakistan's government would crush the Taliban and al-Qaida while putting the country back on the path to democracy. It has done neither. For its part, Pakistan sees America as an unreliable ally that will abandon Pakistan at the first moment of convenience.

It is time for a new approach. We should triple nonsecurity aid, to $1.5 billion annually, for at least a decade, without conditions. That sounds like a lot, but it is what we spend in Iraq every week. Instead of funding military hardware, it would build schools, clinics and roads. I would provide an additional $1 billion in nonmilitary assistance - a democracy dividend - in the first year after democratic rule is restored. Nothing is more important than helping Pakistan's democratic leaders demonstrate that they can do better than the generals and the fundamentalists in delivering real change for the country.

We should maintain our military assistance but condition it on clear results in the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida. And we should engage the Pakistani people, not just their rulers, on issues that matter to them, from textile quotas to visas to the Bush administration's policies on torture. If we do all these things, we will fundamentally and positively shift the dynamic between the U.S. and Pakistan.

Third, this new policy cannot succeed in isolation. We must help create conditions in the region that maximize the chances of success and minimize the prospects for failure. When we shifted resources away from Afghanistan to Iraq, Mr. Musharraf concluded that the Taliban would rebound, so he cut a deal with them. Redoubling our efforts in Afghanistan would embolden Pakistan's government to take a harder line on the Taliban and al-Qaida.

We should also stop the overheated rhetoric about war with Iran, which allows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a distraction from his failures and adds a huge security premium to the price of oil. In Pakistan and Afghanistan, anything that fuels the sense of an American crusade against Islam puts moderates on the defensive and empowers extremists. It is hard to think of a more self-defeating policy.

Pakistan can be a bridge between the West and the global Islamic community. Most Pakistanis want a lasting friendship with America. They respect and admire our society. But they are mystified over what they see as our failure to live up to our ideals. The current crisis is an opportunity to start anew, to build a relationship between Pakistan and the United States upon which both our peoples can depend and be proud.


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Biden Bill Seeks to Bolster Police Power

Published: 10/25/2007

The Delaware News Journal

Last month, the FBI told America that violent crime increased for the second consecutive year -- the first time that happened since 1994. Murders in particular showed an alarming trend, rising an additional 1.8 percent after an increase of 3.4 percent -- the biggest spike in 15 years -- in 2005.

Perhaps the most discouraging fact is that none of us -- lawmakers, law enforcement, or those we serve -- should be surprised. President Bush took steps toward dismantling the federal, state, and local partnership that helped reduce crime in the 1990s as soon as he entered office. And in the wake of 9/11 the administration shifted federal resources away from violent crime towards counterterrorism.

While this was necessary in the short term, there was no plan to replace these resources and, as a consequence, communities are suffering.

Delaware is no exception. Because of the tireless work of our law enforcement community, we have fared better than many states, but crime remains a significant challenge. One of the most troubling paradigms we face today is violent crimes committed by our youth. It seems as the severity of the crimes increase, the ages of the offenders decrease.

We see it every night on the evening news. From the Edgemoor double murder last week to the awful experiences of Delaware State University this fall, the evidence shows that our communities are growing more dangerous and this is happening in our backyards and public schools.

In the early 1990s, crime was at an all-time high. Congress responded by passing the 1994 Crime Bill. This legislation recognized for the first time that crime was a shared responsibility, and we were able to drive down crime rates for eight straight years. The murder rate dropped 34 percent and violent crime dropped 26 percent.

The linchpin was the creation of the Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS), which has funded over 118,000 community policing officers in jurisdictions throughout the nation. The Government Accountability Office and a study by the Brookings Institution found that COPS was one of the nation's most cost-effective programs for combating crime.

During the time period from 1994-2000, the New Castle County Police Department was able to add and retain 43 new police officer positions from the Crime Bill and COPS funding. The staffing level was able to grow by at least 15 percent as a result of the federal assistance.

Rather than support programs such as COPS, the Bush administration has virtually eliminated it. President Bush has proposed cuts each year he has been in office. Funding for state and local law enforcement programs run out of the Department of Justice is down 75.6 percent since fiscal year 2002.

This afternoon, we will take steps to change that. Joined by police chiefs from all over Delaware, we will announce the 2007 Biden Crime Bill, which puts our communities back on the right track by supporting the first line of defense and helping to break the cycle of violence through recidivism and prevention strategies.

The legislation restores the COPS hiring program and authorizes funding to hire 50,000 new community policing officers over the next six years.

It also will reauthorize an additional 1,000 agents -- the same amount this administration took off the streets -- to focus on local crime. In addition, the Biden Crimes Bill will tackle new problems by establishing programs to ensure that the 600,000 prisoners released from prison every year don't become repeat offenders.

We also offer concrete plans to protect our children from Internet predators, create an army of attorneys to assist domestic abuse victims, and address the abuse of prescription and over-the-counter medications.

We cannot afford to spend billions on wars abroad while ignoring terrorist threats and violent crime at home. It's the local beat cop who is one of our most effective tools against terrorism and violent crime. It was, for example, a quick-thinking officer in London who disconnected a car bomb before bomb squad officers arrived.

The rule is a simple one: more cops means less crime. It worked in the 1990s and it will work again -- as soon as we provide the necessary support to our local agencies.

Sen. Joe Biden is the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs, and Col. Rick Gregory is the chief of police in New Castle County.

 


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Ending the War the Right Way

Published: 10/21/2007

By Sen. Joe Biden

New Hampshire Union Leader

DESPITE THE deep partisan divide in Washington, two weeks ago Democrats and Republicans came together behind my plan for Iraq and put the national interest first.

The resolution I proposed, with Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas and Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, says the United States should work with the international community and Iraq's leaders to support a political settlement in Iraq based on federalism. It won the support of 75 senators, including 26 Republicans.

For the first time in this incredibly divisive national debate we've been having about Iraq, a strong bipartisan majority of senators voted against the President's strategy. For the first time, there is real hope that we can leave Iraq without leaving chaos behind that threatens America's interests for a generation.

My plan is based on this reality: There is no military solution in Iraq, only a political solution.

That begs the question: What political solution?

The Bush administration is pursuing a fatally flawed political strategy in Iraq. It believes that if we just buy it enough time with a surge of U.S. forces, a democratic central government will emerge in Baghdad that secures the support of all Iraqis.

Nine months into the surge, that has not happened and there is no evidence it will happen.

There is no trust within the government in Baghdad, no trust of the government by the people, no capacity on the part of the government to deliver basic security or services, and no prospect the government will develop that trust and capacity anytime soon.

Simply put, absent an occupation we cannot sustain or a dictator we cannot support, Iraq cannot be governed from the center at this point in its history. Its warring factions are just not prepared to entrust their futures to one another.

Our solution is to help bring to life what is already in Iraq's constitution: a decentralized, federal system that gives its people local control over the fabric of their daily lives, including the police, jobs, education and government services.

A limited central government would be responsible for protecting Iraq's borders and distributing its oil revenues.

We should refocus America's efforts on making federalism work for all Iraqis.

I would initiate a diplomatic surge to do just that, bringing in the United Nations, major countries and Iraq's neighbors to help implement and oversee the political settlement I'm proposing.

No one can want peace and stability for Iraq more than the Iraqi people. It is up to them, but we can help them get there by bringing power and responsibility down to the local level and taking the fear out of Iraq's future.

As we help Iraqis work toward a political settlement, there are two other steps we must take to end the war responsibly.

First, we should start to bring our combat troops home now, while transitioning the mission of those that remain to much more limited and achievable tasks like fighting al-Qaida in Iraq and protecting themselves and our civilians.

With Sens. Carl Levin of Michigan and Jack Reed of Rhode Island, since January I have repeatedly proposed legislation to do just that. We've won a majority of senators, but not yet the 60 we need to overcome a filibuster or the 67 necessary to overcome the President's veto.

Second, so long as we have a single solider in Iraq, we must do everything we can to protect him.

While some claim we can get all our troops out of Iraq in a matter of months, the truth is that even if the order came down to leave tomorrow, it would take at least a year and probably longer to get everyone out. It's a huge logistical and security challenge. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of Americans remain at risk.

Last Spring, every other Democratic candidate for our party's nomination either voted against or said they opposed the emergency spending bill for Iraq. I voted for it because it funds the mine-resistant vehicles I've been fighting for that protect our troops from roadside bombs -- the biggest killer of Americans in Iraq. I will never vote against money to protect our troops.

The war in Iraq is President Bush's war -- but it is America's future. Together, we have to end it the right way.

Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware is running for the Democratic nomination for President.


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Domestic Violence Lawyers Needed

Published: 10/17/2007

By Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Iowa City Press-Citizen 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to shine a light on the dark scourge of abuse that affects one out of four Americans each year. In Iowa alone in 2006, there were 77,256 calls to the state's domestic violence and sexual assault hotline and more than 23,000 victims of abuse helped by shelters and other service providers. Since 1995, 167 Iowans have been killed in domestic violence situations.

Once a domestic violence victim steps out from the shadow of an abusive relationship, what does she need? Lawyers. Domestic violence victims are in dire need for legal help for everything from obtaining protection orders to arranging child custody to instigating divorce proceedings.

A national survey by the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that in just one 24-hour cycle, more than 5,000 pleas for services, be it emergency shelter, transitional housing or legal aid, were unmet because of a lack of resources. This shortage means that thousands of victims of domestic violence go without legal representation in this country every day. And in fact, reports indicate that fewer than 1 out of every 5 low-income domestic violence victims ever sees a lawyer.

It is vital that a victim have an advocate helping her when she steps out of the abuse for the first time. The very second a battered woman calls the Hotline, reaches out to the police or walks into a courtroom, we need to connect this courageous person with legal assistance. Victims walk out on a limb when they seek help, often risking their personal safety. These first calls for help are critical moments when a victim must feel supported; if she doesn't, she may retreat back into the abuse.

The single, most important legislative accomplishment in my 32-year-old career in the Senate is passing the Violence Against Women Act. After years of work, countless hours of hearings, pages of expert testimony and Senate floor debate, my Act passed in 1994. The law was renewed in 2000 and most recently expanded in 2005 when I worked to include new measures to treat children who witness violence, to increase housing opportunities and to create dedicated resources for rape crisis centers.

Recognizing that campus gates don't keep out abuse, stalking and sexual assault, the Violence Against Women Act also created a special $15 million program for colleges and universities to create campus-wide victim services and security programs. The Act has transformed the way police, prosecutors, judges and advocates tackle domestic violence in their communities, and infused more than $4 billion dollars to state systems to fight violence against women. In 2007 alone, Iowa received $1.3 million for domestic violence programs with police, prosecutors, judges and advocates. But we are not done.

In May, I introduced the National Domestic Violence Volunteer Attorney Network Act, legislation that, for the first time, creates a streamlined national system to recruit and train volunteer lawyers and match them with domestic violence victims. Using the power of the Internet, this nationwide network of attorneys will be coordinated by American Bar Association; statewide legal coordinators would manage legal services in their individual states, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Internet-based services would provide legal referrals to victims. The historic partnership forged in my bill will mean that enthusiastic potential advocates quickly and seamlessly will get linked to training and new clients. And at the same time, desperate victims will be referred to a statewide coordinator and quickly connected to a lawyer. I want to end the frustrating, and often fruitless, task of calling different agencies, offices, or groups, either to volunteer or find a lawyer.

I believe there is a wealth of untapped resources in this country -- lawyers who want to volunteer. My National Domestic Violence Volunteer Act would harness the skills, enthusiasm and dedication of these lawyers and infuse 100,000 new volunteer lawyers into the justice system to represent domestic violence victims. I believe this initiative builds on the best of American ideals -- volunteerism, technology know-how, collaboration between the private and public sectors and our unwavering commitment to justice and service.

Joe Biden Jr. is the senior Democratic U.S. senator from Delaware and author of the Violence Against Women Act, or VAWA, which was signed into law in 1994, renewed in 2000 and expanded in 2005. He is a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.


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Federalism, Not Partition

Published: 10/03/2007

By Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Leslie H. Gelb

The Washington Post

The Bush administration and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki greeted last week's Senate vote on Iraq policy -- based on a plan we proposed in 2006 -- with misrepresentations and untruths. Seventy-five senators, including 26 Republicans, voted to promote a political settlement based on decentralized power-sharing. It was a life raft for an Iraq policy that is adrift.

Instead, Maliki and the administration -- through our embassy in Baghdad -- distorted the Biden-Brownback amendment beyond recognition, charging that we seek to "partition or divide Iraq by intimidation, force or other means."

We want to set the record straight. If the United States can't put this federalism idea on track, we will have no chance for a political settlement in Iraq and, without that, no chance for leaving Iraq without leaving chaos behind.

First, our plan is not partition, though even some supporters and the media mistakenly call it that. It would hold Iraq together by bringing to life the federal system enshrined in its constitution. A federal Iraq is a united Iraq but one in which power devolves to regional governments, with a limited central government responsible for common concerns such as protecting borders and distributing oil revenue.

Iraqis have no familiarity with federalism, which, absent an occupier or a dictator, has historically been the only path to keeping disunited countries whole. We can point to our federal system and how it began with most power in the hands of the states. We can point to similar solutions in the United Arab Emirates, Spain and Bosnia. Most Iraqis want to keep their country whole. But if Iraqi leaders keep hearing from U.S. leaders that federalism amounts to or will lead to partition, that's what they will believe.

The Bush administration's quixotic alternative has been to promote a strong central government in Baghdad. That central government doesn't function; it is corrupt and widely regarded as irrelevant. It has not produced political reconciliation -- and there is no evidence it will.

Second, we are not trying to impose our plan. If the Iraqis don't want it, they won't and shouldn't take it, as the Senate amendment makes clear. But Iraqis and the White House might consider the facts. Iraq's constitution already provides for a federal system. As for the regions forming along sectarian lines, the constitution leaves the choice to the people of its 18 provinces.

The White House can hardly complain that we would force unwanted solutions on Iraqis. President Bush did not hesitate to push Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jafari out of office to make way for Maliki, and he may yet do the same to Maliki.

The United States has responsibilities in Iraq that we cannot run away from. The Iraqis will need our help in explaining and lining up support for a federal solution. With 160,000 Americans at risk in Iraq, with hundreds of billions of dollars spent, and with more than 3,800 dead and nearly 28,000 wounded, we also have a right to be heard.

Third, our plan would not produce "suffering and bloodshed," as a U.S. Embassy statement irresponsibly suggested. And it is hard to imagine more suffering and bloodshed than we've already seen from government-tolerated militias, jihadists, Baathists and administration ineptitude. More than 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, most for fear of sectarian violence.

The Bush administration should be helping Iraqis make federalism work -- through an agreement over the fair distribution of oil revenue; the safe return of refugees; integrating militia members into local security forces; leveraging the shared interest of other countries in a stable Iraq; and refocusing capacity-building and aid on the provinces and regions -- not scaring them off by equating federalism to partition, sectarianism and foreign bullying.

To confuse matters more, the administration has conjured a "bottom-up" strategy that looks like federalism and smells like federalism -- but is, in reality, a recipe for chaos.

"Bottom-up" seems to mean that the United States will support any group, anywhere, that will fight al-Qaeda or Shiite extremists. Now, it always made sense to seek allies among tribal chiefs to fight common terrorist enemies. But to simply back these groups as they appear, without any overall political context or purpose, is to invite anarchy. Nothing will fragment Iraq more than a bottom-up approach that pits one group against another and fails to knit these parts into governable wholes.

Federalism is the one formula that fits the seemingly contradictory desires of most Iraqis to remain whole and of various groups to govern themselves for the time being. It also recognizes the reality of the choice we face in Iraq: a managed transition to federalism or actual partition through civil war.

Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Leslie H. Gelb is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations.


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A Plan for a Stable Iraq

Published: 09/25/2007

By Joe Biden

The State 

In Iraq, the military refers to those who have been killed as fallen angels.

To date, 3,780 of our brave men and women have been killed in action.

How many more angels must fall before this war ends?

In January, the president asked us to support a surge of troops that would give the central government in Iraq breathing room to stand up on its own feet and to bring about political reconciliation between Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.

Eight months into the surge, the central government is no closer to competence. It is no closer to a political settlement. It has no capacity to deliver services and security. Most critically, it does not have the trust of its people.

And it will not have this ability in our lifetimes.

The surge is at best a stopgap that delays, but will not prevent, chaos.

One hundred thousand Iraqis flee their country every month, in fear of sectarian violence. Those who have remained in Iraq hide in their homes. Wounds, sustained over centuries, continue to burn. Each side in the civil war is thirsting for a shot at revenge against its sworn enemy.

Absent an occupation we cannot sustain, or a dictator we do not want, there is no way that Iraq can be governed from the center — because there is no center.

And the surge has put more American lives at risk with no prospect for success.

That is unconscionable.

It is now time to start drawing down U.S. forces, not just to pre-surge levels but well below them, and to limit the mission of those who remain to fighting al-Qaida in Iraq, training Iraqis to police themselves and helping them protect their own borders.

But while starting to leave Iraq is necessary, it is not enough. We also have to shape what we leave behind so that we have not traded a dictatorship for chaos.

I have a plan that offers the possibility, not the guarantee, of stability in Iraq as we leave.

It’s based on the reality that Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds are not ready to put their fates in each others’ hands.

Instead, we have to separate the warring factions into separate regions, and give them breathing room, with local control over the fabric of their daily lives — police, education, jobs, marriage, religion — as Iraq’s constitution provides.

A limited central government would be in charge of common concerns, including distributing Iraq’s oil revenues.

A federal, decentralized Iraq is our last, best hope for a stable Iraq.

We should refocus our efforts on making federalism work for all Iraqis — at least that is the view I strongly hold.

I would initiate a diplomatic surge to do just that, bringing in the United Nations, major countries and Iraq’s neighbors, including Iran and Syria, to help implement and oversee the political settlement I’m proposing.

No one can want peace and stability for Iraq more than the Iraqi people. It is up to them, but we can help them get there by bringing power and responsibility down to the local level and taking the fear out of Iraq’s future.

Today the U.S. Senate will face a critical vote on the bipartisan Biden-Brownback-Boxer Amendment, which calls for working with the Iraqis to transition into a federal system. Members of the Senate on both sides of the aisle recognize that this plan is the only plan — the only plan — that will allow us the possibility of leaving Iraq without leaving chaos behind.

I encourage you to reach out to your senators and to the other candidates for president and urge them to support this legislation or if they won’t, to explain what their alternative would be.

The American people will not support an indefinite war whose sole remaining purpose is to prevent the situation in Iraq from becoming even worse. It is time to turn the corner and to move toward the plan that I have proposed.

It is time to start bringing our troops home.

We should end a political strategy in Iraq that cannot succeed and begin one that can.

If we make these changes, we can still leave Iraq without leaving behind a civil war that turns into a regional war, endangering America’s interests not for a year or two, but for a generation.

Sen. Biden is a Democratic candidate for president; his Web site is www.joebiden.com. This is the latest in a series of columns solicited by The State from candidates about the way forward in Iraq.


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What We Need in a New Attorney General

Published: 09/17/2007

By Joseph Biden

Miami Herald 

The appointment of an attorney general is an historic occasion and an opportunity for Americans to celebrate their commitment to justice and the rule of law. Never has the celebration and revitalization of these principles been as important as it is today. With the long overdue resignation of Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, the president has the opportunity to restore America's faith in the Department of Justice by nominating an individual that meets the nation's highest ideals for its top prosecutor.

Gonzales' failed leadership has left the Department of Justice mired in controversy. Congress and the inspector general are investigating the degree to which politics infected personnel decisions and prosecutorial discretion within the department and whether Gonzales lied to Congress about the warrantless wiretapping program. The morale of the hard-working career employees that form the department's core is at an all time low and much of the department's top leadership has resigned under a cloud of controversy, leaving a leadership vacuum at a time when our country faces resurgent crime rates and the threat of terrorism.

The nation needs an attorney general who will restore the dignity and integrity of the Department of Justice. He or she must:

Uphold the rule of law. He or she cannot merely be an apologist for the administration. He or she must examine the administration's consolidation of unchecked power in the executive branch, its policies regarding the detention and treatment of terrorism suspects, its warrantless wiretapping program and its practices for issuing national security letters. The attorney general is the embodiment of American justice. He or she must protect Americans' rights and civil liberties, not merely rubberstamp the president's policies.

Restore Americans' faith in their criminal justice system. He or she must eliminate the inappropriate consideration of partisan politics from the hiring and firing of those charged with enforcing our laws and investigate serious charges that White House political operatives scotched some investigations and pushed others to favor Republican candidates for office. He or she must reform divisions within the department, like the Civil Rights Division, which Gonzales remade to further a partisan political agenda rather than to fight crime and enforce the law.

Be a straight talker who will level with Congress and the American people, not dodge and dissemble as was Gonzales' practice. Congress and the Department of Justice need to work together to address the threat of terrorism, the challenge of rising crime rates and the scourge of corruption. We need an attorney general who will provide direct and forthright answers, not ''I don't recall,'' ''I don't know'' and ``I'm sorry, I can't answer that.''

Rededicate the department to fighting crime. The last two attorneys general have presided over the conversion of 1,000 FBI agents from fighting crime to fighting terrorism and made no effort to replace them. Meanwhile, swayed by the administration's warped version of federalism, they slashed federal assistance to state and local law enforcement, ignoring irrefutable evidence that more police on the streets means less crime. Reports by the FBI and the Police Executive Research Forum indicate that violent crime is climbing at the fastest rate in more than a decade, with murder rates rising by double-digit percentiles in many major cities.

In 1975, in the wake of Watergate, President Ford restored dignity and integrity to the Department of Justice by nominating Edward Levi, then president of the University of Chicago. President Ford didn't know Levi or his politics. Levi acted decisively to reform the FBI and investigate the Nixon administration's abuses and invasions of privacy. We find ourselves in need of an attorney general in the mold of Levi now more than ever.

The president should view the nomination of a new attorney general as an opportunity to begin to rebuild the credibility of the Department of Justice in the eyes of the American public, Congress and the world. He should use the occasion to send a message that the United States abides by our Constitution, respects the rule of law and scrupulously avoids partisan influence in our criminal justice system. The president can make a small but significant step in this direction by nominating a candidate of unquestioned independence, intellect and integrity to be the next attorney general of the United States.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., is a member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.


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Opinions an Ominous Sign of Things to Come

Published: 07/02/2007

Miami Herald 

The U.S. Supreme Court recently announced the final decisions of this term.

In an ominous sign of things to come, the court's newest members, Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, authored opinions in a series of divisive 5-4 decisions that showed utter contempt for recent precedent and eroded some of our most fundamental individual rights and civil liberties.

Two of their opinions erased decades of hard-won progress for minority and gender equality and severely curtailed the Constitution's assurance that women and minorities will receive equal protection and fair treatment.

• The first opinion turned back the clock on the country's achievements in advancing racial diversity in our public schools, dealing a major blow to the promise of equality and opportunity of the court's 53-year-old landmark decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Most of the desegregation plans implemented by public school boards across the country following Brown to end racial segregation would have been unconstitutional under the new rule announced by the Roberts court. Our children would still attend schools segregated on the basis of race, and our society would not have made the important, but incomplete, progress we have made toward racial equality.

• The second opinion, just as destructive, prevented a female employee from recovering pay in a gender discrimination case, even though she demonstrated that she had been paid significantly less than similarly situated male colleagues.

The court's newest members also showed marked facility for manipulating First Amendment precedent, construing it narrowly in one case and expansively in another to achieve particular results. The first opinion drastically cut back the Constitution's protection of public school students' rights of free speech. The second opinion struck down key parts of campaign finance reform legislation that limited the influence of special interests in our elections.

These opinions will reduce frank and full discussion of timely and controversial topics in our public schools, increase the influence of big money in politics, alienate an increasingly cynical electorate and impugn the integrity of our democratic elections.

Still another 5-4 decision foreshadowed a dramatic expansion of unchecked Executive Branch authority and a dilution of our constitutional system of checks and balances. In a case addressing whether taxpayer dollars can be spent on the president's faith-based initiatives, the court held that while Congress is accountable -- as it should be -- to citizen taxpayers, the president is not. With 18 months remaining in the term of a president who has operated secret prisons; detained and interrogated terrorism suspects in violation of U.S law and international treaties; and eavesdropped without a warrant on Americans' conversations, the court's expansion of presidential authority is in a word, alarming.

I was concerned during their confirmation hearings that Chief Justice Roberts' and Justice Alito's appointments would herald a new era of disdain for established precedent; of diminished protection of the equality of minorities and women (the chief justice has dismissed gender discrimination as a ``perceived problem''); of safeguarding the privileges of the powerful, but not the rights of the vulnerable (he also called privacy a ``so-called right''); and of expanding executive authority. I was tough on them during the confirmation hearings, but over a year later, it's apparent we in the Senate weren't tough enough. The individual rights and civil liberties of every American would be threatened even more if another conservative is allowed to serve on the Roberts court.

The court's newest members are rewriting the Constitution according to their vision and remaking the court -- long a protector of human dignity and liberty, a tribunal before which David and Goliath stand on equal footing -- in their image. They've already turned the court upside down -- and this is only their first term.

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., is a senior member and former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and a presidential candidate.

A Way Forward in Iraq Published: 06/15/2007 San Francisco Chronicle By Joseph Biden and Barbara Boxer When the president first outlined his plan for a surge in U.S. forces in Iraq this past January, he said the purpose was to bring the cycle of violence to an end and give the Iraqi government the breathing space it needs to make progress in other critical areas. It is now the middle of June, and neither has happened. Some 230 American soldiers and Marines were killed in Iraq in April and May -- the deadliest two-month stretch since the war began more than four years ago. With American troops stuck in the middle of a sectarian civil war in Baghdad, the reality is that this trend will likely continue. Last week, we surpassed the 3,500 death mark, and yet our president continues stubbornly forward with no proposed solution other than to send more of America's sons and daughters to Iraq. Meanwhile, the Iraqis have not met the key benchmarks for progress that the president announced in January -- laws on oil, de-Baathification and provincial elections. And unfortunately, there is little prospect they will meet them anytime soon. The mission in Iraq is based on a fatally flawed notion that the Iraqi people -- Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds -- will miraculously put aside their differences and come together to support a strong central government. Over the past several years, it has become increasing clear that the goal of achieving one central, stable government is simply not realistic. Simply put, Iraq cannot be run from a centralized power structure absent an open-ended foreign occupation or the return of a dictatorship, neither of which is acceptable to the American or Iraqi people. If we want to hold Iraq together, and not allow it to slide further into the chaos of civil war, then we must change course and stop striving for a military solution to a political problem. That is why, for more than a year now, we have been proposing a political solution, along with Leslie H. Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, to bring stability to Iraq by creating a federal system of government that gives Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds local control over their daily lives. This would not be a U.S. imposition; in fact, Iraq's constitution provides for a decentralized, federal system. Under our plan, which is supported by Republican Sens. Sam Brownback, Gordon Smith and Kay Bailey Hutchison as well as Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, the central government would remain responsible for common interests, such as border security and a fair distribution of oil revenues among the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds. We would also initiate a major diplomatic surge. It's time to convene an international conference on Iraq that includes the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council, and all of Iraq's neighbors, to help support a settlement based on federalism. And perhaps most critical, this plan would allow for the responsible withdrawal of most U.S. forces from Iraq by 2008. Right now, our troops are in the worst possible situation. As Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has said, they are everyone's protector and everyone's target. It is long past time to dramatically limit the mission of our troops and focus on a much narrower, achievable mission of conducting counterterrorism operations against al Qaeda, training Iraqi security forcesand protecting U.S. personnel. Instead of escalating the war with no end in sight, it's time to try something new. It's time to start to bring our troops home and to shape what we leave behind so that we do not trade a dictator for chaos. In 1995, when Bosnia was being torn apart by ethnic cleansing, the United States helped negotiate the Dayton Accords, a plan to keep the nation together by allowing the Serbs, Croats and Muslims autonomy with power-sharing. With the help of an international peacekeeping force, Bosnia has remained relatively stable for the past decade. That is a model that makes sense for Iraq today. Each day that we fail to pursue a viable political solution to end the carnage in Iraq is another day of heartbreak and sorrow for both Americans and Iraqis. It's time to change course. Federalism has worked before. It's time to give this plan a chance to work in Iraq. Joe Biden represents Delaware and Barbara Boxer represents California in the U.S. Senate.
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CSI: Nukes

Published: 06/04/2007

Wall Street Journal
By Joseph Biden

The most dangerous threat America faces is the possibility that one of the world's most extreme groups - like al Qaeda - gets its hands on a nuclear bomb. Luckily, a would-be nuclear terrorist cannot make the ingredients for a modern-day Hiroshima by himself. Either a state will have to give or sell him a bomb or the nuclear material to make one, or the terrorist will have to steal the material.


To bring deterrence into the 21st century and prevent an attack from ever occurring, the United States and other potential targets of nuclear terrorism must take advantage of nuclear terrorists' reliance on states.

The U.S. has long deterred a nuclear attack by states, by clearly and credibly threatening devastating retaliation. Now is the time for a new type of deterrence: We must make clear in advance that we will hold accountable any country that contributes to a terrorist nuclear attack, whether by directly aiding would-be nuclear terrorists or willfully neglecting its responsibility to secure the nuclear weapons or weapons-usable nuclear material within its borders. Deterrence cannot rest on words alone. It must be backed up by
capabilities.

Before, we relied on being able to track incoming bombers or missiles to know who had attacked us. Today, because a nuclear bomb might be delivered in a rental van or a boat, the credibility of the new deterrence will rest on our scientific ability to examine the air and ground debris created by an attack to determine the source of the nuclear material.

Building on work from the Cold War, the U.S. is a leader in this new science of nuclear forensics. Any country today that aids a would-be nuclear terrorist, through action or neglect, has to be concerned about getting caught. But we can and must do more to improve our ability in this area, and to make our ability to trace the source of a nuclear explosion widely known. We need more nuclear forensics research, more scientists to analyze nuclear samples, and an assured ability-using our own aircraft or those of cooperating states-to quickly collect nuclear debris from the site of any attack, in this country or around the world.

While there is a lot the U.S. can do on its own to deter countries from helping nuclear terrorists, there is much more we can do through cooperation with other governments. In the aftermath of an attack-or much better, if terrorists are caught smuggling nuclear material before an attack-scientists would want to compare the samples they collect against what is known about other countries' nuclear material, to figure out the samples' country of origin.

To enable such work, the U.S. should take the lead in creating an international nuclear forensics library.

The library could house actual samples of nuclear material contributed by participating countries, validated data about their material, or binding agreements to provide predetermined data in the immediate aftermath of an attack or smuggling incident. A library cannot guarantee that in the wake of an attack the world could assign blame to a country, but it could be a critical tool in narrowing an investigation and debunking wild rumors or allegations. Countries might hesitate to share their nuclear material, but the library could safeguard samples and identify their origin only if they matched smuggled material or nuclear debris. Any country that refused to contribute to a nuclear forensics library would risk condemnation or suspicion in the event of a terrorist nuclear attack.

Working out arrangements-to ensure that samples and data stay in trusted hands and that countries cannot fake the samples or data they submit-won't be easy. That is all the more reason to build on existing data collections in Russia and Germany and work with other countries to craft such a world-wide nuclear forensics library.

Four years ago, I proposed improving our nuclear forensics capabilities, but today funding for critical nuclear analysis by our National Laboratories remains dangerously low. Congress must give the labs the resources that they need-and that America's security demands.

This new form of deterrence must add to, not replace, other efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism. We must devote far more dollars and people to working with Russia and other countries to secure and reduce stockpiles of nuclear weapons and materials and to remove nuclear weapons-usable materials from as many sites as possible. The president of the U.S. must make this effort his or her personal priority.

Deterrence based on strong nuclear forensics is a critical tool to help prevent nuclear terrorism. To prevent a nuclear 9/11, we must use every tool we have.

Mr. Biden (D., Del.) is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Taken from http://biden.senate.gov/biography/facts.cfm and http://biden.senate.gov/biography/

Democratic Candidate Joseph Biden's Bio. Presidential Election 2008.
Joe Biden's Biography

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was first elected to the United States Senate in 1972 at the age of twenty-nine and is recognized as one of the nation’s most powerful and influential voices on foreign relations, terrorism, drug policy, and crime prevention.

Foreign Policy & National Security

Senator Biden has played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. foreign policy for over three decades. As the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he is a student of history, respected at home and abroad for his uniquely well-informed, common sense approach to the complexities of American foreign policy issues. Senator Richard Lugar, currently the top Republican on the committee, has said: "Senator Biden has a very strong commitment to a bipartisan foreign policy and serves as a good example for everyone in Congress. He has a very broad, comprehensive view of the world. He’s a good listener, but he’s also a strong and effective advocate of his position."

Safeguarding Our Streets

A strong leader on anti-crime and drug policy, Senator Biden has been instrumental in crafting virtually every major piece of crime legislation over the past two decades, including the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, also known as the Biden Crime Law, which dramatically increased funds spent on law enforcement. Additionally, Senator Biden is the author of the landmark Violence Against Women Act of 2000 (VAWA 2000) which contains a broad array of ground-breaking measures to combat domestic violence and provides billions of dollars in federal funds to address gender-based crimes. Biden, who serves as Co-Chairman of the International Narcotics Control Caucus, also wrote the law creating the nation's "Drug Czar" who oversees and coordinates national drug control policy. Today, Senator Biden continues to work to stop the spread of new drugs such as Ecstacy, Ketamine and Rohypnol, the "date rape" drug.

Protecting Our Environment

In addition to his leadership on foreign policy, crime and drug control issues, Senator Biden is widely recognized for his work on environmental protection and education policy. His work over the past 20 years has led to the end of federal control and the return to Delawareans of more than 1,180 acres of beach shoreline along the Delaware coast. In 2000, Biden’s decades-long efforts culminated with establishment of Delaware’s first and only National Wild and Scenic River -- the White Clay Creek Watershed -- which will be preserved and saved from development for future generations.

Empowering Our Students

To help Americans struggling to afford the rising costs of college tuition, Biden has been a staunch supporter of college aid and loan programs and has offered legislation to allow families to deduct up to $10,000 per year in higher education expenses on their annual income tax returns. And to prepare today’s students to meet the technology challenges of tomorrow, Biden has undertaken bold initiatives in the Senate to close the "digital divide" and ensure that all students have access to the on-ramp of the information super highway. Senator Biden’s "Kids 2000" legislation, signed into law by the President in October of 2000 establishes a public/private partnership to help provide computer centers, teachers, Internet access and technical training to young people across the nation, particularly to low-income and at-risk youth.

Personal Information

Senator Biden grew up in New Castle County, Delaware. He graduated from the University of Delaware in 1965, and from the Syracuse University College of Law in 1968. Prior to his election to the Senate, Biden practiced law in Wilmington, Delaware and served on the New Castle County Council from 1970 to 1972. Since 1991, Biden has been an adjunct professor at the Widener University School of Law, where he teaches a seminar on constitutional law.

Senator Biden lives in Wilmington, Delaware and commutes to Washington, DC when the Senate is in session. He is married to the former Jill Jacobs, and is the father of three children: Beau, Hunter and Ashley. The Bidens also have five grandchildren: Naomi, Finnegan, Roberta Mabel, Natalie, and Robert Hunter Biden.

For more information about Presidential Candidate Joe Biden, read these fast facts.

Joe Biden's Fast Facts. Joseph Biden Biography Short Version

Joseph R. Biden, Jr. was born on November 20, 1942 in Scranton, Pennsylvania. He was first elected to the United States Senate in 1972 and re-elected in 1978, 1984, 1990, 1996 and 2002. He is currently serving his 6th term.

EDUCATION
Syracuse University College of Law, J.D. 1968
University of Delaware, B.A. 1965
(Double Major: History/Political Science)
Archmere Academy 1961

PROFESSIONAL
Adjunct Professor, 1991-present
Widener University School of Law

HISTORICAL
In January of 1973 Joe Biden was sworn into office at the age of 30 years, one month, and 14 days. He is the fifth youngest person to ever serve in the U.S. Senate (John Henry Eaton of Tennessee, Armistead Mason of Virginia, Henry Clay of Kentucky, and Rush Holt of West Virginia were younger).

PRIOR TO THE SENATE
New Castle County (Delaware) Council 1970-1972
Attorney, Wilmington, Delaware 1968-1972

LEADERSHIP AND MEMBER ORGANIZATIONS
Senate Democratic Steering and Coordination Committee
Co-Chairman, Senate NATO Observer Group
Co-Chairman, Senate National Security Working Group
Vice Chairman, NATO Parliamentary Assembly
Co-Chairman, Congressional Fireman's Caucus
Co-Chairman, Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus
Member, Congressional Air Force Caucus
Member, National Guard Caucus
Member, Senate Auto Caucus
Member, Senate Biotechnology Caucus
Member, Congressional Port Security Caucus

PERSONAL
Married: Wife, Jill Tracy Biden
Children: Beau Biden; Hunter Biden; Ashley Biden
Grandchildren: Naomi Biden; Finnegan Biden; Roberta Mabel Biden; Natalie Biden; Robert Hunter Biden

Speeches were taken from the Joseph Biden's Senate web page: http://biden.senate.gov/newsroom/speeches.cfm



U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Chairman of Senate Foreign Relations Committee
"Iraq's Future and America's Interests"
The Brookings Institution
February 15, 2007

This is a time of tremendous challenge for America in the world.

We must contend with the on-going war in Afghanistan, the genocide in Darfur, nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea, the rise of China and re-emergence Russia, the growing insecurity of our energy supply, the fragility of our climate, and the threat posed by radical fundamentalism.

But one issue dominates our national debate: Iraq.

If we deal with it successfully, we can recover the freedom, flexibility and credibility to meet these other challenges.

That's what I want to talk about today.

* * *

Listen to the debate about Iraq here in Washington.

It centers on a false choice that is also a bad choice: Do we continue on President Bush's failing course and hand off Iraq to the next President? Or do we just leave and hope for the best? I believe there is a better choice. It is still possible to bring our troops home without trading a dictator for chaos that engulfs Iraq and spreads to the Middle East.

That must be our goal.

Leaving Iraq is necessary -- but it is not a plan. We also need a plan for what we leave behind.

* * *

Nine months ago, with Les Gelb of the Council on Foreign Relations, I proposed just such a plan. Go to "planforiraq.com." to read its details.

Our plan recognizes that there is no purely military exit strategy from Iraq. Instead, we set out a roadmap to a political settlement in Iraq -- one that gives its warring factions a way to share power peacefully and offers us a chance to leave with our interests intact.

The plan has five major pieces.

First, maintain a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis breathing room in regions - as the Iraqi constitution provides. The central government would be responsible for common concerns, like guarding Iraq's borders and distributing its oil revenues.

Second, secure support from the Sunnis - who have no oil - by guaranteeing them a fair share of oil revenues. Allow former Baath party members to go back to work and reintegrate Sunnis with no blood on their hands.

Third, increase economic assistance to Iraq and its regions. Insist that the oil-rich Gulf states put up most of the money, tie it to the protection of minority rights, and create a major jobs program to deny the militia new recruits.

Fourth, initiate a major diplomatic offensive to enlist the support of Iraq's neighbors. Create an oversight group of the U.N. and the major powers to enforce their commitments. These countries have a profound stake in preventing chaos in Iraq and the credibility we lack to press for compromise by all Iraqis. If a political settlement fails to take hold, these same countries are vital to any strategy to contain the fall out within Iraq.

Fifth, instruct the military to draw up plans for withdrawing U.S. combat forces from Iraq by 2008. Leave behind a small force to take on terrorists and train Iraqis. The best way to focus Iraq's leaders on the political compromises they must make is to make it clear to them that we are leaving.

* * *

Many of you have heard me talk about this plan before.

What's new is the growing support it's receiving.

That support was evident during the four weeks of hearings we just held in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

It is evident in the new National Intelligence Estimate for Iraq - a consensus report of all U.S. intelligence agencies.

The NIE and virtually all of our witnesses agreed that the fundamental problem in Iraq is self-sustaining sectarian violence.

Yes, jihadists, Baathists, criminal gangs and intra-sect violence all contribute to the growing chaos. But Sunnis killing Shiites and Shiites killing Sunnis is the heart of the matter. That's what we have to stop if we want to leave Iraq with our interests intact.

How do we stop this sectarian cycle of revenge?

If history is any guide, we have to wait until one side wins or both sides exhaust themselves. That could take years of bloodletting... years that we do not have.

History also suggests it is possible to short circuit sectarian strife.

A decade ago, Bosnia was being torn apart by ethnic cleansing, which threatened to engulf the Balkans. The United States stepped in with Dayton Accords, which kept the country whole by, paradoxically, dividing it into ethnic federations. Muslims, Croats and Serbs retained separate armies and presidents. Since then, Bosnians have lived a decade in peace. Now, they are slowly coming back together.

Iraq presents a similar possibility. Here's what the National Intelligence Estimate says we need:

"Broader Sunni acceptance of the current political structure and federalism... [and] significant concessions by Shia and Kurds to create space for Sunni acceptance of federalism."

That is exactly the strategy behind the Biden-Gelb plan.

During our hearings, witness after witness - including former secretaries of states, foreign policy experts, and elected officials -- came to a similar conclusion. So have a growing number of opinion makers.

What more and more people are beginning to recognize is that there are very few possible futures for Iraq in the near term - and only one that protects America's interests.

* * *

Think for a minute about Iraq's possible futures.

The Bush administration has one vision: that Iraqis will rally behind a strong, democratic central government that keeps the country together and protects the rights of all citizens equally.

But since the Samarra Mosque bombing a year ago, that vision has been engulfed by the flames of sectarian hatred.

The hard truth in Iraq is that there is no trust within the central government... no trust of the government by the people... and no capacity by the government to deliver services and security. And there is no evidence - none - that we can build that trust and capacity any time soon.

There are two other ways to govern Iraq from the center:

A foreign occupation that the United States cannot long sustain.

Or the return of a strongman, who is not on the horizon. Even if he were, replacing one dictator with another would require a savagery to rival Saddam's worst excesses.

So where does that leave us?

It leaves us with an idea a large majority of Iraqis have already endorsed in their constitution and that our plan would help make a reality: federalism.

Federalism would keep Iraq together by vesting real power in the regions.

It would bring decisions and responsibility down to the local level and give Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds control over the fabric of their daily lives: security, education, marriage, jobs.

Very few have read Iraq's constitution. Fewer still understand that legislation to implement its articles on federalism takes effect in 15 months.

Federalism is Iraq's best possible future.

But unless we help make federalism work for all Iraqis, the violence will not stop.

We have to convince the major powers and Iraq's neighbors that a federal Iraq is the best possible outcome for them, too, and to put their weight and influence behind it. Then, together, we have to bring in the Sunnis and convince the Shiites and Kurds to make concessions. That is what the Biden-Gelb plan proposes. It demands the kind of sustained, hard headed diplomacy for which this administration has shown little interest or aptitude. But it offers the possibility - not the guarantee - of producing a soft landing in Iraq.

If we fail to make federalism work, there will be no political accommodation at the center. Violent resistance will increase. The sectarian cycle of revenge will spiral out of control. At best, the result likely will be the violent break up of Iraq into multiple failed states. At worst, the result will be Iraq's total fragmentation into warring fiefdoms.

The neighbors will not sit on the sidelines. Already, Iraq has aggravated a deep Sunni-Shiite divide that runs from Lebanon through Afghanistan, Pakistan and India. This fault-line intersects with other cultural and political rifts - between Arabs and Persians, Turks and Kurds, jihadis and the Muslim mainstream - to create the conditions for a cataclysmic explosion.

Iran and the Arab states will back Shi'a and Sunni extremists as part of a proxy war. Eventually, they will intervene directly. Sunni Jihadis will flood Iraq to confront the Persian and Shi'a threat, creating a new haven for terrorists. Turkey will move into the North to crush Kurdish ambitions. Sunni-Shi'a tensions will rise from Beirut to Karachi.

Individually, these would be bad developments. Together, they would do terrible damage to American interests. We must lead a determined regional and international effort to end the Iraqi civil war, or contain it if we can't.

* * *

The Bush administration is heading in exactly the wrong direction.

Instead of a diplomatic and political offensive to forge a political settlement, it proposes a military offensive that would send 17,500 Americans into the middle of a sectarian conflict in a city of 6.2 million people.

This military surge in Iraq is not a solution - it is a tragic mistake.

If we should be surging forces anywhere, it is in Afghanistan.

I'm glad the President has recognized what many of us have been saying for years: unless we surge troops, hardware, money, and high-level attention into Afghanistan, it will fall back into the hands of the Taliban, terrorists and drug traffickers. I support the steps he announced today but I hope they are the first steps - not the last - in a recommitment to Afghanistan.

* * *

The House is about to pronounce itself on the President's surge plan for Iraq and the Senate will, too.

Some minimize the significance of a non-binding resolution. If it is so meaningless, why did the White House and the President's political supporters mobilize so much energy against it?

Opposing the surge is only a first step. We need a radical change in course in Iraq. If the President won't act, Congress will.

But Congress must act responsibly. We must resist the temptation to push for changes that sound good but produce bad results.

The best next step is to revisit the authorization Congress granted the President in 2002 to use force in Iraq. That's exactly what I'm doing.

We gave the President that power to destroy Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and, if necessary, to depose Saddam Hussein.

The WMD were not there. Saddam Hussein is no longer there. The 2002 authorization is no longer relevant to the situation in Iraq.

I am working on legislation to repeal that authorization and replace it with a much narrower mission statement for our troops in Iraq.

Congress should make clear what the mission of our troops is: to responsibly draw down, while continuing to combat terrorists, train Iraqis and respond to emergencies. We should make equally clear what their mission is not: to stay in Iraq indefinitely and get mired in a savage civil war.

Coupled with the Biden-Gelb plan, I believe this is the most effective way to start bringing our troops home without leaving a mess behind.

* * * I want to leave you with one thought.

For our sake and for the sake of the Iraqi people, we should be focused on how we get out of Iraq with our interests intact.

Everyone wants to bring our troops home as soon and as safely as possible.

But tempting as it is, we can't just throw up our hands, blame the President for misusing the authority we gave him, and walk away without a plan for what we leave behind.

So I'll end where I began.

Leaving Iraq is a necessity, but it is not a plan. We need a plan for what we leave behind. That is what I have offered.

To those who disagree with my plan, I have one simple question: what is your alternative?

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Biden Remarks to the Israel Policy Forum

U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Speech to the Israel Policy Forum at 8:30 PM
New York, NY
December 4, 2006

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is good to be among good friends. Tonight, I would like to talk to you about our nation's most serious and urgent priority - Iraq. Our current policy in Iraq is a failure. We are past the point of an open-ended commitment. We are past the point of adding more troops. We are past the point of vague policy prescriptions. It is not an answer just to stay. Nor is it an answer -- though it may become a necessity -- just to go, with no concern for what follows. The fundamental question we must answer is whether, as we begin to leave Iraq, there are still concrete steps we can take to avoid leaving chaos behind. I believe the answer to that question is yes. But I'm equally convinced neither Democrats nor Republicans alone will take those steps. No one wants to be blamed for what might happen next in Iraq. The only way to carve out a new path is through bipartisanship. With a united voice we can speak with strength to Iraqis on the need to put their house in order, and find political protection here at home. Political leaders in our country must choose to hang together rather than hang separately. We have every incentive to do so. It is flatly against the security interests of the United States to stay the current course. It also happens to be against the political interests of both parties. Republicans don't want to run for re-election to Congress or for the presidency in 2008 with Iraq around their necks. Democrats do not want to assume the presidency in 2009 saddled with a losing war. So the incentive is there to work together. But what are the principles of a policy that can bring Democrats and Republicans together - and start to bring our troops home responsibly? Six months ago Les Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, and I proposed a detailed answer to that question. If you are interested in the particulars, please take a look at our website, "www.planforiraq.com." We had two basic premises that were clear to us months ago - and that every passing month makes clearer and clearer: First, the main challenge in Iraq is a sectarian cycle of revenge, for which there is no military solution. Even if every Al Qaeda-inspired terrorist left Iraq tomorrow, we'd still have a major civil conflict on our hands, pitting Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds against one another. Second, putting all of our chips on building a strong central government cannot pay off because there is no trust within the government… no trust of the government by the people… and no capacity on the part of the government to deliver basic services to Iraqis. Any plan for Iraq must contend with those powerful realities. Our plan does - and here's how. First, we argued that the focus of U.S. policy in Iraq must be to help forge a political settlement that gives each of its main groups incentives to pursue their interests peacefully. The most likely form for that settlement is a federalized Iraq, with three or more largely autonomous regional governments to suit the separate interests of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. A central government would administer truly common concerns, such as defending Iraq's borders and managing its energy infrastructure. The constitution already provides for this approach and Iraq's parliament recently passed a law to implement its articles on federalism. But for federalism to work, the constitution must be amended to guarantee Sunnis - who are sand rich but oil poor -- 20% of oil revenues, to be administered by the central government with international oversight. Only with such revenues could a Sunni region become economically and politically sustainable. Why would Shiites and Kurds hand over some of the oil revenues to the Sunnis? Because that's the price of peace -- and only with peace will Iraq attract the massive foreign investment it needs to maximize oil production. Oil can become the glue that holds Iraq together. The final decisions will be up to the Iraqis. But without us helping them arrange the necessary compromises, as we have at every critical juncture, nothing will get done. With 145,000 Americans at risk, we have a right and a responsibility to make our views known. Second, we urged that the U.S. military plan for the redeployment and withdrawal of most U.S, forces by the end of 2007. Redeployment by itself is not a plan. But it is a good way to get the Iraqis to concentrate on the hard political decisions they must make. We have to make clear to them that the presence of our troops in their present large numbers is not open-ended. We would begin the phased redeployment in the first half of next year, but with no artificial deadline or end date. We would maintain a small residual force in Iraq or in the region whose mission would be counter-terrorism, training, logistics and force protection. Even if it made strategic sense to keep 145,000 troops in Iraq beyond next year, we could not do so without doing real damage to the volunteer military, including:

* sending soldiers back on third and fourth tours;
* extending deployment times from 12 to 18 months;
* ending the practice of a year at home between deployments;
* fully mobilizing the Guard and Reserves; and
* returning demobilized soldiers to Iraq through a back-door draft.

Over time, the impact on retention and recruitment would be devastating. Third, we have to ignite the most vigorous regional diplomacy to back up the power-sharing deal among Iraqis and avoid neighbors warring over an Iraqi vacuum. We would convene an international conference and stand up an oversight group of major countries to support a political settlement in Iraq -- or, if chaos ensues anyway, to help contain its fallout within Iraq. All major Iraqi factions should be included in the conference -- and, as at the Dayton Conference for Bosnia, we should keep them there until all agree to a way forward. And all of Iraq's neighbors must be there, too. There can be no sustainable peace in Iraq without them. That includes not just Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, and Turkey, but Iran and Syria as well. Granted, some of Iraq's neighbors have no desire to do us any favors. But like us, they can see the abyss opening up before them, and like us, they all have powerful interests in preventing a full-blown civil war that becomes a regional war. There's much more to our plan than that - but I wanted to give you the main points. I believe we have a small but real window of time - maybe four to six months - to build the bi-partisan policy for Iraq I believe we so desperately need. In two days, the bi-partisan Baker-Hamilton Commission will issue its recommendations. I will reserve judgment on the actual report until I see it. But I am concerned about news reports on two aspects of the Iraq Study Group's work. One suggests that it may miss the most important point: the need for a strategy to build a sustainable political settlement in Iraq. Bringing the neighbors in and starting to get our troops out are necessary, but not sufficient. We need to give each of Iraq's major groups a way to pursue their interests peacefully. It would be a fatal mistake to believe we can do that solely by building up a strong central government. As I said earlier, that policy has been tried and it has failed. Second, I'm concerned by reports suggesting that the Iraq Study Group will link a renewed effort to advance the Arab-Israeli peace process with a solution in Iraq. I am not opposed to a vigorous peace process - quite to the contrary, as I will explain in a moment. But the notion that an Israeli-Palestinian peace settlement would end a civil war in Iraq defies common sense. Israeli-Palestinian peace should be pursued aggressively on its own merits, period. Not as some sort of diplomatic price to make the Arab states feel good so they will help us in Iraq. I hope that both of these news stories are incorrect, because I truly hope that the Baker-Hamilton report will garner bipartisan support. Regardless of what it says, right after the New Year, I will focus the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Iraq, in close collaboration with my Republican counterpart, Senator Richard Lugar. We will hold intensive and extensive hearings, over many weeks. We won't be wedded to any one plan or proposal. Instead, our mission will be as straightforward as it is vital: to shine a light on what options remain for America to start bringing our troops home from Iraq without trading a dictator for chaos. That's a goal that unites the vast majority of Americans. I would like to conclude with some brief thoughts on the two goals that we share and believe are inseparably woven together - the well-being of Israel and the need for a peace settlement. I am going to say something which may strike some cynics as fanciful. Despite all the difficulties of the past year - from the Hamas victory to the war with Hezbollah over the summer, which incidentally Israel did not lose - I believe that we may be arriving at a moment where a renewed peace process is possible. Why do I say this? For two reasons: First, Israel has in place a government and a prime minister that understands that the status quo is unacceptable. Unilateralism is off the table. And indefinite occupation threatens Israel's Jewish majority. Last week, Prime Minister Olmert made a bold speech and extended Israel's hand to her Palestinian neighbors, offering to make real and painful concessions on territory and settlements. I commend him for making this gesture at a moment when some might advise him that caution would be better politically. Second, the Arab states may finally be waking up to the dangerous strategic shifts in the region. To put it simply, the Arabs are terrified of Iran. Not, alas, because of Ahmadinejad's outrageous anti-Semitic statements and Holocaust denial. But because they are terrified of the role Iran is playing in Iraq, terrified of its support for Hezbollah and Hamas, and terrified of its nuclear program. They see that the stagnation in the region working to the advantage of Iran and its extremist allies. They see their very legitimacy now being challenged by these forces. This may finally spur them into action. As Samuel Johnson famously observed, "nothing focuses the mind like a hanging." The Arabs may finally be willing to take some of the risks they have steadfastly avoided in the past. One manifestation of this is their newfound interest in supporting the Palestinian security forces under Abu Mazen. This is welcome. But I challenge them to do more - if you mean what you say in the Beirut Declaration - that you are prepared to live in peace with Israel, then please show it. Meet with Israelis. Go to Israel as Sadat did. Take some risks. Otherwise, you may miss yet another opportunity. Ladies and gentlemen. I have been around for too long to believe that opportunity automatically translates into progress. Nothing will happen without American leadership. Nothing. Under President Clinton, we had a whole team that worked 24/7 on the peace process -- often it was the President himself. I can't think of anyone in the current Administration who is solely dedicated to the peace process. And I can't fathom how our current President has not found the time to visit Israel in the past 6 years. Yes, we face time-consuming challenges in Iraq, Iran, North Korea, and Afghanistan. But we are the sole superpower. We are Israel's closest friend. We have an obligation to lead for the sake of peace. Thank you

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Rethinking America's Future Security
8:00 PM on October 31, 2006
Speech by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. to the Iowa State University
Manatt-Phelps Lecture Series in Political Science

Thank you all for being here tonight.

I'd like to start out with saying that this current administration is full of bright, hard working Americans who want to do what's right for this county. I don't question their motives. I just have profound disagreements with their judgments, and doubts about their competence.

I will discuss two connected but distinct challenges we face - not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans: the so-called "Axis of Evil" and "Axis of Oil." How we deal with each will go a long way toward shaping America's security over the next decades.

Tonight, I will argue we are not doing a very effective job meeting either challenge.

The "Axis of Evil"

Let me start with the "Axis of Evil": Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. After 9/11, President Bush warned that these countries posed a grave danger and urged we act against them. Five years later, each member of this "axis" is even more dangerous than it was then.

In Iraq, a dictator is gone and that's good. But we may be on the verge of trading him for chaos and a new foothold for extremists in the Mid East. North Korea has tested a nuclear weapon for the first time, and it has 400 percent more fissile material than it did when President Bush took office. And Iran is closer to the bomb, and its reform movement is on the ropes.

So that's where we are. The question is: where do we go from here to defuse the dangers these countries pose to the United States?

Iraq

Let me start with Iraq, because getting it right will give us much more freedom, flexibility, and credibility to meet these other challenges to our security.

Iraq has cost us dearly in lives and treasure. Because our forces are tied down, our ability to act against other threats is limited. Because we hyped the intelligence, our ability to convince allies and Americans of new dangers is diminished. Because we diverted resources from Afghanistan, it's on the verge of failure.

In my judgment, this administration has no strategy for success in Iraq. Its strategy is to prevent defeat and pass the problem along to the next President.

The overwhelming reality in Iraq is a sectarian cycle of revenge. No number of troops can stop it. We need a political settlement that allows each group to pursue its interests peacefully.

Six months ago, with Les Gelb, of the Council on Foreign Relations, I proposed a plan to do just that. It's like what we did in Bosnia. It would keep Iraq together by providing each group breathing room in their own regions, getting Sunni buy-in by giving them a piece of the oil revenues, creating a major jobs and reconstruction program to deny the militia new recruits, and bringing in Iraq's neighbors to support the political process.

If we do all that, we have a chance to bring most of our troops home by the end of 2007, without leaving chaos behind.

North Korea

The North Korean nuclear test was a deliberate and dangerous provocation. It could spark a nuclear arms race in Asia. North Korea could sell dangerous weapons to radical groups. North Korea is responsible for this mess and must be held accountable. But this administration is responsible for a failed policy.

The Clinton administration froze North Korea's plutonium program - the one that produced the fissile material for the bomb it tested. This administration rejected that approach, replacing it with threatening but hollow rhetoric. It drew red line after red line: don't process more plutonium, don't test your missiles, don't test a nuclear weapon. North Korea crossed each one.

We have to stop digging and start a policy that has a chance to achieve the de-nuclearization of North Korea. That requires two things:

First, we have to choose what's more important: a change in conduct or a change in regime. We won't get the former, if we remain fixated on the latter.

Think about it: how can it possibly work to say to the North Koreans: give up your one insurance policy against regime change and then, when you do that, we will still try to take you out? Pyongyang won't give up its weapons if it believes we're determined to topple it. That doesn't mean endorsing the regime or not continuing to oppose its loathsome policies. It does mean keeping our eyes on the prize of de-nuclearization.

Second, we have to combine effective pressure from our partners - especially China and South Korea - with incentives from us. They're mutually reinforcing.

If our partners see we are willing to go the extra diplomatic mile and forego regime change, which they oppose, they are more likely to exert pressure on North Korea. If Pyongyang sees that pressure - including a willingness to stop and inspect cargoes going into and out of North Korea -- our engagement will be more effective.

North Korea wants face to face talks; the administration says only in the context of the 6 Party Talks. That's like arguing over the shape of the table. We can and should do both.

I am pleased that North Korea apparently has agreed to return to the 6 Party Talks, but there is a lot of heavy lifting ahead, and talks may not succeed.

So what do we do in the meantime to protect ourselves? Some people argue the nuclear test is justification for deploying a national missile defense, never mind it does not yet work. Instead, we should focus on a sea-based defense against medium-range missiles that North Korea possesses and that could hit Japan.

North Korea is years away from a missile that could hit the U.S. Even if it gets one, it would be committing suicide by sending a missile our way with a return address. Deterrence still works against countries. But there is a danger North Korea could sell weapons of mass destruction to the highest bidder, including radical groups we can't deter because they have no people or territory to protect.

So, as we try to freeze and roll back North Korea's program, we also have to convince it not to do that. We can - with a program to develop more technology to detect the "signature" of a nuclear explosion and to make it clear we will hold North Korea responsible for any use of a nuclear weapon, by any group, that we trace to them. When Congress returns, I will propose legislation to do just that.

Iran

The basic approach I'm proposing for North Korea could also work with Iran. For five years, the administration's policy was paralyzed by a stand-off between those promoting regime change and those arguing for engagement. During that time, Iran crushed the reform movement and moved much closer to the bomb.

Now, the administration has finally gotten behind the European effort to engage Iran. That was the right thing to do, but it's not enough. We should talk directly to Tehran. Talking would not reward bad behavior or legitimize the government. It would allow us to make clear to Tehran - and to the Iranian people - what it can get for giving up its weapons program and what it risks if it does not. Going the extra diplomatic mile makes it more likely our allies will be with us for tougher action if diplomacy fails.

Iran is not a monolith. Our greatest allies against the theocracy are the Iranian people. They admire America. But we never get our side of the argument into Iran to the people who could insist, over time, that the government change course. They never hear our voice. America, whose greatest strengths are her ideas and ideals, has become afraid to talk. It's time to find our voice again.

The "Axis of Oil"

While the "Axis of Evil" has gotten more dangerous, this administration also has made us more vulnerable to an equally grave danger, what Michael Mandelbaum and others call the "Axis of Oil." It stretches from Russia to Iran, from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela, from Nigeria to Burma.

The recent drop in gas prices can't mask the fact that our oil dependence is threatening our national security and undermining the effectiveness of our foreign policy. Our oil dependence fuels the fundamentalism we're fighting. More than any factor, it limits our options and our influence around the world, because oil rich countries pursuing policies we oppose can stand up to us, while oil-dependent allies may be afraid to stand with us.

Think about what we are trying to achieve -- and then consider how the widespread dependence on oil is undermining our efforts.

China needs oil from Iran so they won't confront Tehran. The world is confronted with genocide again, this time in Darfur, but China turns a blind eye because it has invested billions in Sudan's oil.

Hugo Chavez has described Venezuela's oil as a "geopolitical weapon." It makes him believe he can displace Castro as the prime antagonist and anti-American troublemaker in the region. Last month, he stood before the United Nations, and called our President the devil and our country an empire bent on destroying the human species, yet we're still Venezuela's number one oil customer.

Ukraine's Orange Revolution is in jeopardy because Moscow is using energy as a weapon of extortion.

Nothing is more important to America's security than prevailing in the struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. But nowhere does oil have a more distorting effect than in the Islamic and Arab worlds, where its proceeds finance radical groups and prop up repressive regimes.

We're familiar with the facts: we have less than 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. We import about 12 of the 20 million barrels of oil a day we consume.

The market for oil is a world market. An expert explained it to me like this: all the world's oil is like the water in a swimming pool. If you add a little water the level of the whole pool doesn't rise much. You have to add a lot of water before the level goes up.

Even if we drilled all the oil reserves within the United States, we still would not be able to bring prices down. We just do not control enough of the world's oil. Add to that extraordinary growth of energy consumption in India and China.

China will put 120 million new vehicles on its roads by the end of the decade. This ensures demand will outpace the discovery of new supplies.

Competition for energy resources will increase. Right now excess capacity is so small the slightest disruption in production -- a terrorist act in Saudi Arabia, tough talk from Tehran, or even a terrible storm here in America can send gas prices soaring again.

Think about where our oil comes from: 35 percent from Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq - all of them potentially unreliable suppliers.

Venezuela has twice threatened to cut off oil shipments. In Nigeria, civil unrest has repeatedly disrupted production. Saudi Arabia is an oligarchy under siege. Iraq is in total disarray.

We did not go to war in Iraq for oil. But ensuring we do not leave behind a civil war that turns into a regional war is in part about oil. We are losing thousands of American lives, and spending hundreds of billions of dollars to avoid that.

Energy Security These days you hear much talk about energy independence. I think we should be talking about energy security. Independence is a worthy aspiration. But it will not happen any time soon and it will not solve our foreign policy problems.

Our independence is not China's independence. If China and India don't follow suit, our foreign policy will remain in a straitjacket. That is why we should focus America on energy security. We must encourage other major countries, like China and India, to do the same.

And we should be developing and exporting our clean technologies - like clean coal and biofuels - to these fast-growing economies.

We can do this. Right here in Iowa you're already doing it. We can avoid another oil crisis - and we don't need to wait for hydrogen cars or next generation technology to succeed. We have the technology to make these changes today.

We know where to start: expand alternative fuels and improve vehicle efficiency. Americans - Democrats and Republicans - want more fuel efficient cars and alternative fuels. We want to pull up to the gas pump in an American flex fuel car, and buy a gallon of biodiesel or E85 made in America, grown by farmers here in Iowa.

Four Steps To Energy Security So, I've proposed four steps we can take to reduce our dependence on oil now. This is not an entire energy policy. We need to keep all options on the table, including nuclear, wind, solar, and to invest in research and innovation much beyond what we've already done. But I am so tired, in Washington, of no one coming up with measures we can take that could have an immediate impact.

First, let's understand that famous expression from a popular movie - build it and they will come. Our fields of dreams are full of corn and switch grass. Build the biofuel infrastructure and people will use it.

In five years, half of all cars sold in this country should be able to run on homegrown biodiesel or E85. By 2016, every car - 100 percent of new cars sold in America - should be able to run on alternative fuel. We don' t need to redesign cars to make this switch. Five million American cars and trucks already run on E85. It costs manufacturers less than $100 per car.

Second, we need to make sure people can pull into their gas station, in their own neighborhood, and fill up their new tanks. We should require half - 50 percent - of all gas stations operated by major companies to have alternative fuel pumps. That would be about 42,000 gas stations nationwide. Today, just 700 have E85 pumps. Third, we must encourage the production of our home grown fuels. We now produce about 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol - that's just 3 percent of the fuel we use. Let's increase the renewable fuel standard: by 2010, let's produce at least 10 billion gallons; by 2020, 30 billion - that would be a quarter of our fuel grown by American farmers.

Fourth, we need to increase fuel economy standards. If every year we increase fuel efficiency for cars and SUVs by just one mile per gallon, we would reduce the oil used in the transportation sector by 10 percent. That's almost as much as we imported from Saudi Arabia last year.

Japan's fuel economy requirements are 45 miles per gallon, and headed higher. China is increasing its standards to 37 miles per gallon. Our corporate average fuel economy standard is stuck at 27.5 miles per gallon. We can do better, and Senator Harkin, I, and some others have proposed a new approach that sets standards based on the size and weight of a vehicle.

The Election Americans get this. They understand both the "Axis of Oil " and "Axis of Evil." They know our dependence on foreign oil undermines our security. And they don't like the war we're in. The American people - they want something different.

In my view, the election in one week is a referendum on our Iraq policy. Another war-time President, facing a divided nation after he was re-elected in 1864, said: "the most reliable indication of public purpose in this country is derived through our popular elections."

Next week, when Americans decide our public purpose, they know there are no easy answers. There were none for Lincoln.

But they also know with the right leadership, America will prevail - she always has.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Salvaging American Interests in a United Iraq

Speech by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. to the Council on Foreign Relations

Five months ago, Les Gelb and I laid out a detailed plan to keep Iraq together, protect America's interests and bring our troops home.

Our plan generated a much-needed debate about alternatives beyond the Bush Administration's "stay the course" rhetoric and those calling for an immediate exit.

Many experts here and in Iraq embraced our ideas. Others raised legitimate concerns. Still others mischaracterized or misunderstood our plan, calling it a "partition," when in fact it is the opposite.

Today, I'd like to explain in more detail what the plan does - and what it does not do.

Iraq's Central Realities

In July, I was in Iraq with Senator Jack Reed. It was my seventh trip.

Our soldiers and diplomats are making real progress, under the most difficult conditions.

But that progress is prisoner to the terrible violence raging around them. Its main driver is sectarianism.

In fact, the central reality in Iraq today is that violence between Shiites and Sunnis has surpassed the insurgency and foreign terrorists as the main security threat.

Sectarian militias are the main instruments of violence. Instead of disarming, they are growing, for one simple reason - young men have no jobs and the militias give them a steady paycheck.

Although half the Iraqi army divisions are capable of leading operations with American support, the nuts and bolts that any military needs to be self-sustaining are not there.

There are enormous problems with logistics, pay systems, transportation, procurement, and food delivery.

The police are in the most urgent need of reform. Sectarian forces riddle their ranks. The facilities protection service - 140,000 individuals assigned to specific ministries - is heavily involved in sectarian violence.

On the surface, Iraq has a unity government. But privately Sunnis and Kurds complain that they are not part of the decision-making.

Political competition among the parties that make up the Shi'a coalition prevents any genuine outreach to the Sunnis -- or any serious attempt to disarm the militias.

On the other side, too many Sunnis continue to aid and abet violence.

As a result, the political process is stalled and polarized.

While sectarianism is the major new reality in Iraq, the old reality - insurgents and foreign terrorists - is still very real.

Al-Qaeda is so firmly entrenched in al-Anbar that it has morphed into an indigenous jihadist threat.

As a result, Iraq risks becoming what it was not before the war: a haven for radical fundamentalists. It's what I call a Bush-fulfilling prophecy.

No number of troops can solve the sectarian problem, and we don't have enough troops to deal definitively with the jihadist threat.

Nothing makes the point more clearly than the fact we've just pulled troops from Anbar - where they were fighting insurgents and Iraqi Al Qaeda - and sent them to Baghdad, to secure neighborhood and stop sectarian violence.

Security operations in one neighborhood force the death squads and insurgents out.

But then they regroup in unsecured areas and return to the neighborhoods we've cleared when our troops move on to the next hot spot.

A Strategy for Success

So that's where we are. The more important question is this: where are we going?

Unfortunately, this administration does not have any discernible strategy for success in Iraq.

Its strategy is to prevent defeat and hand the problem off when it leaves office.

Meanwhile, more and more Americans, understandably frustrated, support an immediate withdrawal, even at the risk of trading a dictator for chaos and a civil war that could become a regional war.

Both are bad alternatives.

The five-point plan Les Gelb and I laid out offers a better way.

We start from the premise that the only way to break the vicious cycle of violence -- and to create the conditions for our armed forces to responsibly withdraw -- is to give Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds incentives to pursue their interests peacefully. This requires a sustainable political settlement.

To get there, we propose five steps:

First, the plan calls for maintaining a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites and Sunnis their own regions.

The central government would be left in charge of common interests, such as border security and the distribution of oil revenue.

While we've proposed three regions, the exact number should be left for Iraqis to decide.

What matters is the principle of federalism as a way to manage competing interests and visions while keeping Iraq together.

But federalism will only work if each group believes that it has an economically viable region to govern. The Sunnis are in a unique position - they don't have any oil. They fear being permanently cut off from Iraq's natural wealth. That's why some of their leaders continue to resist federalism.

So the second element of our plan is a guarantee that each group will get a proportionate share of Iraq's oil revenue. For the Sunnis, that means about 20%.

Why would Shi'a and Kurds agree to share oil revenues? Because it's better for their bottom line.

Without an oil sharing agreement, Iraq will not attract the massive investment it needs to increase production.

If all sides agree to a formula for the distribution of proceeds and a unified oil policy, investment will flow, production will rise and each group will get a piece of a much larger pie.

Oil can become the glue that binds the country -- peacefully.

The third piece of the plan is to improve the living conditions of the Iraqi people and create a significant number of jobs. That requires increasing, not ending, reconstruction aid. It also requires altering the way the money is spent, and tying it to the protection of minority rights.

The administration's early fixation on multinational mega projects has wasted tens of billions of dollars on mismanagement, corruption and security for the foreign reconstruction teams - with virtually no results to show in terms of electricity generation, sewage treatment, potable water or oil production.

Gen. Chiarelli, one of our finest military leaders, described to me a project to supply drinking water to much of Eastern Baghdad.

The massive plant is complete, but there's one problem: no pipes to bring the clean water to Iraqi homes. Gen. Chiarelli calls the plant the "world's largest drinking fountain."

That would be funny if these failures - and their implications - were not so serious… if they had not literally fed the frustration and violence.

This incompetence on reconstruction makes more aid a tough sell. But we must ramp up and revamp our reconstruction program in concert with others, not wind it down.

To fund this effort, we should insist that our Gulf state allies - who have reaped huge oil profits - step up and put up.

Fourth, the plan calls for an international conference that would produce a regional nonaggression pact and create a Contact Group to enforce regional commitments.

There can be no lasting solution inside Iraq unless its neighbors use their influence with each faction to promote stability.

Most of Iraq's neighbors don't want to do us any favors. But being drawn into a civil war is in none of their interests, not even Iran's or Syria's.

Even if a Contact Group can't prevent a civil war, the more we can restrain the interventionist tendencies of Iraq's neighbors, the greater the odds that violence can be confined within Iraq's borders and a regional conflagration prevented.

Fifth and finally, under the plan we would begin the phased redeployment of U.S. troops this year and withdraw most of them by the end of 2007.

We would maintain a small follow-on force to keep the neighbors honest, strike any concentration of terrorists, and train the security forces.

In the meantime, U.S. troops would concentrate on securing sectarian fault lines.

What Our Plan Is - And What it Isn't

I said at the outset that some critics have mischaracterized or misunderstood parts of our plan. So let me conclude by telling you what the plan is - and what it is not.

Our plan is consistent with Iraq's constitution, which already provides for Iraq's provinces to form regions jointly or individually, with their own security forces and control over most day-to-day issues.

Our plan is the only idea on the table for dealing with the militias, which are likely to retreat to their respective regions instead of continuing to engage in acts of sectarian violence.

Our plan is consistent with a strong central government that has clearly defined responsibilities. Indeed, it provides an agenda for that government, whose mere existence will not end sectarian violence.

Our plan is not partition -- in fact, it may be the only way to prevent violent partition and preserve a unified Iraq.

To be sure, the plan presents real challenges, especially with regard to large cities with mixed populations.

We would maintain Baghdad as a federal city, belonging to no one region, as stipulated in the Constitution.

And we would require international peacekeepers there and for other mixed cities to support local security forces and further protect minorities.

For now, the participation of many other countries in a peacekeeping force is a non-starter.

But a political settlement, a regional conference, and a Contact Group to demonstrate international resolve could change their calculus and willingness to participate.

The example of Bosnia is illustrative, if not totally analogous.

Ten years ago, Bosnia was being torn apart by ethnic cleansing.

The United States stepped in decisively with the Dayton Accords to keep the country whole by, paradoxically, dividing it into ethnic federations.

We even allowed Muslims, Croats and Serbs to retain separate armies.

With the help of U.S. and European peacekeepers, Bosnians have lived a decade in peace. Now they are strengthening their central government and disbanding their separate armies.

At best, the course we're on in Iraq has no end in sight.

At worst, it leads to a terrible civil war that turns into a regional war… and leaves a new haven for fundamentalist terror in the heart of the Middle East.

This plan offers a way to bring our troops home, protect our security interests and preserve Iraq as a unified country.

To those who reject this plan out of hand, I have one simple question: What is your alternative?

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Speech At the National Press Club

Five years ago, on September 10th, 2001, standing at this podium, I argued against this administration's fixation on national missile defense. I said: "We will have diverted all that money to address the least likely threat while the real threats come into this country in the hold of a ship, or the belly of a plane, or are smuggled into a city in the middle of the night in a vial in a backpack."

I wasn't clairvoyant. I was making a point that was valid then and remains valid today: when it comes to America's national security, this administration has the wrong premises and the wrong priorities.

The President is right, as he put it this week: we're "a nation at war." That makes it all the more incomprehensible that, five years after 9/11, he has failed to mobilize Americans for the struggle. There is no national energy policy, no national service, no real sacrifice except from our soldiers and their families. Instead, he gave us a massive tax cut for the most fortunate among us. Given the opportunity to unite Americans and the world, he has divided both.

These failures flow from a dangerous combination of ideology and incompetence and a profound confusion about whom we're fighting. The President continues to talk about "the war on terror." That is simply wrong. Terrorism is a means, not an end, and very different groups and countries are using it toward very different goals. If we can't even identify the enemy or describe the war we're fighting, it's difficult to see how we will win.

In fact, it's a war with many fronts. The most urgent is the intersection of the world's most radical groups -- like Al Qaeda and the freelancers it has inspired -- with the world's most lethal weapons.

But we also must confront groups that use terror not to target us directly, but to advance their own nationalistic causes. We must deal with outlaw states that support them and otherwise flout the rules. We must face a growing civil war in Iraq and a renewed war for Afghanistan. We must help resolve a generational war between Arabs and Israelis. And we must engage in a long-term war of ideas for the hearts and minds of tens of millions of Muslims.

These fronts are connected. But this administration has made the profound mistake of conflating them under one label, and arguing that success on one front ensures victory on all the others. It has answered each of these distinct challenges with the same limited responses: military force and regime change.

And it has picked the wrong fights at the wrong times: failing to finish the job in Afghanistan, which the world agreed was the central front in the war on radical fundamentalism, and instead rushing to war in Iraq, which was not a central front. As a result, this administration, which is full of patriotic people, has dug America into a very deep hole -- with very few friends to help us out.

* * *

To those who doubt this harsh verdict, I say, ask yourself a simple question: are we safer today than we were five years ago? To those who share my assessment, join me in answering another question: what do we have to do so five years from now, we are safer than today?

Let me start with the first question: are we safer?

Maybe the best answer is that this week the administration felt compelled to issue a new strategy to fight terror, which strongly suggests the old one was not working.

The facts speak for themselves. After 9/11, the administration urged we act against a dangerous axis of evil in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Today, each member poses an even greater threat.

In Iraq, a dictator is gone, and that's good. But we may be on the verge of trading him for chaos and a haven for radicalism in the heart of the Middle East. Meanwhile, Iran is closer to the bomb and its reform movement is on the ropes. And North Korea has four hundred percent more fissile material.

After 9/11, the President made the case that democracy is an antidote to extremism. He was right. But today, because this administration equated democracy with elections and failed to build democratic institutions and bolster moderates, Islamist groups that were already militarized have now been legitimized: Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian territories and religious parties in Iraq.

Five years ago, President Bush pledged to capture Osama bin Laden. But then he redirected our military away from Afghanistan and toward Iraq. Today, bin Laden remains at large, and his videotaped messages inspire others to act.

Remember when Secretary Rumsfeld asked in a famous memo if we were capturing more terrorists than our enemies were recruiting, and if we had a plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The answers are: no, we aren't, and no we don't. The fact is, since 9/11, terrorist attacks around the world have nearly quadrupled.

Thankfully, there have been no attacks on our soil since 9/11. But we should not take false comfort from that fact. This a patient enemy. Just last month, the British and Pakistani police prevented a new attack on our planes and people. That plot burst this administration's rhetorical bubble that 'we're fighting them over there, so we don't have to fight them here.'

After 9/11, this Administration grudgingly embraced the need to protect America here at home. Today, we know from Katrina and the repeated warnings of the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission that we are still not prepared, we are still not protected.

So, are we safer than we were five years ago? The American people will decide. They will look at whether the streets are more or less dangerous, at whether our enemies are more or less lethal, and at whether we have the world's respect we had when the towers came down.

* * *

That brings me to the second question: what should we do - what would I do - to make America safer in five years?

I would start with Iraq, for no strategy to make America safer can succeed unless we first solve Iraq. Iraq has already cost us dearly in lives lost and money spent. Because our forces are tied down, our ability to act against our enemies is limited -- and they know it. Because we hyped the intelligence before going in, our ability to convince allies -- and the American people --- of new dangers has been diminished. Because we diverted our energy and resources from Afghanistan, it is on the verge of failure.

This administration has no strategy for success in Iraq. It has a strategy to prevent defeat and pass the problem along to the next President. The overwhelming reality in Iraq is a sectarian cycle of revenge. Throwing more troops at Baghdad won't fix this mess. We need a political settlement that allows each group to pursue its interests peacefully.

I've offered just such a plan, not unlike what we did in Bosnia. It would keep Iraq together by providing each group breathing room in their own regions, getting Sunni buy-in by giving them a piece of the oil revenues, creating a major jobs and reconstruction program to deny the militia new recruits, and bringing in Iraq's neighbors to support the political process. If we do all that, we have a chance to bring most of our troops home by the end of 2007, without leaving chaos behind.

Getting Iraq right won't guarantee success on those other fronts we're fighting. But it will give us much more freedom, flexibility, and credibility to make the profound changes to our national security strategy these complex threats demand.

And it will make it easier to put our focus back on other profoundly important developments that will shape this century, like the developing roles of China, India, and Russia as major powers; the shortage of reliable sources of energy; and the growing impact of climate change.

* * *

Today, I am announcing a four-part plan to move America toward greater security. It flows from my conviction that protecting our homeland requires a dramatic reordering of our priorities; that real security comes from prevention, not preemption; that working with strong partners is better than alienating them; and that advancing democracy is about more than elections.

And my plan starts from the premise it is time for America to recapture the totality of our strength -- our military, economic, and diplomatic might -- and the power of our ideas and ideals. That is what won the Cold War. That is what has gotten lost these past five years.

First, to protect us at home, we should dramatically reorder our priorities. We should start by immediately implementing the recommendations made by the 9/11 Commission.

Last December, the Commission assessed the Administration's progress in implementing their recommendations, and they got a report card riddled with Ds and Fs. Just 5 percent of cargo containers are adequately screened at our ports, and we don't screen air cargo. Our first responders still cannot talk to one another. Since 9/11 this administration has cut more than $2 billion in guaranteed federal assistance for local law enforcement.

Why? Because the Administration's view is that if we cannot protect everything, we should only do the minimum necessary to give the appearance of security. Their only line of defense is a questionable eavesdropping program that we should do under the law, not around it. And they have taken the view that private industry can adequately determine and implement security measures.

I totally disagree. With strong federal leadership and investment we can screen 100 percent of cargo containers at ports, protect our chemical facilities and eliminate some of the most dangerous chemicals with safer alternatives, better secure our mass transit systems, ensure the security of our nuclear plants, develop screening technologies that better detect liquid explosives, and secure our borders.

I would hire 1,000 more FBI agents and 50,000 more cops across the country. We must bring local law enforcement in as equal partners. We should require the networks to turn over critical communications spectrum allocations immediately, and help local agencies purchase communications equipment, so first responders can talk to one another.

In our big cities we should develop locally based counter-terrorism units to stop home-grown plots. Today, only New York City has a sufficient unit.

For those who say we cannot pay for it, that's malarkey. For $50 billion -- $10 billion per year over the next five years -- we can make these changes. It's all about priorities.

The Bush tax cuts for millionaires exceed $60 billion this year alone. I am proposing we take back some of the tax cuts for people who make over a million dollars a year. If we put just $10 billion a year of this money into a Homeland Security Trust Fund we could implement all of these measures. I did this with the Violent Crime Reduction Trust Fund, and it put more than 100,000 cops on the street to make our streets safer.

Wealthy Americans are just as patriotic as poor Americans - we just haven't asked anything of them.

Second, we must defuse threats to America's security before they are on the verge of exploding by switching from military preemption to a comprehensive prevention strategy.

Military preemption has long been -- and must remain -- an option. It may be our only choice against a terrorist who has no territory or people to defend, and who is amassing hidden weapons instead of massing visible armies. But turning preemption into a one-size fits all doctrine was a profound mistake based on a faulty premise.

By using America's military might, the administration thought we would demonstrate our resolve and convince our enemies to give in to our will -- with or without war. In fact, this preemption doctrine is making the world even less secure for America.

It says to Iran and North Korea their best insurance policy against regime-change is to acquire weapons of mass destruction as quickly as possible. It says to fault line states like India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, Russia and Chechnya, Israel and the Arab states that it is alright to use force first and ask questions later. It requires a standard of proof for intelligence that may be impossible to meet unless we cherry pick the facts, as we did before we went into Iraq. And it has had the dire consequence of undermining our credibility around the world.

There is a better path -- a comprehensive prevention strategy that would: secure loose weapons around the world, build the capacity of our partners to detect dangerous materials and disrupt terror networks, set new standards to seize suspect cargoes, and reform the entire non-proliferation system.

Third, instead of acting alone, we must build effective alliances and international organizations. This administration starts from the premise that because America's military might is so much greater than anyone else's, anything that could get in the way of using that might must be ignored.

I start from a different premise. Most of the threats we face - radical fundamentalism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, the spread of infectious disease - have no respect for borders. Not one can be met solely with force.

Our main enemy is a network of fundamentalist groups that could tap into a spreading supply of dangerous weapons. The best response to a network of terror is to build a network of our own, a network of like-minded countries that pools resources, information, ideas, and power. That's what stopped the Heathrow plot. Taking on the radical fundamentalists alone isn't necessary, it isn't smart, and it won't succeed.

As we live by the rules, we must also insist the rules are enforced. That could have been the basis for a common approach to Iraq. It can still be the foundation for stopping Iran and North Korea from pursuing dangerous nuclear weapons programs. The United States should be leading others to a new understanding of state responsibility, including when using force may be necessary.

Civilized societies have a responsibility to protect innocents and a duty to prevent catastrophes. That's why force was necessary in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and why it is now necessary in Darfur. But by hyping the intelligence about Iraq and failing to level with the American people this administration has soured the American people on the use of power and hamstrung the next President's ability to use it wisely.

We risk replacing a "Vietnam syndrome" with an "Iraq complex". That's a legacy that could haunt America for decades.

Fourth and finally, we must advance freedom and progress by developing democratic institutions in the Middle East and beyond. We must prove to millions of people who are disenfranchised politically and economically that we offer hope, while the radical fundamentalists offer only hatred.

Again, this Administration starts from fundamentally flawed premises. They believe democracy can be imposed by force from the outside. It cannot. They think democracy and elections are synonymous. They're not. Elections are necessary, but not sufficient.

We must put much more emphasis on building the institutions of democracy: political parties, an independent media and judicial system, effective government, non-governmental organizations, and labor unions.

We must help bolster failing states -- which can become havens for terror -- by building schools and training teachers, opening closed economies, empowering women, relieving more debt, and redirecting the focus of international institutions.

That's what we should have done in the Palestinian Authority, to support Abu Mazen against Hamas. That's what we should have done in Lebanon after Syria left, to support its government against Hezbollah. But we did not. The net effect: extremist groups gain stature and legitimacy, while we remain silent, failing to make our case to a larger Muslim world.

We must re-invigorate our public diplomacy to explain our policies to the world. One example is Iran. Our greatest allies against the theocracy in Tehran are the Iranian people. They admire America. But we never get our side of the argument into Iran to the people who could insist that the government change course. They never hear our voice. America, whose greatest strengths are her ideas and ideals, has become afraid to talk.

* * *

If we do all this, if we recapture the totality of our strength, my students here with me today from Delaware will read about this period as one chapter in our nation's history, not the final chapter.

Our enemies are not 10 feet tall. We will defeat the radical fundamentalists the same way my parents' generation defeated communism and fascism. We'll match military force with a commitment to project our values to the world.

Bin Laden and his ilk are beyond reason. We must defeat them. But millions of Muslims are open to our ideas and ideals. We must reach them. If we do, teenagers from Baghdad to Beirut, and from Jedda to Jakarta, will pick the promise of a better life under freedom, tolerance, and respect over the hopelessness of radical fundamentalism.

Ladies and gentlemen, we can do much better. The American people are full of grit and optimism. They know we need a new approach. They know there are no easy answers, they know it. And they know with the right leadership, America will prevail -- as we always have.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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A Speech by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

20/20 Vision's National Summit on Energy Security

Washington, D.C.

Four years ago, the Bush administration urged we act against a dangerous axis of evil in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Today, each member of the axis poses an even greater threat to our security than it did then.

In Iraq, a dictator is gone, and that's a good thing. But after visiting Iraq earlier this month, I am more convinced than ever we are on the verge of trading him for chaos.

Iran is defying the entire international community and its reform movement is on the ropes. And North Korea has increased its stockpile of fissile material by 400 percent and started testing missiles again.

While the axis of evil has gotten more dangerous, this administration also has made us more vulnerable to an equally grave danger, what Michael Mandelbaum has called the axis of oil. It stretches from Russia to Iran, from Saudi Arabia to Venezuela, from Nigeria to Burma.

Today, I will discuss what this means from a foreign policy perspective, because the widespread dependence on oil is tying our foreign policy in knots.

Then I will lay out four steps in the transportation sector that we can take immediately to set a course for a more secure energy future. I'm not suggesting these steps are the only changes we need. We'll need to increase conservation. And we need all options for electrical generation on the table - nuclear, wind, solar - and to invest in research and innovation.

To state the obvious, the Middle East is in turmoil. Oil is $75 a barrel. If we had an energy security policy it would give the President of the United States more flexibility to defuse this kind of crisis.

There is no question our oil dependence is threatening our national security. It helps fuel the fundamentalism we're fighting.

Our oil dependence limits our options and our influence around the world, because oil rich countries pursuing policies we oppose can stand up to us, while oil dependent allies may be afraid to stand with us.

Think about what we are trying to achieve around the world - and then consider how the widespread dependence on oil is undermining our efforts.

China needs oil from Iran so they won't confront Tehran.

Ukraine's Orange Revolution is in jeopardy because Moscow is using energy as a weapon of extortion.

Oil money makes Hugo Chavez believe he can take Fidel Castro's place as the prime anti-American trouble maker.

The world is confronted with genocide again, this time in Darfur, but China has threatened to veto U.S. sanctions against Sudan because it has oil.

Regressive regimes swimming in a sea of high priced oil from the Middle East, to Africa, to Central Asia, to Russia can resist the pressure to reform.

Nothing is more important to America's security than prevailing in the struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. But nowhere does oil have a more distorting effect than in the Islamic and Arab worlds, where its proceeds finance radical groups and prop up repressive regimes.

We're familiar with the facts: we have less than 2 percent of the world's oil reserves. We import about 12 of the 20 million barrels of oil a day we consume. We use the vast majority of that in the transportation sector.

Add to that extraordinary growth of energy consumption in India and China. In transportation alone, China will put 120 million new vehicles on its roads by the end of the decade. According to the experts, this ensures demand will outpace the discovery of new supplies.

Right now excess capacity is so small the slightest disruption in production -- a terrorist act in Saudi Arabia, tough talk from Tehran, or even a terrible storm here in America can send gas prices soaring.

Think about where our oil comes from: 35 percent from Venezuela, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq - all of them unstable nations.

Venezuela has twice threatened to cut off oil shipments. In Nigeria, civil unrest has repeatedly disrupted production. Saudi Arabia is an oligarchy under siege. Iraq is in total disarray. And America is held hostage.

Today, Americans are angry they're paying $3 a gallon at the pump, but that is not the real cost. What about the hidden costs?

What about the hidden military cost? Does anybody believe we would allocate a significant portion of our defense budget to CENTCOM, if not for our extraordinary dependence on oil?

Even before the Iraq war, we spent $50 billion a year to maintain our large military presence in the Gulf. Its primary purpose was to protect the free flow of oil that we buy.

To be clear, I'm not saying we attacked Iraq for oil. But ensuring we do not leave behind a civil war that turns into a regional war is in part about oil. We are losing thousands of American lives, and spending hundreds of billions of dollars to avoid that.

And there are other costs. What about the hidden economic costs? High oil prices are fueling inflation, just as our economy is slowing. We're at a tipping point, and our options are limited.

Our oil trade deficit - $250 billion last year - is headed to a new record. To finance it, we go into hock to China and other countries, increasing the global imbalances that make our economy more vulnerable.

High prices eat into family budgets, because most middle-class Americans don't have the luxury of driving less, buying a more efficient car, or moving closer to work.

And what about the hidden cost of climate change? The cars and trucks we drive dump more than 2 billion tons of greenhouse gases into our atmosphere every year.

Results are all around us: melting polar ice, increasing ocean temperatures, and stronger storms. Changing growing seasons, mass migrations, and conflicts over resources - they will be the foreign policy challenges of the future.

If we don't change our policy, oil will further empower the countries that produce it, restrict our options, and undermine our economic and physical security.

A lot of people are talking about energy independence. I think we should be talking about energy security. Independence is a worthy aspiration. But it will not solve our foreign policy problems. Our independence is not China's independence.

Even if we reduce our consumption, and become less sensitive to price shocks or pressure from the axis of oil, if China and India don't follow suit, our foreign policy will remain in a straitjacket. The market for oil is worldwide. If we still consumed the same amount, just reducing our imports won't affect the price. A disruption anywhere will spike prices everywhere.

That is why we should focus America on energy security. And we must encourage other major countries to do the same.

One place to start would be to bring India and China into the International Energy Agency. That would require them to develop strategic petroleum reserves and coordinate emergency response procedures with other countries. Senator Lugar and I have introduced legislation to accomplish this, and to promote other reforms.

We need to export our clean technologies - like nuclear, clean coal, and biofuels - to the fast-growing economies of the developing world. Our energy policy and our response to global warming demand it.

But let's get back to the United States. Where we can have the most impact is stopping our demand for oil from increasing as our economy grows.

If we do, we won't run our economy off the rails if prices go up because a terrorist attack on a Saudi refinery, or because we need to sanction Iran.

We can do this. We can absolutely do this. We can avoid another oil crisis - and we don't need to wait for hydrogen cars or next generation technology to succeed. We have the technology to make these changes today.

We know where to start: expand alternative fuels and improve vehicle efficiency. Americans - Democrats and Republicans - want more fuel efficient cars and alternative fuels.

We want to pull up to the gas pump in an American flex fuel car, and buy a gallon of biodiesel or E85 made in America, by American farmers.

So, I propose four steps we can take immediately to reduce our dependence on oil.

First, let's understand that famous expression from a popular movie - build it and they will come. The era of American alternative cars is beginning. Our fields of dreams are full of corn and switch grass.

In five years, half of all cars sold in this country should be able to run on homegrown biodiesel or E85 -- a blend that is 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline.

By 2016, every car - 100 percent of new cars sold in America - should be able to run on alternative fuel. We don' t need to redesign cars to make this switch. Five million American million cars and trucks already run on E85. It costs manufacturers less than $100.

Second, we need to make sure people driving these cars can pull into their gas station, in their own neighborhood and fill up their tanks.

We should require half - 50 percent - of all gas stations operated by major companies to have alternative fuel pumps. That would be about 42,000 gas stations nationwide. Today, just 700 have E85 pumps. Gas stations of the future will offer a wider selection of fuel - ethanol, biodiesel, and gasoline.

Third, we must encourage the production of our home grown fuels. We now produce about 4.5 billion gallons of ethanol - that's just 3 percent of the fuel we use.

By 2010, let's produce at least 10 billion gallons. By 2020, 30 billion - that would be about 25 percent of the fuel we consume. A quarter of our fuel would be grown by American farmers.

We must increase the use of corn ethanol today to speed development of cellulosic ethanol tomorrow. Cellulosic is made from more plentiful and less energy intensive feedstocks, like alfalfa, prairie grass, and wood chips.

In order to do this we must ensure the price of alternative fuels remains competitive so investors are willing to take risks to bring new technologies to market.

The single biggest risk the alternative fuel industry faces isn't technological hurdles. It is making sure demand is there so investment will follow.

Skeptics will tell you we don't have enough land to support ethanol production. They will argue production costs of ethanol are too high, and it takes too much energy to produce it.

That's malarkey. We can produce 12 billion gallons of ethanol from corn without impacting the food supply. Once production of biomass based ethanol comes on-line -- we can grow what we need to meet most of our gasoline needs here on American farms. Every time we have asked American farmers to produce more, they've always risen to the occasion. If we ask them, they will again.

Experts tell me that we can increase the number of gallons of ethanol per acre in the U.S. by a factor of 10 without new technology breakthroughs.

I want to make it clear - I don't want ethanol producers undercut by anti-competitive practices of oil companies. At $75 a barrel, it's not a problem.

One of the ways we can help the market get off the ground is to require the federal government to buy vehicles that run on alternative fuels. And states could do the same. It's already happening in Delaware. We should be prepared to support the price of ethanol, until the industry is on its own feet.

Fourth, we need to increase fuel economy standards. If every year we increase fuel efficiency by one mile per gallon it saves us 69 billion gallons of gas in 10 years.

We haven't raised standards for cars in 20 years. Not since Ronald Reagan was President. Automotive technology has advanced in leaps and bounds since then. But most of that progress has gone toward making our vehicles bigger and faster. It is time we harness the advances we already made and encourage new ones. As of now we are stuck in the same old debate: Should we raise fuel economy requirements? Can we do so without jeopardizing jobs? Who should decide how much to raise them and by when?

I am not impressed by the resolve of our domestic auto industry in looking beyond short-term interests. With my colleagues on the Foreign Relations Committee, Senators Lugar, Obama, and Coleman, along with Senators Bingaman, Harkin, and Smith, I come at this issue from a new direction.

We need a new system that is flexible and protects hard-working American auto workers. Instead of giving a fleet-wide average, we look at it car by car.

We give the National Transportation Safety Administration broad authority to reform the CAFE system, but require predictable progress on fuel efficiency.

We do that by establishing aggressive targets that increase efficiency 4 percent -- roughly one mile per gallon a year.

If these targets can't be reached because it is not economically or technically feasible, or it compromises overall fleet safety, NHTSA can reduce the rate of improvement.

Targets will be set for individual vehicles based on attributes such as size and weight. That means manufacturers won't have to shift to small cars to meet their efficiency targets. And the distinction between cars and trucks will be eliminated. We can't wait another 20 years for Congress to agree on a new CAFÉ number.

And, in my view, this will help keep jobs here. We know American car makers lose jobs when the price of oil goes up. If the price of gas stays high, better fuel economy would mean more sales, and more jobs. Our legislation gives financial incentives to domestic manufacturers that invest in the production of clean and efficient cars.

Look at the competition. Japan's requirements are 45 miles per gallon, and headed higher. China is increasing its standards to 37 miles per gallon. Our standard is stuck at 27.5 miles per gallon.

We can't afford to lag behind other countries. We absolutely have to build more fuel efficient cars.

These four steps are how we'll begin the transition to alternative fuel. One hundred percent of cars running on alternative fuels, 50 percent of major gas stations selling it, at least 25 percent of what we consume being farm-grown fuel, and getting cars one mile more efficient every year.

They are the steps that would give the President of the United States the ability to make this country more energy secure.

We need more American fuel not from the north slope of Alaska but from the prairies of Kansas and the corn fields of Indiana.

I'd rather American gas dollars go to American farmers and to revitalize our rural communities. Putting money in their pockets could have a dramatic impact, between a dying rural America, and returning rural America.

Buying fuel from Midwest farmers, instead of Mid-east oligarchs could have a lasting impact on the environment. Cars powered by biomass ethanol emit well under one percent of the carbon dioxide emitted by cars powered by oil.

And each of us, as consumers, must become part of the solution - whether that's choosing to fill up with E85 or buying more energy efficient light-bulbs.

If we want to regain control of our national security, we must, must deal with our dependence on foreign oil. If it was not clear before, it is now. Domestic energy policy is at the center of our foreign policy.

In 1776, Thomas Paine taught us we can begin the world over again. It is time we try again.

It's time we start developing new priorities for our country.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Syracuse University, College of Law, Commencement Address

A Speech by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Syracuse University, College of Law - Syracuse, New York - May 21, 2006

Mr. President, that has a nice ring to it. Chancellor Cantor, I travel around the country and Syracuse University is recognized as having one of the three or four most dynamic chancellors and leaders of any university. Every time I speak to Dean Arterian she is in some other part of the country recruiting some of the best law students to come here.

I'm often asked as a United States Senator by parents, as if I would know: "My child has gotten into this university or that university. Where should she go?" I say they should go to that university they can get into now and are quite certain 10 years from now they'd never be admitted. That's the place they should go. Thank you for allowing that to be my story.

Don MacNaughton, a classmate of mine and a great benefactor, he and his family, of this law school. Both of our degrees are looking much better every single solitary year.

Members of the faculty, particularly two who are still here who taught me, Professor Donnelly, who I admire greatly, and Professor Maroney, who I love because he is the only guy who ever gave me an A. I want to thank him very, very, very much. I admire Professor Donnelly more because he obviously was smarter. He did not give me an A.

Class of 2006, I want to thank you. I don't know if the Dean was lying, not that she ever would, or any Dean would, but she said I was your choice. I am flattered. I appreciate this for a reason you will not fully understand.

My dream out of high school was to play professional football. When Don MacNaughton and I graduated, we graduated on this field, before it became a dome. The speaker stood on the 50 yard line -- literally, not figuratively. Thank you for getting me into the end zone, finally. I have dreamed of this moment -- to be like Ernie Davis, Heisman Trophy Winner, 1961. I noticed the Syracuse University graduation ceremony has a musical theme this year. The undergraduates had Billy Joel, you have a saxophone player, but I'm not singing no matter what you ask me to do. There's only a few things I've learned to do and not do, and the things I've learned not to do have held me in better stead than the things I've learned to do.

Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for inviting me to once again join the ranks of the thousands of forgotten commencement speakers. My wife is a professor at a community college and she came home, this is not a joke, and I said how was the speaker at her commencement because she attends all the commencements like the faculty here. She said, "he was great." I asked: "was he inspiring?" She said "no, he was 12 minutes." I don't know whether I'll make that.

There is an old expression: "adversity introduces a man to himself." I would like to add that only those who know themselves are really able to know others. Only those who come to know themselves are really able to make any real difference.

Last year, Steve Jobs gave a commencement address telling true personal stories to illustrate that point, and I want to try to do the same talking about pages in my life that have taught me lessons. I hope they'll teach you that the things you are burdened by, or that you don't expect, are likely to provide the greatest opportunity for you to succeed.

My mom, God love her, has an expression: "Joe, out of everything bad something good will come, if you look hard enough for it."

One of those pages in my life I wrote a long time ago. I was a little kid who used to stutter very, very badly. Quite frankly, I thought it was the end of the world. Every single thing I wanted to do was blocked because I stuttered.

For anyone who stutters, everyone else thinks you are not very bright. It's humiliating, it's almost totally debilitating. When you talk like that not only does your entire insides churn, but you feel rage, anger, and humiliation. You can't even get to the point of when you're a kid asking a lovely girl to go to the prom with you. I stuttered, and I thought that might be my epitaph.

Today, my colleagues kid me about quoting poetry so often, and Emerson so extemporaneously. They think it somehow came from my ardent study. It was born out of fear.

It was born out of standing in front of a mirror in my bedroom watching so that I would not have the muscles in my face contort quoting Emerson repeatedly: "Meek young men grow up in libraries," or "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds, adored by little statesmen and philosophers and divines." Or I would quote Yeats, teaching me how to relax my face and gain enough confidence to be able to speak.

It also made me better able to understand what the other guy is thinking. As a paper boy in grade school and high school, I had to go collect on Saturday mornings for the newspaper. It was the most frightening time of my week because I had to knock on every door, and I had to ask for them to pay the weekly cost of the paper.

In order to deal with it, I learned to anticipate what I would be asked by who ever answered the door. So I would practice what I was going to say as I walked up the sidewalk.

My next door neighbor was a bachelor. He loved the Yankees. I memorized the box score every Saturday morning before I went to his door because I knew he'd ask me. I knew I'd have something to say without making a fool of myself.

No one could have told me then when I was 13 or 15 years old that my greatest liability would turn out to be one of my greatest assets in my chosen profession.

Who would have ever thought in my neighborhood that little Joey Biden would stand before a group of distinguished faculty members, and families, and graduates of a great law school and have them all wondering when is this guy going to stop talking, rather than when is he going to talk? What also came out of it was a genuine appreciation for how other people feel when they are burdened by something that embarrasses them. It taught me empathy, a characteristic that quite frankly, in the practice of law, allowed me to stand before juries and understand how they felt. I was better able to read the feeling of anger or sympathy they had in their faces. That was something I never learned in law school, and could have never learned by anything other than experience.

To this day, I find myself enraged when other people abuse power. To this day, I find it difficult to be silent when others who are burdened feel totally isolated.

My mother has an expression. She says, "God sends no man or woman a cross that they cannot bear." One day if you haven't already, you will learn in your own lives what I've learned in mine -- the wisdom of those words.

A second page of my life is how a guy with bad marks at Syracuse University Law School could be elected to the United States Senate at age 29.

After I graduated from this law school, I took the DC bar and did not pass it. That put the fear of God in me, to the point that for the first time in my life I studied. I studied hard. And I passed the Delaware bar given a few months later.

It was a difficult time in our nation. That was the year Dr. King was murdered, there were riots in Wilmington, Delaware, and part of the city was burned down.

The Governor was a Southern Democrat. My state was a slave state. My state was segregated by law. My state has a shameful history when it comes to civil rights. And I, as a young man having passed the bar, found myself in a situation where I joined a group of people who were trying to change the Democratic party to a more civil rights party.

Matter of fact, that year I supported a Republican candidate for Governor because the Democratic party was a Southern Democratic party. Matter of fact, that man, whose name is Russell Peterson, is now a Democrat. And he won that election.

It did an interesting thing for me. All those things you read about how Joe Biden always knew he was going to be a United States Senator -- I didn't even intend on getting involved. But I joined this group after I passed the bar. They asked me would I stand for a county council election in a Republican district. I did not want to run for office, but I ran to show the flag. And I won.

I won in a year that no other Democrat in a contested seat won in my state. As a consequence, I was appointed to a commission set up to revive the Democratic party. As a consequence of that, I got to meet every single activist Democrat.

I was elected to a four-year term, but the Republicans thought I might run someday for a statewide office, so they reapportioned me to a two-year term in a district I could not win. All of a sudden, the kid who had no intention of running for the United States Senate, none, zero, found himself in the position where he was a candidate for the United States Senate. Having been exposed to so much in so little time, I had the confidence to know what I was about to do. My point is once you make a decision, and you take a risk, and I hope you take many, it has an interesting impact on you. You learn, as you have in law school, to have more confidence in yourself.

Up until this point in your life you have not had to make that many decisions. I don't think you have to go wandering around looking for impossible adventures, or challenges you neither need nor want, because they will fall in your lap. Crises will happen to you. They happen.

All of a sudden you will be in charge of figuring out how to make the most of something you desperately wanted to avoid. You will be accountable, and you will have to fight like you've never fought before.

Many of you will be knocked down. My father, God rest his soul, said "Success is not measured by whether you are knocked down, everyone is. It is measured by how rapidly you get up." This is how success is determined. This is how dreams are made.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the history of the journey of this nation. Every single time America has been faced with a genuine crisis is when we have made the greatest strides toward our future.

Every single time great things have happened, they have been on the heels of tragedy. It's what separates America. We have taken the unexpected, and made our country stronger, more vibrant, and more prosperous.

I'm about, as all of you are, to write another page in my life. You will start with a very firm foundation. You will have graduated from a great law school that has equipped you with all the fundamentals of the law you need. For me it will not be the law, it is foreign policy, national security, and terrorism.

We both start equipped. But like you, it's not the substance of knowledge that I possess or you possess today that's going to determine if we succeed. Although the substance of knowledge is necessary, it is not sufficient.

It's the knowledge that you will have gained about yourself, the insights you will have gained about others, that are going to determine whether or not you meet and accomplish your aspirations.

I've learned so much more about myself and other people from dealing with the burdens and unexpected obstacles than from any of the benefits or talents God may have blessed me with. I've learned first-hand how generous and thoughtful people can be.

People I never knew in my life rallied around me when I lost my family. I learned about how dedicated and selfless people who I didn't have a particularly high regard for were when I saw first-hand the heroic efforts of first responders and doctors and nurses who saved my life. I learned how genuinely noble people in the medical profession are.

My dad had another expression, he would say, "If it doesn't kill you, it will make you stronger." The press sometimes asks me why after all these years I can be so optimistic in light of all that's going on?

The answer is simple and sincere. I'm optimistic because I know the American people. I'm optimistic because I know, like you do, thousands of ordinary Americans faced with burdens that would make all of us bend who get up every single day and put one foot in front of the other and make it work.

I've learned how genuinely noble so many people are. I am absolutely confident from my experience about my own judgment. I'm less fearful about the risks that need to be taken. I am much less cynical now, then when I graduated, about the people I serve.

I'm much more certain about the generosity, determination, and capabilities of our fellow Americans. There are people who are less educated than we are, and sometimes we look down on them. But they're smarter, they're tougher and more honorable than anybody gives them credit for.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think you're ready to tackle, as I pray to God you are, every single problem we face and turn it into an opportunity.

There's no reason why we cannot turn this energy crisis into an energy opportunity. There's no reason why we cannot deal with global warming. There's no reason why we cannot deal with terrorism. There's no reason -- except for the lack of a leader, who is prepared to challenge them. History has been written this way by every generation before us.

Let me conclude by telling you why else I know your generation is ready to change things. Everybody has an image of 9/11, whether it is airplanes knifing through the Trade Towers, the Pentagon aflame, or the plane going down in western Pennsylvania.

My image is a broadcast showing young people lined up single file, block, upon block, upon block, upon block, upon block in New York City -- standing, waiting to give blood after they were told no more blood was needed. They stood there. It was a silent scream by an entire generation saying let me help mend this nation's broken heart.

Imagine, if on 9/12, Franklin Roosevelt, or John Kennedy, or even Ronald Reagan had been President of the United States. I expect you would have heard something like, "my fellow Americans we've just had a terrible tragedy. Three thousand of our fellow citizens have been murdered. Our economy is in shambles. But like every generation before us, we will overcome this. And I'm making two announcements today. I'm announcing that I will call a meeting of the world's major powers to meet in Brussels on October the 1st to begin to plan jointly the demise of the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. And I'm going to the United States Congress in two weeks and introducing an energy bill that will free us from the iron grip of Middle East oil, and I expect your support"

Who would have said no?

The country is ready. Pain has always resulted in significant gain in this great country of ours.

Ladies and gentlemen, I think the Irish poet Seamus Heaney captured what lives in the heart of the vast majority of Americans. He wrote the "Cure at Troy." There is a stanza in that poem, "History says don't hope on this side of the grave; but, then, once in a lifetime the longed for tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme."

It always rises up in face of big challenges. We have a chance, and you have the means to help this country make hope and history rhyme.

But first of all you've got to know yourself. I wish you great luck on that journey of knowing yourself, because if you find out with certainty who you are, I have absolute certainty you can turn all your talent into making us what we should be.

Thank you very, very much.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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The Way Forward in Iraq: Avoiding Partition, Preserving Unity, Protecting America's Interests

A Speech by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

World Affairs Council of Philadelphia - Philadelphia, PA - May 1, 2005

It's an honor to be back at the Philadelphia World Affairs Council.

First, let me apologize to those of you confused by the schedule. It shows me speaking this afternoon. Instead, you get me to start your day. Look at it this way: things can only get better. And they will, because I understand that Vice President Cheney and Secretary Kissinger will be here for lunch.

I'd like to focus on an issue that weighs heavily on our national consciousness - Iraq.

I start from this hard truth: President Bush does not have a strategy for victory in Iraq. His strategy is to prevent defeat and to hand the problem off to his successor. Meanwhile, the frustration of Americans is mounting so fast that Congress might end up mandating a rapid withdrawal, even at the risk of trading a dictator for chaos, and a civil war that could become a regional war.

Both are bad alternatives.

Today, I will argue for a third way that can bring our troops home, protect our fundamental security interests, and preserve Iraq as a unified country.

I developed this plan with Les Gelb, the president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. It recognizes this new, central reality in Iraq: a rising tide of sectarian violence is the biggest threat to Iraq's future and to America's interests. It is premised on the proposition that the only way to hold Iraq together, and to create the conditions for our troops to responsibly withdraw, is to give Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds room to breath in their own regions.

Let me tell you what our plan is not: it is not partition. Let me tell you what our plan is: It is consistent with Iraq's constitution. It is consistent with the new unity government. And it is consistent with - in fact, it is necessary to - the goal of keeping Iraq unified within its existing borders and not a threat to its own people, its neighbors, or to us.

I'd like to share the details of our plan with you.

The Current Situation

I was last in Baghdad on December 15th to observe the elections. It was my sixth trip to Iraq. It was incredibly moving to see Iraqis go to the polls.

I came back with a finger stained purple from the polling ink. But I also returned with this warning: we must not, yet again, prematurely declare, "Mission Accomplished." Yes, Iraqis voted by the millions, but who did they vote for? Ninety percent cast their ballots for sectarian and ethnic parties. Far from a democratic turning point, the elections reflected Iraq's deepening fault-lines.

Here's where we are in Iraq: we can't lose on the battlefield and the insurgents can't win as long as enough U.S. troops remain. But, as both our Ambassador and our top general in Iraq acknowledge, violence between the Shi'a and Sunnis has surpassed the insurgency as the main security threat. It is driving the country toward chaos and civil war.

Simply put, the sectarian genie is out of the bottle. Ethnic militias increasingly are the law in large parts of Iraq. They have infiltrated the official security forces. Sectarian cleansing has begun in mixed areas, with tens of thousands of Iraqis fleeing their homes in recent weeks. Dozens of dead bodies turn up daily in Baghdad.

Meanwhile, Iraqis have less electricity, clean water, sewage treatment and oil than before the war. Iraq's government ministries are barely functional. Iraq looks more like a failing state, not an emerging democracy.

There is no purely military answer to this slow but certain downward spiral. With more troops and the right strategy, we might have stopped the insurgency. But no number of U.S. troops will stop a civil war. To prevent it, we need a political solution. The national unity government in which the President has put so much stock is necessary, but it is not enough. We have had "unity" governments for three years in Iraq. Yet sectarian violence has escalated.

What the Iraqis need now -- and what this plan proposes -- is a genuine political way forward that, like our own Articles of Confederation, gives Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds the confidence to pursue their interests peacefully in a unified country. In fact, the central government this plan proposes for Iraq would be even stronger than America's first government. With time, we can hope they will come to their own Philadelphia freedom.

At the same time, I believe we can't pull our forces out precipitously, just as we can't keep them in Iraq indefinitely. Withdrawing them too soon would open the door to all out civil war that could turn into a regional war. It also would leave parts of Iraq a haven for terrorists. That would be disastrous for U.S. interests.

What our troops deserve - and what this plan proposes - is a clear target date for redeployment that, coupled with a political settlement, will allow us to leave Iraq with our basic interests intact.

A Five Point Plan for Iraq

Ten years ago, Bosnia was drowning in ethnic cleansing and facing its demise as a unified state. After much hesitation, the United States stepped in decisively with the Dayton Accords to keep the country whole by dividing it into ethnic federations. We even allowed Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs to retain separate armies. With the help of U.S. troops and others, Bosnians have lived a decade in peace. Now, they are strengthening their common central government, and disbanding their separate armies.

The Bush Administration, despite its profound strategic misjudgments, has a similar opportunity in Iraq.

The idea is to maintain a unified Iraq by decentralizing it and giving Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis the room to run their own affairs. The central government would be left in charge of common interests. We would encourage Iraqis to accept this formula with major sweeteners for the Sunnis, a military plan for withdrawing and redeploying U.S. forces, and a regional non-aggression pact. The plan has five elements:

1. One Iraq With Three Regions

The first element is to establish three largely autonomous regions with a viable but limited central government in Baghdad.

The central government would be responsible for border defense, foreign policy, oil production and revenues. The regional governments -- Kurd, Sunni and Shiite -- would be responsible for administering their own regions.

The United States shouldn't impose this solution and we don't have to because federalism is already written into Iraq's constitution. In fact, the constitution creates a limited central government and establishes a procedure for provinces combining into regions.

Increasingly, each community will support federalism, if only as a last resort. Until recently, the Sunnis sought a strong central government because they believed they would retake power. Now, they are beginning to recognize that they won't. Their growing fear is Shi'a power in a highly centralized state, enforced by sectarian militia and death squads. The Shi'a know that they can dominate the government, but they can't defeat a Sunni insurrection. The Kurds want to consolidate their autonomy.

Some will ask whether this plan will lead to sectarian cleansing. The answer is that it's already happening. According to the Iraqi government, 90,000 people have fled their homes since the February bombing of the Samarra mosque for fear of sectarian reprisals. That's a rate of more than a 1,000 people a day. This does not include the tens of thousands of educated Iraqis from the middle class who have left the country.

We must build in protections to prevent more cleansing and to improve security in the big cities, which the Administration has failed to achieve. Baghdad would become a federal zone, while densely-populated areas with mixed populations would receive both multi-sectarian and international police protection.

A global political settlement won't end the Sunni insurgency, but it should help to undermine it. The Zarqawi network would no longer have the sectarian card to play. Sunni Nationalists and neo-Baathists would still be unhappy but they would be easier to contain.

Similarly, while decentralization won't end the militia problem overnight, it is the best way to begin rolling it back. Right now, there is no plan to disband the militia. Militias have so heavily infiltrated the security forces that our training program is effectively making them better killers. The regions can become magnets for the militia, integrating them into local forces, and eventually into the national force. Again, the constitution already provides for security forces within the regions. There is nothing radical in this proposal.

The Administration is focusing only on putting together a unity government. But the "unity" government of the past year wasn't able to govern or stop the violence. This one offers little more promise. A much broader political settlement that gives each community breathing space is the best bet to prevent civil war and to keep Iraq intact.

2. A Viable Sunni Region With Shared Oil Revenues

The second element of the plan is to gain agreement for the federal solution from the Sunni Arabs by giving them an offer they can't reasonably refuse.

Basically, they get to run their own region. That's a far better deal than the present alternatives: either being a permanent minority in a centrally run government or being the principal victims of a civil war.

As a major sweetener, we should press the Iraqis to write into the constitution that the Sunnis would receive about 20 percent of all present and future oil revenues. That's roughly proportional to their size. And it's far more than they'd get otherwise, since the oil is in the north and south, not the Sunni center. These revenues represent the only way to make the Sunni region viable economically. If Sunnis reject the deal, there is no guarantee they will get any oil revenues.

The central government would set national oil policy and distribute the revenues, which would reinforce each community's interest in keeping Iraq intact. There would be international supervision to ensure transparency.

Why would the Shiites and Kurds sign on? Petroleum experts agree that the Iraqi oil industry will attract much more desperately needed foreign capital if it is run as a unified whole. Shiites and Kurds will get a slightly smaller piece of a much larger pie. That's a better deal than they would get by going it alone. Guaranteeing Sunnis a piece of this pie will reduce the incentive of insurgents to attack the oil infrastructure. That, too, would be good for everyone.

3. More Aid, But Tied To The Protection Of Minority And Women's Rights

Third, instead of ending U.S. reconstruction assistance, as the Bush Administration is doing, we should provide more. But we should clearly condition aid on the protection of minority and women's rights. The incompetence of the Bush Administration's reconstruction program makes more reconstruction money a hard sell. A new aid effort would have to be radically different than the old one. For example, instead of international mega-firms pocketing valuable contracts, spending a huge chunk of each one on security, and then falling short, Iraqis should be in the lead of small-scale projects that deliver quick results.

The President also should insist that other countries make good on old commitments, and provide new ones. He should focus on the Gulf States. They're enjoying windfall oil profits. They have a lot at stake in Iraq. They should step up and give back.

But all future U.S. aid would be tied to the protection of minority and women's rights, clearly and unambiguously. We should insist other donors set the same standard. Aid would be cut off in the face of a pattern of violations.

President Bush is now silent on protecting minority and women's rights. If they are not upheld, there can be no hope for eventual democracy in Iraq.

4. Maintain Iraq's Territorial Integrity And Engage Its Neighbors

Fourth, this plan proposes that the United Nations convene a regional security conference where Iraq's neighbors, including Iran, pledge to respect Iraq's borders and work cooperatively to implement this plan.

The neighbors may see decentralization as a plot to carve up Iraq. But they have an equally strong interest in not seeing Iraq descend into a civil war that could draw them into a wider war. Engaging them directly can overcome their suspicions and focus their efforts on stabilizing Iraq, not undermining it.

The U.N. Security Council should precede the conference with a call for the necessary declarations. The permanent members of the Security Council should then sponsor and participate in the conference to show a united international front.

After the conference, Iraq's neighbors will still be tempted to interfere in its weakened affairs. We need an on-going mechanism to keep them in line. For two years, I've called for a standing Contact Group, to include the major powers, that would engage the neighbors and lean on them to comply with the deal. I'm not alone. Former Secretaries of State Kissinger, Shultz, and Powell have all called for the same thing.

President Bush's failure to move on this front is inexplicable. There will be no lasting peace in Iraq without the support of its neighbors.

5. A Responsible U.S. Drawdown And A Residual Force

Fifth, the President should direct U.S. military commanders to develop a plan to withdraw and re-deploy almost all U.S. forces from Iraq by 2008. If the military can do it sooner without precipitating a meltdown, so much the better. Regardless, the President should make it clear that the direction we're heading in is out, and no later than 2008.

We would maintain in or near Iraq a small residual force -- perhaps 20,000 troops -- to strike any concentration of terrorists, help keep Iraq's neighbors honest, and train its security forces. Some U.S. troops and police would also need to participate in a multinational peacekeeping force deployed to the major multi-sectarian cities, as in the Balkans. Such a force is now a non-starter with other countries, despite their own interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq and the region. But a political settlement, and their role in helping to bring it about through a regional conference and Contact Group, could change their calculus and willingness to participate.

Right now, our troops are still necessary to prevent total chaos. But unless the Iraqis see and believe we are leaving, they will have little incentive to shape up. Redeployment is also necessary because we can't sustain this large a force in Iraq without sending troops back on fourth and fifth tours, extending deployments, and fully mobilizing the Guard. That would do serious long-term damage to our military.

A clear plan also would end the fiction the President keeps repeating of a "conditions based draw down." What conditions justify the draw down of 30,000 troops since the December elections? The situation has gotten worse.

President Bush's refusal to give clear direction leaves our military unable to plan an orderly draw down. It also leaves our troops, the Iraqis and the American people in the dark. It's time to end the guessing. It's time for clarity, but clarity with responsibility. Redeploying our troops over 18 months will allow the political settlement I've proposed to take hold and prevent all-out civil war.

Redeeming Our Sacrifice

This plan for Iraq has its own risks. But this Administration has left us with nothing but hard choices.

The choice I'm proposing may be the only way left to keep Iraq intact and allow our troops to come home with our fundamental security interests intact.

The choice I'm proposing can give all of us -- Republicans, Independents, Democrats, Americans -- realistic hope that our sacrifices in Iraq were not in vain.

Thanks for listening.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Recapturing the totality of America's Strength

A Speech by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum

Austin, Texas

This is a wonderful turnout. I hope it wasn't influenced by someone putting out a memo that Vince Young would be discussing -- or should I say dissecting -- our nation's defense.

In 1964, President Johnson delivered probably his most famous address, his Great Society speech. Today, I want to talk about a very serious subject, the changed society we live in - a changed society that must still be a great society. Here in Texas, where people appreciate straight talk, this is the case I will make: the national security strategy of this administration has been a failure. There is a better way to secure America.

The famous biologist T.H. Huxley once said, "the great tragedy of science -- the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact." That "beautiful hypothesis" is the Bush Doctrine, which has governed our national security and foreign policies since 9/11.

It has three core principles. First, the best way to protect America is to strike an enemy with military force before it strikes us, while striking fear into the hearts of other potential adversaries. Second, because military might is our single most important tool, we should marginalize anything that could get in the way of using it -- like allies and international organizations. Third, democratizing the greater Middle East is the path to long term security.

"Ugly facts" have demolished the "beautiful hypothesis" of the Bush Doctrine, on its own terms. Here are the facts:

Four years ago, this administration urged that we act against a dangerous axis of evil in Iraq, Iran, and North Korea. Today, each member of the axis poses an even greater threat to our security than it did then.

In Iraq, a dictator is gone, and that's a good thing. But we may be on the verge of trading him for chaos and a haven for terror. Because our forces are stretched thin and tied down, our ability to act against the other axis members is limited -- and they know it. Because we hyped the intelligence before going in, our ability to convince allies -- not to mention the American people -- of new dangers has been diminished. Meanwhile, Iran is closer to the bomb and its reform movement is on the ropes. And North Korea has increased its stockpile of fissile material by as much as 400 percent.

In his second inaugural address, the President spoke eloquently about the need to advance democracy. Today, we are paying the price for a shortsighted policy that equates democracy with elections. In the Middle East, Islamist groups have made huge strides -- Hamas in the Palestinian territories, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, religious parties in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon. Holding elections without doing the hard work of building democratic institutions may leave us less, not more, secure.

And of course, this administration pledged to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Today, he remains at large. He probably isn't playing an operational role, but his videotaped messages inspire others to act. In most Muslim countries, Bin Laden is viewed more favorably than the United States. Terror attacks around the world have increased dramatically since 9/11. Thank God, we have not been hit here at home. But our friends from Madrid, to London, to Amman have suffered.

And to the question Secretary Rumsfeld famously posed in a memo two years ago -- "are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and radical clerics are recruiting, training, and deploying against us?" -- the answer is no.

Protecting the homeland was not part of the original Bush Doctrine. But after wishing both would go away, this administration embraced the Homeland Security Department and the bi-partisan 9/11 Commission. Today, the failed response to Hurricane Katrina begs this question: if we're not prepared to handle a natural disaster that we know is on the way, how will we deal with a man-made catastrophic event that we don't see coming? And the 9/11 Commission recently issued a report card that flunked the administration for its homeland security preparations, like protecting our trains, ports, and chemical plants.

These "ugly facts" are the result of an administration that has misunderstood the security challenges we face and how to meet them, mismanaged our foreign policy, and misled the American people. They add up to this conclusion, in the words of Francis Fukuyama, a leading neo-conservative: "the Bush Doctrine … is in shambles."

The hardest fact of all is this: we do not have a strategy to protect America, or an administration that can put us back on track. I believe America faces two overriding and connected national security challenges: We must win the struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism, and we must keep the world's most dangerous weapons away from its most dangerous people.

To be sure, other profoundly important developments will shape this century, like the emergence of China, India, and Russia; the shortage of reliable sources of energy; and the growing impact of climate change. And Iraq, where I've visited six times and talked about in many speeches, remains the elephant in the room. I plan to come back to these issues in the weeks ahead.

But the most urgent and lethal threat we face is the potential combination of radical fundamentalism and weapons of mass destruction. To prevail, we must be strong. But we also must be smart, wielding the power of our ideas and ideals together with the force of our arms. That is exactly what we have not done these past five years.

I believe it is time to turn the Bush Doctrine inside out, with a new national security strategy that recaptures the totality of America's strength. That strategy has three core principles of its own.

First, instead of military preemption, we need a comprehensive prevention plan -- that includes but is not limited to military force -- to defuse threats to our security long before they are on the verge of exploding. Second, instead of acting alone, we must build effective alliances and international organizations. Third, instead of trying to impose elections by force from the outside, we must work with moderates from the inside to build the institutions of liberal democracy. Let me discuss each principle.

After 9/11, this administration made military pre-emption the cornerstone of its national security strategy. This was their logic: Two powerful ideas - containment and deterrence - got us through the Cold War. But they may not work against a terrorist enemy who has no territory or people to defend, and who is amassing stealthy weapons instead of massing visible armies. We must strike them before they strike us. In fact, military preemption has long been -- and must remain -- an option in our arsenal. I believe the decision to turn preemption from an option into a one-size fits all doctrine reflects this administration's thesis about power. By using America's awesome military might preemptively and unilaterally, we would demonstrate our resolve to other enemies far and wide and convince them to give in to our will without war.

But this thesis is riddled with unintended consequences likely to make the world even less secure and more dangerous for America. It says to rogue states like Iran and North Korea that their best insurance policy against regime-change is to acquire weapons of mass destruction as quickly as possible. It gives a green light to India and Pakistan, Russia and Chechnya, China and Taiwan to use force first and ask questions later. It requires a standard of proof for intelligence that may be impossible to meet unless we cherry pick the facts, as we did before we went into Iraq.

And far from frightening our enemies into submission, this administration's decision to act preemptively in Iraq -- without letting the weapons inspectors finish their work, without getting the world behind us, without enough troops to stabilize the country, and without a plan for securing the peace has only undermined America's credibility with friend and foe alike.

The better path to real security for America is a prevention plan that defuses dangers long before they are on the verge of exploding. Picture an oil field half a world away, somewhere in Central Asia. A young man works hard, but earns little. He's got a grievance with the Western oil company that employs him, but when he raises it, the security forces of his own country beat him up. The only place he feels free to speak his mind is the Mosque. There, stories of terrible things being done to Muslims in Iraq, Guantanamo, or even Denmark make him angry.

In the oil field, he uses a "pipe crawler" -- a radio-graphical device that detects cracks in a pipeline. That tool contains radioactive material. One day, a friend from the Mosque offers him a year's salary to break the tool and siphon off some of that material. His friend smuggles the material to a port in the Black Sea. There, he sells it to an Al Qaeda operative who combines it with dynamite. The result is a so-called "dirty bomb" that can launch a spreading cloud of radiation.

Al Qaeda smuggles the bomb into Germany and sneaks it in a container full of industrial cargo. The container moves through the port of Rotterdam, crosses the Atlantic, and arrives at a port here in the U.S., where just 5 percent of all cargo containers are inspected.

That port could be Houston. And if, God forbid, a member of an American sleeper cell detonates the bomb, it probably wouldn't kill many people - but it could render entire neighborhoods of the city uninhabitable for decades.

A prevention strategy would go at every link in this lethal chain, before it runs all the way to our front door. It would fundamentally reorder our priorities. It would redirect billions of dollars from Star Wars programs to defend against incoming missiles -- the least likely threat we face -- and the effort to develop new generations of nuclear weapons that we don't need. Instead, it would do much more to secure and destroy loose weapons and materials in the former Soviet Union and beyond.

It would improve detection systems to prevent materials of mass destruction from transiting the globe. It would seek and enforce new laws to seize suspect cargoes on the high seas and in international airspace. It would forge new international alliances of law enforcement, intelligence, and financial officials to uproot terrorists and end their funding. It would help partner countries build up their own capacity to detect, disrupt, and destroy extremist networks. It would require tougher non- proliferation policies, including no-notice, on-site inspections and a reformed Non Proliferation Treaty that closes the nuclear fuel cycle loophole.

It would give our military new tools to tackle terrorism, like Special Forces operators and unmanned aerial vehicles. It would demand a reinvigorated diplomacy to explain our policies to the world and expose lies about America. And, in case everything else fails, it would make homeland security our top priority -- not a national embarrassment.

Every day, millions of Americans pass through unsecured train stations and tunnels. Every day, 90-ton rail tankers filled with deadly chlorine gas roll unprotected through neighborhoods. If one were exploded in an urban area, it could kill 100,000 people. Police, fire, and rescue units still cannot communicate with each other or with federal agents.

We haven't consolidated watch lists so that known terrorists will be caught boarding a plane, applying for a visa or at a traffic stop. Checking airline baggage for explosives has, in the words of the 9/11 Commission, "not been made a priority." Two-thirds of the country's largest police agencies are facing shortages. It won't be a marine with night vision goggles who stops the next attack -- it will be a local cop in the right place at the right time. Yet this administration's has killed the COPS program, which helps local agencies hire officers.

Now the administration says trust us when it sub-contracts the management of our ports to foreign companies. How can you trust the administration that has repeatedly refused to put more money into port security? The 9/11 Commission's recent report card on the administration's efforts to protect our country is full of Cs, Ds, and Fs.

This cannot stand. We must do better by the American people. That is why I'm proposing a $40 billion homeland protection program, over ten years. It would beef up local law enforcement; give first responders reliable communications equipment; develop a plan for rail and transit security; expand our use of screening technologies; integrate the terrorist watch lists; and invest more in securing our electricity grid, computer networks, and chemical plants.

Shifting from pre-emption to prevention doesn't mean we shy away from using force. America's military must remain second to none. We will use force when we have to, including preemptively, without asking anyone's permission. I believe that when a non-democratic state systematically abuses the rights of its own people, or harbors terrorists and amasses weapons of mass destruction, it forfeits its sovereignty.

Civilized society has a responsibility to protect innocents and a duty to prevent catastrophic acts of destruction. Sometimes, force is necessary to do that, as it was in Bosnia, Kosovo and Afghanistan, and as it is now in Darfur. The U.N. has finally agreed to send a peacekeeping force to Darfur, but it could take a year to get there. That's why I have urged NATO to help the African Union stop the violence until the U.N. can take over. The United States should be part of that force -- in fact, it should lead that force.

And the United States should be leading others to this new understanding of state responsibility. Instead, by hyping the intelligence about Iraq, and failing to level with the American people about the challenges we would face there, this administration has made it more difficult for its successors to secure support at home and abroad for using force.

That's a legacy that could haunt America for decades.

The prevention strategy I've described cannot work in isolation. It requires building effective alliances and international organizations. Far from limiting America's power, they can help us maximize it. Our main enemy is a metastasizing network of terror that could tap into a spreading supply of dangerous weapons.

The 9/11 hijackers carried passports from three different countries. They lived in or traveled through nearly a dozen other countries. They claimed victims from more than 60 nations. Today, new extremists are training and forming cells around the world. And lethal weapons -- from radioactive materials to shoulder fired missiles -- can be sold, stolen or smuggled just about anywhere.

The most powerful military in the world cannot invade, kill or capture a network or destroy every loose weapon on the planet. The best response to this network of terror is to build a network of our own -- a network of like-minded countries and organizations that pools resources, information, ideas, and power. Taking on the radical fundamentalists alone isn't necessary, it isn't smart, and it won't succeed.

But building alliances and organizations is not enough. They have to be effective. As we live by the rules, we must also enforce them. Enforcing the rules that Saddam systematically violated could have been the basis for a common approach with our allies to Iraq. It was not, and both the U.S. and Europe are worse off for that failure.

It can still be the basis for a common approach to the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. To its credit, the administration is trying to reverse four years of policy paralysis to put us on the same page with our partners, and to isolate our enemies, not America. I just hope we're not several years and many nuclear weapons too late.

The prevention strategy I've described, and the strong alliances we need to make it effective, would better protect America than the policies this administration is pursuing. But ensuring America's security also requires winning a struggle for hearts and minds. We have to prove to millions of disenfranchised people around the world, especially in the Muslim world, that we offer hope while the radical fundamentalists offer only hatred.

In this struggle, the administration is right: democracy is our most powerful weapon. But this administration has given democracy promotion a bad name. Here's why: First, it seems to believe democracy can be imposed by force from the outside. It can't. Instead we should work with moderates from the inside, over the long haul. Second, the administration seems to think democracy and elections are synonymous. They're not. Elections are necessary, but not sufficient, to build liberal democracies.

We must put much more emphasis on building the institutions of democracy: political parties, effective government, independent media and judicial systems, non-governmental organizations, and civil society. That means building schools and training teachers, opening and modernizing closed economies, empowering women, and relieving more debt. If we don't, the net effect of our 'democracy" efforts will be to help organized extremist groups replace autocrats.

The flip side of promoting liberal democracy is bolstering failing states. As we know from 9/11, and as Tom Friedman has written, if we don't visit them, they will visit us. After 9/11, this administration should have refocused our attention, reallocated our resources, and reformed our institutions to help prevent states from failing and to help stabilize them in the wake of a conflict.

And, instead of talking about a Marshall Plan for Afghanistan, it should have produced one. Yet in the four years since we toppled the Taliban, we've invested about $6 billion in that country -- compared to $100 billion in today's dollars that we spent over four years on the Marshall Plan. Now, Afghanistan may be slipping from freedom's grasp and back toward failure.

Today, for the first time since the emergence of the nation state more than 400 years ago, the most fundamental common interests of countries around the world outweigh their differences. Today, every civilized nation has an existential interest in stopping radical fundamentalism and controlling weapons of mass destruction.

If we lead through the power of our example as well as the example of our power, and if we recapture the totality of America's strength, I am convinced we can prevent the darkest chapters of the 20th century from repeating themselves in this new century.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Turning the Corner in Iraq

A speech by U.S. Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr.

Council on Foreign Relations - New York City - November 21, 2005

Mr. BIDEN: Today, I want to talk to you about Iraq. I want to start by addressing the question on the minds of most Americans: when will we bring our troops home?

Here is my conviction: in 2006, American troops will begin to leave Iraq in large numbers. By the end of the year, I believe we will have redeployed at least 50,000 troops. In 2007, a significant number of the remaining 100,000 American soldiers will follow.

But the real question is this: as Americans start to come home, will we leave Iraq with our fundamental security interests intact or will we have traded a dictator for chaos?

By misrepresenting the facts, misunderstanding Iraq, and misleading on the war, this Administration has brought us to the verge of a national security debacle.

As a result, many Americans have already concluded that we cannot salvage Iraq. We should bring all our forces home as soon as possible.

They include some of the most respected voices on military matters in this country, like Congressman Jack Murtha. They're mindful of the terrible consequences from withdrawing. But even worse, in their judgment, would be to leave Americans to fight - and to die - in Iraq with no strategy for success.

I share their frustration. But I'm not there yet. I still believe we can preserve our fundamental security interests in Iraq as we begin to redeploy our forces.

That will require the Administration not to stay the course, but to change course and to do it now.

And though it may not seem like it, there is actually a broad consensus on what the Administration must do.

Last week, 79 Democrats and Republicans in the Senate came together and said to the President: we need a plan for Iraq.

Level with us. Give us specific goals and a timetable for achieving each one so we know exactly where we are and where we are going.

As I have been urging for some time, that will require as many changes at home as on the ground. The gap between the Administration's rhetoric and the reality of Iraq has opened a huge credibility chasm with the American people.

The problem has been compounded by the President's failure to explain in detail his strategy and to report regularly on both the progress and the problems.

As David Brooks reminded us in the New York Times yesterday, "Franklin Roosevelt asked Americans to spread out maps before them and he described, step by step, what was going on in World War II, where the U.S. was winning and where it was losing. Why can't today's president do that? Why can't he show that he is aware that his biggest problem is not in Iraq, it's on the home front?"

I want to see the President regain the American people's trust. It is vital to our young men and women in Iraq today -- and to our security -- that we get this right. George Bush is our President - and he will be there for another three years. I want him to succeed.

Leveling with the American people is essential, but it is not enough.

The President has to be realistic about the mission and forget his grandiose goals. Iraq will not become a model democracy anytime soon.

Instead, we need to refocus our mission on preserving America's fundamental interests in Iraq.

There are two of them: We must ensure Iraq does not become what it wasn't before the war: a haven for terrorists. And we must do what we can to prevent a full-blown civil war that turns into a regional war.

To accomplish that more limited mission and to begin to redeploy our troops responsibly we must make significant, measurable progress toward three goals over the next six months:

One, we must help forge a political settlement that gives all of Iraq's major groups a stake in keeping the country together.

Two, we must strengthen the capabilities of Iraq's government and revamp the reconstruction program to deliver real benefits.

Three, we must accelerate the training of Iraqi security forces and transfer control to them.

Let me discuss each goal, one at a time.

POLITICAL SOLUTIONS

First, we need to build a political consensus, starting with the Constitution, that gives the Kurds, Shi'a, and Sunnis a stake in keeping Iraq together. Iraq cannot be salvaged by military might alone.

Last month, the Constitution passed overwhelmingly. But the vast majority of Sunni Arabs voted "no." Unless changes are made by next spring, it will become a document that divides rather than unites Iraq.

All sides must compromise. Sunnis must accept the fact that they no longer rule Iraq. But unless Shiites and Kurds give them a stake in the new order, they will continue to resist it.

If the situation devolves into a full-blown civil war, all the king's horses and all the king's men won't be able to put Iraq back together again.

Does anyone here support using American troops to fight a civil war against the Sunnis on behalf of the Kurds and Shiites? I don't - and I doubt many Americans would. But if we fail to forge a political consensus soon, that is what our troops will be dragged into.

The Bush Administration was AWOL until the arrival of Ambassador Khalilzad this summer. We let the Iraqis fend for themselves in writing a Constitution. In our absence, no headway was made.

We can't make those mistakes again. We need to be fully engaged. Next month, there is an election for the National Assembly, and I expect Sunnis to turn out in large numbers.

After the elections, we must turn our attention immediately to encouraging the Kurds and Shi'a to make genuine compromises.

Our Ambassador can't be the only one in the room cajoling Iraqis. We need a regional strategy that persuades Iraq's neighbors to wield their influence with the Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds for political compromise. They will do it, because no one other than the terrorists has an interest in Iraq descending into civil war.

The major powers also have a stake. Europe has un-integrated Muslim populations that are vulnerable to Middle East extremism. India and China need stable oil supplies.

Our Allies must get over bruised feelings and help forge a political consensus. We must get over our reluctance to fully involve them.

We should form a Contact Group that becomes Iraq's primary international interlocutor. That would take some of the burden off of us… and maximize the pressure on Iraq's main groups to compromise.

I've called for a regional strategy and an international Contact Group repeatedly. So have three former Republican Secretaries of State - Shultz, Kissinger, and Powell. It's what the Clinton Administration did in the Balkans. It's what this Administration did in Afghanistan. Organized, sustained international engagement can make all the difference.

But it will only happen if America leads.

MINISTRIES THAT WORK/A RECONSTRUCTION PLAN

Second, we need government ministries that work and provide basic services, and we need to re-do the reconstruction program to deliver real benefits.

Right now, Iraq's ministries are barely functional. They make FEMA look like the model of efficiency.

The Bush Administration belatedly has developed plans to build up the government's capacity. But there aren't enough civilian experts with the right skills to do the job.

We need a civilian commitment in Iraq equal to our military one. I recommend the President and Secretary of State consider ordering staff to Baghdad -- if there are shortages. Just as military personnel are required to go to Iraq, why shouldn't the same apply to the foreign service? The dedication and courage of the foreign service officers I've met on my five trips to Iraq is extraordinary. They will take the toughest assignments if we ask them.

This should not be their burden alone. Earlier this year, Prime Minister Blair proposed individual countries be partnered with ministries. It's a good idea. But it got a lukewarm reception. We should revive it.

Our military commanders tell me: we can't defeat the insurgency unless we have a reconstruction program that makes a difference to ordinary Iraqis. Congress gave the Administration $20 billion for reconstruction. There is far too little to show for it.

Raw sewage is in too many streets. Lights are on less than half the day. The water isn't safe to drink in too many homes.

Unemployment rates are around 40 percent. If 40 percent of Iraqis have no job and no hope, the insurgency will always find fresh recruits.

We were told before the war, oil would pay for reconstruction. Two-and-a-half years after Saddam's statue fell, Iraq still is not exporting what it did before the war. They are 700,000 barrels per day below target. That is roughly $15 billion in lost revenues a year.

This President has the only oil company in the world losing money.

Projects have been delayed or never started. Now, the money is nearly gone, and the needs are still great. The President has yet to explain how he will fill the gap.

Of the $13.5 billion in non-American aid pledged at the Madrid conference two years ago, only $3 billion has been delivered, and even less spent.

The Administration is creating Provincial Reconstruction Teams, modeled on the civil-military effort in Afghanistan. They will focus on getting local governments to deliver services. It's a good idea, but it's long overdue - and it's not enough.

We should step up our recruiting of Allied civilian experts for the reconstruction teams.

I would redirect our spending to Iraqi contractors and away from expensive multinationals. Iraqis don't have to add a line item worth 40 percent of the value of a contract for security. I'm glad to save American taxpayers money.

And we need to get countries that have already pledged economic assistance to actually deliver it -- and pledge more.

It's time for another Jim Baker mission. The President should ask him to convene a conference with our Gulf allies. These countries have seen huge windfall oil profits, from our pocket books. We've gone to war twice in the past decade to protect them and preserve security. It is past time that they step up - and give back.

BUILDING SECURITY FORCES

The third goal is to build Iraqi security forces that can provide law and order in neighborhoods, defeat insurgents, and isolate and eliminate foreign jihadists over time.

The Administration tread water on training for two years. Not until the arrival of General David Patreaus in June 2004, did we start a training program worthy of its name.

Back in Washington, all we have heard from this Administration is misleading number, after number.

In February 2004, Secretary Rumsfeld announced there were over 210,000 Iraqi security forces. He called it "an amazing accomplishment." Seven months later he said there were 95,000. Now we're supposedly back over 210,000 trained security forces.

When folks in Delaware hear numbers like that they ask me: why do we have 160,000 American troops in Iraq then?

What we need to know - and what the Administration has refused to tell us until recently - is how many Iraqis can operate without us, or in the lead with U.S. backing?

We're finally starting to get answers. In September, General Casey said that, two and half years into the training program, one battalion -- less than 1,000 troops -- can operate independently. Another 40 or so can lead counter-insurgency operations with American support.

And there are real concerns that the security forces have more loyalty to political parties than to the Iraqi government that militia members dominate certain units and that others have been infiltrated by insurgent informants.

General Patreaus overhauled the training program. The result is much greater professionalism.

But training takes time. And just as it was getting on track, the Administration reassigned General Patreaus back home. That was a mistake.

The President must tell Congress the schedule for getting Army battalions, regular police, and special forces to the point they can act on their own or in the lead with American support.

We also need to accelerate our training efforts, but not at the expense of quality.

We should urge Iraq to accept offers from France, Egypt and other countries to train troops and police - especially at the officer level -- including outside Iraq

If embedding more Americans with more Iraqi units would do the job, do it.

We should devote whatever resources are necessary to develop the capacity of Iraq's security ministries. Even the most capable troops will not make a difference if they cannot be supplied, sustained and directed.

And we must focus our efforts on the police, who are lagging behind. Establishing law and order through a competent police force is as important for Iraqis, as defeating insurgents is for us.

DEALING WITH THE INSURGENCY

That leads me to the final piece of the Iraq puzzle: forging an effective counter-insurgency strategy. Until recently, we have not had one.

Our forces would clean out a town. Then they would move to the next hornet's nest, and the insurgents would return.

Why? Because we did not have enough U.S. troops… or any capable Iraqi troops… to hold what we had cleared.

Meanwhile, neither the Iraqi government nor our reconstruction efforts were capable of building a better future for those temporarily liberated from the violence.

The Administration finally seems to understand the need not only to clear territory, but to hold it, and then to build on it.

The critical question is this: who will do most of the clearing and the holding? We now have no choice but to gamble on the Iraqis.

In the past, I argued that we needed more American troops in Iraq for exactly that purpose. The failure to provide them… and the absence of capable Iraqis… made a "clear and hold" strategy impossible.

We also left huge ammunition depots unguarded, allowed unchecked looting, and created a security vacuum filled by Sunni insurgents, foreign jihadists and common criminals.

But the time for a large number of additional American troops is past.

What we need now is a different mix, with more embedded trainers, civil affairs units and special forces.

The hard truth is that our large military presence in Iraq is both necessary… and increasingly counter-productive.

Our presence remains necessary because, right now, our troops are the only guarantor against chaos. Pulling out prematurely would doom any chance of leaving Iraq with our core interests intact.

But our large presence is also, increasingly, part of the problem.

Two years ago, even one year ago, Iraqis were prepared to accept an even larger American presence if that's what it took to bring security and real improvements to their lives.

Our failure to do just that has fueled growing Iraqi frustration. A liberation is increasingly felt as an occupation. And we risk creating a culture of dependency, especially among Iraqi security forces.

Even if more troops still made sense, we don't have more to give. In fact, we cannot sustain what we have now beyond next spring unless we extend deployment times beyond 12 months, send soldiers back for third, fourth, and fifth tours or pull forces from other regions.

That is why it is virtually certain we will redeploy a significant number of forces from Iraq in 2006 and more will follow in 2007.

Assuming we succeed in preventing a civil war, perhaps 20,000 to 40,000 Americans will stay for some time after that to continue training and equipping the Iraqis to keep Iraq's neighbors honest and to form a rapid reaction force to prevent jihadists from establishing a permanent base in Iraq.

If - if -- that redeployment is accompanied by measurable progress in forging a political settlement, building real Iraqi governing capacity and transferring control to effective Iraqi security forces, we can start the journey home from Iraq with our fundamental interests intact.

But if we fail to implement the plan I've described, then Iraq is likely to become a Bush-fulfilling prophecy - a terrorist training ground - and we'll see a full blown civil war that could become a regional war.

If that happens, nothing we can do will salvage Iraq. We'll be reduced to trying to contain the problem from afar. Those who today are calling for us to leave will be proved tragically prescient. I still believe that, if the Administration follows the plan I've outlined today - and if the President brings it to the American people and asks for their support -- we can start climbing out of the hole the Administration has dug and start to leave Iraq with our interests intact.

Iraqis of all sects want to live in a stable country. Iraq's neighbors don't want a civil war. The major powers don't want a terrorist haven in the heart of the Middle East.

And the American people want us to succeed. They want it badly. If the Administration listens, if it levels, and if it leads, it can still redeem their faith.

Thanks for listening.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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America's Purpose: Leadership for a New Security Consensus

BIDEN: Thank you very much. Thank you, Mort.

And thank you all for deciding that a New America Foundation is necessary. It is badly needed.

Folks, it would be inappropriate to begin any discussion today without acknowledging the trauma the nation is facing at the moment, not just in our foreign policy in Iraq, but on the Gulf Coast.

This is an incredibly difficult moment, and the only thing I will say at this moment is that hopefully -- hopefully -- we will learn some very important lessons from the way in which this whole tragedy has been handled. For it is not too much of a leap to suggest that if this were not an act of God but a conscious effort to wreak havoc upon the country, we're not so well-prepared, to state the obvious.

The Irish poet William Butler Yeats, speaking of his Ireland, wrote a people, "Easter Sunday, 1916." One line in the poem seems particularly appropriate, today and of late. He said, "The world has changed. It is changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born."

It has changed utterly. And four years ago this week the events of 9/11 made it crystal clear just how fundamentally it had changed. And it made it clear that America faces two overriding and interconnected national security challenges in this new century.

The first is, we have to win the struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. Then the second is, we have to keep the world's most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the world's most dangerous people.

And this gathering is an important moment to step back and ask, how are we doing? How are we doing so far in meeting these twin challenges?

And I think the short and honest answer -- at least in my judgment -- is: not as well as we could or should be doing. And I believe we need a new approach. And that's what I propose to speak about briefly this morning.

Today, after a necessary war in Afghanistan and a war of choice -- an optional war -- in Iraq, Americans are rightly confident about the example of our power, but I have been concerned that some of our leaders have forgotten about the power of our example.

For all of our great might, we are not only less comfortable in the world today but, I would argue, more alone and more isolated than any time in our country's history.

And as a result we are, in my judgment, less secure, not more secure. And I believe we have to recapture the totality of our strength to, in fact, enhance our security.

To prevail against radical fundamentalism and to prevent the spread of the world's most lethal weapons, we must rely both on the force of our arms but also on the strength of our ideas and our ideals, which we seem to have shelved of late.

And that's going to require at least three things: one, rebuilding and building in the first instance effective alliances in international organizations; two, forging a prevention strategy to defuse threats to security long before they are on the verge of exploding, while retaining the right we've always had to act pre-emptively in the face of an eminent danger; and thirdly, reforming failed and anti-democratic states that are the source of instability, radicalism and, in many cases, terror.

That, in turn, seems to me it will require both a fundamental shift in American foreign policy and a reconsideration by our allies and our partners; a reconsideration of their own approaches and reflexes.

I spent the last week in Italy with a group of 50 or so European leaders, including four or five heads of state, a number of foreign ministers. And it's beginning to be discussed out loud not only what we clearly know we have to reconsider but how they have to reconsider their approaches and, my word, reflexes.

Let me start with the first part of this new approach that I'm suggesting of building strong alliances, international organizations.

And I do not claim any uniqueness to what I'm about to say. But I think, I hope you'll find some coherence in what I have to say.

Some of my friends in the current administration have, as we've observed, little interest in alliances, international organizations or treaties. And there's a logic to their disengagement.

Many of my Democratic friends just assume they're just a bunch of warmongers, that all they want to do is wreak havoc in the world. The worst part is that's not the case at all, in my view. These are patriotic Americans who really believed, in my view, at the turn of the century, that they had a formula to avoid the carnage of the 21st century.

And part of the logic that embodied this new notion among many of those -- not a majority, I would argue, of Republicans but, clearly, the winning hand in this administration -- is their logic of disengagement.

They start with the premise that America's military strength is the single most important -- single most important determinant in the international system.

Because that might, they argue, is so much greater than anyone else, they see allies and agreements as more of a burden than a benefit; as Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians.

Our military might, in my view, is essential to our security, but I start from a very different premise. Most of the threats we face, if not every serious threat we face, from radical fundamentalism to the spread of weapons of mass destruction to rogue states that flout the rules, that have no respect -- all of these problems -- they have no respects for borders -- not one of these threats can be met solely with unilateral or even multilateral military force.

Even when we can succeed by ourselves I would further argue there is a compelling reason not to act alone. Some of those reasons range from basing rights to burden-sharing to the benefits that flow from legitimacy.

And they discount all of those, in my view, my neoconservative friends.

And Iraq, I would argue, demonstrates the price we pay for a unilateralist foreign policy. There was never any doubt -- at least in my mind; I suspect in most of yours -- that this optional war in Iraq would be, quote, "short," in the sense of toppling Saddam, and there was not a need for a single foreign soldier to accomplish that mission.

But because we chose to wage this war virtually alone, we have been responsible for the aftermath virtually alone.

But there's an important caveat, I would argue, that our friends in Europe and Asia and beyond must take to heart as well. The credibility and effectiveness of alliances, treaties and international organizations depend on a willingness not only to live by the rules but to enforce them when they are violated -- to enforce them when they are violated.

That could have been the basis for a common approach of our closest allies to Iraq. It is not. And both the United States and Europe have paid a heavy price and, I would argue, will pay an even heavier price.

That brings me to the second part of the approach I'm suggesting: forging a prevention strategy that allows us to defuse the threats to our security long before the only choice left to us is to act with force unilaterally or to do nothing at all.

This administration's effort to turn military preemption from an option that it always has been into a one-size-fits-all doctrine has been and remains, in my judgment, both dangerous and destabilizing.

It says to rogue states that their best insurance policy against regime change is to acquire weapons of mass destruction and do it as quickly as possible. Which is one of the reasons I believe North Korean nuclear arsenal has apparently increased by 400 percent in these past four years.

It also gives the green light to India and Pakistan, Russia and Chechnya, China, Taiwan to use force first and to ask questions later.

And it requires a standard of proof for intelligence that may be impossible to meet unless we cut corners, as President Bush did, in my view.

That is why I believe we must forge a much broader prevention strategy. Such a strategy would put much more emphasis on programs to secure and destroy loose weapons and materials in Russia and beyond.

It would fully fund Homeland Security budgets to detect and respond to terrorist attacks. It would include new international laws to seize suspect cargoes on the high seas and in international air space. It would involve a new international alliance of law enforcement experts and intelligence and financial officials to uproot terrorists and end their funding streams.

And that prevention strategy would provide a tougher nonproliferation strategy, including no-notice, on-site inspection and a reformed Non-Proliferation Treaty, which we have absolutely -- well, we have missed a serious opportunity in the last several months.

It would also re-invigorate public diplomacy to explain our policies and expose the lies about America around the world and, by showing our warts and all, let people understand that there's credibility to this nation.

And it would require a sustained commitment to development and democratization to prove to people around the world that we offer hope and our enemies offer nothing but hatred, which I'll come to in a moment.

But if America commits to a policy of prevention and not preemption, we need our allies to rethink their approach on the use of force.

First, it must be clear that America's military remains second to none and that force will be used without asking permission if we believe we are in imminent danger.

But that's always been the policy.

But beyond that, we need a common understanding with our allies in Europe and Asia that every citizen of the free world faces a nexus of new threats: terrorism, rogue states and weapons that demand new responses.

Containment and deterrence are still important, and they got us through the Cold War and they make sense most of the time today. But they do not suffice when the enemy is a stateless actor with no territory or people to defend who is amassing stealthy weapons instead of amassing armies.

That's why a broad prevention strategy is so important, but it's also why our allies, and for that matter, other major powers in the U.N. Security Council must be willing to get much tougher with rogue states who harbor terrorists, seek and acquire weapons of mass destruction or pose a proliferation threat.

In the 1990s, some of you -- because this is a gathering of some of the best foreign policy minds in the country in this room, some of you were very upset with me when I suggested that there are circumstances since the Treaty of Westphalia that, in fact, legitimize the United States and the rest of the world suggesting the nation has forfeited its sovereignty absent the invasion of a neighboring country.

And I remember being roundly criticized in some of the editorial pages for suggesting that when a nation is engaged in wholesale genocide, even within their own borders, they forfeit -- they forfeit -- their sovereignty claim.

In 1990, the U.S. and Europe agreed, with great difficulty, in the '90s, that a state in fact ultimately does cede its sovereignty when it systematically abuses the rights of its own people. And so we joined forces and reversed the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and we acted even more quickly to turn the tide in Kosovo, which I am incredibly proud as an American.

Now we should apply the same logic to states without democratic checks that seek to amass weapons of mass destruction and harbor terrorists. As a matter of fact, it's the subject of my speech to the European leadership with whom I met this past weekend in Italy.

And, believe it or not, it fell on receptive ears. They did not necessarily agree. But I would suggest, (inaudible) secretary of state, that we really should, in fact, not in theory, convene, starting with back channels and ultimately very openly serious negotiations as to what this new compact would be, what the rules of the game of the 21st century are in terms of the use of force.

In short, the U.S. should seek new international consensus that there is a duty to protect innocents and a responsibility to prevent terrible acts of destruction.

As I said, the leaders of the NATO countries, including presidents of many of the states and foreign ministers, were there. And I think there's a recognition -- not a solution, but a recognition, that we have had no serious -- it's amazing to me. It's absolutely breathtaking to me that we haven't had serious, serious negotiations and discussions with our NATO allies about the nature of this changed world.

Let me conclude with a few thoughts about the third piece of what I consider to be, or should be, a new approach: that is bolstering failed states and expanding democracy.

Failing states are cracks in the foundation of an international system. There have always been poor countries whose people suffer under corrupt, incompetent and ruthlessly barbaric leaders. What is new is the affect on our lives and the threat to our own security as a consequence of such regimes.

Today, the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction make that threat literally existential. We must challenge ourselves and our allies to refocus our attention, reallocate our resources and reform our institution to address this challenge.

And together, it seems to me we have to take seriously -- much more seriously than we have over the last 40 years -- the task of economic development. We have to commit to debt relief beyond what we have. We have to buffer countries against economic shocks. We have to give them the tools to combat corruption, and dramatically expand our investment in global education.

I believe we should reorient Bretton Woods and the U.N. to the purpose of stabilizing weak states. The United Nations is not capable of ending wars in our times, intervening in ways to prevent war most times. But it is capable -- it is capable -- with a new emphasis and restructuring, to stabilizing weak states. It is the single greatest resource we have, if we use it well, toward that effort.

And I think we have to lead the world in a massive effort to combat the scourge of disease, especially AIDS, but not just AIDS.

We also have to take seriously what some people in Washington, in this administration, see as a four-letter word: nation building.

This administration came to office disdaining the concept of nation building, only to be confronted with the two biggest nation-building challenges since World War II. But it has not succeeded yet, either in Afghanistan or Iraq.

We must empower now experts to plan post-conflict reconstruction ahead of time, not on the fly. We must build a standing roster of international police organizations, the gendarmerie, to handle security after tyrants are toppled. And we must create a system of rapid standup of indigenous forces, which we squandered the last two years in Iraq.

And when it comes to wars of choice, we have to think twice about initiating the conflict if we're not prepared for the post-conflict, which many of you in this room and many of us in writing, no Monday morning quarterbacking, six, eight months before the use of force, predicted there was virtually no thought given to by this administration.

And finally, there is so much the United States and the world's major democracies can do together to support democratic transformation, especially in the greater Middle East.

You know, we are rightly criticized for much of our relationship with Iran in Europe. But I pointed out to my European counterparts, I saw virtually no effort on the part of Europeans to support the democratic institutions and the democratic forces which were real, alive and heartfelt -- not pro-Western, necessarily -- in Iran.

So there's plenty of blame to go around. I am so much concentrating on this administration's policy for the last two years to try to get it changed, I don't want anybody in here to think that the Europeans should get a get-out-of-jail free card based upon their conduct in almost any of what we've been talking about here -- I've been talking about here.

I applaud President Bush's second inaugural address about expanding freedom.

If you closed your eyes and he was a little more articulate, you'd think it was John Kennedy. If you listened to the words -- I shouldn't say articulate, a little different accent, you'd think part of it was John Kennedy -- about expanding freedom.

It touched a chord of many Americans because it spoke to our ideals and also to our national experience and our history.

And, clearly, a world full of liberal democracies -- which will not occur, I might add, nor do I ever believe it will occur in my lifetime in Iraq no matter how well we handle things -- in a world full of liberal democracies we would not only be better off for the people living in those countries, but we'd be better off because liberal democracies tend not to attack each other, abuse the rights of their own people and, in most cases, breed terrorists.

This is a goal that ought to unite the United States and other major democracies. And yet, here's how a leading German newspaper reacted to President Bush's speech in January. Quote -- I'm quoting the headline. Quote, "Bush Threatens More Freedom."

Major German newspaper: "Bush Threatens More Freedom."

Clearly, dislike for the messenger undermined the appreciation of the message or else the paper is so out of whack it bears no relationship to reality.

I'm convinced we can and must find common ground in one of the most critical challenges of our time.

Americans must support the forces of progress in nondemocratic countries, not with reckless campaigns to impose democracy by force from the outside, which I don't ever recall having been done, but by working with modernizers from inside to build the institutions of democracy over the long haul -- political parties, independent media, independent judiciary, transparent economies and accountable governments, modern education, NGOs in a civil society, a private sector.

Our democratic friends must fully engage in this effort as well and not give in to the cynical and wrong, in my view, that some societies are incapable of transforming themselves, which I heard repeatedly in Europe and I hear repeatedly in Europe -- not throughout, not a majority view, but among some very, very bright people -- they are not capable of transforming themselves no matter what help is given.

It's a hard, frustrating job, but I believe it can and must be done for our own safety's sake.

And above all, we must understand those who would spread radical fundamentalism and weapons of mass destruction may be beyond the reach of reason -- we must defeat them.

But hundreds of millions of hearts and minds around the world are open to America's ideas and ideals.

I once reminded President Bush, a very religious man, that it was not the armies that toppled the walls of Jericho, it was Joshua's trumpet.

I would argue the same analogy could be made to the Berlin Wall.

Our overwhelming military force was necessary, but not sufficient. It was our ideas and our ideals permeating that part of the world that ultimately brought the wall down without a shot being fired in the process.

Ladies and gentlemen, we must reach out to this billion or more Muslim population that is fully, fully within our reach. We have no serious public diplomacy at this moment. And if we do that, if we reach out and do some of the things I've suggested, in my view as you might guess, I truly believe we can make the world a lot safer and considerably more democratic.

Let me end -- I'm always quoting Irish poets and my friends kid me and say I do it because I'm Irish. That's not the reason. I do it because they are the best poets in the world.

Seamus Heaney in his poem, "The Cure at Troy," for which he won the Nobel Prize for poetry in the mid-'90s, said in one stanza, which I think should become our anthem because I believe it with every fiber in my being -- we talk about all the dangers, but the opportunities.

If we are smart, if we are bright, if we are persistent and we are a little lucky and we follow our values in a tough-minded way, I really think we have a chance to change history in the margins, at least in the margins for the 21st century.

And I think a stanza from this poem should become our anthem. He said in one stanza, he said, "History says, don't hope on this side of the grave. But then once in a lifetime, that longed-for tidal wave of justice rises up and hope and history rhyme."

I, honest to God, believe, after 33 years of doing this job, we still have a shot, we still have a shot to make hope and history rhyme if we trust our people, follow our instincts and are willing to make the sacrifices necessary.

Thank you all very much.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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What's At Stake: The Constitution and the Supreme Court

American Constitution Society - Washington, DC

I am honored to be invited to speak here, especially speaking with, in front of, and about a subject that some of the men and women in this room have tutored me on for the past 30 years. As the old expression goes, they have forgotten more about the "advise and consent" clause and the constitutional issues that I'm going to speak to today than I know. They include Larry Tribe, Walter Dellinger, Chris Schroeder, and many others who have been stalwarts in trying to educate me over the years as to my responsibility.

Don't blame Larry Tribe for my being a constitutional law professor. If you're wondering why there's been such an aberration in the lack of understanding of constitutional issues by young lawyers, I am partially responsible.

Look, I have a serious speech, and you are eating, and I am a United States Senator. I am very accustomed to not being paid attention to, so please continue to eat. I apologize for the length of my speech; but I don't know how to address this serious a subject, quite frankly, in a shorter fashion.

I would like to begin by reading two quite different quotes to you, each from important jurists.

Jurist #1:

[O]ur laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education... "These matters, involving the most intimate and personal choices a person may make in a lifetime, choices central to personal dignity and autonomy, are central to the liberty protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. At the heart of liberty is the right to define one's own concept of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life. Beliefs about these matters could not define the attributes of personhood were they formed under compulsion of the State."

Jurist #2:

Compare the facts in Griswold with a hypothetical suit by an electric utility company ? to void a smoke pollution ordinance as unconstitutional. The cases are identical. In Griswold a husband and wife assert that they wish to have sexual relations without fear of unwanted children.... The electrical company asserts that it wishes to produce electricity at low cost.... There is no principled way to decide... that one form of gratification is more worthy than another.

Now, many of you, including Larry, Walter, and others who helped me prepare for a hearing years ago, know exactly what Law Review article that came from. It will not surprise you to know that I -- and I suspect most of you -- agree with jurist number one. In my opinion, the first quote I read is a much healthier understanding of our Constitution with regard to the respect it affords individuals in making fundamental personal life choices.

There are periods in our country's history when Americans re-examine the essence of our social contract. They have occurred half a dozen times. These periods invariably include debate over the meaning of our "civil bible" -- the Constitution -- because we have relied so much on that document to articulate how we see ourselves as a people and how we see ourselves as a nation.

And let me say at the outset that honest people, bright people, decent and patriotic people have very, very different views on how to read our civil bible.

These re-examinations happened in the Civil War and in the 1930s, and it's happening again in our lifetime, having been going on in earnest since the mid-1980s.

First, it's a debate over how much government should be able to intrude upon the most personal choices of Americans. This is Terri Schiavo and much more. The second, the other side of that same coin, is a debate about whether government can act as a shield to protect people from abuses by powerful interests. For example, can we keep tobacco companies from targeting our children?

These very questions are debated daily in the House and the Senate. They are debated in the halls of academia. They are debated over the dinner table in homes throughout America. And just as in prior periods of our history, they are debated most vociferously when a vacancy occurs on the Supreme Court of the United States -- when filling that vacancy has the potential to fundamentally alter the direction of the Court. That's when the debate reaches a crescendo.

And the debate has reached that crescendo today, with good and just reason. The debates about a confirmation are one of the most important venues for raising fundamental questions about which constitutional view is better for our country. And the outcome of the debate can make a huge, huge, huge difference.

The quotations which I began with express very different constitutional views. The second, it will not surprise you, was written by Judge Robert Bork, who came before the Judiciary Committee in 1987, as a believer in a kind of a "strict construction." He was a self-proclaimed originalist. He had previously said, and I quote, "It is necessary to establish the proposition that the framers' intentions with respect to freedoms are the sole legitimate premise from which constitutional analysis may proceed."

According to originalist logic, many Supreme Court decisions that are fundamental to the fabric of our country are simply wrong. By Judge Bork's own estimate, dozens upon dozens, including major decision -- holding that couples could not be prohibited from using contraceptives, rulings that the government could not involuntarily sterilize criminals, rulings relating to the incorporation doctrine -- were all declared by Judge Bork and others who embraced what we now call the "Constitution in Exile" firmly to be constitutionally incorrectly decided.

At that time, I particularly thought it critical to probe Judge Bork's views on privacy. Judge Bork stated quite clearly he believed there was no -- emphasize no -- general right of privacy the Constitution protects. Judge Bork would never have written, let alone joined, the opinion that contains the first quotation I read, Justice Kennedy. The man who took the seat for which Judge Bork had been nominated authored the language that I quoted you first.

Justice Kennedy's views reflect, in my judgment, a much healthier -- and that's an unusual word to use in reference to the Constitution -- but a much healthier view of the Constitution and its role in our society.

When the Senate voted not to confirm Judge Bork, it sent a message that his views were not right for the country. Make no mistake, however, that did not end the debate. But also make no mistake that the defeat of Judge Bork did not have a profound effect, a profound effect on constitutional jurisprudence and the lives of average Americans the last 20 years.

Just place Bork everyplace where Kennedy has been, in every decision -- nice little project for you 1-Ls -- and you'll see a very different America. Not an America outlined by bad guys, not an America outlined by people who are trying to feather the nest of any interest, but honorable, decent people who have a very different view of the Constitution and those ennobling phrases that we're going to be debating 200 years from now.

There's a lot of misdirection out there these days on these issues, where terms and phrases are used to mask what is really at stake. The innocent-sounding and misleading term "strict construction" is used when what is really at stake is a wholesale liquidation of any constitutional protection of privacy. A wholesale liquidation, depending on if they use "strict construction" the way Bork meant it or the way Hugo Black meant it. It depends on what they mean by the phrase -- which means the phrase does not tell you much of anything.

The American people are smart, though. And I believe that over the course of the upcoming weeks and months they will get it. They will see to the heart of the matter about what really hangs in the balance.

And if anything, the stakes haven't decreased since 1987; they've increased. Since 1995 there have been 193 five-to-four decisions. Justice O'Connor was in the majority in 148 of those 193 decisions.

The most immediate consequence of Justice O'Connor's retiring may be that Justice Kennedy will replace Justice O'Connor as the most important swing vote on the Supreme Court.

To be sure, Justice Kennedy is comparatively moderate on certain key issues, for instance, decisions stopping capital punishment of juveniles and the mentally retarded.

But while Justice Kennedy is no Judge Bork, he is also no Justice O'Connor. For example, Justice Kennedy believes that any affirmative action in higher education or race consciousness in redistricting amounts to impermissible discrimination under the Constitution. He further thinks that most campaign finance reform laws are unconstitutional and that Congress cannot permit the disabled to sue states to force the states to make their courthouses accessible.

And there are already cases on the Supreme Court docket for next term involving assisted suicide, the use of race as a factor in striking potential juries, and the issue of federalism that would allow a new Justice to begin rewriting our nation's constitutional law.

The country will also be facing critical questions on the extent to which the President of the United States -- any President -- can exercise unchecked, and thus unlimited, power in national security matters at the expense of the rights of average citizens -- instances where Justice O'Connor has been a voice of moderation and reason, a voice respecting the Constitution's system of checks and balances.

It was Justice O'Connor, after all, who issued this important cautionary note to this Administration when she said, "A state of war is not a blank check for the President when it comes to the rights of our nation's citizens."

But this is just the tip of the iceberg. While it is essential for Americans to understand how much hangs in the balance over the next few weeks, we also need to think in generational terms.

We currently have justices serving on the Supreme Court nominated by President Nixon and Ford. We even have judges in the lower courts still serving appointed by Presidents Kennedy and Eisenhower. From the early 1800s, in fact, the average time federal judges spend on the bench has increased from 15 years to 24 years.

I'm going to do something now that is somewhat imprudent. It will surprise you coming from me, I know. I am going to make a prediction as to the most important issues the Supreme Court will face in the next 20 years or so. First, the extent to which Americans' personal privacy is honored. Is there such a right? And second, the ability of the American people to protect ourselves against powerful organizations, powerful interests, and large economic forces that run roughshod over us.

For decades the consensus has been that government should stay out of the bedroom but be able to regulate the boardroom where necessary to protect vulnerable Americans. Yet the Radical Right is aggressively trying to upset that longstanding American consensus and reverse it.

The first issue, whether government will be able to intrude in Americans' most personal life choices, took center stage in the '87 Supreme Court battle. And it is returning with a vengeance. This is Terri Schiavo and much more.

Let me say point blank, notwithstanding the fact that constitutional scholars disagree and differ on this point, I believe with every fiber in my being that the Constitution creates a zone of personal autonomy that government should not be able to intrude upon. And make no mistake about it, folks, the American people believe that.

Larry, remember when we were we were sitting on my side screen porch preparing for the Bork hearing? And God love him, Professor Kurland, one of the great constitutional scholars -- a conservative constitutional scholar from the University of Chicago --was sitting there, and I turned to you with young Ron Klain as my assistant, "We ought to make this about privacy, about Griswold."

And Professor Kurland said, "No, no, no, no, no." And we were about to go have lunch at a place in the Greenville shopping center. I said, "Well, Professor Kurland, I'm telling you what I believe the American people think." I said, "Please come with me and stand behind me, you guys, as people walk up to the shopping center, and just listen to what people say."

And I think I embarrassed him. I asked the first six or seven women and men, mostly women who came forward, I said, "My name is Joe." "Oh, yes, Senator Biden," or "Yes, Joe." I'd say, "Do you believe you have a right to engage in any consensual act in your bedroom with your husband?" And I remember Kurland turned red. I'm serious about this. Do you remember this? And they all said -- everyone said yes. They're like, "Why do you ask, but yes." And then I'd ask them the following question: "Why do you believe that?" And every single person said, "The Constitution." That's the phrase they used. They said, "The Constitution."

And I know to scholars and to all of you great lawyers, that this is not necessarily relevant. But I'm telling you, it is incredibly relevant; incredibly relevant.

While many people, many, many people, smart, educated people, assume that the personal privacy protections in the Constitution are inviolable and will always be in existence, the Constitution in Exile crowd doesn't. They believe not just that privacy rights should be diminished; its members believe that there should be none. I repeat that -- no general right of privacy whatsoever in the Constitution.

So what does that mean? First, the government, whether state, federal, or local, could forbid couples, as they had in the past, from using contraception.

The government could also constitutionally impose restrictions on the number of children you could have. Such restrictions exist in other countries; and God only knows what happens here in two, five, 10, 20, 30 years. This may seem an unlikely outcome; but remember, this is the same crew that brought you Schiavo.

Moreover, the next 20 years will be marked by great developments in medical and informational technology. Will individuals be able to take advantage of stem cell research with its enormous promise? Or will legislators enact their moral opposition, and will a conservative Supreme Court refuse to step in to protect those individual rights?

Will the government have unlimited power to monitor individuals -- what they say, where they go, whom they meet with, who they associate with? Will originalist judges tell us their historical investigations of the Constitution convince them the Framers would have been comfortable with this? Will our justices protect our medical records, information regarding genetic propensities for diseases, financial data?

This and more is at stake over privacy. It goes well beyond Roe v. Wade.

And for as long as the Radical Right has been trying to reverse our constitutional understanding of privacy, they have also been trying to reverse a consensus that no one is talking much about -- except some of you in this room -- a consensus going back to the days of the Great Depression that government can act as a shield to protect Americans from the abuse of powerful interests.

Can we protect the air we breathe? Can we keep arsenic out of our drinking water? Can we keep tobacco companies from targeting our kids? Can we establish minimum national standards to provide equal opportunity and human dignity for society's most vulnerable members -- our elderly, our disabled, women victimized by violence? That is all at stake.

There are instances when our democracy has to step in to alleviate inequities; to recognize human dignity and to lift people up by ensuring equal opportunity. Others, however, disagree with this consensus.

Michael Greve of the American Enterprise Institute puts it straightforwardly: "I think what is really needed here is a fundamental intellectual assault on the entire New Deal edifice. We want to withdraw judicial support for the entire modern welfare state." That's what this is about. This is not a debate about the solvency of Social Security, for example. It's about the legitimacy of Social Security.

Listen to the debates going on underneath these constitutional issues. It's about devolution of government. It's about withdrawing, withdrawing as a matter of law, the right of the federal government to do much of anything other than provide the national defense.

And lest you think they don't mean it, I'm the guy that wrote the crime bill, 100,000 new cops on the streets. The other side votes against it, even though they love it. Not a joke. They love it. They can't say a negative thing about it. But they vote against it because it is contrary to the paradigm of devolution of government -- the federal government should not be involved in aiding local government. That's the legislative way they're trying to change the court judicially.

This is the agenda, folks. And the Court already has such acolytes. Justice Thomas has voted to strike down over 65 percent of the federal laws that have been reviewed by the Court. What would happen if we had five Justice Thomases? Thousands of laws -- environmental, criminal, civil rights -- could be declared unconstitutional.

Justice Thomas wrote in one of his opinions recently, "If anything, the wrong turn was the Court's dramatic departure in the 1930s." What I describe as a "healthy consensus," Judge Thomas and others call "a wrong turn."

What's at risk if this view of the Constitution ever gained full ascendancy? The Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Clean Water Act, and the Endangered Species Act, all rely on the Congress's Commerce Clause power.

The Radical Right is determined to elevate private property at the expense of protecting our safety, well-being, and communities. Under their reading of the appropriate language in the Constitution -- the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment -- the only way to keep a chemical plant out of your neighborhood would be to pay off the chemical plant to not build because you are taking their property.

Our bedrock civil rights laws are also based on post-1937 constitutional interpretations.

There also could be no federal minimum wage and no maximum hour laws. We wouldn't be having a debate about increasing the minimum wage because there wouldn't be one.

And lest you think this is hyperbole, look at what the debates taking place in local elections are about. Look at the debates that are taking place in the chamber in which I work. I was joking with four of my new colleagues as we were having coffee and doughnuts before going into a committee meeting. I said, "I have a great idea how to deal with the plight of the elderly." And they all looked and said, well, what you got in mind? It's a true story. I won't name the four Senators. And I said, "You know, we should pass a law mandating that every employer has to take six or seven percent of their revenues and put it into a fund and mandate that every single American, no matter where they work, has to take a similar amount and put it into a fund."

One of the new Senators, I swear to God, said, "That's confiscatory." One of the brighter ones said, "You're not getting me to go there, Joe." Let me ask you this rhetorical question. Honest to God, take off your centrist or moderate or liberal, wherever you fall in the spectrum, hat. Do you believe if we did not have a Social Security law now, do you believe one could be passed today in the House of Representatives? Honest to God, what do you think? I don't think there's any possibility.

So this is what's at stake, folks. This is the proportion of the potential consequences of the turning of the Court.

Under something called the nondelegation doctrine, the Court may have to strike down the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA), which is tasked to make sure American workers are safe.

The problem under the nondelegation doctrine is that many of today's modern federal agencies are just like OSHA. They exercise broad rule-making powers and enforcement powers that are unconstitutional according to many.

This is a doctrine -- the nondelegation doctrine -- that wisely gave way a long time ago to the reality of our complex modern age. Congress simply can't legislate every particular rule in detail, so it empowers agencies to do so, with Congress retaining the power to come in and oversee what that agency is doing. This system makes sense. It has some abuses that can be corrected through the legislative process, but it is at the very heart of what allows our government to function in this complicated society we live in.

And it's not only OSHA that is at risk if the nondelegation doctrine and other doctrines favored by the Constitution in Exile crowd -- such as a requirement that agency members must be removable by the President at will -- are accepted by the Supreme Court. The Federal Communications Commission, the Federal Reserve Board, the Securities & Exchange Commission, just to name a few, would hang in the balance. And there would result a fundamental shift in power from the powerful to the extremely powerful.

So what's the common theme here? It is to prevent, in my view, "We the People" from being able to protect ourselves from abuse at the hands of society's already powerful and growing even more powerful. The Radical Right's agenda would give enormous power to the already powerful and eliminate the ability of the less powerful to use the democratic branches of government to rebalance the playing field.

But why are the courts so important to the Radical Right? And they are. In 1988 a Reagan Justice Department document stated, "There are few factors that are more critical to determining the course of the nation and yet are more often overlooked than the values and philosophies of the men and women who populate the third co-equal branch of the government, the federal judiciary." If there was ever anything the Reagan Administration wrote that was accurate, that is it.

The American Enterprise Institute's Michael Greve recently stated, to quote him again, "I think the judicial appointments are what matter most of all."

So why doesn't the Radical Right just push their agenda through the Congress and the state legislatures?

First, the people don't agree with it. And secondly, it is an acknowledgment that their current control of Congress and the presidency is temporary. Now is the time for the Right to strike and lock in their philosophy; to handcuff future Congresses from being able to counteract the Right's agenda. For once something is declared unconstitutional, other than through an amendment, we find ourselves at an overwhelming disadvantage to move through with the legitimate will of the American people.

It is also an acknowledgment that the Radical Right can't take on many popular programs and policies -- our environmental and worker protections -- in the clear light of day in the democratically-elected branches of government. So they focus their fire on the judiciary.

Again, don't take my word for it. Richard Epstein, one of the intellectual powerhouses of this movement, said, "Some movement in the direction of judicial activism is clearly indicated."

We are talking about a movement that would wield the Constitution, not as a shield, but as a sword to push an extreme agenda -- an agenda, I believe, the American people do not support.

And it's something that has already begun. The Rehnquist court has been the most activist Supreme Court in our history, striking down a record three dozen acts of Congress in less than 20 years.

What kinds of laws is our high Court striking down? Popular, common sense laws, laws that said, for example, you can't have guns within a thousand feet of an elementary school; laws battling violence against women; laws requiring cleanup of low-level nuclear waste; and laws saying states can't steal somebody's ideas and inventions.

Over the first seven decades of the Court's existence, only two federal laws -- two, t-w-o -- were held unconstitutional.

Let me focus for a minute on one of those laws already struck down, one that's very near and dear to my heart. I grew up in a family where the worst form of unmanly cowardice that one could engage in was to strike a woman. It was the lowest act of all.

As a result, I wrote a law called the Violence Against Women Act, and I have never put so much energy into any single piece of legislation in my 32 years in the United States Senate. I thought the single most important aspect of the law was to empower women to take control of their own lives, to be able to go into federal court and sue their abuser for the abuser's car, business, and worldly goods for the abuse inflicted upon them, whether or not the state or federal prosecutor wished to proceed criminally.

But in 2000 the Supreme Court struck down this right, despite nine hearings, over a hundred witnesses, despite the support of 38 states' attorneys general, despite the overwhelming evidence of gender discrimination in local and the state criminal justice systems.

I term this -- I realize that one man's meat is another man's poison -- but I term this "judicial activism." Laws like this are what's at stake, in my view.

We do well to recall the brilliance of the Founding Fathers who devised a system of judicial appointments specifically aimed at preventing the President from effecting a radical shift in the judiciary. When I was sworn into the Senate, I vowed to "support and defend" this carefully balanced system. And I have no intention of abdicating that responsibility.

The question most asked of me by my students in the constitutional law course I have been teaching the last 15, 16 years, however many -- a long time -- is what the Founders intended the "advise and consent" clause to mean.

To me, the answer is clear and overwhelming. The Founders intended the Senate to take the broadest view of its advise and consent responsibility. And throughout history, the Senate has taken this responsibility to restrain the President very seriously. Over and over the Senate has scrutinized nominees' constitutional methodology and philosophy, and rejected nominees on that basis. One out of five nominees have been rejected over our history.

And I for one find it useful to recall the 1959 statement in the Harvard Law Record of a young Arizona lawyer named William Rehnquist. He called for a Senate approach "of thoroughly informing itself on the judicial philosophy of a Supreme Court nominee before voting to confirm him."

As Walter has taught me, along with my good friend who I impose on much too much, Chris Schroeder of Duke, the country has done this particularly when it is deeply divided and when the balance of the Court is at stake.

Think of how the world has changed since Justice O'Connor first joined the high Court. In 1981, almost none of us had computers. E-mail was largely a figment of the imagination. The Internet was a narrow path being blazed on the frontier of technology, not an Information Superhighway. Imagine what our world will look like in the year 2030 when today's nominee, God willing, could be expected to retire.

Long after Saddam Hussein is dust, after phrases like "CIA leak" are tossed into the scrap heap of historical trivia, long after President Bush and Joe Biden are gone from Washington, far into the 21st century our newly minted Supreme Court Justice will be making critical, critical decisions about the kind of country my children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be living in.

Now, I'm not going to prejudice whether I in the end will vote for or against Judge Roberts. He came to see me, and I told him straightforwardly what I wanted to know. I didn't ask him his views at the time. I said, "Judge Roberts, there are two things at stake" -- and I mentioned them here -- "how far can government intervene into the areas of personal autonomy? How far? What limits does the Constitution provide, if any? And the other side of that coin is to what degree can the government act as a shield to prevent the powerless and the less powerful from the imposition of the heavy economic hand of corporations?" And I said, "lastly, Judge, I want to know your view of stare decisis as a Supreme Court Justice."

It's not the test, I told him, whether or not he's an honorable, intelligent, and well-respected man. To the best of my knowledge, he is.

The Senate is charged first with coming to some understanding of the nominee's constitutional disposition toward the great questions of the day, and second with expressing his judgment as to whether or not those views are acceptable at a time when we have a closely balanced Supreme Court.

Judge Roberts finds himself a fulcrum in our deeply divided nation, upon which great constitutional questions hang in the balance. He has become the embodiment of people's hopes and fears about where the Constitution heads in the future. For the American people -- and we vastly underestimate the soundness of their judgment -- fully understand that the decisions a new Justice will make will affect the very way they can live their lives for a long time to come.

It's an unenviable position and an enormous responsibility for Judge Roberts. I will examine if, in my opinion, he is prepared to protect the personal autonomy of Americans as well as the ability of the government to act as a shield to protect those with less power from the abuse of powerful interests. And the critical determination -- critical for me -- will be his judgment on stare decisis. These questions will determine how I will vote.

For I want to make it clear to you -- and especially you students here -- after you go through the great constitutional law scholars under which you study, and they talk to you about the way in which the Founders may or may not have intended the "advise and consent" clause to work, I suggest you do what I suggest my students do.

Take off your legal scholarship hat, stand back, and ask yourself the rhetorical question: can you imagine on that hot, steamy summer, with the Founders sitting on the second floor so no one could hear what they were doing; can you imagine them saying, by the way, we are going to have three co-equal branches of government. Two of them will be able to be scrutinized by the American people, and the presumption will be that they are not entitled to the office unless a majority of the people conclude they should hold the office. But the third branch, all we want to know is are they honorable, decent, and straightforward?

And as my little granddaughter says, "Pop, give me a break."

Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen, for listening.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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A New Compact for Iraq

U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE) DELIVERS REMARKS TO THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION

Washington, DC

June 21, 2005

U.S. SENATOR JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): (APPLAUSE) Thank you very much. Thank you very much.

Let me say something very starkly clear at the outset: George Bush is our president; we have one president at a time; he is the president and no one is running against George Bush.

There is a desire here, the intent of my remarks and my meetings at the request of the president with his national security adviser, to figure out how to get it right in Iraq.

There is a credibility gap, a credibility gap that exists between the rhetoric the American people are hearing and the reality of what is happening on the ground. That does not mean the gap cannot be closed, but absent closing that gap, the American people are not, in my view, going to be prepared to give the president the support and time he needs to get it right in Iraq.

I'm very glad to be back here at Brookings. The experts here have produced remarkable amounts and volumes of work on Iraq, starting before the war right up to the beginning of the war and up until today.

Many of you in this building, Jim, have been prescient. I only wish that more of what had been produced out of this building had been read on Pennsylvania Avenue and more of it had been read across the river. And I mean that sincerely. I mean that sincerely.

Folks, here's how the vice president of the United States recently characterized the situation in Iraq: He said, quote, "I think they're in the last throes of the insurgency."

I just returned from my fifth trip to Iraq. That does not make me an expert, but I can tell you the difference between the first time before the war and the last four times since the war began, how it's changed.

When I got back this time, which is about two weeks ago now, my wife asked me, "What was it like compared to before?"

And I pointed out to her, when you arrive in Baghdad, you're in a C-130. You do a corkscrew landing to make it more difficult for an enemy ground-to-air launched missile to take you down.

When you land, you immediately have body armor placed upon you. You are hustled quickly into a Black Hawk helicopter. In the helicopter, there are two brave young soldiers with 30-caliber machine guns hanging out the bays of those doors.

You travel from the red zone to the green zone -- the green zone is the supposed safe zone, the rest of Baghdad is the red zone. You travel at roughly 150 miles per hour.

I'm not certain of the exact speed -- not a whole lot over 100 feet off the ground, so as not to provide those on the ground with a profile that you're able to shoot down an aircraft.

You get off the aircraft, the helicopter, the Black Hawk, in the green zone, which has redundant great cement blocks and walls to keep it secure.

You are hustled into, in your armor, a beefed-up Chevy van. You travel at speeds, roughly as I could calculate it, above 40 miles an hour, through a 25-block area that, as I said, has redundancy in cement walls.

Many of you have been there. And from where I stand, I have not found that to be particularly evidence of how much more secure the area's become.

My first trip, immediately after Saddam's statute fell in that circle, I was able to ride around in not an up-armored, but an armored vehicle. I don't recall whether I had on a bulletproof vest; I may have. We actually got out of the vehicle numerous times. We walked in the streets. We walked up to buildings, commercial buildings. We looked at what was happening on the street.

And today -- today -- it is very, very different -- no different than my December trip, but very different than my first trip.

So the question I think's legitimate to ask is: What is really happening in Iraq? And here's what I found, one United States senator.

First, the insurgency remains as bad as it was a year ago, but more jihadists are coming across the Iraqi border, and they are an increasingly lethal part of the problem.

Insurgent attacks are back up between 60 and 70 per week. Car bombs now average 30 a week, up from just one a week in January of 2004.

In the seven weeks since the Iraqi government has been seated, more than 1,000 people have been killed.

The good news is -- and there is some good news -- but the good news is that some disgruntled Sunnis are finally beginning to make the switch from violence to politics.

The bad news is, a whole lot of them are not.

And Iraq's porous borders are being penetrated by well-trained, fanatical jihadists who find a seemingly endless supply in what should not surprise us, somewhat of the excess of 600,000 tons of munitions that we acknowledged existed, that we pointed out we could not guard because we had insufficient forces to guard them as long as 18 to 20 months ago.

Our military is doing everything that is possible and I would suggest more. But there's not enough of them and there are not enough fully trained or capable Iraqi forces to take territory and maintain it from the insurgents.

Our forces go out and clean out towns. But then they move to the next hornet's nest. They lack the resources to lead a strong residual force behind to prevent the insurgents from returning to and intimidating the fence-sitters who are too afraid to take a chance on behalf of the government.

I heard, with every general and every flight officer with whom I spoke about the inability to mount a serious counterinsurgency effort.

Second, Iraqi security forces are very gradually improving. But they are still no match for the insurgents without significant coalition support.

General Petraeus, who I think is an absolutely first-rate, absolutely first-rate general, who has been in charge of our training of late -- I would argue, had we listened to him much earlier, we would not have squandered the 18 months we've squandered in actually bringing on a more competent, more fully-trained and larger number of Iraqi forces.

But we have a long way to go. When the American people heard the secretary of defense, back in February of '04, brag about the fact we had 210,000 Iraqi forces in the security force. And then, 16 months later, the administration suggested that there were 168,581 -- a pretty precise number -- trained Iraqis.

I don't know about where you all live. But I tell you, where I live, folks ask, "Well, Joe, what's the deal? If you've got 200,000 Iraqis or 150,000 Iraqis trained, why do you need to keep my kid there? Why do we need 136,000 American forces?"

And the next thing they'd say is, even if they're trained and you need all those forces, "Then, Joe, you're telling me we need well over 300,000 forces to get this thing done?"

Remember, remember, a guy named Shinseki. Well, ladies and gentlemen, the answer is that there are very few of those Iraqis who are trained to the only standard that counts, that is, the ability to take over for an American troop. That's the ultimate exit strategy we've announced a long time ago: Be able to replace, essentially one for one, an Iraqi for an American force.

Right now, there are 107 battalions in uniform being trained by us.

Three of those are fully capable. Translated: It means they can do the job without any Americans hanging around with them. They can do the job.

Somewhere around 27 are somewhat capable, meaning they can do the job but backed up by a significant American presence -- backed up by.

The rest are in varying degrees of ability to be able to in any way enhance the security circumstance with American forces.

So the third point I would make is the political situation in Iraq at the moment is stalemating with some hint -- some hint -- that there may be some movement among the Shia and Kurds to accommodate greater Sunni participation.

The January elections were a remarkable achievement. I can't recall whether I was here or not, Jim, but I predicted -- I think many of you did -- that there would be a significant turnout. I never, for a moment, doubted and stated on the record the Iraqi people do want freedom.

But stagnation from the time that election took place has fueled a great deal of frustration.

And I hope that last week's agreement to give Arab Sunnis a larger representation on the committee that writes the constitution will help break that stalemate.

I met with the Shia who is the chairman of that committee, when I was there. There is -- I'm taking him at his word for the sake of this discussion -- that he is prepared and they are prepared to have more Sunni participation.

But finding Sunnis acceptable to all the committees to fill these new slots is not an easy task.

If a draft does not emerge as scheduled in August, of the constitution, the rest of the calendar, which calls for a referendum on the constitution in October, a general election in December, that will all be pushed back.

The constitutional stalemate is compounded by a growing secularism that has within its seed a civil war -- a seed within it is the possibility of a civil war.

You hear more and more people on the ground this time, the last -- and I know there's a lot of press folks here. Most of you have been there. You're hearing the same thing I'm hearing. And that is that there's a concern -- a concern among our people in and out of uniform -- that the sectarian division is increasing and that the prospects of a civil war are increasing, not predicted, but increasing.

Two years ago, on my first trip to postwar Iraq, few, if any Iraqis would openly acknowledge or identify themselves as Sunni or Shia. It was considered inappropriate -- not anymore, not anymore.

Sunnis fear that Shia Islamasist parties leading the government are acting as agents of Iran. Jihadist terrorists believe it is acceptable to kill Sunnis simply because they are Sunnis.

On the other side, some Shia believe Sunnis have made common cause with radical terrorists like Zarqawi, who has obviously an anti-Shia agenda.

And the minority is taking the law into their own hands to get even for the oppression that they suffered at the hands of Saddam Hussein.

And I would note parenthetically, when I met with the ministers in the government, several talked about how Sunnis do not view the Shia as their protectors in uniform, nor do they view the peshmerga as their protectors.

And I would note parenthetically again, there has been a rapid change since my last trip. Now everybody is essentially sanctified - or sanctified's the wrong word -- maybe for Iraq it's not -- but has essentially acknowledged the permanency, at least in the initial stages, of the Badr Brigade and the peshmerga. Remember, they were going to be integrated into the army, not as units, but on a personal basis.

Fourth, the reconstruction program in Iraq has thus far been a disaster.

Remember the $18.4 billion that Congress appropriated at the urgent request of the president of the United States in the fall of '03, for which I helped floor manage and took on the responsibility, along with others to push hard, because I believe there is a nexus between the reconstruction and the physical safety and possible success of our military in the region.

Just $6 billion of that $18.4 billion has been spent.

And 40 percent of that has been allocated to rebuilding Iraqi security forces because of our lack of truth and advertising in the budget in asking directly for that money for that purpose.

Of the $3.5 billion or so actually spent on reconstruction, between 25 percent and 40 percent of the reconstruction dollars has gone to provide security for those jobs.

We have repeatedly missed the deadlines for increasing power, oil production. As temperatures approach 120 degrees in the third summer since Saddam's statue came down, Iraqis still have only about eight hours a day of electricity and almost half do not have regular access to clean water. And most estimates place unemployment above 40 percent.

General Webster, a guy who knows how to talk straight and shoot straight, the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, talks about the need to clean up what he calls green lawns and green streets of Baghdad. What he means by green lawn and green streets, when you fly above Baghdad, green is the color of sewage. Green is the color of sewage as seen from the air.

For anyone that doesn't there's a direct correlation between the living conditions, job prospects of ordinary Iraqis and their support for the insurgency, spend five minutes with any military guy or woman who has been shot at, being shot at or having to shoot back.

Fifth, the Iraqi government has very little capacity and very limited reach beyond the green zone. In the absence of governmental authority, insurgents, foreign fighters, neighbors like Iran and Syria, criminals and other opportunists are filling the breach.

In short, I did not come away with the impression that the insurgency was, as the vice president of the United States suggested, in its last throes.

And unlike the president of the United States, I am not, quote, "pleased with the progress," end of quote, we're making, as I recently saw it and as he recently put it.

These are just two in a long litany of rosy assessments, misleading statements, premature declarations of victory that we've heard from the administration on Iraq.

The disconnect between the administration's rhetoric and the reality on the ground has opened not just a credibility gap, but a credibility chasm. Standing right in the middle of that chasm are 139,000 American troops, some of them -- some of them -- on their third tour.

This disconnect, I believe, is fueling cynicism that is undermining the single most important weapon we need to give our troops to be able to do their job, and that is the unyielding support of the American people.

That support is waning. One recent poll showed that 60 percent support withdrawing some or all of our troops from Iraq now. Another shows 52 percent of the public doesn't believe the war in Iraq has made them any safer. And listen to some of the assertions made by some conservative Republican congressmen. You will hear that drum beat grow.

But I believe we have a shot, a serious shot, we have still a chance to succeed in Iraq. And I also believe that the future, if it results in failure, will be a disaster.

The fact of the matter is that, as I've said from the outset, no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. And there has not been informed consent, because the American people have not been told how difficult it was going to be, how difficult it remains to be in order to succeed and what will be required.

This is not a question of optimism versus pessimism. It is one of facts versus fiction, and I think, ultimately, of success versus failure.

I want to see the president of the United States succeed in Iraq. It is necessary for the president to succeed in Iraq. His success is America's success, and his failure is America's failure.

So any good-thinking American would want to see him succeed in Iraq.

Success, as I define it, is leaving Iraq better than we found it; not a Jeffersonian democracy -- which I, for one, have never believed is a remote possibility -- but a unified country with a representative government where all the major factions think they have a stake in the deal, a stake in the government.

With the territorial integrity intact and not a threat to its neighbors, more haven for terror. That is success, from my perspective.

Let me define what I call disaster: A country that, left to its own devices, disintegrates and becomes a playground for Iraq's neighbors and a training ground for terrorists. That is a real possibility.

If it becomes a reality, it would embolden our enemies, encourage terrorism, undermine moderates in the region, badly damage our credibility that we're going to need to lead other countries against new threats.

It would also send oil prices even higher. In short, it will hurt our national security interests for at least a decade to come. That's why it's so important that we continue to try to succeed.

These are the stakes, in my view. And let me state to you what I think the options are. The options are basically four.

First, we can stick with the status quo and try to muddle through. I think that is a prescription for failure. It is not working now and nothing leads me to believe that it can work.

Second, we can call it quits and withdraw. I think that would be a gigantic mistake for the reasons I stated earlier.

Or we can set a deadline for pulling out which I fear will only encourage our enemies to wait us out -- equally a mistake.

Third, we can limit our losses -- which may end up being our only option, if we don't do the right thing in the near term. We may limit our losses by manipulating the emerging balance of power in Iraq and throwing our weight behind the Kurds and the Shia.

Our bottom line national security interest, which would be preventing a new springboard for terrorism, might be preserved if we took that route, but there would be real risk of a Lebanese-style civil war.

These are all bad options. But before we think about picking up and going home, or playing the sectarian game in Iraq, there's a fourth option that I think is worth trying. I believe we should do more; we should do it better; and we should do it smarter.

So what is the option? How do we do that?

We do what I am about to suggest in my view so that we can leave sooner with success, not stay longer. This requires two things.

First, we need to change the politics at home, and second, we need to change the policy in Iraq.

Let me explain what I mean. The first order of business is to regain the confidence of the American people. In case they haven't noticed, they -- the American people -- no longer take the administration at their word about Iraq.

That is a very important point, from my perspective.

I propose, in order to regain that confidence, that we forge a new compact between the administration and the Congress to secure the informed consent of the American people for the remainder of the job, the difficult job that has to be done so that they will give the president the time we need to succeed in Iraq.

Specifically, the administration should develop with Congress clear benchmarks and goals in key areas: security, governance and politics, reconstruction and burden-sharing.

We in Congress, in my view, should aggressively assert our oversight responsibility by insisting the administration report on the progress toward these goals every month in public testimony.

I'd expect the administration to detail what they think they've achieved, where they think they've fallen short, why they've fallen short and what help they need to, in fact, regain the initiative.

Last week, I wrote my senior counterparts, Republicans and Democrats in the Armed Services Committee, the Intelligence Committee and the Foreign Relations Committee, suggesting this idea.

And on my way back, when I arrived, asked by the president to meet with Mr. Hadley, our national security adviser. He asked me what I would suggest the president do.

I recommended -- not presumptuously, but in response to a question -- I recommended to the administration the president address the nation in prime time on Iraq sooner than later in order to be able to keep the American people in the deal.

I was pleased to learn that the president is planning to speak to the American people on Iraq in the days ahead. I hope he will take the opportunity to level with the American people about what is at stake, what still we have to do to achieve, what is our goal and how we plan to achieve it.

Most importantly, I hope the president will demonstrate that he has heard the concerns of the American people and that he is taking significant steps not to stay the course, but to correct the course.

In my judgment, this combination of benchmarks and regular public accountability would go a long way toward convincing the American people that they are getting the facts in Iraq and that we have a strategy for success.

The American people are tough. They're tougher than both political parties and the leaders in both parties think they are.

Tell them the truth, tell them what you need, tell them how hard it will be, and they, if they believe you're leveling with them, will give you the resources to have a shot at getting it done.

Fail to do that and they will leave you, not because of the deaths, as tragic as they are, but, in my view, because they will have concluded that there is not a plan, there is not a plan for success.

Changing the politics of Iraq is necessary, but I believe it is not sufficient for success.

We also need to make real policy changes on the ground in four key areas: security, governance and politics, reconstruction and burden-sharing.

As you all know, and many of you have written, everything flows from security. In its absence, reconstruction cannot go forward, Iraqis will not put their faith in the government, and we will not be able to withdraw responsibly.

And here is what I believe we should do on security.

First, we have to take advantage of the legitimate foreign offers to train Iraqi security forces outside of Iraq. Iraqi recruits then could focus on actually learning something, rather than focus on simply staying alive.

The French have offered -- and this offer is somewhat old now -- they have offered and personally told this by President Chirac.

I actually asked our administration, and they acknowledged the offer was made, to train 1,500 gendarmes -- 1,500 real live paramilitary police -- train them in France to send them back to Iraq.

The Egyptians have offered to train hundreds more police. And the Jordanians have offered advance military training for young officers.

Yet, we have not taken them up on any of these offers.

When asked why, the State Department told me it's because the Iraqis haven't accepted these offers. I respectfully suggest, someone whisper in their ear, suggest that they ask for this help. I imagine you could get a response. I imagine you'd get a response.

Second, though some of you would suggest that well, these offers aren't for real, that the French and the Germans and others will not really do this. Well, folks, isn't it time to call their bluff? I think they mean it. Maybe I'm wrong. But let's find out. Let's find out.

They also should accelerate the training of an Iraqi officer corps. This had been discussed by me and with me by folks on the ground, wearing uniforms, that there is no reason -- everyone acknowledged one of the major mistakes made by Mr. Bremer was decommissioning and the total de-Baathification under the leadership of Mr. Chalabi of the entire Iraqi establishment, including the entire Iraqi military.

We should do what we're done in other circumstances, in other wars. We should find those at the major and colonel level who we think are the real thing and we should train them up as a serious officer corps.

This means that's the only way, in my view, to stand up ultimately on Iraqi military when it comes under fire.

NATO is establishing a staff war college in Iraq. But we should train larger numbers of junior and mid-ranking officers here in the United States and encourage our NATO allies to do more of the same in their countries.

This is not new, folks. We've done this with many, many other countries brought their potential officer corps here and over a period of months to a year, train them. That needs to be done.

Third, we should press our NATO allies to come up with a small force of 3,000 to 5,000 troops to help guard the Iraqi border, particularly around Syria. This mission would have real impact, far larger than the number of forces deployed because it would dramatically change the calculus of the Syrians, the main crossing point for the jihadists.

The NATO military has such plans already drawn. The president now has to lead to give the alliance the political will to implement these plans.

Last year, when I suggested NATO involvement in Iraq -- I think I did it from this stage -- some said I was naive. As you may recall, not long after that, President Bush succeeding in gaining NATO's support for military training.

We didn't take advantage of the best recommendation made by those NATO forces that went and came back and suggested how to proceed. But nonetheless, for military training, he needs to keep the pressure on now to expand NATO's role.

And I would note, parenthetically, I think Europe is prepared and needs to demonstrate to themselves their willingness to be able to get together to do something consequential and concrete at this moment for their own internal self need.

Fourth, we need a serious field mentoring program for newly-trained Iraqi police. It's wrong to throw freshly (inaudible) ill-equipped police officers against suicidal insurgents and desperate criminals. They must be partnered with experienced officers.

Without taking the time, there is a whole plan put forward to do that. We should seek it out and we should implement it. And fifthly, we must refocus the Iraqi government on how to eventually integrate all militias in Iraq. The Badr Brigade, the Mahdi Army, the peshmerga, they're causing sectarian and social tensions in Iraq.

They cannot -- you cannot have a functioning state, a unitary government with militias beholden to parochial interests.

That cannot be done now, immediately, but we should begin the process now of making it clear that that is what is needed for a unitary state.

In the political arena, the goal is clear: a government seen as legitimate by Iraqis' major constituencies. But the road to get there is hard: a constitution by August the 15th, a referendum on that constitution by October the 15th and an election under the constitution by year's end.

Think for a minute about the divisive issues that are going to have to be addressed: the role of Islam; the federal structure; the protection of minority rights; women's rights; the status of oil-rich Kirkuk; the distribution of resources; and much more.

It took us 13 years to write our Constitution. The Iraqis have just seven weeks left to write theirs. And one of the main communities necessary to give it legitimacy is not yet fully involved.

On reconstruction, we need to do four important things. First, establish realistic goals and make clear what we're doing to try to overcome the shortfalls.

For example, the goal was set to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity by last summer. Today, we have just over 4,000 megawatts, but demand is nearly doubled. And we've scaled back our ambitions to 5,500 megawatts by September.

Less power means food rots in refrigerators, sleepless nights and difficult days, reconstruction delays, factories sitting idle, fewer jobs and more unhappy Iraqis willing to fill the ranks of the insurgency.

The administration said from the beginning that Iraqi oil would pay for Iraq's recovery. Yet Iraq is still producing the same amount of oil it was 18 months ago, 2.25 million barrels, which is 750,000 barrels short of the target we set.

At current prices, that shortfall amounts to $10 billion a year for the Iraqi economy.

Second, we have to develop accurate measures of the basic quality of life and delivery of essential services -- if we want to know what difference our reconstruction efforts are making or could make.

There's a direct correlation, as I said earlier, between Iraqis supporting their government and children going to school, men and women going to jobs, sick people having a doctor, families getting electricity they need to stay cool, police protecting their citizens from robberies and kidnapping -- there's a direct correlation.

Third, we must focus resources on smaller projects that make an impact on ordinary lives.

The Iraqis are simply looking for an improvement in their standard of living. They're not looking, at this time, for state of the art infrastructure on a par with the West.

Instead of building the tertiary sewer treatment plant, we should be running PVC pipe out of the back of homes, into the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, rather than have two feet of raw sewage on the front door step of every Iraqi when they step out of their house.

In parallel, we should increase the amount of reconstruction funds given directly to our military -- directly to our military, which has been one of the few success stories in the whole reconstruction process.

Everybody knows it's a tribal society. As my good friend Dick Lugar said some time ago: What's needed is a little bit of walking around money.

Go find, go find the tribal leader in the community. Get him to suggest how he's going to build that road or improve that lot. Give him the resources to do that.

We've got over 40 percent unemployment rate.

Fourth, we have to develop capacity for the Iraqi ministries. This is the third Iraqi government in less than two years, and it could be the fourth, if all goes well, by the end of this year.

We know how difficult it is to transition those bureaucracies every four years in our presidential elections. Imagine the challenge in Iraq, when the management team of a barely functional government changes every few months.

We have to help the government deal with the rising corruption, which is badly eroding public confidence. And we must press our allies to help train Iraqi government personnel.

The British had a proposal of partnering individual developed countries with a cluster of Iraqi ministries.

We should follow up on that recommendation. And finally, we must recruit other countries to share the burden in Iraq. I still believe that what I called for more than a year ago is the right thing to do and that it's doable, the creation of a contact group, an international board of directors to help generate assistance, provide political advice and discourage destabilizing actions by countries such as Iran and Syria in the region.

Many of our European and regional partners recognize that they have as much at stake in Iraq as we do if not more. And their desire to prevent chaos is, in fact, a very, very strong incentive if we lead.

To get their buy-in though, we have to give them more control and give them a seat at the decision-making table.

Tomorrow, at the Brussels conference on Iraq, I urge the president to establish a contact group that will meet on a monthly basis. This will give other major powers a mechanism to act in their own self interest and justify a more active assistance program to their skeptical publics.

And just as important, it will provide a useful tool of influence on political leaders in Iraq who need an excuse, the excuse of international pressure, to justify very difficult decisions they have to take within their constituencies.

Imagine selling to your Shia constituency the need to have more Sunnis in the process. Every major Iraqi Shia leader knows that success in a unitary government depends on more buy-in from the Sunnis. But try selling that without being able to turn and say, "The international community made me do it."

Since the elections, we've taken a hands-off approach in Iraqi politics. And I understand why we did that. But the Iraqis still need a guiding hand on their shoulder, an international community can provide that hand, so it's not just the U.S. suggesting what the Iraqis should be doing.

We also must urge other countries to make good on more than $13 billion in pledges they made in October of '03. Thus far, only $3 billion has actually been delivered.

BIDEN: In conclusion, folks, if we change the politics of Iraq at home by leveling with the American people and we change some of our policies in Iraq, by doing some of the things I've suggested, I am convinced we can still succeed.

But if the administration fails to make these changes and, quote, "stays the course," what happens? Or what happens if it does make these changes and the situation in Iraq deteriorates anyway?

After all, the cumulative effect of the mistakes we've made over the past three years has made the burden heavier, made the task less likely. We may not, some would argue, be able to turn back the tide. Then what do we do? How do we preserve our fundamental interests if our best efforts don't produce a representative, stable, peaceful Iraq?

Well, that's a fair question and it deserves a direct answer. At the end of the day, we must do everything to avoid two possible outcomes.

First, we cannot let Iraq become what it was not before the war, a Taliban-style Afghanistan in the heart of the Middle East that is a haven for terrorists.

And second, we cannot be perceived as having been defeated by radical Islamic jihadists. That would embolden them to carry out even more attacks against the United States.

The answer?

The answer may be -- what do we do if these approaches fail? - may be what I described earlier as the third bad option, to strengthen those Kurdish and Shia forces that can defeat the jihadists and keep the terrorists in check. Each of these, the Kurds and the Shia, have a stake in keeping Iraq loosely intact -- the Kurds as a hedge against the Turks and the Shia to avoid becoming a vassal of Iran.

I can't tell you precisely what that kind of Iraq would look like, but it would not be good. I can tell you it would not look anything like the moderate, modernizing country with a representative government that we still, I think, have a chance of helping occur.

Given the lofty goals that some once ascribed to this enterprise, achieving this stepped-down real politick would be at best a huge comedown.

And I understand this, that empowering sectarian forces in Iraq would have significant -- and, I would point out, mostly negative -- regional consequences.

Iran would emerge stronger. The Arab Gulf states and Jordan would feel threatened. Syria would feel less pressure. And Turkey would be even more worried about an already-serious -- from their perspective -- Kurdish problem.

I believe we can avoid the situation where Iraq's sectarian tensions no longer can be contained and, instead, we have to manipulate constituencies.

I believe we can still avoid that. I believe there is an underlying Iraqi nationalism that at least Arab Iraqis can rally around, and that a federal formula can be found to accommodate the Kurds.

My conviction, ladies and gentlemen, that we can still succeed in Iraq, is at the heart of my call today for a new compact between the president and Congress to regain the trust of the American people because, mark my words, if we do not regain that trust, it will be virtually impossible to succeed.

It's late in the day, folks, but it's not too late. If the president agrees to this new compact, if he makes important political changes at home as well as the policy on the ground, if he levels with us and presents a clear strategy for Iraq, then I believe the American people will respond and give him the support and the time he needs to prevail.

For I know of no one I've met in the rosiest, rosiest of all projections suggest that any less than a year, any less than a year is needed -- and most of the estimates from very realistic people on the ground is that it will be considerably more than that.

We need the time. We need the American people. We must level with them. Thank you very, very much.

(APPLAUSE)

MODERATOR: Thank you, Senator, for that very substantive and sobering message. I think it's fair to say, as you pointed out, that if you go back and look at Senator Biden's remarks here, when he last spoke on Iraq, that many of these very important messages that he gave us today were very much in his mind at that time.

And I think that there's a lot of wisdom that goes with them, both then and now.

We have time for a few questions from the audience.

QUESTION: Senator, you mentioned you're against a timetable because the insurgents will, quote, "wait us out." The White House has said something similar, that the insurgents would lie low until we leave.

But wouldn't the insurgents lying low buy time for us, let's say a year, to train the Iraqi security forces? Wouldn't it convince anti-Americans in Iraq that we're not going to occupy there forever and not put in a puppet government?

Wouldn't this also build support among the American public that we have an exit strategy? And finally, wouldn't this convince the Iraqis that it's ultimately going to be their responsibility?

BIDEN: Yes, if in fact we said we were leaving, but really didn't mean it.

If we were really going to stay -- I mean, the idea of setting a timetable to leave generally means that you have to set in train the process of leaving. It is not an easy process.

And I think once that is smelled as the option, then I think you find it will degenerate quickly into sectarian violence, every man for himself, and the conclusion that will be achieved will be, I think, a Lebanon in 1985. And God knows where it goes from there.

I think my attempt -- my prescription was an attempt to achieve that same result, and that is, to make it clear to the Iraqi people, to make it clear to the American people what our goals are, what it is that we in fact seek, which is not permanent basing, it is not their oil -- I think we've demonstrated that -- and at the same time put in place a process where we enable the Iraqis, through help from the outside, not just us, to make the difficult decisions they have to make and train up the capacity to be able to govern themselves.

QUESTION: Thank you. Senator, in his pen and pad briefing this morning, House Majority Leader DeLay said, regarding Iraq, that, "The strategy is working. It's an incredibly fast schedule. Nobody gives anyone any credit. The quality of life and the economy is improving every day."

And he went on to say that, "Everyone that comes back from Iraq is amazed at the difference they see on the ground and they see on their TV sets."

Could you address why the House majority leader would have such a different view of what's going on in Iraq from you?

BIDEN: No.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: Senator, do you think that a recess appointment by the president would be a statement by the president of a lack of respect for the U.N. or diminish the importance of the U.N., in light of what happened yesterday?

BIDEN: I'm not going to comment on that.

QUESTION: You said at the outset that no one's running against George Bush. It wasn't long ago that somebody did run against George Bush and made -- certainly not all the points that you made -- but made many of these same points.

Your colleague, John Kerry, lost the election. What makes you think that six months later, after the election, the American people are ready to engage in any different way?

QUESTION: And what makes you think the administration is willing to change course, after they won that election?

BIDEN: Reality. Reality. The fact is, look at the poll numbers. Before, when that race was on, a clear majority of the American people thought being in Iraq made them safer. Now 52 percent say it doesn't make them safer. Before, you still have a significant majority of the American people saying that things were working in Iraq and we should stay in Iraq. It was the right decision; now you have a clear majority of the American people saying get all or most of the troops out of Iraq, and do it immediately.

Look, it's amazing what -- I'm not being a wiseguy when I say this -- it's amazing when reality sinks in. What John Kerry talked about is turning out to be true.

I actually had on the ground with my staff -- and I wasn't the only one, by the way. There were three very conservative Republicans. I actually went into Iraq as the guest of a House delegation with three very conservative Republican colleagues of mine from the House. They all agreed with what I had to say.

I came out, did one of the major talk shows that Sunday from wherever I was, Chad or someplace, and they went and the press asked the logical question -- they went to these Republicans, said do you disagree? They said no, we don't disagree.

And so, my point I'm trying to make is the reality of what John talked about -- I even hate to put it in those terms, because now it makes it more political -- but the reality is it turned out to be true. We actually had several military people suggest to us that they were worried that not only were these jihadists coming across the border with more lethal capability, more sophistication, but they were training people in Iraq and sending them back out across the border to other parts of the region.

None of that was happening before.

And the American people are pretty smart. They know what's happening. And so I think they want the president to say, "Mr. President, look, give us a plan or get out. Give us a plan or get out."

And we should give them a plan, not get out.

QUESTION: Sorry, my foot's broke, I can't stand.

(CROSSTALK)

BIDEN: ... no one else does.

(LAUGHTER)

I'm from Delaware.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: In your prepared remarks you said, in your judgment, we're at least two years away from a fully capable Iraqi army. You didn't say that out loud.

What I'm wondering is just if you could clarify: Does that mean, timetables aside, that you don't think we've got any business getting out of there for the next two years?

And real quickly, second of all, could you address how important you think the specter of Iraq will be in the next presidential election here?

BIDEN: I don't know about the second question, but the first question I can answer for you; it's a fair question. The second's fair, too, I just don't know enough about the second question.

I believe that there is, if all goes well -- and, by the way, you can't just be training Iraqi troops; you've got to be distributing this reconstruction money at the same time; you've got to get other nations invested in this more than they are now; and you've got to get the Sunnis more into the game.

So it's not just training Iraqi troops, because you're not going to be able to train them up fully and you're not going to have any Sunnis in this army in training them up if you don't do these other pieces as well.

But, merely on the training front, it is possible, I believe, within a year, to have a sufficient number of Iraqis being able to take on significantly more responsibilities, maybe including some of the major cities, freeing up American forces to move to the border or even, theoretically, bring some American forces home.

But to get to the point where you're able to say the Iraqis now have the capacity, without the United States' presence there in any numbers, you have to have two things happen: There has to be a political solution -- that is, you actually wrote a constitution, you actually had an election -- and there has to be somewhere in excess of 100,000 Iraqis trained, including, essentially, a paramilitary police force along with -- because the criminal element is a problem all by itself, just to keep the streets safe.

And so that will take -- that training piece will take -- at least a year. I think two years. It doesn't mean things can't and won't get better for America and American troops, some of whom will be able to come home short of that.

But I can't imagine it being less than two years, if all goes well, before we essentially can say we're out of Iraq.

QUESTION: Thank you, Senator. A couple of questions: Your remarks seem to imply an insufficiency of U.S. troops in Iraq, a need for NATO troops. Irrespective of political support in the United States, do you think the circumstances on the ground in Iraq call for a buildup or an increase in U.S. troops?

And secondly, you mentioned a meeting with National Security Adviser Hadley. The president said yesterday he's consulting with his generals. He meets with al-Jaafari on Friday and gives a speech next week.

What kind of pivot or reassessment do you see the president going through at this point, and how would you gauge the outcome in terms of what he offers? Will it be more rhetoric in your opinion? Or what would you look for in terms of a change on the ground?

BIDEN: I think the president is absolutely, totally sincere about trying to figure out a better way.

The president's a smart guy. The president knows, in my opinion, that the rhetoric of the vice president is for reasons other than reflecting what's happening on the ground. The president knows.

I am confident if he speaks to any of our generals on the ground, I'm confident if he speaks to the agency people on the ground, I'm confident that if he speaks to our diplomats -- look at the testimony of his new nominee who will be a good ambassador -- he was a great ambassador in Afghanistan. I almost wish he wasn't leaving there.

But he will do a great job in Iraq. Look at his testimony. His testimony reflects an awful lot of what I'm suggesting here.

So, therefore, I am assuming that when the president asked me to debrief Mr. Hadley on my trip -- he didn't ask me personally. I got a call from Hadley saying the president asked me -- and I believe he was sincere.

And one of the recommendations I made was that he should literally pick up the phone or meet with some of these generals, because I believe if he asks them, "Do you have enough forces?" they will tell him the truth. Every one of them told me they do not have enough forces.

Now look, there's a distinction between saying I don't have enough forces and more American forces. We don't have many more American forces to be able to deploy.

That's why we should leverage the help available to us and lead to get it.

When you all are there -- and you've been there -- ask any general coming home what you have to do to deal with a counterinsurgency -- to have a counterinsurgency.

You have to be able to seal the border. You have to be able to seal the border. We don't have enough forces to leave the city to seal the border -- 3,000 troops on the border goes three times as far, twice as far as 3,000 troops in the middle of Baghdad.

But we are trying to maximize the forces we have. I know that, in fact, a year ago I said this publicly and I'll say it again: Our military folks in NATO have a plan to be able to deploy 3,000 to 5,000 troops along the border.

And military experts I've met with -- two-, three- and four-star generals that I've kept pace with and had them come and brief me, both political parties -- well, they don't state any political party, but they worked in this administration and they're not declared Democrats to the best of my knowledge -- say that it can happen. We could seal the border with that size force -- which would radically act as a multiplier for what else we need.

So, yes, we didn't have enough force when we went in, we didn't have enough force going in, we didn't have enough force after we went in, we didn't have enough force a year ago and we don't have enough force now.

The problem is, we don't have the capacity now, in my view, to significantly increase the number of American forces. As I said, some of these folks are on their third rotation.

That's why we need outside help, and that's why we have to leverage the training, leverage the training of Iraqi forces.

QUESTION: Thank you, Senator. Given the history of this administration and its inability to admit mistakes that they had made -- this president and this administration -- how is it possible to bring them into this compact -- which is very commendable, I must say, to you, Senator -- to get them on board without having admitted mistakes that they have made.

BIDEN: Well, I mean this sincerely, and I say it before God and country here: I do not hold -- the president makes at changing course. I, for one, give you my word you will never hear me say anything other than: "Thank you, Mr. President; every war requires a course correction. You've made it. I compliment you for making it and I support you."

I believe the majority of the members of the House and Senate would do that.

I'm not looking for a mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa -- I'm not looking for anybody to say I'm sorry. No matter who was president running this war, it would have been difficult.

Who knows. Maybe the prescriptions that I've been suggesting for the past two and a half years, if we had done them, maybe they wouldn't have worked either.

But one thing we know for sure: What is happening now is not working sufficiently to put us in the position to meet our objective of a secure Iraq not a threat to its neighbors, each of the confessional groups believing they have a stake in the outcome of that government functioning and not a haven for terror.

BIDEN: We're not there. And we're not going to get there by staying the course.

I believe the president is a big man. I believe the president will do what he thinks is in the best interest of the country. I think when he examines the facts, when he examines what's actually happening by talking to these folks, I believe he'll be prepared to change, to alter, to augment his policy.

And it doesn't have to be the exact prescriptions I suggested, but I know one thing. You can't do it without buy-in of the Sunnis. You can't do it without the rest of the world playing a greater role in this. You can't do it without burden-sharing and you can't do it without changing, at least on the margins, the living conditions of Iraqis in the relatively near term.

I thank you all very, very much. You've been very gracious.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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The Purpose of American Power

The Purpose of American Power by Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Foreign Policy Lecture Series U.S. Naval Academy - April 12, 2005

Introduction: The Lighthouse

One night at sea, a ship's captain saw what looked like the lights of another ship heading toward him on a collision course.

He had his signalman blink to the other ship: "Change your course 10 degrees south." The reply came back, "Change YOUR course 10 degrees north."

The ship's captain answered, "I'm a full captain - change your course south."

The which the reply was, "Well, I'm a seaman first class - change your course north."

This infuriated the captain, so he signaled back, "Dammit, I say change your course south. I'm on a battleship."

To which the reply came, "And I say change your course north. I'm in a lighthouse."

For better and sometimes worse, Washington is the nation's lighthouse when it comes to setting our foreign policy course.

What I want to do today is illuminate the main challenges I believe we face, and then to suggest some course corrections we need to make to meet those challenges.

The Challenges We Face

In my judgment, America faces two overriding national security challenges in this new century.

We must win the struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. And we must keep the world's most dangerous weapons away from its most dangerous people.

To prevail, I believe we need a new approach... and a new compact with our major allies around the world.

Today, after a necessary war in Afghanistan and an optional war in Iraq, Americans are rightly confident in the example of our military power.

But I've been concerned that some of our leaders have forgotten the power of our example.

For all of our great might, we are not only less comfortable in the world, but more alone - more isolated - than at any time in our history.

As a result, we are - in my view - less secure than we could or should be.

I believe we must recapture the totality of our strength and restore our nation to the respect it once enjoyed.

We need a foreign policy based both on the force of our arms and on the power of our ideas and our ideals.

That will require three things:

Building effective alliances and international organizations.

Forging a prevention strategy to diffuse threats to security long before they are on the verge of exploding while retaining the right to act preemptively in the face of imminent danger.

And reforming failed or anti-democratic states that are sources of instability, radicalism, and terror.

Such an approach will require not only a fundamental shift in American foreign policy, but a reconsideration by our allies of their reflexes.

Building Strong Alliances/International Organizations

Let me start with the first part of this new approach: building strong alliances and international organizations.

Some of my friends in the current administration have little interest in alliances, international organizations and treaties.

There's a logic to their disengagement.

They start from the premise that America's military might is the single most important determinant in the international system. Because that might is so much greater than anyone else's they see allies and agreements as more of a burden than a benefit. It's Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians.

I have tremendous respect for that military might. It is essential to our security and freedom. But I start from a different premise.

Most of the threats we face - from radical Islamic fundamentalism to the spread of weapons of mass destruction - to rogue states that flout the rules - have no respect for borders.

For all of the power you in this room represent, not one of those threats can be met solely with unilateral military force.

Even when we can succeed by ourselves, there are compelling reasons not to act alone - from basing rights to burden-sharing to the benefits of legitimacy.

Iraq demonstrates the price we pay for a unilateralist foreign policy.

There was never any doubt we could defeat Saddam without a single foreign soldier.

But because we chose to wage the war virtually alone, we have been responsible for the aftermath… virtually alone.

But here's an important caveat that our friends in Europe, Asia and beyond must take to heart if we are to succeed.

The credibility and effectiveness of alliances, treaties, and international organizations depend on a willingness not only to live by the rules, but to enforce them.

That could have been the basis for a common approach with our closest allies to Iraq. It was not - and both the U.S. and Europe have paid a price.

Now, when it comes to Iran's nuclear program, the U.S. and Europe finally seem to be converging on just such an approach: a coordinated strategy of more U.S. carrots… and real European sticks.

No one can guarantee it will work to convince Iran to forego nuclear weapons. But if it doesn't, at least Iran will be isolated… not, as was the case in Iraq, the United States.

Forging a Prevention Strategy

That brings me to the second part of the approach. Forging a prevention strategy that allows us to defuse threats to our security long before the only choice left is to act with force unilaterally or do nothing at all.

This Administration's effort to turn military preemption from the option it has always been... into a one-size-fit-all doctrine is, in my judgment, dangerous and destabilizing.

It says to rogue states that there best insurance policy against regime change is to acquire weapons of mass destruction as quickly as possible.

Which is one reason North Korea's nuclear arsenal has apparently increased by 400 percent these past four years.

It gives a green light to India and Pakistan, Russia and Chechnya, China and Taiwan to use force first and ask questions later.

And it requires a standard of proof for intelligence that may be impossible to meet unless we cut corners, as we did in Iraq.

For that reason, American foreign policy needs a comprehensive prevention strategy that would put much more emphasis on programs to secure and destroy loose weapons and materials in Russia and beyond.

It would fully fund homeland security budgets to detect and respond to terrorist attacks.

It would include new international laws to seize suspect cargoes on the high seas and in international airspace.

It would involve new international alliances of law enforcement experts and intelligence and financial officials alliances to uproot terrorists and end their funding.

A Prevention strategy would provide tougher non- proliferation strategies including no-notice, on-site inspections and a reformed Non-proliferation Treaty.

It would demand a reinvigorated public diplomacy effort to explain our policies and expose lies about America around the world.

And it would require a sustained commitment to development and democratization to prove to people around the world that WE offer hope and our enemies offer nothing but hatred. I'll come to that in a moment.

But if America commits to a policy of prevention, not preemption, we need our allies to rethink their approach to the use of force.

First, it must be clear that America's military will remain second to none and that force will be used - without asking anyone's permission - when circumstances warrant.

But beyond that, we need a common understanding with our allies in Europe and Asia that every citizen of the free world faces a nexus of new threats - terrorism, rogue states, and weapons that demand a new response.

Containment and deterrence got us through the Cold War, and they still make sense most of the time...

But they do not suffice when the enemy is a stateless actor with no territory or people to defend... who is amassing stealthy weapons instead of visible armies.

That's why a broad prevention strategy is so important. But its is also why our allies - and for that matter the other major powers on the U.N. Security Council -- must be willing to get much tougher with rogue states who harbor terrorists, seek to acquire weapons of mass destruction, or pose a proliferation risk.

In the 1990's, the U.S. and Europe agreed, with great difficulty, that a state cedes its sovereignty when it systematically abuses the rights of its own people.

And so we joined forces to reverse ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. And we acted even more quickly to turn the tide in Kosovo.

Now we should apply that same logic to states without democratic checks that seek to amass WMD or harbor terrorists.

In short, the U.S. should seek a new international consensus that there is a duty to protect innocents and a responsibility to prevent terrible acts of destruction.

We should develop and use every tool short of force to convince a Milosevic, a Saddam, or a Taliban to meet minimum standards of responsibility...

...But if these steps fail to persuade, we must be fully prepared to coerce… together whenever we can, alone if we must.

Bolstering Failed States and Expanding Democracy

Let me conclude with a few thoughts about the third piece of this new approach: bolstering failed states and expanding democracy.

Failing states are cracks in the foundation of our international system.

There have always been poor countries whose people suffer under corrupt, incompetent, and ruthlessly barbaric dictators.

What is new is the effect on our lives and the threat to our own security as a consequence of such regimes.

Today, the potential spread of weapons of mass destruction, make the threat literally existential. We must challenge ourselves and our allies to refocus our attention, reallocate our resources, and reform our institutions to address this challenge.

Together, we have to take seriously the task of economic development, commit to debt relief, buffer countries against economic shocks, give them tools to combat corruption, dramatically expand our investment in global education, reorient the Bretton Woods institutions and the U.N. to stabilize weak states, and lead the world in a massive effort to combat the scourge of disease, especially AIDS.

We also have to take seriously what some people in Washington see as a four letter word - nation building.

This Administration came to office disdaining the concept, only to be confronted with the two biggest nation building challenges since World War II. But it has not succeeded, yet, in either Afghanistan or in Iraq.

We must be willing and prepared to empower experts to plan post-conflict reconstruction ahead of time, not on the fly.

We must be willing and prepared to build a standing roster of international police to handle security after we topple a tyrant.

We must be willing and prepared to create a system to rapidly stand-up indigenous security forces.

And when it comes to a war of choice, we must think twice about initiating the conflict if we are not prepared for the post-conflict.

Finally, there is so much the U.S. and the world's major democracies can do together to support democratic transformation, especially in the Greater Middle East.

I applauded President Bush's second inaugural address about expanding freedom. It touched a chord among many Americans because it spoke to our ideals and to our national experience.

And clearly, a world full of liberal democracies would not only be better for the people living in those countries. It would be better for us because liberal democracies tend not to attack each other, abuse the rights of their own people or breed terrorists.

This is a goal that ought to unite the U.S. and the other major democracies. And yet, here's how a leading German newspaper reacted to President Bush's speech: "Bush Threatens More Freedom."

Clearly, dislike for the messenger undermined appreciation for the message. I'm convinced we can and we must find common ground on one of the most critical challenges of our time.

America must support the forces of progress in non- democratic countries - not with reckless campaigns to impose democracy by force from the outside - but by working with modernizers from the inside to build the institutions of democracy, over the long haul.

Political parties. An independent media and judiciary. Transparent economies and accountable governments. Modern education. NGOs and civil society. A private sector.

Our democratic friends must fully engage in this effort, and not give in to the cynical - and wrong - view that some societies are incapable of transforming themselves. It's hard, frustrating work. But it can and must be done.

Above all, we must understand that those who would spread radical Islamic fundamentalism and weapons of mass destruction are beyond the reach of reason.

We must defeat them.

But hundreds of millions of hearts and minds around the world are open to American ideas and ideals.

We must reach them if we are to make the world truly safe for democracy.

This is a generational challenge. It's a challenge the men and women in this room will play a key part in meeting.

I wish you Godspeed in everything you will do for this country. We admire you. And we're counting on you.

Thanks very much for listening.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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American Jewish Committee/Learned Hand Dinner

Thank you very much. This is a very special evening, and it's an honor to be invited to speak here tonight.

As you all know, Learned Hand was best known for his tireless, determined and avid support of free speech.

"All discussion," he said, "all debate, all dissidence tends to question and, in consequence, to upset existing convictions; that is precisely its purpose and justification."

Indeed, it is that attitude of challenging the status quo, to have a moral compass rather than a finger to the wind, that characterizes the work and very purpose of the American Jewish Committee.

And it is why we are here tonight to honor the life and commitment and dedication of Bruce Ramer. I first met Bruce several years ago, and learned we share many things in common. And what I've come to admire most is that moral compass that guides him.

The leader of the American Jewish Committee who traveled to Macedonia to visit the displaced persons camps filled with Kosovar Muslims, and whose conscience compelled him to act, not as a leader of an organization, not even as a Jew looking into his soul, but as a human being shaken, troubled, and profoundly moved.

Bruce Ramer, a man who has sat with Kings and Emirs, Presidents and Prime Ministers -- but who prefers to talk about the earthquake in India that impelled him to lend his efforts to help bring humanitarian assistance to people in desperate need, and to rebuild a Muslim school.

That spirit of Tikkun Olam - repairing the world - is what inspires Bruce and the raison d'etre of the AJC.

And that brings me to tonight's topic. The surprising, some would say amazing, things going on in the Middle East: are we witnessing the fruits of Tikkun Olam, or are we headed down a dark, dangerous path? Ladies and gentlemen, I believe we are witnessing - and I believe we can help shape - an extraordinary moment in the greater Middle East.

As President Bush put it this week, "a critical mass of events is taking the region in a hopeful new direction."

These events - Palestinian and Iraqi national elections; Saudi municipal elections; Egyptian President Mubarak's move to allow competitive elections for President; and the Lebanese people demanding Syria's withdrawal and free parliamentary elections raise this question:

Have we reached a democratic "tipping point" similar to the peaceful revolutions that brought down communist regimes in Eastern Europe?

That's what I'd like to talk to you about tonight.

Bush's Call for Democracy

Just two months ago, in his second inaugural address, President Bush spoke with great eloquence about expanding freedom.

I was a little frustrated by the negative reaction from some in my party... and some of our friends around the world. Here's the headline from the leading Green Party newspaper in Germany: "Bush Threatens More Freedom."

It seemed to me that distaste for the messenger obscured the power of the message.

Clearly, the President's speech struck a chord with many Americans. The benefits of freedom and the desire to share them with others go to who we are as a people to how we see ourselves and to our national experience.

The President is also right to link expanding freedom to our interests.

A world full of liberal democracies would not only be better for the people living in those countries - it would be better for us.

Liberal democracies tend not to attack one another. They tend not to abuse the rights of their people. They tend not to produce terrorists.

Of course, there are exceptions: Timothy McVeigh... the IRA... the ETA... the Red Brigades. But that's the point: these are exceptions, not the rule, in advanced democracies.

Conversely, we learned on 9/11 that the absence of democracy half way around the world can do terrible harm to us here at home.

I don't believe in a clash of civilizations. I do believe of a clash within civilizations between those who want to move their societies forward and those who would retreat to the past.

Those who want to take their societies backwards have great allies in the autocratic leaders of the Middle East. The region has become a breeding ground for terror because of an almost total lack of political, economic and social openness.

In the absence of any productive outlets, dissent is channeled underground and into the Mosques, where it is captured by radical Islamic fundamentalists. When young people are alienated from their governments, they will fight, kill and die for their causes instead of living for them.

I also believe that history is on democracy's side. In 1775 there were no democracies. The American Revolution raised the number to one. Today, there are 117 electoral democracies - some 60 percent of the world's governments.

As the number of democracies increases still further, pressure will rise on the tyrannical outliers. We may be witnessing this very phenomenon in the Middle East.

But We Need a Little Realism, Too

So I for one applaud President Bush's vision. But I do so without blinders on. First, President Bush is a Johnny-come-lately to the democratizers' club. Remember, he arrived in Washington four years ago mocking the very notion of democracy promotion.

Nor was establishing democracy the rationale for his two signature initiatives - Afghanistan and Iraq. Rather, it was an ex-post-facto justification.

Second, there is a significant gap between the President's rhetoric and the reality of his administration's policies. That risks undermining our credibility.

The administration is tough on dictatorial adversaries like Iran and North Korea.

But it rarely sustains the heat on illiberal friends like Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

It temporarily recognized a coup against the misguided but democratically elected leader of Venezuela.

It has said little about the virtual coup in Nepal.

And it adopted an ultra-realist policy toward undemocratic Libya when Kaddafi agreed to give up his weapons.

Third, there is often a short term conflict between democracy promotion and our vital security interests.

We need China's help on North Korea, Russia's help on Iran, Pakistan's help on Al Qaeda, Egypt's help on the Middle East peace process and Iraq. Pushing too hard, too fast on democracy risks alienating governments whose help we need.

Finally, and perhaps most important, democracy promotion is hard work that must go beyond rhetorical support and the passion of one speech.

It's one thing to topple a tyrant, another to put something better in his place.

Our experience in Iraq demonstrates the unintended consequences of imposing democracy from the outside by force. Autocrats in the region have pointed to the post-Saddam chaos as a warning to their own people: you may not like me, but at least life is stable and predictable. Without me, you will reap the whirlwind.

Even where we simply lend our political and rhetorical support to democratizers, it is not enough to hold an election and declare victory. We must help build liberal institutions: political parties; an independent judiciary; independent media; modern education; a developed civil society and non-governmental organizations; a private sector.

Elections in the absence of these institutions favor the most organized groups in society, which also tend to be the most radical.

That was the case when Algeria held elections in the early 1990s. It could be the short term result in Lebanon, where Hezbollah already holds a dozen seats in parliament in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood would probably poll well and even Iraq, where it remains to be seen what direction the victorious Shia take the country.

In short, because Arab rulers have long suppressed civil society and the development of liberal institutions, those best positioned to take advantage of elections are Islamists.

Is It Because of Bush?

Each of these caveats is important. And I want to come back to them in a few moments to suggest a third way between unbridled idealism and overly cynical realism.

But the fact remains that something important is happening in the greater Middle East.

And the question remains: to what extent are the policies we pursue responsible?

At first blush, we should proceed with great humility about our ability to write the future for others. Think about the catalysts for the change we're witnessing:

In the Palestinian territories, Arafat's death.

In Iraq, the Ayatollah Sistani insisting on elections, despite initial opposition from the US and UN.

In Lebanon, the assassination of Rafiq Hariri.

And throughout the region, including in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, long term disaffection with the stagnant political and economic status quo the gradual discrediting of alternative models like the Taliban's Afghanistan and the Cleric's Iran greater access to information through the internet and satellite television and a demographic youth explosion, as a result of which 60 percent of the population in the greater Middle East is under the age of 30.

The United States had no control over these specific incidents and trends.

But I believe President Bush's strong rhetorical support for democracy has made a difference by creating space for and emboldening modernizers and moderates. They are less fearful of reprisals when they believe the United States will hold their regimes to account.

In Egypt, Secretary Rice cancelled a planned visit to Cairo because of the detention of political leader Ayman Nour. And President Bush restated during his European trip: "the great and proud nation of Egypt, which showed the way toward peace in the Middle East, can now show the way toward democracy in the Middle East."

This sent an unmistakable signal to President Mubarak and at the very time Egypt is doing some heavy lifting for us in the Middle East peace process and in offering to train Iraqi security forces. Yes, Egypt may have been just as concerned about Congress cutting aid and about increasingly bold anti-Mubarak protests. But the administration did the right thing, and I believe it made a difference.

Elections in Iraq made a difference, too. No matter what you think about the war or the way we've mishandled the peace, the images of Iraqis lined up to vote images that were beamed across the Middle East had to have had an impact, especially in Lebanon and Egypt. Most Arabs have been fed a steady diet of bad news on Iraq to the point that they believed the country was in complete shambles. Now, Arabs are asking: if elections can be held in a violence-torn country under occupation, why can't they be held in the generally stable countries in which they live.

Yes, in Iraq, the main mover behind elections was not President Bush, but Ayatollah Sistani. But the President does deserve credit for resisting calls to delay elections. He made the right call.

Elsewhere, the administration has done less to translate the President's rhetoric into action and progress is more the result of internal factors.

In the Palestinian territories, after Arafat's death the Palestinian Legislative Council considered appointing his successor. Some in the administration expressed support for such a process. The Palestinians themselves decided to follow their laws and hold elections within 60 days.

In Saudi Arabia, most of the pressure on the Royal Family to open up the system comes from domestic sources. I'm not aware of any evidence the Bush Administration compelled the Saudis to go forward with municipal elections. The real driver is internal pressure.

In Lebanon, the Administration was right to coordinate closely with the French. Franco-US cooperation has inspired a degree of confidence among the Lebanese and encouraged them as they stand up to the Syrians. And the fact that Saudi Arabia, which had close ties to Hariri, has called for Syrian withdrawal has placed unprecedented pressure on Syria.

The bottom line is that local conditions are the driving force behind change in the region, but outside pressure is critical particularly at key moments. Our policies did not start the process of reform, but they can help to accelerate it.

So What Should Be Done?

So let me end with a few thoughts on the policies we should pursue to help accelerate and sustain the movement toward openness and democracy.

As I suggested a few moments ago, we need to chart a course between unbridled idealism and overly cynical realism.

We should begin by acknowledging some hard truths.

For years, the United States has seemed, at best, indifferent to the plight of the oppressed and, at worst, complicit with corrupt and autocratic regimes - despite our generosity.

In the past, we've justified that support in different ways: the Cold War struggle against communism the preference for stability over chaos the need to ensure a steady supply of oil.

9-11 has taught America the hard way that we cannot afford such policies.

The great struggle of our times - the struggle between freedom and radical Islamic fundamentalism - is also a war of ideas.

To prevail, we must be strong. But we also have to be smart, wielding the force of our ideas and ideals together with the force of our arms.

The spread of democracy is crucial to us winning that war and undercutting the ideology of the radical Islamic fundamentalists.

But democracy is about much more than elections. Our goal must be to help build and support the institutions of liberal democracy.

Here, the Bush administration is falling well short of the mark. Just follow the money.

In the FY '06 budget, the administration requests $30 million less for the Middle East Partnership Initiative - its signature democracy promotion fund for the region -- than less year. It makes the same request as last year for the National Endowment for Democracy ($80 million). It zeroes out regional democracy funds for Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

And the administration continues to channel most of our non-economic assistance to illiberal friends like Egypt through the central government instead of directly to independent actors. That has to change. Two years ago, I proposed the establishment of a private, non-profit Middle East Foundation. It would provide grants to those in the region working to promote a vibrant civil society, independent media, political parties, the rule of law, modern education systems, human rights including women's rights, and the private sector.

The administration has embraced the idea and with a little luck, the legislation we need to create the foundation will become law this spring.

We should also leverage the energy and resources of our closest allies. The Administration has tried. For example, it launched a G-8 initiative for democratization in the so-called Broader Middle East and North Africa.

Thus far, the initiative has not borne much fruit. Many projects agreed upon have yet to be launched. And Europeans have made clear that they prefers to work in parallel, not jointly, lest they be tainted by association with this administration. That's where we pay a price for distrust of the messenger.

Europeans, no less than Americans, should heed Learned Hand's words, when he wrote, in 1932, "the condition of our survival in any but the meagerest existence is our willingness to accommodate ourselves to the conflicting interests of others, to learn to live in a social world." I would press our allies to do more, with us. The progress in Egypt, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Palestinian territories may help overcome their reluctance and their own cynicism.

In my judgment, freedom from fear and freedom from want are flip sides of the same democratic coin. We should work with our allies to help countries pursue both. Let me conclude by quoting one last time that wise judge, Learned Hand, from his famous "I Am An American" speech delivered in Central Park in NYC in the midst of WWII in 1944.

Like Americans today, he spoke about liberty, and he understood very well, and expressed very passionately, what freedom means :

"And what is this Liberty which must lie in the hearts of men and women? It is not the ruthless, the unbridled will; it is not freedom to do as one likes. That is the denial of liberty, and leads straight to its overthrow. A society in which men recognize no check upon their freedom soon becomes a society where freedom is the possession of only a savage few, as we have learned to our sorrow.

"What then is the spirit of liberty? It is the spirit which is not too sure that it is right, the spirit which seeks to understand the mind of other men and women; the spirit which weighs their interests alongside its own without bias

"And now in that spirit, that spirit of an America which has never been, and which may never be; nay, which never will be except as the conscience and courage of Americans to create it; yet in the spirit of that America which lies hidden in some form in the aspirations of us all; in the spirit of that America for which our young men are at this moment fighting and dying; in that spirit of liberty and of America I ask you to rise and with me pledge our faith in the glorious destiny of our beloved country."

Thank you very much.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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National Democratic Institute's W. Averell Harriman Awards Dinner

Madam Secretary, thank you for those kind words. Secretary Albright and I have been friends since back in the days when I was young and she was younger, and she and I were both in a sense working for Senator Muskie. I happened to be in the Senate, but I was still working for Senator Muskie

Mr. President, you've done a great job, you really have. The NDI has had moments over the past years when there were some fractious elements in the Congress who thought maybe we were somehow wasting resources. In fact, it's because of the personalities, yours in particular, who were able to come and not only defend, but articulate, what had been done by NDI and what needed to be done, that has kept this bipartisan institution together.

And it sounds like hyperbole, but I am honored to be honored by any group that honors my friend Dick Lugar. To be here with Dick who is (applause) I have said there is no one, and I have said this repeatedly -- it's not just the enthusiasm of the moment -- I have said this for the past decade, there is no one more knowledgeable about, more principled, nor more articulate about America's role in the world and what it should be and what our obligations are, than Dick Lugar. And Dick is prepared to say what he thinks whether it is a republican or democrat president. Sometimes people forget that we are a co-equal branch of the government. And there is something that is greater than party loyalty, it's loyalty to the constitution, and the obligation that the Senate has as an independent co-equal branch of the government. Dick has exercised his considerable wisdom, his keen intellect and his political leadership consistently for the past 28 years, maybe 30 now we've served together. I know everyone knows I'm older than he is, just looking at us I know that, but I am senior to Dick by two years, but I have yet to acquire the same stature that Dick had the moment he arrived. And Dick thank you, we truly are good personal friends. Unfortunately for democratic presidents and republican presidents, there is little difference that he and I have on foreign policy, and I would be a hell of a lot more comfortable if you were President.

But now that I have maligned his reputation in his party, let me say that I think the most, you know, you always hear public officials from all countries -- and by the way it's such an honor to be with so many distinguished leaders who have actually done what we have talked about. It's one thing for me to stand in the capitol or to be here at this podium talking about the need to spread and support freedom and democracy around the world. There are people in this audience who will be honored in a moment who have literally put their lives on the line, literally put their lives on the line. I kid and I say to my friends who have done that, many of whom you will meet tonight and you will hear from tonight, that you know if we get it wrong here in the United States, we get defeated and get a pension. In other parts of the world if you're on the wrong side, you get a coffin. Many of you have risked your lives for what you believe in. I have not had to do that, I have not had to do that. And I only hope that I would be up to the test that you all have met.

The most surprised person tonight, Madeleine, is probably W. Averell Harriman, looking down. I was one of those people, as Madeleine may recall and Dick will remember, Governor Harriman used to adopt people. I was the 29 year-old kid that W. Averell Harriman literally took under his wing. I was invited to almost every one of his dinner parties, because he was literally educating, and I welcomed it, he was literally educating, it was the education of a public man. And he took great pains.

But I must tell you one humorous story. I had been here 7 or 8 months, I was invited to a dinner, and he had dinners frequently at his home where he gathered many of you who are in this room, the international elite and the policy makers from around the world. And those of you who used to visit his Georgetown home when you came in his home and walked straight ahead, there was a dining room on the left and straight ahead you walked in the living room and then it widened, but there was a couch against the wall, a coffee table, two chairs across from it, and he would sit in the chair that was at the end of the couch. And he liked to get me to speak, and you know I'm not reluctant to speak, but in those days I was very reluctant to speak in the company I found myself.

And so I sat down one evening, Dick, and I sat at the end of the couch, and Governor Harriman was in his chair, and Henry Kissinger was across from me, and sitting on my left was Ted Kennedy, and I believe it was Helmut Schmidt was sitting next to Henry Kissinger. And all these people who had a good deal to say and knew a great deal, and this 30 year old kid was sitting there, and Harriman would always say, "Well Joe, what do the young people think?" you know, turning to me.

And I, to show how sophisticated I am, I was sort of sitting up in the couch, and I leaned over, and I guess out of nervous frustration I picked up an object that was on the coffee table. And I took this object and I was moving it in my hands, like this, you could see my hands, and it was a spherical object, and I didn't pay any attention to what I had in my hand, no one paid any attention. And I looked over at Henry Kissinger -- and he remembers this story -- and he kind of looked, I could tell he was alarmed, and I wasn't sure why what I was saying was so outrageous. And then the butler came in and said time for dinner and everybody immediately got up like "BAM" and headed to the table. And Ted Kennedy put his hand on my arm and he said, "Joe, put that down." I put it down, and I said, "What's the matter?" He said, "That egg costs more than your house, that's a Fabergé egg." True story. Very sophisticated young man that I was.

So the governor took a long time. But I also had an opportunity to meet with him and President Tito in Split. I sat at a private lunch with Tito and him. Larry Eaglebuger was our Ambassador then, and myself. And they were both hard of hearing in their late eighties, close to ninety. And they (raises voice) talked to each other like this over the table. And they talked about people like it was, not many of you are old enough, but there used to be this program called "You Are There" back in the fifties, reenactment of major scenes, well I felt like I was in the television broadcast. And every once in a while Governor Harriman would say, "Joe tell them what the young people think." And I turned to Tito, and Tito, I didn't understand Croatian, but I could understand when he said, "Stalin!" It was the most animated conversation ever. Neither could understand the other, Larry Eagleburger was translating, but it was one of those moments that I'll never forget in my life thanks to the late Averell Harriman.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Averell Harriman taught me a lot. And sometimes I think the lessons he taught, and other great women and men, great internationalist people who knew we were required to be engaged in the world, with the full panoply of our power -- not just the power of our military, but the power of our ideas, the power of our ideals, the power of our thought, the wisdom that we have acquired -- that he would, I think today, be a little perplexed.

Fareed Zakaria wrote in a recent article in Newsweek, "In an effort to globalize the rest of the world, we have somehow failed to globalize ourselves, and hence we find ourselves living in a world in which we are not entirely comfortable." The Irish poet William Butler Yeats, speaking of his Ireland in a poem called Easter 1916 said, "All changed, changed utterly. A terrible beauty is born." The world has changed utterly since Averell Harriman's day. The world has changed utterly since 1990. And democracy is in a death struggle with radical forces around the world and at the very moment it is about to hatch in various parts of the world.

And I think America, although we're rightly content with the example of our power, sometimes we've forgotten the power of our example. And it's NDI, the people you're honoring tonight, Chairman Dick Lugar, Madeleine Albright, and others of you in this room, who have not forgotten the power of our example. To me, that's what NDI is all about, it's about the power of our example. And at this very moment, at a time when we find ourselves not entirely comfortable in this globalized world, the need for NDI and all you who support it is more crucial than any time in our history.

We are at a hinge in history, we have an opportunity. If we are wise and remember our ideals, we have a chance, literally, to transform the world in a way, that the twenty first century will not reflect the carnage of the twentieth century. To me that is our obligation, to me there is no institution that is more ardent in its pursuit of that goal than NDI. I thank you for this award and I thank you for the honor.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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America at the Watershed

SEN. BIDEN: My name is Joe Biden and I'm a Democrat. (Cheers, applause.) Nearly 100 years ago, a great Irish poet, William Butler Yeats, told us that the world has changed, it has changed utterly; a terrible beauty has been born.

Tonight our country stands at the hinge of history, and America's destiny is literally at stake, but we can shape that destiny if we seize the opportunities before us. And Americans must decide who they trust the most to shape that destiny.

The overwhelming obligation of the next president is clear: make America stronger, make America safer, and win the death struggle between freedom and radical fundamentalism. (Cheers, applause.) This struggle reached our shores on September 11th, 2001 and delivered this generation of Americans to this moment of awesome destiny. After 9/11, I believed, and I still do, that if we exercised the full measure of our power, including our ideas as well as our ideals, we could unite not only this nation but the world in a common cause. (Applause.)

9/11 was a moment of profound pain, but also of enormous opportunity. Americans stood in blood lines for hours, even though they knew no more blood was needed. The French ran a headline, "We Are All Americans Now." (Cheers, applause.) Imagine, imagine if Franklin Roosevelt or John Kennedy had been president and how they would have seized that moment.

Imagine if this president had spoken to the nation and the world and summoned that sense of solidarity. Imagine if he had said, "It is time for all who are able to do something for America. I'm calling for a new program of national service and an energy policy that will liberate us from the suffocating grip of the Middle East." (Applause.) And imagine if he said, "And I call -- I call on our allies to join us in a compact for freedom, because we are always stronger, safer, better, more secure together than we are alone." Just imagine, had he said that. (Applause.)

I do not question the motives of this administration, but I profoundly disagree with their judgments. And I believe history will judge this generation well and this administration harshly for the mistakes it has made. I believe this generation will look and wonder why this administration has squandered the opportunities that were before it.

Today we are rightly content in the example of our power, but we have forgotten the power of our example. (Applause.) And for all of America's great might, we are more alone in the world than ever before. As a result, we are less secure than we could or we should be. Our allies and our friends, the international organizations we've built over the past half-century, they do not hold us down; they help us share the burden of leadership.

And we were told by this administration we would pay no price for going it alone, but that is obviously wrong. Because we waged a war in Iraq virtually alone, we are responsible for the aftermath virtually alone.

(Applause.)

And the price is clear. Nearly 90 percent of the troops and the casualties are American. And because the intelligence was hyped to justify going to war, America's credibility and security have suffered a terrible blow.

Forty years ago, during the Cuban missile crisis, President Kennedy sent former secretary of State Dean Acheson to Europe to seek support. And Acheson explained the situation to President DeGaulle. He then offered to show President DeGaulle classified information as proof of what he said. And you know what DeGaulle did? He raised his hand and said, quote, "That is not necessary. I know President Kennedy, and I know he would never mislead me on a question of war and peace." (Cheers; applause.)

I ask you -- I ask you, would a single world leader today answer the same way?

AUDIENCE: No!

SEN. BIDEN: My friends, it doesn't have to be this way. America and the world deserve a president whose judgment they can trust. Americans are bigger and better than the past four years have led the world to believe about us. Americans know our military is the strongest on Earth, but we are not arrogant. Americans are proud, but we are not petty. Instead of dividing the world, we must unite it. Instead of bullying the world, we must build. And instead of walking alone, we must lead. (Cheers; applause.)

It is only -- it is only -- it is only leadership if someone follows, and no one is following. (Cheers; applause.)

But let no -- but let no friend or foe mistake our basic decency for a lack of resolve. Americans will fight with every fiber in their being to protect our country and our people. And John Kerry, when he is commander in chief, will not hesitate to unleash the awesome power of our military on any nation or group that does us harm, and without asking anyone's permission.

This is a man whose judgment can be trusted. This is a man tested in combat, who will never send our sons and daughters to war before exhausting every other alternative. (Cheers; applause.)

And then, if he must, he will not send them without giving them every tool necessary to win. (Cheers, applause.)

When John Kennedy is -- when John Kerry is president, military preemption will remain, as it has always been, an option. But John Kerry will build a true prevention strategy to defuse dangers long before the only option is war. When John Kerry is president, our friends and allies will have no excuse to remain on the sidelines. And above all, when John Kerry is president, he will level with the American people, for he will inherit a world and a nation that will require him to ask much of us and of our allies. (Scattered applause.)

And, ladies and gentlemen, listen to me. I have not a single doubt that this generation of Americans will rise to whatever is asked of them. They will rise to the moment, for as long as we are here they desire to do great things. And John Kerry, as a student of history, understands why we prevailed when our nation faced grave peril in the past. He understands that the terrorists may be beyond our reach and we must defeat them, but he also understands that hundreds of millions of hearts and minds are open to our ideas and our ideals, and we must reach them as well. (Cheers, applause.)

Ladies and gentlemen, our friends on the other side love to quote the Bible. Just as Joshua's trumpets brought down the walls of Jericho, just as American values brought down the Berlin Wall, so will radical fundamentalists fall to the terrible, swift power of our ideas as well as our swords. (Cheers, applause.)

My fellow delegates, it's time to recapture the totality of America's strength. It's time to restore our nation to the respect it once had. It's time to reclaim America's soul. It's time to elect John Kerry president of the United States of America. (Cheers, applause.)

Thank you.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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I See An America...

Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

BIDEN: We live in a time of incredible opportunity, "the best of times, the worst of times," as Dickens said. Extraordinary times that call for extraordinary people.

As a consequence of the Clinton administration - when the economy boomed and deficits evaporated - we stood at the dawn of the 21st century - in many ways - better off than we were. Everything seemed possible.

And I for one had the hope - and still do - that if we had exercised the full measure of our power, our wisdom, and our ideals - we could have set in motion a series of events that would have changed the world so that we would have a chance - at least a chance - to not repeat the carnage of the 20th century.

Instead, the Bush Administration has squandered the opportunities it was bequeathed by the Clinton Administration:

A balanced budget.

The national debt paid down.

Growing employment.

Middle Class growth.

A muscular foreign policy, represented by Bosnia and Kosovo that had the respect of the world.

We have an opportunity to regain that respect.

That is what this election is about.

I realize that may seem an optimistic view, but I make no apologies for it. It is an optimism born of a set of values, and a pioneer spirit, that is the history of the journey of America. And the journey continues today.

We have done extraordinary things as a nation and a people.

When my generation looks back at the world of our parents and grandparents, we see hard times and obstacles that seemed almost insurmountable.

The stock market crashed. Fortunes were lost. The Great Depression displaced thousands and thousands of families. Family farms turned into a dust bowl.

And yet, no matter what the situation, our parents and grandparents did not lose hope. They did not give up. They did not give in. They dug down deep and survived. They overcame every obstacle. They thrived.

Then the promise was handed to us, to my generation, to all of us.

We fought the Cold War. The Korean War. The Gulf War. And when Vietnam came our way, men like John Kerry served with honor and, here at home, many exercised their right to dissent.

In the 60s, we had seen three of our heroes gunned down and a decade later the long dark wall of the Vietnam Memorial go up.

But with every challenge we renewed our values, our faith, and our ideals.

We passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. We were inspired when we heard John Kennedy challenge us to go to the moon; and white America and black America bowed their heads in recognition when Martin Luther's King told us he had a dream, and we shall never forget it.

Yes, we are a nation that thrives on challenge.

We are curious, tough minded, and resilient. We are, after all, Americans; sometimes we go against the grain. We question ideas. We question our institutions. We dissent. We debate. We demonstrate. We fight for what we believe is right with every fiber of our being.

We stand on principle and we never give in.

There is no mistaking it; an America challenged is an America engaged, ready to get the job done.

In the 90s, we literally reached the edges of the universe; and there seemed to be absolutely no reason - as the economy boomed - as science and technology and the internet exploded - as we went from an analogue to a digital world - that we could not find, in that almost perfect storm of progress, a prescription for peace and prosperity as opposed to war and carnage.

And then came 9-11.

Our enemy was not a uniformed army, not a rogue nation, not even a failed state. It was an army of terrorists who, as John Kerry has said, "use terror as a sword and religion as a shield."

Their enemy is civilization; but it is also a battle of Islam vs. Islam and it will require a fundamental change in our thinking.

We need to see our allies as our friends and old adversaries as potential partners in this war.

We need to understand that you cannot defeat an ideology with an army alone. It must be defeated with values as well. We need to understand there is a world that is shrinking at warp-speed - cultures colliding - that unilateralism is a prescription for isolationism.

We need to understand that a democracy that widens the gap between nations diminishes the prospects for progress and prosperity.

9-11 was a tragic but also a brutal awakening and an opportunity.

The first and foremost thing we had to do was readjust our priorities.

On September 10, 2001, I made a speech at the National Press Club that said exactly that.

I had decided to give that speech precisely because of this Administration's preoccupation with an ill-conceived, misguided formula on how to enhance our security... A preoccupation that, in my view, was based on radical ideology rather than well-thought-out policy.

They were talking about missile defense. I was talking about a vile in a backpack, a bomb in the belly of a ship.

They were talking about intercontinental ballistic missiles with a return address. I was talking about terrorists with no address at all.

The next day was 9-11, and - as traumatic and devastating as it was - it presented an opportunity for us to unite the nation and the world.

For the first time the enhanced security of one nation was not a zero sum gain. Every nation in the world and every American knew that international terror and its tentacles were a threat to nations everywhere, notwithstanding their forms of government.

Bin Laden should have been a uniting force for all nations and all Muslims who preach and practice the true word of Islam and the Koran, and the President should have recognized it.

We squandered the opportunity to unite America and the world.

We squandered the opportunity to capitalize on Americans' willingness to come together as thousands stood in blood lines after the attacks, and longed to do something for their country again.

We squandered the opportunity to unite the world after the French newspaper Le Monde ran a headline on September 12th that said: "We Are All Americans."

We squandered the opportunity to engage NATO after they spontaneously enacted Article 5.

History may not judge George Bush harshly for the mistakes he has made. But it will hold him accountable for the opportunities he missed to unite America and the world after 9-11. Of that I am certain.

Imagine if he had said: "I am calling on all of our of allies to meet me tomorrow in Paris to bring together the collective power of those who abhor terrorism in an effort to make victory a global imperative."

Imagine if he had said to every American, "I know how much you want to help in the war on terror, how united we are as a nation. I know every American is prepared to sacrifice to win this war. So I propose a National Service Corps to help unite this nation."

I could catalog his failures on domestic and foreign policy and the squandered opportunities to unite America and the world.

Each of you knows what those failures are. The American people know what they are. They can sense it. They know we have lost our way in the world and they want to get back on track.

We have all seen polling that shows that Americans have given Bush the benefit of the doubt. But the tide is turning.

Come September, the American people are going to pivot. They are going to turn and look at John Kerry and the Democratic Party. They are going to ask what we Democrats would do differently.

We have to do more than recite a catalogue of Republican failures.

We have to deliver on the promise of our Party.

We have to show them we understand that there is as much power in the minds of our children as in all the smart bombs in our arsenal.

But we also have to let them know that we are not afraid to use that arsenal to defend this nation, that national security is part and parcel of any Democrat's portfolio.

We know the Republican attack machine - with tens of millions of dollars at its disposal - is good at spinning our well-founded criticisms into a simple assertion that we - as Democrats - are rooting for failure.

Folks, no Democrat has ever rooted for failure. That's not only wrong. It's insulting. It's demeaning. It's not worthy of being part of our political discourse.

No Democrat has ever won the presidency on a platform of anything other than optimism, or without recognizing the indomitable spirit of the American people.

In foreign affairs, there is nothing in the war on terrorism that is at odds with America's ability to bring the world with us and project power in defense of freedom.

Truman said: "The world today looks to us for leadership. The force of events makes it necessary that we assume that role."

And here at home, no less than abroad, we long for a spirit of community again. Where we recognize we have so much more that unites us than divides us, and leaders who can bring out the best in all of us.

And I know John Kerry believes it as well.

As the well-oiled, well-greased Republican attack machine turns its blades on John Kerry and on every Democrat who dares to challenge either their veracity or their policies, we must reiterate our faith in the fundamental principles of this Party.

There is no reason we cannot provide economic growth for the Middle Class. Tax cuts not only for the rich, but for working class Americans struggling to send their kids to college, pay for prescription drugs, and take care of their aging parents.

There is no reason the richest country in the history of the universe cannot increase the minimum wage to provide a family with enough to pay the rent, pay for food, and live in dignity.

Most importantly, there is no reason we cannot unite the world in an effort to save the world.

In fact, there is only one reason - one thing - that can prevent that from happening. And that is four more years of George Bush.

That is the only thing that stands in the way of this great nation achieving its destiny.

As I have said many times, this generation of Americans is ready and anxious to do great things.

Let us give it the tools it needs to accomplish all it can accomplish.

Let this generation be defined by the depth of its knowledge, by its creativity, its ingenuity, and the goodness in its heart.

Let it be a generation of Americans - like every generation - one that thrives on discovery, on exploration, on invention... one that wants to know everything there is to know... see everything there is to see... build everything there is to build because they are resourceful committed and curious, and because we always believe in our capacity to do more and do better.

The only thing missing is leadership, leadership that does not pit one American against another, Catholic against Protestant, Black against White, Rich against Poor, Middle Class against everyone trying to get there.

That is not what political leadership is about.

Woodrow Wilson said, "A political party is worth no more than that for which it stands."

Robert Kennedy said in another context, "Our answer is the world's hope."

It is our responsibility to rely on the qualities of this great nation - and dare to challenge our fellow Americans to live up to their heritage - to reclaim their birth right.

Where is it written that we must mortgage our children's future with unbearable debt, saddle them with the enmity of the world, and burden them with the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction?

Where is it written that our children must be consigned to an education that does not provide them tools for advancement, or that their grandparents have to chose between having a meal or taking their medicine?

Where is it written that in the 21st century Americans must live a life of fear and uncertainty and vulnerability, in a world less safe than it was for their parents?

Only one place: in the hearts and minds of those who espouse our ideals, but do not trust them enough to practice them...

...in the hearts and minds of those who appeal to our patriotism without appreciating the true nature of the unique idea that is America...

...in the hearts and minds of those who reference God as their guide - but who, in their heart, are so arrogant as to believe only they speak to God, and God speaks only to them...

...in the hearts and minds of those who view tolerance as weakness, compromise as capitulation, and cooperation as naive.

That is not my America... not the America of my mother and father... not the America that has been the proverbial shining city on the hill for all the world to see.

It is time to restore our nation to the heights of respect and admiration it once had - for that is the surest way to defeat those who would harm us.

It is time for another generation of Irish-Americans, Mexican-Americans, Jewish-Americans, Italian-Americans, African-Americans, Arab-Americans - and so many more - to live up to our birthright of what it means to be an American.

Early on, we learn this truth and this responsibility:

"One nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."

Yes, indivisible. All Americans. Linked together by the enduring traits forged in good times and bad, over 227 years.

It is time to challenge the notion that rigidly-held ideology trumps well-conceived policy, that division and deceit have a place in civilized political discourse.

It is time to restore America's soul.

We are at the hinge of history, and the door can swing one of two ways.

It can lead to greater estrangement from the world, and greater insecurity at home, or an era of American leadership that shapes a world of renewed alliances, greater trust, and opportunities as great as any in the past. We will be judged by the path we choose. The challenges before us - no matter how difficult - present enormous opportunities, even in this post 9-11 world.

My mother always says, "From every bad thing, something good will come."

It is how her generation engaged adversity and how they grew stronger because of it. That is the America I know.

It is captured in all those old family photographs on our mantle pieces, or buried in our attics - photographs of our parents, grandparents, great-grandparents who suffered through the Depression and two World Wars. Much was asked of them, but much was given, and even more was learned.

But their very lives and the dignity with which they lived them taught us that there is nothing Americans cannot do, nothing we cannot accomplish when we put our hearts and minds to it.

In every family's old photographs are the stories of heroes and heroines who made our communities stronger and safer, men and women who, through a profound faith and extraordinary courage made us more secure and brought our hopes and our promise closer together.

In that spirit of hope and faith, let me leave you with the words of my favorite Irish poet, Seamus Heaney. He said:

History says don't hope On this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change On the far side of revenge Believe that further shore Is reachable from here Believe in miracle And cures and healing wells.

I believe. I know John Kerry believes. And so should all of you.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Nations on the Brink

Thank you, Nancy, for your introduction. And thanks to Ambassador Eizenstat, Congressman Porter, and all of the distinguished and accomplished members of the Commission that you assembled, including Dr. Jeremy Weinstein, the Project Director.

And welcome, Mr. Brown, and Dr. Hamre.

This Commission, and the Report that you bring us today, not only confirm the stature of the Center. They demonstrate why the work of the Center of will be indispensable in these extraordinary and difficult times.

Let me begin by saying: The weak states that are the subject of this Report are cracks in the very foundation of our international system.

Left untended, they can and they will, in my view, threaten the entire edifice of political and economic stability.

I know that every one in this room already recognizes that fact...

...and this Report will make that clear to a wider audience.

It makes clear the new kinds of security threats that weak and failed states present. That alone is a point that must be driven home. Those new threats have radically changed the world in which we live.

Just as importantly, this Report provides a blueprint to fashion an effective response to those threats.

It makes clear, specific recommendations to refocus our attention, reallocate our resources, and reform our institutions.

The threats to our security from weak and failed states are very different from the threats we are used to, and very different from the threats we are prepared for. It is not new that there are poor countries on our planet.

Nor is it new that those same countries often suffer under corrupt, incompetent, and misguided governments.

What is new in today's world is the effect on our lives, the threat to our own security, that can come from those age-old sources of human misery.

Now the very symbols of the technological superiority of our age, from the cell phone to the internet to jet airliners, have been transformed into weapons in the hands of those who are the declared enemies of our way of life.

They allow stateless actors the to reach out from the shadows, from weak and failed states, to attack us here at home.

Those states can destabilize their neighbors and whole regions, creating humanitarian crises as severe as any natural disaster.

With the proliferation of chemical, biological, and even nuclear weapons, weak and failed states represent more profound and frightening threats, whether those weapons are in the hands of a rogue government, or in the hands of people beyond the control of any government.

Failed states are fertile ground for drug production and trafficking, feeding our own drug problems here.

With the scourge of AIDS and other diseases that know no borders, we cannot afford the existence of more states that cannot feed, house, educate, or innoculate their citizens. For all of these reasons, we ignore failed states at our own peril. We have both a humanitarian obligation and a national security mandate to pay attention.

That clear message from the Report makes it required reading.

What can we do? The Commission has challenged us with a clear list of specific proposals that will demand, as I said, that we refocus our attention, reallocate our resources, and reform our institutions.

You will hear a lot more about these recommendations when Ambassador Eizenstat, and Congressman Porter, along with Mr. Brown and Dr. Hamre, discuss them in a few minutes.

But I want to highlight a few of them.

First, the severity and urgency of the threats from weak and failed states demand that we take seriously - for our own sake - the task of economic development.

For my own part, I was encouraged to see broader and deeper debt relief among the very specific first steps that need to be taken to get the poorest of the poor countries on their feet.

Reforms, now in law, of the HIPC program that I introduced with Senator Santorum seek to find a more flexible, sustainable, and effective approach to debt relief.

I have personally asked Treasury Secretary Snow to put that new formula on the table at the G-8 Summit we are hosting this week.

As we seek ways to reduce the debt burden that Iraq has inherited from Saddam's regime, we should remember that same approach can help other countries now on the brink. The President's new Millennium Challenge Account offers an important new approach to economic development assistance - rewarding those countries that have shown progress in the basic reforms that can create sustainable growth.

But there is a risk that the Millennium Challenge Corporation will do the cooking, and it will fall to others to do the dishes. We must make sure that any country whose instability can threaten us receives the attention it needs.

Next, more attention and resources directed toward stabilizing countries on the brink must be backed up by better organization of our own institutions.

We need to be smarter, and to do that we need to have better coordinated and more flexible institutions.

In December of last year, Chairman Lugar and I began discussions with experts from in and outside government on whether the United States is adequately organized and equipped, and its personnel trained, to deal with post-conflict reconstruction.

We must make sure that we are faster on our feet and that we don't let artificial lines on a bureaucratic chart deny us the people and resources we need.

To that end, Chairman Lugar and I have introduced "The Stabilization and Reconstruction Civilian Management Act", legislation which, among other things, would create a Rapid Response Corps that is able to respond to both emerging threats and emerging opportunities. I was gratified to see that our proposal fits with the thinking of the Commission.

I am also encouraged that the Administration appears to be moving in the direction of creating better mechanisms to coordinate civilian activities within the State Department.

This is a first step toward addressing serious voids in the ability of our agencies to effectively respond to complex stabilization emergencies.

We also need to do more to give individuals the ability to use their skills, abilities and initiative to contribute to post-conflict reconstruction efforts.

To that end, I have introduced legislation to create a Return of Talent Visa Program which would allow legal immigrants in the United States to return to their countries of origin to help with reconstruction, without their time out of the United States affecting their ability to meet their requirements for obtaining U.S. Citizenship.

I am pleased that this proposal is supported by the Commission. And finally, we are not in this alone. Virtually all of the civilized world faces the same threats from the terrorism, violence, disease, and instability that can breed in weak and failed states.

Without allies, without friends, without added resources, our efforts cannot succeed.

As the Commissioners put it in their report, we must leverage our own resources with those of other nations. The same logic that compels us to act applies to them.

Together, we can do more to meet this new common threat. Over the years, the Breton Woods institutions, the United Nations, and other multilateral entities have been created to meet evolving challenges. The new threats we face demand that we reform them to meet the very different tasks of stabilizing and supporting weak and failed states.

My brief remarks cannot do justice to the work that the Commissioners have put into this report.

You will have a chance this morning to hear from the Chairmen much more of their analysis and their prescriptions.

I want to close with a warning, based on my years of experience here in Washington. I don't have to tell anyone here, you who have been working on international economic development, that there are strong, built-in biases in our system against the project outlined in this report. If this were easy, we would already have moved against the threats posed by poverty, instability, and disease in the poorest countries of the world.

The consensus needed to move our Constitutional system is hard to come by, and is often only found in the face of immediate threats.

Even for the richest nation in the world, additional resources - directed, need I add, to countries, who if they are known at all, are known for their failings - will be hard to come by, especially given the reckless budget policy that has saddled us with record deficits.

The institutional reform we need will run up against bureaucratic inertia and entrenched stakeholders. And we have a lot of work to do to restore the trust and to secure the cooperation of other nations that we must have if we are to meet these new threats.

Nevertheless, with this report, I think we can say we have already taken the first steps - we have a clear view of the challenges before us, and we have concrete proposals for engaging them. So, Nancy, the Center deserves all our thanks for putting together this Commission.

And to the co-chairs, Ambassador Eizenstat and Congressman Porter, congratulations on your achievement. With your report, the problem of countries on the brink is now clearly before us.

If there is to be a solution to this problem, it begins here.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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University of Delaware Commencement

Mr. Chairman, thank you very much. This is a high honor and a great privilege and, obviously, you didn't look at my grade point average.

I graduated, my sister and I attended the University of Delaware, I graduated, she graduated honors. But I did make it in four years which pleased my father a great deal.

Monica, the combination of that incredible voice and this magnificent day and the celebratory atmosphere, there is only one thing that could ruin this day and that's a commencement speech.

But I will try my best. I understand, I understand that it is my turn to be forgotten. I can't tell you who the hell spoke at my graduation either and you won't know yours. Unless I get in real trouble, then you'll remember.

Mr. President, distinguished faculty members of the board, alumni, the very distinguished alumni that marched in with us today, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, all of those of you who are happy today that you're getting a pay-raise because no more tuition, I say congratulations to you all. You have reason to be proud. This is a truly great university and that is not hyperbole. This is truly a great university.

When I am asked, as I told the alumni earlier this morning, by many of you, "My child has been accepted this place and that place, what would you recommend Senator?", I always say, "Pick a university that you can get into now and you are quite sure in ten years you wouldn't be able to get in." I picked such a university.

Let me begin by saying how proud I am to be here as a speaker and how honored I am to have been asked but, most importantly, what means the most to me in this opportunity today is this: I came to University of Delaware to play football, among other things, this has allowed me only the second opportunity to get into the end zone in my entire career and I want to thank you very, very much for that. It means a great deal to me. I wish I could have gotten here more often and sooner, with a ball in my hands, but here I am.

Graduating speeches are difficult. Your parents want me to say something significant to justify the tuition and to honor the moment. The faculty has heard five thousand of these speeches and they're going "Oh God, no, not another one." You are wondering "Let's get the hell out of here and let's party" and you want to get going and so it's a dilemma.

It's a dilemma it really is; I truly believe the single most difficult speech to give. And I'm inclined to give the speech that Bob Hope gave the year, after I graduated from the University of Delaware, at Georgetown University. He stood up and addressed the faculty and the families, etc., looked out at the assembled graduating class and said, "Don't go," and sat down. I am inclined to do that. Andy Hall, where are you? Stand up. Don't go. Don't go. And the rest of your teammates, don't go. I'd like you to stay for a very selfish reason.

I'll be serious with you for just a moment. Each graduating class, to state the obvious, is very different, and there are defining moments and stark images that mark each of you personally and each of you generationally. It's the same for all of us as we graduated, whether it was in 1932 or 1965 or 2004. Each generation is defined by the images in the world in which it graduates.

For me and my fellow graduates, the indelible images that were etched into our minds forever are ones that those who graduated in '65 can remember and when I graduated in '68 from law school. But although they did not determine the world we graduated into, did not determine what we would become, it became our destiny to try to shape that world.

And just as those of you who are graduating today graduate into a world that is very different than ours, there were defining moments in your career here at the university, both personally, nationally, and internationally. And those moments will tell the story of your generation based upon how you respond to them.

Let me explain what I mean by that. How you react to the world under which you are graduating is going to define your generation for all time. And your generation, like mine and my father and mother's, is a generation that graduates into a world where what happens beyond our shore will impact upon your daily lives more than anything that will happen within our shores.

The fact of the matter is that you are required to become informed participants in the debate about what role our country should play in the world, regardless of whether you have any political interest in anything. For how we define our role in the world this next decade, is literally going to determine what your life is going to be like. Regardless of whether or not you become involved, informed participants, you will be greatly affected by what happens abroad.

For my generation, it was Vietnam, and how the wise men of our day, written about and read by you, 'the best and the brightest', as they were determined to be called, about how the best and the brightest of my generation extended a doctrine of George Kennan's called 'containment.' Of containing communism, extending it from a doctrine that applied to Europe to a doctrine that applied to South East Asia, and affected every aspect of my generation.

For your generation, it is about terror and weapons of mass destruction, and how today's wise men, the neo-conservative intellectuals, have concluded that military force and unilateralism is the tool to defeat terror. In my view, the wise men of both my generation and your generation learned some of the wrong lessons from their past.

The fact of the matter is, unilateralism is no more applicable to fighting terror, in my view, than the doctrine of containment was in fighting communism was in South East Asia. Both were born out of wrongly-applied lessons and both were the product of some little intellectual arrogance. But that's for you to decide, not me. That is my view.

I graduated from here in '65, and then from law school into an uncertain world of 1968. Two months earlier, one of my heroes, Martin Luther King, was assassinated and two days earlier, two days before my graduation, a second hero, Robert Kennedy, had been gunned down in a kitchen in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. The Vietnam War was raging in its bloodiest and most of us, who sat where you are sitting today, fully expected to be part of that conflict.

We wondered, as I know you wonder for different if not equally compelling reasons, if we would have a chance to fulfill our hopes and our aspirations. I know that you are very much like, believe it or not, we were in that graduating class of '68; anxious about the future, dismayed by uncertainty, wanting to do well and wanting to do good, and not quite sure about your chances of doing either.

In my generation, the images were stark. William Calley and the My Lai massacre, Bull Connor and his dogs in Birmingham. And there was another image from my generation that comes to mind and that is, there was a photograph of a young girl named Kim Park, running up a road in Vietnam, her hands outstretched, her clothes burned from her body and her skin burning so hot from napalm, that when water was poured on her, her skin literally began to boil. I've had the occasion to come to know Kim personally. She is a warm and charming woman, and remarkably unburdened by her experience. She has a family now and she puts the horror and the war behind her.

But looking back, thinking of those images and the nature of the times in which I graduated, I am more than a little surprised that our optimism was able to be sustained. We were no doubt naive, but I'm not the least bit embarrassed by that. I thought then, and I believe now that it was a great time to graduate into a promising world, although beset with real difficulties.

I felt, on that graduation day, a sense of purpose. The same purpose I brought with me to my first class here at the University of Delaware, and strengthened by my experience here in those formative years. It grew from the lessons taught by my parents, generous and gentle people, quick to offer help and very slow to judge but possessed by one absolutely raw intolerance: an instinctive outrage at the abuse of power and the arrogance that flows from it. That injustice inflicted upon the powerless at the hands of the powerful. That intolerance for the abuse of power, any kind of power, and the closely related values of personal integrity, of respect for individual autonomy, of responsibility to family, community, and, yes, country, was the foundation I brought with me to the University of Delaware and those are the values that I wanted to express as I entered my legal career seven years later in 1968.

For you, your generation, in many ways, began on September the 11th, 2001. I remember speaking to a thousand of you or so in the hall behind me, several days after the towers came down. The images of your generation are those planes, slicing into the Trade Towers, and the towers, incredibly, incredibly, almost beyond belief, crumbling to the ground. The images of courageous and tireless New York firefighters climbing into, not out of, those burning buildings. A president, rising to the moment, standing on the rubble of those crumbled towers, with a bullhorn in his hands, and saying to those who did this that they will hear from us and hear from us soon. The image of a tall Saudi, most Americans had never heard of, sitting with a laptop in a cave in Afghanistan, commanding a ragtag army of religious zealots.

And, last year, the bombardment of Baghdad when the war in Iraq began. The statue of Saddam being dragged off its pedestal and, most recently, the unfortunate images of extraordinary abuse of power in Abu Ghraib prison. Violence inflicted, not on us by others, but by us on others. Not withstanding the fact that our enemies have done much worse, it was nevertheless shameful for this proud, courageous, and brave nation.

We've all seen those images and they are no more a reflection of your generation than the images of Kim running down that crown top road in Vietnam, aflame with napalm, were a reflection of mine. They do not speak to who you are, what you believe to be just and fair, and what you know to be morally right. So don't let those images stand as a symbol of how the world sees us. Let us let your generation be defined by this day, by the degree you hold. Let it be defined by this great institution of learning. Let it be about a generation that thrives on discovery, exploration, invention, and tolerance. A generation that wants to know everything there is to know, see everything there is to see, build everything there is to build, because you are resourceful, committed, curious, and courageous.

Because you believe in your capacity to do more and to do it better than any generation has. I am so tired, the last five years, of hearing about how your generation has not been challenged. About hearing that your generation is not up to what the greatest generation, the World War II generation, did. About how your generation did not have to face what we had to face. Your generation is wiser, more decent, and better prepared to deal with the world, than any that went before it.

And I mean that. Don't let them categorize you. Don't let us be defined by the images that I mentioned. They're not you, they're not America, and they're not what this country can be.

But let's not kid ourselves, it is a graphic and hideous reminder of the potential for abuse of power at its most base and horrific power. Reminding us that even, even in a country as great and honorable as ours, horrific things can happen. An absolute, stark reminder that the majesty of the law that encapsulates our values must always, always, always be the guide of this great nation.

But the images of Kim, the young girl, just as it was an image that in some measure changed America's view of the war in my generation, similarly, make something positive out of the grim images that the world is judging us by now. The images from Abu Ghraib prison may, in some measure, be the turning point for your generation; your cry for reason and sanity in the war against terror. How we handle the situation now is no less important than how we handled the situation in 1968.

You are receiving your degrees in a time of extraordinary confusion and emerging self-doubt in American history. A time when the world is beginning to wonder who we are and who we stand for. We sent 135,000 American troops to Iraq as liberators, and I voted to do that, and now we are seen as occupiers. We were told that we didn't need a large force and now there is talk of reinstating the draft, a prospect that neither you nor your parents want to face.

And not long ago, America was respected; we were the envy of the world. But your world is vastly different than even it was a short few years ago when you entered college and it is, without a doubt, far more complex than when I received a degree.

For now, we are the world's only super-power, and during your generation we are learning how to wear that jacket. It is not an easy cloak to wear.

I know, and this is the one thing I ask you to take on faith, that neither optimism nor pessimism enables you to predict your future. But I also know, and I believe this as absolutely as anything else, that only a confident, optimistic attitude enables you to take a hand in shaping your future.

We didn't understand that simple notion when I graduated any better than I suspect some of you do and we were sobered by what we could see ahead. For your generation and mine, foreign policy has intervened in our lives unlike the generation that preceded you or the one that preceded me. Foreign policy is a call for every American to look out the window, rather than in the mirror, as we have been doing for the last decade and a half. You see the world for what it is and what it's become. What you see when you look out that window may be a terribly failed policy but a very real and ongoing war on terror does exist and is real.

Just as the Kennedy's administration 'best and the brightest' made the decisions that escalated our involvement in Vietnam, so today the neo-conservative intellectuals, bright, patriotic, honorable men and women, the best and the brightest of this administration, made decisions to not take certain actions once we got to Iraq.

My point is this, my generation ultimately demanded that our best and brightest in our generation take a long, hard look at the validity of the policies that were handed to us. That we had to distinguish between the real threat of communism, between the Soviet threat in Europe and the false threat in Vietnam. We had to examine whether or not what we were told was true, that this monolithic communism was gobbling up the world and if the dominoes fell in South East Asia, surely, surely, we would be at risk. That was the policy arrived at by honorable, bright, and decent, patriotic women and men. But a policy that warranted examination.

So, too, must you ask, the best and the brightest among you, to distinguish between the threat of rogue states like Iraq and international terror and the use of weapons of mass destruction. The irony is, that a man of my generation foretold the dynamics that are being played out in your generation.

I urge you to look out the window. I urge you to learn as much as you can about the situation in the world and what America's strategic responsibilities are. You will have to determine the real threats of terrorism from the false threats, just as we had to distinguish the real threats from communism from the false threats.

Let me tell you what I see with Iraq. We had to go into Iraq, not because Saddam was part of Al Qaeda, there was no evidence of that, not because he possessed nuclear weapons or because he posed an imminent threat to the United States, there was no evidence of that. The legitimate reason for going into Iraq, was he violated every single commitment he made and warranted being taken down. And the international community and us had a right to respond.

But the fact is, that we are in Iraq, and I voted for us to go there. But, first, principles have to be understood. We cannot want freedom for the Iraqi people more than they do, just as we could not want democracy for Vietnam more than they wanted it.

In Iraq, 65% of the Iraqi people want freedom and a government different than that exists in Iran and different than they had. But after being brutalized for three decades, they've learned to keep their heads down. We have to give them the security they need to raise their heads again. To be able to send their kid to the store, to be able to go to school, to be able to go to a mosque and know they're safe.

It is clear that the new government that we are about to endorse is going to need the continued presence of foreign troops. It seems clear that just as the photograph of Kim made it hard for the Vietnamese to trust us, the photographs of Abu Ghraib have made it hard for modern Iraqis to be seen as cooperating with us.

So in my view, we must change the face of the occupation. We have three choices. We can stay the course with no change, keep the American forces in occupation and send a new ambassador, an eminently qualified diplomat named Negroponte, and hope for the best. Or, as some have suggested, and I disagree, we can declare the mission impossible and we can leave.

Or, we can change the course, engage the major powers in the world and their Arab neighbors in the solution. Now, cynics will tell you its too late to do that, but the fact is, the future is as dangerous for our European friends, for their Arab neighbors, and for Russia, and the 'permanent five,' if we fail in Iraq as it is for us. They have every reason to see peace succeed; they have every need for this not to fail.

Iraq needs to be secured in order for there to be free elections in December of 2005 and, right now, American forces, alone, lack the legitimacy that is needed to be able to cooperate with this new Iraqi government. So here's, in my view, and I believe the President is likely to move in this direction, what we must do.

We must convene the major powers in the world in a summit and lead that summit of major powers to agree upon four important points. One, that the goal are free elections in 2005 and the means would be to move up the timetable for the elections in Iraq, to authorize a NATO-lead multinational force, to appoint a NATO high commissioner to be the referee between and among the warring factions, to speed up the training of Iraqi police and armed forces by accelerating European and American trained Arab leaders to train Iraqis, and, last but not least, we need to free, as the President is now doing, the bulk of the 8,000 prisoners being held at Abu Ghraib prison, and tear it to the ground.

And after we salt the ground on which they stood with a new edifice of a school or a hospital or a university, we have to hold those accountable who are responsible for the policy. Some people say that this would be too stark a departure, and, tantamount to us admitting to our mistakes, that it would be too costly politically.

But I would say to them, the war in Iraq and getting it right is bigger than either John Kerry or George Bush and I believe the President understands this. We live in Delaware. We know better than anyone else, when those giant transport planes, those C-5's fly from the Middle East at night, they're carrying the dead, the dead American soldiers, who gave every measure of themselves for this nation. It's about that last journey home, to the mortuary at Dover Air Force Base, about 45 minutes here.

It's about those brave Americans, doing everything in their power to get it right, and we owe them no less than to get it right, for them, in Iraq.

Ladies and gentleman, in conclusion, I have to state, as difficult as things seem, I am optimistic, I am optimistic that we will get this right and that your generation will start the 21st century that will not allow for a repeat of the 20th century. That's why two stanzas from a poem of my favorite Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, whose poem, "The Cure of Troy," I think should become the anthem of our nation and this generation. He wrote, and I quote, "History says don't hope on this side of the grave, but then, once in a lifetime, the long, ford, tidal wave of justice can rise up, and hope and history rhyme, so hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge, believe that future shore is reachable form here, believe in miracles and cures and healing-wells, as I believe in you." Thank you.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Getting It Right in Iraq

I come here today out of a deep and abiding frustration hardened by a nagging belief that time is rapidly running out on getting it right in Iraq.

Time is running out and there is a glaring need to be brutally frank about the challenge we face and completely honest with the American people about what will be required of them in this war.

It is long past time that the only Americans asked to contribute to this war are Middle Class and poor Americans whose children make up the overwhelming bulk of the fighting forces in Iraq, and OUR children who are being saddled with the sole responsibility of paying the enormous cost of this war. That is not fair.

There are tens of thousands of patriotic Americans who will go to bed tonight with a pit in their stomach, torn between their instinct to blindly support our President and a nagging doubt that he does not have a workable plan for either victory or to bring their sons and daughters home safely.

That doubt is complicated by a bewilderment as to why the fight against terrorism is the sole responsibility of Americans and American children.

We owe them answers.

But I'm also well aware that anyone who dares to suggest how we should proceed must come armed with humility. As I said a year ago, if the Lord Almighty had given the President every right decision to make for every tough issue he has faced, we'd still only have a slightly better than even chance of getting Iraq right.

It is that hard. And I still feel that way.

Having said that, there are certain basic choices this Administration has made over the past year that were seriously flawed and further reduced the odds of success. My critique is not the product of 20/20 hindsight. In the lead up to the war... during the war... in its aftermath... and today... thoughtful people of both parties... from John Kerry to Bill Kristol... urged the Administration to correct course. But I fear the Administration is far more worried about conceding mistakes than it is concerned about sticking to a failed policy.

Some believe that we've already lost Iraq. I disagree. Is the situation serious? Yes. Are we seeing more than the "flare-ups" to which the Secretary of Defense glibly refers? Yes. We are somewhere between an insurgency and widespread insurrection.

The result is that we may soon confront an untenable situation: American forces caught between an increasingly hostile Iraqi population that they were sent to liberate... and an increasingly skeptical American public, whose support they need and deserve.

I'm convinced we can still succeed IF we level with the American people about the costs and the risks... IF we develop a coherent plan for success... and IF we bring the Iraqi people and the rest of the world with us. That's what I want to talk about today.

II. Too Little Power, Too Little Legitimacy

This Administration is full of bright, patriotic, well-meaning people. But they began this undertaking with one fundamentally flawed assumption: that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to America's security. And they compounded that mistake by failing to apply, as Fareed Zakaria has put it, sufficient power and sufficient legitimacy.

These deficits - of power and legitimacy - have cost us the visible support of the majority of Iraqis who reject a theocracy and support a pluralistic Iraq. And they have cost us the help of the major world powers.

The result is a vacuum... filled now by Sunni malcontents and Shiaa extremists and Jihadists... who are rising up against the American "occupiers."

To understand where we must go from here, we have to understand the mis-steps we've already taken.

First, the Administration failed to plan for the day after. And this despite dozens of Congressional hearings, think tank studies - and even the work of the Administration itself, such as the State Department's "Future of Iraq" project - that predicted virtually all of the problems we now face. Go back and read the transcripts and the reports. Everything is there. The sorry state of Iraq's infrastructure. The likelihood of post-war looting and resistance. The impossibility that Iraq's oil revenues would pay for reconstruction. The need for five thousand international police to train the Iraqis. The folly of relying on exiles with no constituency in Iraq.

Second, the Administration failed to build an effective coalition. Because Iraq posed no imminent threat to America's security, we could have taken the time to put together a real coalition. Not because we needed a single foreign soldier to win the war, but because we needed them to secure the peace and to make legitimate our temporary but necessary occupation of Iraq. Of course, for some of our allies, going to war was never an option, no matter what Saddam did. But by taking more time to bring others on board, we could have increased our credibility and isolated the hypocrites. Instead, we did just the opposite.

Third, the Administration failed to bring Turkey along. We took Ankara for granted. Then, the Administration flip-flopped between trying to bribe the Turks and bully them. We lost the option to attack from the North. As a result, we by-passed the Sunni Triangle, which is the source of so much of our trouble today.

Fourth, the Administration failed to go in with enough forces because of Pentagon's desire to validate a new theory of warfare. Gen. Shinseki was ridiculed for suggesting it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He's looking prescient today. So is whoever wrote an NSC memo that, extrapolating from past missions, estimated that we would require a force of 500,000 to stabilize Iraq. The failure to provide those forces made it difficult to establish full control of Iraq... to stop the looting... or to give the Iraqi people a sense of security. And it produced the power vacuum I mentioned earlier.

Fifth, the Administration failed to understand that it would take years, not months, to train Iraqis to provide for their own security. When Dick Lugar, Chuck Hagel and I went to Baghdad last summer, our experts on the ground were clear and candid. They told us that it would take 5 years to train an Iraqi police force of 75,000, and 3 years to train a new, small Iraqi army of 40,000. But the Administration insisted on putting 200,000 Iraqis in uniform right away. We rushed people out the door. Now, fewer than ten percent of the police and army have been fully trained. Virtually none are adequately equipped. While many have acted with incredible bravery, others abandoned their posts and some even took up arms against us. This week, General John Abizaid called Iraqi security forces a "great disappointment."

Sixth, the Administration relied too heavily on Iraqi exiles, who have no constituency in Iraq. That dependence continues to this day. Why are we putting our thumb on Iraq's political scales by paying Mr. Chalabi and the INC nearly half a million dollars a month? Is the plan to help him buy his way to power after June 30? If so, it is profoundly misguided, because he lacks the legitimacy to hold Iraq together.

Finally, the President squandered repeated opportunities to bring the international community back together after the war. At the end of major combat operations, when our apparent success gave us the high ground, many who sat out the war were ready to help - if we had just asked. Instead, the Administration tried to freeze them out of contracts and served up "Freedom Toast" on Air Force One. And the President missed other opportunities to repair the rift over Iraq . After the U.N. headquarters was bombed. Last November, when we abruptly made a 180 degree change in policy - a change long advocated by our allies - to turn over sovereignty as soon as possible. And as recently as March 11, when the terrible bombing in Madrid should have inspired the President to go to Europe in solidarity. Maybe the French and Germans were beyond reach. But since Saddam was toppled, we've denied ourselves the help of tens of thousands of Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis and Turks, for example, who could have changed the dynamic on the ground in so many ways.

III. Leveling with the American People

But I believe the costliest mistake the President made - and the one he can still rectify - was his failure to level with the American people about what would be required to prevail.

He didn't tell them that well over 100,000 troops would be needed, for well over two years. He didn't tell them that the cost would surpass $200 billion dollars - and far exceed Iraq's oil revenues. He didn't tell them that even after paying such a heavy price, success was not assured, because no one had ever succeeded before at forcibly remaking a nation and, indeed, an entire region.

Instead, he took us to war essentially alone... before it was necessary... on the heels of the largest and most lopsided tax cut in history... with half the troops we needed to succeed.

And then he landed on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and spoke to the American people dwarfed by a banner that read: "Mission Accomplished."

It is not too late to regain the trust and secure the support of the American people. I'm glad that the President made a start of it on Tuesday night. But the President must do more than express resolve... more than reiterate his intention to stay the course... more than describe a vision for Iraq that is increasingly divorced from reality. He needs to explain the hard road ahead and the commitment we must make in terms of time, troops and treasure. He needs to spell out the very real risks to come.

That's a tall order. No President likes to deliver hard truths. And even that is not enough. The President has to convince the American people, the Iraqi people and the world that we have a strategy for success, and secure their active participation in seeing it through.

Yes, the President has a compelling vision for what Iraq can become... but no concrete plan to realize that vision.

IV. A Plan for Success

So, what should be our plan?

I believe we need to start by recognizing two competing realities going forward:

The Iraqis desperately need significant political, military and economic support from the outside, for years to come. Even as they chafe at being occupied, they need a political referee to mediate their disputes. Foreign troops to prevent a civil war. And tens of billions more dollars than we already have spent for reconstruction.

We desperately need to take the American face off of the occupation. Iraqi nationalism is on the rise, bringing Sunni and Shiaa factions together against us. Even if their alliance of convenience does not hold, we will continue to be blamed for everything that goes wrong and remain a target for every malcontent.

And we will continue to bear the heavy burden of securing Iraq virtually alone: nearly 90% of the troops and nearly 90% of the non-Iraqi casualties are American.

How do we square this circle ? By augmenting our power and increasing our legitimacy in Iraq.

That's the only way to generate the single most important ingredient for success: the emergence of that silent majority of Iraqis who can provide an alternative to the extremes... and who can create a participatory republic that will endure when we leave.

And increasing our power and legitimacy is the only way to get the help we need from outside Iraq - in terms of troops, money and manpower - to see this mission to completion.

To this end, there are three things the President should do immediately:

First, he needs to send in more American troops now to gain control of the security situation... and to give other countries confidence that they will not be walking into a quagmire.

Second, he should seek agreement right away from the major powers with the most at stake in Iraq to form an international board of directors responsible for overseeing the difficult political transition in Iraq. It could be the U.N. Security Council. It could be an ad hoc group, like the kind we formed to deal with Bosnia or the Middle East Peace Process. It's members would include our European allies, Russia and our friends in the Middle East.

A senior representative of that Board would replace Ambassador Bremer and the CPA as Iraq's primary international partner, and speak with the authority of the international community, not just the United States. He would have the authority to seek consensus on a caretaker government... to help Iraqis decide what that government will look like and who will run it... to mediate the disputes that are sure to arise between June 30 and elections next January... and to oversee the elections themselves. Lakhdar Brahimi has begun to play that role informally. Let's make it formal, with a clear, authoritative mandate from the major powers. That would maximize his leverage... and our prospects for success.

Third, the President should ask the U.N. to bless this arrangement with a new Security Council Resolution. Look, I don't have any illusions about the U.N. I don't attribute to it any magic powers... or any special competence or capability. But it's central involvement would, to quote George Will, "usefully blur the clarity of U.S. primacy." Foreign leaders need political cover to convince their people who opposed the war to help build the peace. The Iraqi people are more likely to accept the words of a partner who represents the will of the world than to heed the decree of an American ambassador hunkered down in a new "super embassy."

If the President does these three things, I believe several major benefits would follow. Other countries would be much more likely to take part in rebuilding Iraq. During the 1990s... in the Balkans... in Haiti... in East Timor... the U.S. typically provided about 20 percent of the post-conflict reconstruction resources. By that ratio, the $20 billion Congress has already appropriated for Iraq should have generated $80 billion from the rest of the world. Instead, we've raised less than $15 billion.

An international stamp of approval would also open the door to NATO. I know that first hand from President Chirac and other European leaders with whom I've met. NATO cannot take over security in Iraq tomorrow. But over a matter of months, NATO could begin to patrol Iraq's borders, take over the North or the Polish sector, and train the Iraqi military. That would free up as many as 20,000 American troops to focus on hot spots - the very number of additional troops General Abizaid is now calling for. Giving NATO a formal role also would change the complexion of the occupation. And it would send an important message to the American people that we are not alone in doing the hard security work in Iraq.

Our ability to put this plan in motion will answer the vexing question of whether to stick with the June 30 deadline for transferring political sovereignty to the Iraqis. The Administration has created an expectations problem. It chose the June 30 date with an eye to the wrong political calendar - ours, not Iraq's.

If we push the date back, those who are with us in Iraq may be angry that we are moving the goal posts. Those who are against us will see vindication for the violence they've unleashed. Conversely, if the turnover occurs on time but the situation remains the same in the eyes of the Iraqi people - including the perception of an on-going U.S. occupation -- we will add fuel to the nationalist backlash.

But it's not the date - it's the plan that matters. If we can develop a coherent plan for the turnover... if we can invest the world in that plan... and if we can convince the Iraqi people that the turnover will result in a meaningful change in their circumstances... the June 30 date will cease to matter.

V. Presidential Leadership

Some argue this is an unrealistic strategy - that it's too late to get all these players in the game. And it's true: the worse the situation gets, the more reluctant they become to participate. It's like the old story about George misplaying center field... No one wants to be part of a failure. But I'm convinced that it is not too late.

Our European and Arab friends have as much to lose from our failure in Iraq as we do. Iraq is in their front yard - its failure would endanger the supply of oil, rile up Muslim populations, and create a lethal source of instability that fuels terrorism and sparks aggression. Abandoning Iraq to chaos will put radicals in the region on the offensive... moderates and modernizers in retreat... and regimes in Jordan, Egypt and Saudi under intense pressure.

The Iraqi people themselves have the greatest stake in our success - and the most to lose from our failure. Trading a dictator for chaos is an even worse deal for them than it would be for us.

At this late hour, it will take some powerful persuasion to get them all on board. But one man has the power to do just that... to change the dynamic... to finally make Iraq the world's problem, not just our own. That man is the President of the United States. Now is the time for him to lead.

The other evening, he told us he's been talking to the Italian and Polish Prime Ministers. That's nice, but they are already on board, and that just not enough.

The President should immediately convene a summit with our traditional allies in Europe... our friends in the Arab world and Asia... representatives of the U.N. Security Council and NATO... and Iraqi political leaders. He should tell them that we need their help. He should acknowledge that success in Iraq requires centrist Iraqis to step up... world powers to chip in... and Middle East countries to take a chance on representative government in Iraq. Then the President should ask each of them what they need from us in order to participate. And he should work with them to forge a common plan for Iraq that they can support.

I'm sure there are people around the President who will tell him to reject this idea. They'll tell him that reaching out will make him look weak... that it will be an admission of failure. I would say to them that the hour for hubris and arrogance is long past. It's time for leadership. And right now only the President of the United States can provide it.

VI. Conclusion

When the Cold War ended we were left virtually alone, a superpower seemingly secure in our position, driven by our faith in freedom, by democratic values and a belief that every man and woman is better off when they are free of tyranny.

What we have learned since then should be clear. The world has changed and so have the demands of leadership.

For the world to follow, we must do more than rattle our sabers and demand allegiance to our vision of the world simply because we believe we are right. We must provide a reason for others to aspire to that vision. And that reason must come with more than the repetition of a bumper-sticker phrase about freedom and democracy. It must come with more than the restatement of a failed policy. It must come with the wisdom to admit when we are wrong and the resolve to change course and get it right.

Let me leave you with one thought. I come from Delaware. I have been to Dover many times. The men and women there who receive our soldiers and their families on that last long journey home know what this is about. When those planes fly over Delaware and land in the middle of the night, we are reminded that this is not about politics, about whether we believe with every fiber of our being that we are fundamentally right or that someone else is dangerously wrong.

This is not about assigning blame or about partisanship. This is about that last journey home to Dover Air Base. It's about those brave Americans who are doing everything in their power to get it right. We owe them no less than to get it right ourselves.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Address to the People's Congress of Libya

Salam ale Qum.

Thank you for inviting me to speak to you. I traveled a great distance to get here, but in so many ways, in recent years, the distance between Libya and America has seemed even greater, almost insurmountable. Now, there is real hope that we will bridge the great divide that has kept us apart. But there is still much work to be done. It is in that spirit of hope that I stand before you... and that I send my greetings to the Libyan people who are watching these proceedings in their homes. At the outset, let me tell you who I am and why I am here. I am a United States Senator. I represent a small portion of my country - the state of Delaware, which is located between Washington and New York.

As you know, in America there are no Kings or Princes, no Lords or Dukes, no Emirs or Sultans. Like you, we fought a war against colonialism for our freedom. The central belief in our system is that each individual should have an equal opportunity to succeed.

At home, I am surrounded by very strong women. A mother who instilled in her children the values of faith and community. A sister who was better at her studies than I was, and upon whose guidance our large family depends. A wife who is a respected professor in our community, not just smart, but also wise. And a daughter who knows she can be anything she wants to be.

Like most of the nearly 300 million Americans whose families arrived on our shores from every corner of the globe, I was not born to wealth or stature. I was not promised anything other than the opportunity granted to every American -- the opportunity to go as far as I could dream.

I am sure that Libyan parents share the same hope for their children. I am sure it is a universal hope -- but not one that can be realized in many countries. That's one of the things that makes my country special.

I have served in the United States Senate for 31 years, elected democratically six times by the men and women of Delaware. Men and women. Young and old. Black and white, Hispanic and Asian. Christians, Jews, Hindus and yes, Arab-Americans and Muslims. You may not know that there are almost as many Muslims in the United States as there are citizens of Libya. And there are more Arab-Americans than all the people who live in Tripoli. Their votes count the same as everyone else.

I belong to the Democratic party. President Bush leads the other major political party - the Republican party. But I am here not as a representative of my party... not as a representative of Christian-Americans.... not as a representative of white Americans. I am here as a representative of my country who believes, along with many other Americans, that this is a moment of great possibility for Libya and for the relationship between our countries. But many of us remain skeptical.

For too long, our relationship has been marked by hostility. In fact, I have a personal connection to the terrible act that set back our relations for years.

I am a graduate of Syracuse University Law School. There is a wall at my school, erected to the memory of 270 people - including 35 young students who never returned home from their studies abroad. They lost their lives when Pan Am 103 was bombed out of the sky. Thirty-five is a number, a statistic. But each of those young people had a name. Each had a mother and a father, a sister and brother, and friends who loved them - and who still suffer their loss every single day. The victims were young men and women like Ken Bissett. He was an artist and a writer. Like Eric and Jason Coker, twin brothers. Eric was studying economics. Jason wanted to be a journalist. He might have been here today, reporting on this siginificant event. And like a kind hearted young woman named Keesha Weedon who wanted to help troubled children. Each of these young people had a past - and each had a future cut short by violence. Imagine if one of them had been your son or your daughter. Think about that for just a moment. Your government's admission of responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am 103 was not only necessary - it was the right thing to do. And it was consistent with your traditions. In the words of the Koran: "As for him who shall repent and believe and do right, he happily may be one of the successful." It appears now that your government wants to change in order to become "one of the successful."

Americans will never forget the past. But we cannot allow it to stop us from building a more peaceful world that can prevent such tragedies in the future. That must be the legacy of those who lost their lives, and for those who carry their memory. And so while Americans remain wary, we also stand ready to walk with you if you are willing to take the difficult steps necessary to rejoin the community of nations. By accepting responsibility for the past... agreeing to abandon its weapons of mass destruction program... and joining the war on terrorism... your government is beginning to end Libya's political and economic isolation. But what I want to say to you today is this: do not stop there. Aim higher. Go further.

For centuries, the people of Libya were denied the opportunity to fulfill their God-given potential. First, you were held back by outside colonizers. Then, you were led astray by misguided ideologies. The result is a great gulf between your rightful expectations and the reality of your lives .

You are right to expect good schools for your children and first rate doctors for your parents. You are right to expect to own your own home and to build your own business. You are right to expect newspapers with competing ideas and an internet connection in every home. You are right to expect the freedom to speak your mind without fear of being thrown in jail. So the question is: How do you make sure that history does not repeat itself and that you are not denied the opportunity to which you are entitled?

Your economic potential is extraordinary because of the natural resources buried in the ground. But your national potential is limitless, because of the human resources that are spread all across this land.

You have tremendous oil power. But it will only be meaningful if you use it to unleash the brain power of the Libyan people - especially the awesome potential of your youth. In fact, oil can be more of a burden than a benefit if it used as an excuse not to develop all aspects of your society... and if its proceeds are not widely shared and wisely invested in education, training and a strong foundation for the future.

Let me offer you a concrete example. It concerns patents - the legal protection the world gives to new ideas and inventions. They're a good measure of the quality of a country's educational system, its entrepreneurship, its innovation and its rule of law. Between 1980 and 1999, the nine leading Arab economies - each built on oil wealth - registered a mere 370 patents in my country. During that same period, South Korea alone registered 16,328 patents. Why? In the 21st century, human resources are the true wealth of any nation. You have a historic opportunity to free those human resources to their full potential. I urge you to seize it.

It may strike you as presumptuous that an American politician is offering advice that you did not seek. After all, my country has its own problems. Let me be clear: I have not come here to impose American views on you or to suggest we have all the answers. But I know that more than ever before, your fate and our future are joined. There was a time when the United States would have been satisfied with the status quo in the Middle East, North Africa and here in Libya. But the events of September 11, 2001 marked a turning point in how my country views the world, and specifically how it sees this region.

Americans now understand that the promise of our time is matched by peril. Ideas and innovations can travel the planet at the stroke of a computer key, spreading progress far and wide. But the same technology and openness that power these forces of construction also enable forces of destruction. As a result, problems in any one part of our planet can plague the entire world, including the United States. There is no mountain high enough or ocean wide enough to protect us. The question for America is what, if anything, can we do about this new reality? Make no mistake: the United States will meet and defeat any threat to the safety of our people and the security of our country. We have the will and we have the way to prevail.

But our physical prowess alone cannot solve the problem. We are engaged in much more than a contest of force. We are engaged in a war of ideas. I am convinced that war will be won by those who offer hope, not hatred... progress, not paralysis... a vision for the future, not an obsession with the past.

Those who attacked us on September 11 were beyond the reach of reason. Their blind hatred was not the bitter fruit of poverty - they were relatively prosperous people. It was not the product of Islam - they perverted a great faith. It was not the result of America's support for Israel, as much as you may disagree with it. Osama Bin Laden almost never mentioned the Palestinian cause before the attacks. His focus was his own country, Saudi Arabia.

No, America's aggressors were foot soldiers in a new war pitting believers in freedom, openness, and tolerance against the forces of radical fundamentalism and regression. It is not a clash between civilizations, but within civilizations - especially within the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Today, violent radicals have turned their terror on us. But make no mistake: they regard the large majority of moderate Muslims as their enemies as well. Hundreds of Muslims were among the more than 3000 dead in the World Trade Center and the victims of attacks in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Morocco. And if the radicals succeed, you will be their victims in another way as well, condemned to a future of hopelessness and despair.

I believe that the cause of hope and the tide of history is on the side of the moderates and modernizers -- in this region, in my region and around the world. Our challenge is to reject their cynicism and hatred and to build an alliance of tolerance and progress.

We each have a job to do. Our job - America's job - is first and foremost to listen to you -- to listen to your ideas, as well as your fears and concerns. And to do a much better job explaining our ideas and intentions.

But even if we do that well, human nature is the same world wide. It is rare to feel good about your neighbor's new car when you've just lost your job. America's military might, economic power and cultural reach make us present in peoples lives on every continent, in every country. Sometimes we do not recognize the conflicting emotions this can produce: respect and admiration, but also envy, resentment and fear.

There will always be those who do not like specific policies we advocate or the way we pursue them. That is your right. The burden is on us to make our case... and to have faith in our power to persuade, not just coerce. It may surprise you that most Americans don't like the fact we're the world's sole superpower. They understand it thrusts upon them a responsibility they did not seek and would rather not bear. For example, the people I represent in Delaware understood but did not like the fact I voted to send their sons and daughters to Kosovo. They went to Kosovo to prevent the genocidal slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Muslim men, women and children by Milosevic.

For better or worse, one result of our standing is that people around the world think the U.S. is both the cause of, and answer to, their concerns.

I am proud that America is, more often than not, the solution rather than the problem. I am also proud of our generosity. Like your tradition of Zakat, we feel a moral obligation to share our good fortune. Every year, we send tens of billions of dollars far from our shores to help the impoverished... support economic development... combat AIDS. We should do more. We already do a lot. But it is also true that in the Middle East and North Africa, repressive political systems and closed economies generate deep anger, resentment, and extremism. I know that the United States has seemed, at best, indifferent to the plight of the oppressed and, at worst, complicit with corrupt and autocratic regimes - despite our generosity.

In the past, we've justified that support in different ways: the Cold War struggle against communism... the preference for stability over chaos...the need to ensure a steady supply of oil. The tragedy of 9-11 has taught America the hard way that we cannot afford such policies. As President Bush said recently: "stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty."

Americans of all political persuasions agree that our security requires us to more actively support your aspirations to choose your own leaders... to express your own opinions...to associate freely with others... to worship in peace... to be treated with dignity. In a word, our security requires us to more actively support your desire for liberal democracy. That is the right thing to do. And it is the surest path to realizing your potential and your dreams. Democracy is first and foremost about preventing the concentration of power into the hands of the few... or the one. Elections are necessary - but not enough. Democracy is about creating individual rights and building independent institutions: courts of law, political parties, a free press, transparent government, property ownership, a private sector, non-governmental organizations. It is about schools that teach tolerance to your children, and teach them to think for themselves. It is about making women genuine partners in building a modern society.

Nothing about democracy is incompatible with Islam. For example, since the days of the Prophet, the shura - a council where community leaders gather to make decisions through discussion - has been a Muslim concept.

I know many resist change because of the uncertainty it brings. I understand the tension people feel between holding on to traditions that are comfortable and embracing modernity. In my own country, people contend with that tension every day. For example, free trade means that Americans have more choice and pay less for the many things in our stores. But it also means American jobs are lost to countries where people are willing to work for lower pay. That has made millions of Americans - despite our prosperity - angry and afraid.

So each of us, in different ways, has to contend with powerful forces of change and the uncertainty they bring. Every nation must find its own way. Let me share with you, in all humility, the path my country has chosen and some lessons we have learned.

Many see the economic, cultural and military power of the United States. What they may not understand is that those strengths flow from our democratic system, not the other way around. They flow from the freedom we afford every American to think, to question and to create. There are other paths to prosperity. South Korea once enjoyed extraordinary growth without democracy. Now, so does China. But I am convinced that in the long run, the freedoms we enjoy are a tremendous advantage in competing with other countries in the information age.

Our strength also flows from the great diversity of our people. More than two centuries ago, our founders recognized that America's enduring mission would be "to form a more perfect union". In other words, they understood the challenge of forging a single nation from many different parts. But they were confident that in working to overcome our differences, Americans would constantly move forward.

They were right. My country was born in the midst of slavery; we still struggle to overcome the legacy of racism. But we can also say that African Americans have made great strides and are making great contributions to our society.

The rights we enjoy and the institutions we built give every American the power to shine a light on the mistakes we make, and to demand that they be corrected. And the rules we live by protect us from the excess of absolute power... and have helped us build a country where each individual has the opportunity, but not the guarantee, to achieve his or her potential.

Please do not misunderstand me. I mean no disrespect. But the nations of the Arab world could be doing so much more to harness the enormous potential of their people.

Consider this: the combined gross domestic product of all Arab countries in 1999 was less than that of a single European country - Spain. Think about that for a moment. And then think back a thousand years. Spain was part of a great Arab empire which encompassed most of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Why did you thrive then? It was not your armies alone. It was your ideas, your civilization, your culture, your openness. Why has this one small territory - then called Al Andalus, now called Spain - outpaced the rest of the Arab world combined today?

Don't take the answer from me. Listen to the leading Arab scholars who recently completed a remarkable study of Arab Human Development, published by the United Nations. It speaks to the need across the Arab world to make progress in three critical areas: Empowering women, spreading knowledge, and expanding freedom. This is an incredibly difficult challenge - but also an extraordinary opportunity. 70% of your population is below the age of 30. Unlocking their minds and unleashing their talents can be a deep source of strength. Bringing women into the work place will boost your economies... just as women leaders past and present in Pakistan... in Bangladesh... in Turkey... and in Indonesia energized the Muslim world's politics. Giving your people access to the internet will connect them to a vast supply of knowledge and power your progress.

The United States wants to help you seize these opportunities in a spirit of cooperation. We are ready to share our experiences... to make investments in your economies... to welcome you into the international community. We are prepared to build these partnerships because it is on our interest.

It is up to you to take the necessary, important, unavoidable risks. The choice is yours. You can merely survive, with an economy that generates just enough wealth to get by and a society that provides few freedoms and opportunities.

Or you can thrive. I am convinced you can thrive. My conviction follows from your history. At a time when Europeans were barely emerging from the Dark Ages, the light of civilization was shining brightly in the Arab world. Scholars outpaced their European counterparts in math, science and other disciplines of modernity. Philosophers and poets, architects and artists enlightened the world from Cairo to Baghdad to Damascus to Granada.

I believe with all my heart that you can build a future as glorious as your past. And I am convinced that my country has a profound stake in your success.

Let me leave you with the words of a great Arab-American poet, Gibran Khalil Gibran, that speak powerfully to this time and this challenge: "O land veiled to our sight from ages past

Which way to you? Which path? How long? How wide? What wasteland hems you in? What mountain range Enfolds your realm? Which one of us the guide? Are you our hope? Or are you a mirage? In hearts where none but fruitless quests reside...

"O source of knowledge where our forbears dwelt, Where truth they worshiped, beauty was their creed; Uncharted source, unknown, unreachable Whether by crested wave or racing steed, Neither in East nor West can you be found, In southern reaches nor in northern field, Not in the skies we find you, nor the seas, Nor pathless deserts which beguile our art; Deep in the soul you burst, like light, like fire, You are within my chest, my pounding heart."

Thank you for listening.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Avoiding Nuclear Anarchy

SENATOR BIDEN: John, thank you for that warm introduction. Your energy, dedication, and persistence have helped keep arms control and nonproliferation issues on the radar screen of Members of Congress for decades.

I also want to thank Daryl Kimball and the Arms Control Association for allowing me to address all of you today and for being such effective advocates of sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and reduce the risks of nuclear war.

We are gathered today at the Paul C. Warnke Conference on the Past, Present, and Future of Arms Control.

Paul may be known best for his image of the arms race as two apes "jogging in tandem on a treadmill to nowhere." But he also got to the nub of the arms control debate. In 1986, he wrote: "...until we recognize that no one can win a nuclear war, that no one can fight one rationally and successfully, we aren't going to be able to take the steps that are necessary to bring about strategic arms control."

Controlling the arms race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. was the issue that galvanized us during the Cold War.

Today, although the Cold War is over, the issue of controlling the threat of a nuclear explosion has become more complicated. The result is not one, but three nuclear challenges we must meet and conquer:

● other nuclear powers, some of which are new and lack our experience with nuclear restraint;

● nuclear proliferation to states with unstable leaders; and

● the risk of nuclear terrorism.

In each of these areas, the Administration is pursuing policies more likely to lead us into, not away from, a nuclear abyss. Policies more likely to encourage, not stem, the spread of nuclear weapons.

I hope this Administration changes course. More realistically, it will be up to a new Democratic administration to put us back on the path to real security.

Let me talk about each of the challenges we face, about the fallacies of the Administration's approach, and about the policies I believe we should be pursuing.

Restraining Major Nuclear Powers

The first challenge is dealing with the major nuclear weapons states. Some are long standing, like Russia and China. Others are more recent nuclear powers like India and Pakistan - and much less experienced in securing their systems and showing restraint.

The administration seems unconcerned about crisis stability with Russia, arguing that our countries no longer contemplate attacking each other. That may be true, but it begs the question.

The risk of a nuclear exchange stems not from our intent, but rather from the fact that armies defend against worst-case scenarios.

So long as we and the Russians keep thousands of nuclear weapons prepared to respond within minutes of receiving a warning of attack, the risk of nuclear war remains.

We still need to ensure that Russia will not fear a U.S. attack - even in a crisis, and even if one of its radars reports an ambiguous signal.

We must also combat the tendency of some Russian officers and officials to still view us as the enemy. And we should take steps now to minimize the risks of war or an arms race with China. If we allow simplistic assumptions of U.S.-Russian accord - or of U.S.-Chinese competition - to govern our relations with the world's two largest nuclear powers other than ourselves, we will squander the opportunity to truly regularize those relations and to promote peace and predictability.

What, specifically, is to be done?

With Russia, we should get off the dime and get the Joint Data Exchange Center up and running. We also need to finally begin reducing our own nuclear stockpile, as the Administration promised last year.

Both of those steps will lower the risk of aberrant Russian actions during a crisis, or due to a false warning of attack.

We also need more attention to China's strategic weapons and to its space program.

China recently orbited its first astronaut and announced that it intends, "to explore outer space and make a good use of the rich resources of space."

Some people even foresee a military "space race" with China. Now is the time to head that off - by making China a full partner in space exploration, rather than a frustrated "new entrant" that has to catch up with us.

The challenge here, as with so many challenges we face across the globe, is to see the opportunity where others see only potential confrontation.

The same is true regarding India and Pakistan. As we reach out to India and Pakistan, the first rule is to "do no harm," as they say. Friendship with Pakistan must not include allowing that country (or its scientists) to proliferate nuclear weapons technology or equipment.

Friendship with India must not include selling it weapons that could trigger a nuclear crisis - like the special operations equipment "to attack terrorist troops operating behind enemy lines inside Pakistan" that India reportedly wants us to sell them.

The second rule is to never give up. As India and Pakistan explore ways to reduce tensions and address the difficult issues that divide them, we must do more to help them avoid a conflict that could spiral into nuclear war.

This might include assisting them to control their border - a project on which the Sandia National Laboratory has worked for several years.

It could also include working with other major powers to offer security assurances to both India and Pakistan if they will give up their nuclear weapons.

Stopping Proliferation to Rogue States

Our second great challenge is to stop the spread of the world's most dangerous weapons to its most dangerous states.

Here, the problem starts with the Administration's security and nuclear strategies. Taken together, the doctrine of preventive war amounts to a proliferation policy instead of a non-proliferation policy.

Consider the Administration's strategy of preventive war - including the possible use of nuclear weapons - against countries that may not even have weapons of mass destruction, let alone be threatening us with them.

This strategy runs the risk of prompting countries to develop nukes, since they risk a U.S. nuclear attack even if they don't go nuclear.

They will see the acquisition of nuclear weapons as the sole insurance policy against regime change.

Then consider the Administration's efforts to develop new nuclear weapons, such as low yield war heads and bunker busters.

In 1994, Paul Warnke warned especially that if we were to develop low-yield nuclear weapons for use against Third World countries: "The only logical response...would be for small countries to develop nuclear weapons and threaten the United States with a few primitive atomic bombs that could be delivered by comparably primitive means."

Warnke's warning certainly fits North Korea today, and might describe Iran in the future.

Further, it doesn't help when the new weapons the Administration seeks are largely useless.

New "bunker-busters" would cause tremendous civilian casualties, due to radioactive fallout as well as the actual blast of these high-yield weapons.

If biological weapons were stored in the bunkers, moreover, a nuclear attack would be more likely to spread the pathogens than to destroy them.

And new low-yield weapons would add little to a stockpile that already has low-yield options, but would lower the barrier between conventional and nuclear war.

Our search for new nuclear weapons has an aura of mindless devotion to nuclear war. This undermines the central bargain in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, that the Nuclear Weapons States would gradually move away from nuclear weapons, while the Non-Nuclear Weapons States refrained from acquiring them.

Consider how the Administration has alienated the very countries we need to promote and enforce non-proliferation.

We undermined international solidarity when we withdrew from the ABM Treaty.

And we make other countries less willing to obey and enforce the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty when we fail to ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, give up on START II, and badger our scientists to come up with ideas for new nuclear weapons.

The Administration is especially feckless on a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty. This has been a U.S. objective for eight years, because we have more than enough fissile material, while countries of concern continue to seek it.

For over two years, the Administration castigated other countries for preventing negotiations from starting. Now that there is a chance of success, however, the Administration announced that we may refuse to negotiate.

As my granddaughters say: what's up with that?

Will this promote solidarity with our allies, who worked for years to help us convince other countries to negotiate? Will this help maintain their support for a firm stand on the need for Iran and North Korea to dismantle their nuclear weapons programs? Not likely.

Finally, consider the delusion that the premature deployment of a missile defense will solve the proliferation problem.

Never mind that an ICBM with a return address is the least likely delivery vehicle a rogue state would use against us.

We all know that our missile defense will be untested, that several critical components won't even be ready when the President declares it "deployed," and that its ability to defeat even simple countermeasures will be uncertain at best.

Thomas Christie, the Pentagon's chief of test and evaluation - selected by this Administration - just made that painfully clear.

He wrote: "it is not clear what mission capability will be demonstrated."

So, why is the President rushing to deploy this?

Will it meet the only test that matters, making America more secure?

Or will it give people a false sense of security?

Missile defense is no substitute for the hard work of nonproliferation.

So how do we counter proliferation to rogue states? The apparently successful recent agreement with Libya is a product of international isolation, sanctions and hard-headed diplomacy.

Libya will let us see everything and cart it away. This shows that negotiations and agreements are indeed possible with countries of concern, even ones with mercurial leaders who have supported terrorism.

Iran recently signed the Additional Protocol letting the IAEA conduct more inspections, which is a vital step.

But the IAEA and the developed countries must be firm with Iran on the terms of its suspension of all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

And the United States must work with them, rather than picking fights with the IAEA or our allies.

We must also address the long-term concern that the nonproliferation regime currently permits countries to manufacture fissile material in their supposedly peaceful nuclear power programs.

Dr. Mohammed ElBaradei, the IAEA Director General, has proposed production and management of nuclear reactor fuel be limited to multinational, transparent entities, rather than nation states.

That idea is worth exploring. It will also bolster our demand that countries like Iran and North Korea renounce sensitive fuel cycle activities.

Which brings us to North Korea. Here, the Administration has largely dithered and delayed.

It bungled the issue of their illegal uranium enrichment program, and now North Korea has reprocessed 8,000 spent fuel rods that had been stored under international safeguards.

That could provide plutonium for 6 or 8 more nuclear weapons. If North Korea has made those weapons (and the 1 or 2 more U.S. intelligence thinks it already has), then it now has enough weapons to think of actually using them - or of giving or selling a few to others. The Administration's inattention and ideological rigidity has left America less secure today than we were three years ago.

It's time to get serious about negotiations. That does not mean paying blackmail.

North Korea must dismantle its nuclear programs and stop selling missile technology.

But we won't achieve that unless the President instructs his officials to negotiate in good faith and gives them the leeway to do so. Perhaps he could keep his ideologues out of the loop, as he did on Libya.

One good thing to come out of the North Korea fiasco has been the Proliferation Security Initiative, or PSI.

To be sure, PSI cannot prevent North Korea from exporting a bomb. But better coordination and intelligence sharing with like-minded countries can help stem proliferation of the bulky equipment needed to produce a bomb, or long-range missiles to deliver it.

For PSI to achieve its full potential, however, we must get the whole world involved, rather than just 15-or-so of our best friends. We must also go to the United Nations, if we want to stop shipments in international waters or airspace.

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism

Our third great challenge is to counter the new threat of nuclear terrorism.

The terrorists aren't there yet.

Acquiring a nuclear weapon clearly is a desire of some groups, but not yet a reality.

But scientists tell us that if educated terrorists got fissile material, especially highly-enriched uranium, they could make a workable nuclear device.

Similarly, if they were to steal or be given a nuclear weapon, they could probably use it - or take it apart and build their own device.

If we are to avoid nuclear terrorism in the future, there is no more critical effort today than securing the world's fissile material. Most of the poorly secured material is in Russia, but there is also much highly enriched uranium in research reactors scattered around the world. Three years ago, Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler called on us to spend at least $3 billion a year on a Nunn-Lugar-like crash program to secure Russia's fissile material.

Today, the world spends only 1 to 2 billion dollars on this - and several U.S. programs are stalled by long-standing liability disputes.

U.S. and Russian bureaucrats are worrying too much about turf and too little about our shared need to ensure that fissile material is kept out of the hands of rogues or terrorists.

The U.S. and Russian Presidents need to take a hands-on approach, end the bureaucratic battles, and restore a spirit of cooperative problem-solving.

That's long overdue.

Similarly, our efforts to repatriate fissile material from other countries' nuclear reactors are laudable, but hardly sufficient. At the rate we are going, it will take over a decade to finish the task.

And that exposes us, for much too long, to the risk of true catastrophe. We need a major increase in our efforts to safeguard the world's enriched uranium - both in funding and in the urgency with which we pursue that program.

We need greater efforts to secure radioactive sources that could be used in a so-called "dirty bomb" - including a crash program to replace the nuclear generators in Russia's remote lighthouses, which are already being vandalized by thieves and could someday be stolen by terrorists.

And we need to maintain nuclear deterrence, even in a world of international terrorism.

One useful step would be an international compact in which nations agreed to wipe out any group that dared set off a nuclear device.

A step that we can take now is to improve our ability to collect and analyze nuclear debris, so that we can identify (and, if appropriate, retaliate against) any country supplying fissile material used in an attack on us.

My amendment on this passed the Senate last year, but died in conference; I plan to keep pressing this issue.

Let me conclude by saying, to stem nuclear proliferation and avert nuclear terrorism, we must loose the bonds of ideology. We must invent new approaches and foster new international cooperation to meet changing threats.

In the nuclear age, a Hobbesian world can be nasty, brutish, and very short indeed. Our military might is a vital force for good in this world, but we must also seek the Lockean alternative of agreed restraints and responsibilities.

If we are as clear-headed as Paul Warnke was, we may even succeed.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Toward Enlightened Nationalism

Let me start by saying that I listened to the President's press conference today, where he talked about the violation of UN Security Council resolutions constituting the casus belli for action against Iraq. And the President went on to say that the UN is an important institution, and to maintain its credibility there must be a price paid for violating its resolutions.

I am greatly encouraged if, by these comments, he means to say that he is abandoning the doctrine of preemption that many in his administration have counseled him to adopt.

Based on his comments, I continue to be hopeful that the Administration's recent U-turn on Iraq, its commitment to make Iraq the world's responsibility, and not just our own - is more than rhetorical.

But, I must say, the Administration's recent epiphany, welcome as it is still leaves our foreign policy headed in the wrong direction and that is what I want to talk about tonight.

Let me be clear at the outset.

I do not question the motives of either the neo-conservatives in this Administration who discount the value of alliances and the international institutions we've built or the pure multilateralists in my own Party who believe that we can only exercise power if we get the world's approval first.

It is my view that we cannot conduct foreign policy at the extremes.

The stakes are much too high.

This is not a time for political rhetoric.

This is a time for hard facts, sober analysis, and decisive action that will make us more secure.

It is a time for a more enlightened nationalism that supports the use of force - without apology or hesitation - when we must.

An enlightened nationalism that is not so blinded by our overwhelming military power that we fail to see the genuine benefit and obvious need to work with others.

The American people understand very clearly what matters most. They "get it." It's pretty simple:

Do our priorities, our policies, our actions make us MORE SECURE OR LESS SECURE?

I believe this Administration's priorities, policies, and actions demonstrate much too narrow a definition of national security.

As a result, we have missed significant opportunities to make America more secure.

The devastating punch we took on September 11th still reverberates throughout American society.

I've spoken many times recently about the pervasive sense of vulnerability and insecurity we feel, not only collectively as a nation, but in our personal lives, and it has not gotten any better.

We think twice about our travel plans.

We think twice about riding elevators in tall buildings.

We even think twice about letting our kids go on field trips.

Yesterday's soccer moms truly are today's security moms.

In the days after 9-11, those moms - and Americans everywhere - looked for a way they could do something to help.

It was a time that called for rallying the nation and tapping into the desire all of us had to do something for our country.

And I believe history will judge President Bush most harshly for squandering that opportunity.

These squandered opportunities persist to this day here at home, and beyond our borders.

Here at home, when Americans were standing in long lines to give blood after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, we squandered an obvious opportunity to make service a noble cause again, and rekindle an American spirit of community.

We squandered the opportunity to rally Americans to produce a rational policy to achieve energy security. We squandered the opportunity to rally Americans to build an effective homeland defense, to make our borders and ports safer, our transportation systems more secure, and our nuclear power plants less vulnerable.

And finally, beyond our borders, we squandered the opportunity to build an effective national security strategy to meet these new threats without alienating the world.

As you all know, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld likes to send internal memos that have been dubbed "snowflakes." Last week, one of them failed to melt before it floated into the public domain.

Or, perhaps, the Secretary of Defense never intended for this particular "snowflake" to melt at all.

In any case, most of the media focused on the parts of the memo that talked about our "mixed results" with Al Qaeda and the "long hard slog" still ahead in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Those are important points. But to me, the most astounding part of the memo was Secretary Rumsfeld's admission that we still lack a long term strategy for winning the war against terrorism. He asked:

"Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrassas and radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?"

"Does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists?"

Those are exactly the right questions -- only they're being asked two years too late.

And the short answer to that last question - "do we need to fashion a broad, integrated plan" - is a resounding yes.

Fifty or 100 years from now, historians will write many books about whether this generation rose to the occasion.

In the end, we will be judged by how well we marshal the forces of civilization to combat international terrorism.

We will be judged by how well we work with others to eliminate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

We will be judged by how well we inspire the world to deal with epidemics and pandemics that can kill millions around the world.

We will be judged by how well we lead those who side with us as modernity and globalization are assaulted by fundamentalism and intolerance.

We will be judged by how well we help spread economic advancement around the globe and how wisely we manage our economic and finite natural resources.

To begin moving this nation in the right direction, I believe we need to embrace a foreign policy of enlightened nationalism.

Let me explain what I mean by that, and what we must do to get there. First, we need to correct the imbalance between projecting power and staying power. America's military is second to none.

It must and will remain second to none.

But staying power is just as important as projecting power and, on that account, the Administration is running a dangerous deficit.

In Afghanistan, we refused, until last month, to support the extension of ISAF beyond the capital.

The result is that President Karzai is the mayor of Kabul. Much of the country is in the hands of warlords, the Taliban is regrouping, reconstruction is way off track, and Afghanistan is the world's number one producer of opium. The proceeds will fund new tyrants and terrorists. Our failure to win the peace in Afghanistan risks being repeated in Iraq.

That failure would condemn both countries to a future as failed states and we know from bitter experience that failed states are breeding grounds for terrorists and become transhipment hubs for WMD and drugs.

Our failure also would undermine America's strategic interests by enhancing the power and influence of extremists in Iran, endangering moderates and modernizers from Jordan to Turkey, risking the collapse of Pakistan, and making even bleaker the prospects for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. We have to show the staying power to write a different future.

The place to start is by securing the informed consent of the American people for finishing what we started in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The President should have leveled with the American people from the start about the hard road ahead in both countries, not just in private memos, not just from Secretary Rumsfeld, but in public statements, by the President.

He should have explained why success is critical and made clear it will take years, require billions of dollars and tens of thousands of troops.

If the President had leveled with the American people from the start and if the Administration's policies and planning weren't so off the mark, there wouldn't be so much doubt about the President's leadership now.

The President is still not leveling with the American people.

Instead of laying out the strategic stakes in Iraq, he argues that Iraq is the front line in the war against terrorism, and that we're better off fighting the terrorists in Baghdad than in Boston.

That's a false choice designed to appeal to the most basic fears of the American people.

The plain truth is that even if we succeed perfectly in Iraq, the terrorists will be fighting on dozens of other fronts. If we fail in Iraq, they will continue to fight us there as well.

Besides getting the consent of the American people. how do we build staying power?

We should adopt a more enlightened approach, informed by the lessons of the 1990s in the Balkans and beyond.

A more enlightened approach would empower experts in our own government to plan for post-conflict security and reconstruction ahead of time, not on the fly.

A more enlightened approach would build up an international police force to handle security after we topple a tyrant.

A more enlightened approach would create training programs to rapidly stand up indigenous armies and police forces.

A more enlightened approach, in short, would recognize that, whether we like it or not, nation building is going to be central to our foreign policy for years to come.

This Administration came to office disdaining that idea, only to be confronted with the two biggest tests in nation building since World War II. To date, it is failing both of those tests.

If we're not prepared to do the post-conflict, we should think twice about doing the conflict. And so we've got to be better prepared.

Let me add a few more words about Iraq.

I voted to give the President the authority to use force in Iraq.

For me, the question was never WHETHER we had to deal with Saddam Hussein, but WHEN and HOW and by what RATIONALE.

And it's precisely the WHEN, the HOW and the RATIONALE this Administration has gotten dangerously wrong. And we're paying a terrible price for those mistakes. We went to war too soon. There was no imminent threat.

The administration hyped parts of the intelligence to create a false sense of urgency. Instead, it created a crisis of credibility at home and abroad. As a result, it will be that much harder to rally others against more dangerous weapons programs in Iran and North Korea.

We went to war without the world.

As a result, the occupation of Iraq has an American face, and we're providing almost all of the troops and treasure.

We went to war based on the dangerous doctrine of preemption.

As a result, the world believes that the preemptive use of force is the sum and substance of our national security policy, with terribly destabilizing consequences I'll discuss in a few moments.

And we went to war without a plan and with the wrong assumptions for the Day After.

We've made winning the peace even harder than it should have been. As a result, we risk losing the support not only of the Iraqi people, but of the American people. I predict to you, before Christmas, two thirds of the American people will say bring the troops home.

And I predict to you, that it will be a disaster in terms of our security.

And so, we are left with three options.

We can bring the troops home now and suffer the strategic consequences.

We can stay virtually alone spend another $100 billion in addition to the money we have already spent and keep over 100,000 forces in Iraq for at least another two to three years.

Or we can do everything in our power to make Iraq the world's problem, not just our own, by ceding more authority to the U.N. and our allies and building up an Iraqi army and police as fast and effectively as possible.

I'm glad the President has made a dramatic U-turn and now seems to be heading in the right direction.

The second step toward enlightened nationalism is to move away from the Administration's fixation on military preemption and focus on a true prevention strategy.

I agree with those in the Administration who argue that the nexus of new threats requires an additional response.

Deterrence got us through the Cold War, and it's logic still holds in most cases.

But it may not work against enemies, armed to the hilt, with no territory or people to defend. That's why the right to act preemptively against an imminent threat must remain, as it has been, a part of our foreign policy tool kit.

But this Administration has turned preemption from a necessary option into a one-size-fits-all doctrine that does away with any notion of imminence.

And that, too, will make us less secure. It tells our enemies that their only possible insurance policy against regime change is to acquire weapons of mass destruction as quickly as they can.

It sends a message to fault line states - like India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, Israel and its Arab neighbors and Russia vis a vis Chechyna or Georgia - that it is legitimate to use force first and ask questions later.

And it so lowers the bar on showing a clear and present danger that such a concept becomes almost meaningless.

One senior administration official even said that the mere presence of nuclear scientists in Iraq would have justified the war.

We should jettison this military preemption doctrine and fashion a prevention doctrine to defuse problems long before they are on the verge of exploding.

What would that require?

It would require broader and better funded programs like Nunn-Lugar to help secure and destroy the loose weapons most likely to wind up in the wrong hands - starting with the stockpiles in the former Soviet Union. It would require new international laws that allow us to stop lethal cargoes anywhere on the high seas or in the skies, not just bilateral agreements limited to the territorial waters and air space of the participating countries.

It would require new alliances of intelligence agencies, law enforcement officials, and financial experts to uproot terrorists and end their funding.

Just as we built NATO to contend with the primary threat to U.S. security of its day - the Soviet Union - we should look at creating IATO (the International Anti-Terrorism Organization) to deal with the leading security challenge of this day.

It would require fully funded development programs that demonstrate to those most likely to offer support and sanctuary to terrorists that we offer them a better future.

We spend a pittance on global education - about $200 million a year. Meanwhile, the madrassas fill the heads of students with hate, but also fill their stomachs with food and put clothes on their backs.

It would require a long term public diplomacy strategy to debunk the myths and lies our enemies spin about America's intentions.

A new initiative, Radio Sawa, already reaches an average of more than 30 percent of potential listeners in Kuwait, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan and the UAE.

We should put the same energy into television broadcasting and make public diplomacy a career-enhancing pursuit, not a bureaucratic backwater.

And it would require a sustained policy of democratization in friendly countries with regressive regimes. Not by imposing democracy from the outside with force, but by helping to build its institutions from within by promoting good governance, the rule of law and transparency, political parties, independent media, secular education, private enterprise, and civil society.

Finally, a policy of enlightened nationalism would put much more energy into working with the world instead of walking alone.

Ask yourself: one hundred years from now, what will historians say were the greatest challenges the United States and other nation states faced at the start of this new century?

International terrorism. The spread of WMD. Outlaw states. Ethnic conflicts. International crime and drug trafficking. Infectious diseases like HIV-AIDS. Economic dislocation and environmental degradation.

Not one of these threats has any respect for borders. Not one is susceptible solely to a military response. To meet each of these challenges, we need the help of other countries. And we need to reform old institutions and alliances and build new ones to make common cause of the world's common concerns.

That's the approach a previous generation took after World War II. It's the approach we should take now.

Unfortunately, this Administration's gratuitous acts of unilateralism have alienated the partners we need to meet most of the challenges we face... and to build the new institutions we need.

We ignored NATO when, in the hours after the events of 9/11, it invoked Article V for the first time in its history, saying an attack on one was an attack on all.

We rejected Germany's offer of troops for Afghanistan, even after its Chancellor risked and almost lost a no confidence vote to provide them.

We summarily rejected a long litany of treaties that meant a lot to other countries even if they meant little to this Administration... without any effort to find a compromise or to propose an alternative where we had legitimate problems.

Why has this Administration shown such disdain for potential partners around the world?

I've concluded it's because this is the most ideological administration in U.S. history, led by neo-conservatives who believe the only asset that counts is our military might.

Because our military power dwarfs that of other countries - we spend more on defense than the rest of the world combined -- this Administration believes that alliances and international institutions are more of a burden than a benefit. They allow the Lilliputians to tie down Gulliver.

In this view, we have nothing to lose from acting unilaterally. Indeed, we have everything to gain.

By demonstrating we're prepared to act without the world and even against its collective will we can silence America's critics and create a bandwagon effect among reluctant allies.

But of course, there was never any doubt that we could topple the Taliban and defeat Saddam without the help of a single foreign soldier.

It's the day after victory and the many days, months and years after that that the price for our unilateral approach gets steeper and steeper.

Now, in Iraq, because we decided to wage war unilaterally, we're responsible for the peace - unilaterally.

And the price tag is not hard to calculate: 90 percent of the troops, 90 percent of the financial resources and 90 percent of the casualties are American.

There's another critical point here.

More than any country in the world, the United States benefits from an international system with clear, predictable rules and relationships.

This administration's approach - play by rules we like, ignore those we don't - will destroy that system.

In its place, we'll end up with a law of the jungle in which we will be the most powerful animal, but much less secure.

At the same time, those of us who preach the value and utility of international institutions and international rules must also understand that when they are flouted, they must be enforced.

Enlightened nationalism recognizes that there is a strong link between power and legitimacy. You can't have one without the other.

When we use force, we should go the extra mile to ground it in law and legitimacy.

But we must recognize that laws will prove meaningless if we do not summon the will to enforce them.

Let me say in conclusion, the foreign policy agenda pushed most forcefully by the neo-conservatives has run head-on into reality in Afghanistan, Iraq and beyond.

As a result, for now, we're less secure. We have fewer friends. And we're running out of time and resources to get it right. It is long past time for the President to understand that the advice he has received has been wrong advice, that none of the assumptions on the neo-conservative side have proven to be true.

The best way to change course across the board is to elect a Democratic president who will act wisely, not react rashly, and embrace a foreign policy of enlightened nationalism.

A foreign policy based on a comprehensive strategy - including military might - but not excluding our diplomatic, economic and political power. A foreign policy that reflects our values and our history as a strong nation founded on unshakeable principles.

A foreign policy that thinks bigger and does better, motivated not by fear, but by opportunity. Because for all the difficult challenges we face, the opportunities before us are limitless and within our grasp. Ladies and gentlemen, Bill Clinton and I have one thing in common.

We share a favorite Irish poet: Seamus Heaney, who said, in a poem called The Cure at Troy:

"History says, don't hope On this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme."

If we get it right, and I know we will, we can make hope and history rhyme.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



Toward a Democratic Foreign Policy

Two years ago, in a speech at the National Press Club, I argued for the United States to focus on the most urgent threats facing our country.

Not the Star Wars type national missile defense system this Administration was pushing - obsessively.

I argued that the real threat will come in the hold of a ship, the belly of a plane, or will be smuggled over the border in the middle of the night in a vial in a backpack.

I urged the Administration, to set aside its ideological bias and its determination to build a Maginot line in the sky, and, instead, focus on the real threats to America's security.

I argued that a national missile defense system was neither the highest priority nor the answer.

The next day was September 11th.

Last Sunday night, the President gave me some hope that he may finally be breaking out of that ideological straight jacket, at least concerning Iraq.

I hope that his commitment to make Iraq the world's responsibility and not just our own is more than rhetorical.

But, I must say, the Administration's U-turn, welcome as it is still leaves our foreign policy headed in the wrong direction. That is what I want to talk about today.

Let me be clear: I do not question the motives of either the neo-conservatives in this Administration who discount the value of international institutions we've built and put a premium on the use of unilateral military power even if it means alienating the world. Or the knee jerk multilateralists in our own Party who have not yet faced the reality of the post 9-11 world...and believe that we can only exercise power if we get the world's approval first.

It is my view that we cannot conduct foreign policy at the extremes. The stakes are too high. The choices we make now are critical and will shape the next fifty years just as the consensus behind containment shaped the last fifty years.

This is not a time for political rhetoric. This is a time for hard facts, sober analysis, and decisive action that will make us more secure.

What we need isn't the death of internationalism or the denial of our stark national interest. What we need is a more enlightened nationalism that understands the benefit of working with others and the value of international institutions, but one that supports the use of military force - without apology or hesitation - when we must.

Are We More Secure Or Less Secure?

The truth is that while lots of analysts and other so-called experts talk about the so-called "bottom line" as they try to convince us about what's important or what we should think the American people understand very clearly what matters most.

Do our priorities, our policies, our actions make us MORE SECURE OR LESS SECURE?

I believe that this Administration's priorities, policies, and actions demonstrate much too narrow a definition of national security. As a result, we have missed significant opportunities to make America more secure.

The devastating punch we took on September 11th still reverberates throughout American society.

I've spoken many times about the pervasive sense of vulnerability and insecurity we feel, not only collectively as a nation, but in our personal lives, and it has not gotten any better.

We think twice about our travel plans. We think twice about riding elevators in tall buildings. We even think twice about letting our kids go on field trips. Yesterday's soccer moms truly are today's security moms.

In the days after 9-11, those moms - and Americans everywhere - looked for a way they could do something to help. It was a time that called for rallying the nation and tapping into the desire all of us had to do something for our country to unite us.

And I believe history will judge President Bush most harshly for squandering that opportunity.

Missed Opportunities Rather than readjusting priorities to meet the new realities we faced the Administration persisted in pursuing policies that were no longer relevant, and even counter productive.

Sadly and dangerously, the squandering of opportunities persists to this day here at home and beyond our borders, driven by a domestic ideological imperative - the Devolution of Government - that limits our options.

Here at home, we have squandered the opportunity to rally Americans to service.

Remember Americans standing in long lines to give blood after the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon? We should have taken that opportunity to rekindle an American spirit of community, and make service a noble cause again.

We squandered the opportunity to rally Americans to produce a rational policy to achieve energy security, to wean us from dependence on foreign oil, to ask Americans to make significant investments in alternative energy even if in the short term it meant altering our behavior.

We squandered the opportunity to rally Americans to build an effective homeland defense so that "security moms" can sleep more soundly at night.

We squandered the opportunity to make our borders and ports safer, our transportation systems more secure, and our nuclear power plants less vulnerable.

The question is: Why has this happened?

Why has this Administration failed to fully fund Homeland Security?

Why has it taken the President until now to begin to level with the American people about the tremendous cost of winning the war in Iraq and Afghanistan and continuing to take the fight to the terrorists?

I believe it is because this Administration has another overriding priority: As part of it's Devolution of Government agenda, their central policy, sometimes their ONLY policy, is another huge tax cut.

I believe we need to cut taxes, especially for the Middle Class, as much as we responsibly can. But never has any Administration summoned Americans to war AND... at the same time... pushed for the biggest tax cut in history.

The result is a mixed message to the American people, who are left to wonder: How can we wage the fight against terrorism without paying any price?

And it reflects a woeful misunderstanding of the character of the American people, all the American people - Rich, Poor, Middle Class, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian - to meet and conquer these new threats.

If you add the 87 billion dollars the President has proposed for Iraq to the existing budget deficit, we're now looking at a 600 billion dollar shortfall - not counting the money borrowed from Social Security. It's not just the tax cut . The war on terrorism, the recession and other government spending all add up.

But the Administration's ideological fixation on tax relief for today's wealthiest Americans means that we're asking our grandchildren to pay for our security AND for their own which is exactly backwards.

We must have the discipline and the resolve to pay our OWN way and do what we have to do NOW to make sure our children and grandchildren are more secure.

Given the disproportionate amount of money going to the wealthiest Americans in tax cuts there are many things we can do that preserve the tax cut but reduce it enough to recoup the 87 billion dollars the President is asking for.

What if the President had said on Sunday night:

"To all of you who are making a million dollars and getting a 93,000 dollar tax cut, I'm asking you to forego a small part of your tax cut."

What if he said to the wealthiest Americans:

"I'm asking you to take just 10 times, not 100 times, the tax break we're giving to the middle class so that we can pay for peace in Iraq, security in Afghanistan, and the war against terrorism."

Do you think a single wealthy American watching on T.V. would have said: "No way. I want it all."

Of course not.

Deferring or decreasing the size of the tax cut would not alienate the rich or jeopardize an economic recovery.

But it would restore a sense of national purpose and unity that is our country's greatest strength.

Wealthy Americans are no less patriotic than anyone else. I have no doubt about how they would respond to such a call from the President.

I'm going to propose legislation to adjust the President's tax cuts so that we can pay the bill for Iraq.

I have no illusions about it passing, but it needs to be debated.

Those were some of the missed opportunities on the home front.

Beyond our borders, we have squandered the opportunity to rally the world to a common cause - to keep the focus on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

We have squandered the opportunity to build new bridges to our allies, and find common ground with old adversaries so that we do not have to endure in virtual isolation every threat and challenge, every burden and risk, every legitimate fight, all on our own. And finally, we have squandered the opportunity to build an effective national security strategy to meet these new threats without alienating the world.

Fifty or a hundred years from now, historians will write many books about whether this generation rose to the occasion. And one of the things that gives me some hope is the realization that every major world power today has the same interest in achieving a common goal. I'm not sure that has ever been the case before. But it is now.

In the end, we will be judged by how well we marshal the forces of civilization to combat international terrorism. We will be judged by how well we work with others to eliminate the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We will be judged by how well we inspire the world to deal with epidemics and pandemics that can kill millions around the world. We will be judged by how well we lead those who side with us as modernity and globalization are assaulted by fundamentalism and intolerance. And we will be judged by how well we help spread economic advancement around the globe and how wisely we manage economic and finite natural resources.

To begin moving this nation in the right direction we need to embrace a foreign policy of enlightened nationalism. Toward Enlightened Nationalism: Projecting Power vs. Staying Power

First, we need to correct the imbalance between projecting power and staying power.

America's military is second to none. It must and will remain second to none.

President Bush used it well in Iraq to remove Saddam Hussein just as he did in Afghanistan to take down the Taliban.

But staying power is just as important as projecting power and, on that account, the administration is running a dangerous deficit. In Afghanistan, our failure to extend security beyond Kabul has handed most of the country back to the warlords, as many of us predicted.

The Taliban is regrouping and, in my view, the failure to win the peace in Afghanistan risks being repeated in Iraq unless we stay the new course the President set last Sunday night.

That failure would condemn both countries to a future as failed states... risking the collapse of Pakistan and enhancing the power and influence of Iran and lead to even wider regional instability.

We know from bitter experience that failed states are breeding grounds for terrorists. We have to show the staying power to write a different future. If we don't, Americans will be less secure.

A more enlightened approach would be to level with the American people about the importance of staying the course in Afghanistan and Iraq. Explain to them why success is critical and failure is not an option. Tell them - as we've known from the outset that success will take years, require billions of dollars, and tens of thousands of troops. I'm pleased the President has finally begun to do that.

A more enlightened approach would be to empower experts in our own government to plan for post-conflict security and reconstruction ahead of time, not on the fly.

It would be a more enlightened approach, for example, if we built up an international police force to handle security after we toppled a tyrant. If we're not prepared to do the post-conflict, we should think twice about doing the conflict.

Preemption Vs. Prevention Second, we have to move away from the Administration's fixation on military preemption and focus on a true prevention strategy. I agree with those in the Administration who argue that the nexus of new threats - terrorism, WMD, and rogue states - requires an additional response.

Deterrence got us through the Cold War, and it's logic still holds in most cases. But it may not work against enemies, armed to the teeth, with no territory or people to defend. That's why the right to act preemptively must remain, as it has been, a part of our foreign policy tool kit. But this Administration has turned preemption from a necessary option into a one-size-fits-all doctrine and that, too, threatens to make us less secure. It tells our enemies that their only possible insurance policy against regime change is to acquire weapons of mass destruction as quickly as they can. It sends a message to India, Pakistan, China and Taiwan, to Israel and its Arab neighbors, that if the United States can shoot first and ask questions later, so can they.

Instead of a military preemption doctrine, we should focus much more on a prevention doctrine to defuse problems long before they are on the verge of exploding.

What would that require?

It would require better funded programs to secure, and destroy weapons of mass destruction in the former Soviet Union and beyond in India and Pakistan, for example.

It would require new international laws so we can stop lethal cargoes anywhere on the high seas or in the skies.

It would require new alliances of intelligence agencies, law enforcement officials, and financial experts to uproot terrorists and end their funding. It would require fully funded development programs that demonstrate to those most likely to offer support and sanctuary to terrorists that we offer them a better future.

It would require a sustained public diplomacy strategy to debunk the myths and lies our enemies spin about America's intentions. And it would require a determined policy of democratization through support - not just for elections - but for good governance the rule of law and transparency, political parties, independent media, secular education, private enterprise, and civil society.

Walking Alone or Working with Others

Finally, we have to put much more energy into working with the world, instead of walking alone.

No one disputes that the first responsibility of our government is to defend the security of this country and the safety of its people. There may be times when we see a threat to our security, when we're right and the rest of the world is wrong. In those instances, we must retain the right to act alone.

Those cases should be the exception. But this Administration sees them as the rule, initially reinforced by our military success in Iraq and before that in Afghanistan.

Look, there was never any doubt we could take down Saddam alone if we had too. Just as there was no doubt we could topple the Taliban. But here's the rub: For every Iraq, there are ten North Koreas that require collective, non-military action. Something for which this administration has shown little aptitude.

Consider most of the threats we face - International terrorism; The spread of WMD; International crime and drug trafficking; Infectious diseases like HIV-AIDS; Economic dislocation; Environmental degradation.

Not one of these threats has any respect for borders. Not one is susceptible to a unilateral military response.

In each instance, we benefit from - indeed we need - the help of other countries.

Think about the war on terrorism. The most visible front has been our military intervention in Afghanistan. But to win the war, we must prevail on other, less visible fronts that demand cooperation like intelligence sharing and law enforcement. And it's just common sense to do everything we can to spread the physical risk and share the financial cost of a pro-active foreign policy.

Unfortunately, this administration's gratuitous acts of unilateralism have alienated the partners we need to meet most of the challenges we face. We said no thanks to NATO when it offered to help us in Afghanistan. We summarily rejected treaties on climate change, the international criminal court, a nuclear test ban, and so on. That meant a lot to other countries, even if they meant little to the Administration.

Should we sign on the dotted line just because our friends like a treaty and we don't? Of course not.

Should we roll up our sleeves, sit down at the table with our partners and try to come up with a compromise or an alternative? Of course we should.

This administration's "our-way-or-the-highway" approach is not a way to win friends and support.

Why should other countries help us with our concerns if we show disdain for theirs?

That's what has happened, until now, in post-Saddam Iraq and that's what will happen elsewhere. It's not leadership if no one follows.

There's another critical point here. More than any country in the world, the United States benefits from an international system with clear, predictable rules and relationships.

This administration's approach - play by rules we like, and ignore those we don't - will destroy that system. In its place, we'll end up with a law of the jungle - a jungle in which we will be the most powerful animal, but much less secure.

At the same time, those who understand the value and utility of international institutions and international rules must also understand that when they are flouted, they must be enforced.

Enlightened nationalism recognizes that there is a strong link between power and legitimacy. You can't have one without the other. When we use force, we should go the extra mile to ground it in law and legitimacy. But we must recognize that laws will prove meaningless if we do not summon the will to enforce them.

A Time to Face Reality

I think it's time for the neo-conservatives in the Administration to look in the mirror and see reality. And it's long past time that we had a foreign policy and national security agenda that addressed both the urgent threats we face and the long-term priorities we must have the vision and wisdom to see.

Terrorism is the most urgent threat. But if we were to win that war tomorrow, we'd still have to confront a long list of lethal threats coming at us in many different ways.

As my mother always says: "Out of every tragedy, some good will come if you look hard enough."

If we engage the war on terrorism, in a way that brings the rest of the world with us we can, and we will, build new relationships with old friends and former adversaries, from Russia to China to India.

We can and we will forge new alliances to tackle the threats that target us all.

That is enlightened nationalism.

That is the opportunity before us.

I hope that we demonstrate the wisdom to seize it.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



Biden Speech: The National Dialogue on Iraq + One Year

Introduction: America's Place in the World

Most Americans don't know what you and I know, that there's a war being waged in Washington to determine the direction of our foreign policy. It goes well beyond the ordinary skirmishes that are the stuff of politics and tactics. This war is philosophical. This was is strategic and its outcome will shape the first fifty years of the twenty-first century, just as the consensus behind containment shaped the last fifty years.

Right now, the neo-conservatives in this Administration are winning that war. They seem to have captured the heart and mind of the President, and they're controlling the foreign policy agenda. They put a premium on the use of unilateral power and have a set of basic prescriptions with which I fundamentally disagree. Just as I disagree with those in my own Party who have not yet faced the reality of the post-9-11 world, and believe we can only exercise power if we act multilaterally.

I don't question the motives of either the neo-conservatives or the pure multilateralists. They genuinely view the world differently than I do. Suffice it to say, in my view the neo-cons and the pure multilateralists are both wrong. What we need isn't the death of internationalism or the denial of stark national interest, but a more enlightened nationalism - one that understands the value of institutions but allows us to use military force, without apology or apprehension if we have to, but does not allow us to be so blinded by the overwhelming power of our armed forces that we fail to see the benefit of sharing the risks and the costs with others.

In my view, the stakes are too high and the opportunities too great to conduct foreign policy at the extremes.

One Year Ago

Exactly one year ago today, when I was Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee we began a series of bipartisan hearings on America's policy toward Iraq.

Our purpose was to start a national dialogue and give the American people an informed basis upon which to draw their own conclusions. At that first hearing, I said "President Bush has stated his determination to remove Saddam from power a view many in Congress share..." and I was among them. I also said as clearly as I could "If [removing Saddam] is the course we pursue....it matters profoundly HOW we do it and what we do AFTER we succeed."

Now, a year later, Saddam is no longer in power and that's a good thing. His sons Ouday and Qusay have been killed. That's another good thing. They deserve their own special place in hell. But the mission is hardly accomplished. The new day in the Middle East has not yet dawned.

We're STILL at war. American soldiers are STILL dying, one, two, three at a time. Iraq is STILL not secure. STILL no one has told our troops that they'll have to stay for a long time in large numbers; that they'll have to tough it out. Most Americans STILL don't realize it's costing us a billion dollars a week to keep our troops in Iraq, and billions more in reconstruction, and revenue from Iraqi oil will not cover these costs.

And we STILL haven't heard a single clear statement from the President articulating what his policy is in general and, specifically, that securing Iraq will cost billions of dollars, require tens of thousands of American troops for a considerable amount of time, and that it's worth it. And, most importantly, why it's in our national interest to stay the course.

Some in my own Party have said it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place, and the benefit is not worth the cost. I believe they're wrong. The cost of not acting against Saddam would have been much greater, and so is the cost of not finishing the job. The President is popular. The stakes are high. The need for leadership is great.

I wish he'd used some of his stored-up popularity to make what I admit is an unpopular case. I wish the President, instead of standing on an aircraft carrier in front of a banner that said: "Mission Accomplished" would have stood in front of a banner that said: "We've Only Just Begun." I wish he would stand in front of the American people and say: "My fellow Americans, we have a long and hard road ahead of us in Iraq, but we have to stay in Iraq. We have to finish the job. If we don't, the following will happen. Here's what I'll be asking of you and, by the way, I'm asking the rest of the world to help us as well. And I am confident we'll succeed and as a consequence be more secure."

I'm waiting for that speech.

I said a year ago that, "In Afghanistan, the war was prosecuted exceptionally well, but the follow-through commitment to Afghanistan's security and reconstruction has fallen short."

Our failure to extend security beyond Kabul has handed most of the country to the warlords. The Taliban is regrouping. The border area with Pakistan is a Wild East of lawlessness. Afghanistan is now the number one opium producer in the world. The proceeds will fund tyrants and terrorists, who will fill the security vacuum, just as they did a decade ago. And the billion dollars the Administration is talking about sending Karzai is a year late and about 2 billion short. The failure to win the peace in Afghanistan risks being repeated in Iraq with even graver consequences.

Those failures could condemn both countries to a future as failed states, and we know from bitter experience that failed states are breeding grounds for terrorists.

If we don't write a different future, Americans will be less secure.

I said at that first hearing and I still believe today that "We need a better understanding of what it would take to secure Iraq and rebuild it economically and politically. It would be a tragedy if we removed a tyrant in Iraq, only to leave chaos in his wake."

But that's exactly what could happen unless we make some significant changes.

Dr. Hamre, in his report to the Secretary of Defense and in testimony before the Committee, said that the window of opportunity is closing and it's closing quickly.

The Road to Baghdad

Nine months ago, I voted to give the President the authority to use force. I would vote that way again today. Why? Because for more than a decade Saddam defied more than a dozen U.N. Security Council Resolutions. He lost the Gulf War, sued for peace, and was told by the U.N. what he had to do to stay in power. Then he violated those agreements and thumbed his nose at the U.N. He played cat-and-mouse with weapons inspectors and failed to account for the huge gaps in his weapons declarations that were documented by the U.N. weapons inspectors in 1998. He refused to abide by the conditions and, when he refused, it became the fundamental right of the international community to enforce those rules.

I voted to give the President authority to use force because Saddam was in violation of his agreements. He was a sadistic dictator who used chemical weapons against the Kurds and the Iranians. He killed thousands of Shiites. He invaded his neighbors, crossed a line in the sand, fired missiles into Israel. And if we'd left him alone for five years with billions of dollars in oil revenues I'm convinced he'd have had a nuclear weapon that would have radically changed the strategic equation to our detriment.

In my view, anyone who can't acknowledge that the world is better off without him is out of touch. That was the case against Saddam. The President made it well.

But then the ideologues took over and made Iraq about something else. They made it about establishing a new doctrine of preemption. And, in so doing, we lost the good will of the world. Let me be clear. We face a nexus of new threats and it requires new responses. Deterrence got us through the Cold War but it can't be the only answer now.

The right to act preemptively in the face of an imminent threat must remain part of our foreign policy tool kit, as it always has been.

But this Administration has turned preemption from a necessary option into an ill-defined doctrine. Iraq was to be the test case. In my view, Iraq wasn't about preemption - It was about the enforcement of a surrender agreement drafted by the international community and signed by Saddam.

Making Iraq the case for preemption, putting it at the heart of our foreign policy, made it harder to get the world to join us. Why? Because not one of our allies wanted to validate the preemption doctrine. Raising preemption to a doctrine sends a message to our enemies that their only insurance against regime change is to acquire weapons of mass destruction as quickly as they can.

It sends a message from India and Pakistan, to China and Taiwan, to Israel and its Arab neighbors - if the United States can shoot first and ask questions later, so can they.

Preemption demands a high standard of proof that can stand up to world scrutiny and "murky intelligence" is hardly enough to meet that standard.

Instead of a preemption doctrine, we need a prevention doctrine that defuses problems long before they are on the verge of exploding. And I'll be talking more about that in the coming weeks.

For now, suffice it to say, the Administration was wrong to make Iraq about preemption. But we were right to confront the challenge posed by Saddam.

Contrary to what some in my Party might think, Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with sooner rather than later. I commend the President - He was right to enforce the solemn commitments made by Saddam. If they're not enforced, what good are they?

For me, the issue was never WHETHER we had to deal with Saddam. but WHEN and HOW. And it's precisely the WHEN and HOW that this administration got wrong. We went to war too soon. We went with too few troops. We went without the world. And we're paying a price for it NOW. We authorized the President to use force. Congress gave him a strong hand to play at the United Nations. The idea was simple.

We would convince the world to speak with one voice to Saddam: disarm or be disarmed. In so doing we hope to make war less likely. If Saddam failed to listen and forced us to act, we'd have the world with us.

But the Administration mis-played that hand...undercutting the Secretary of State allowing our military strategy to trump our diplomatic strategy. The world was convinced that we were determined to go to war no matter what Saddam did, and there were those in Europe who said they'd never go to war no matter what Saddam did or didn't do.

We insulted our allies and the U.N. weapons inspectors. We failed to be flexible in securing a second U.N. resolution. For the price of a 30-day deadline, we could have brought a majority of the Security Council along with us. We didn't.

We flip-flopped between trying to bully and bribe the Turks. We lost the option to attack from the North and as a result, we by-passed the Sunni triangle, which is the source of so much of our trouble today. And worst of all, we hyped the intelligence. I said "hyped", not "lied about it." I don't believe the President lied. But I do believe he was incredibly ill-served by those in his administration who exaggerated the very pieces of intelligence most likely to raise alarms with the American people. It's not just 16 words in the State of the Union. It's that consistently, in speech after speech, TV appearance after TV appearance, the most senior Administration officials left the impression with the American people that Iraq was on the verge of reconstituting nuclear weapons. In fact, the Vice President Cheney said they had already done it that it was in league with Al Qaeda and complicit in the events of 9-11; that it had already weaponized chemical agents that could kill large numbers of Americans; and that it was developing missile capability to strike well beyond its borders.

The truth is there's little intelligence to substantiate any of these claims. The truth is that there was an on-going debate within our intelligence community about each of these allegations. Yet the administration consistently presented each of these allegations as accepted facts.

I believe the purpose was to create a sense of urgency, the sense of an imminent threat, and to rally the country into war. The result is: we went to war before we had to - before we had done everything we could to get the world with us. Does anyone in this room really, seriously believe that our interests would have been severely hurt if we had waited to go to war until this September or this October when we would have had much of the world with us? And there's another terrible result the damage done to our credibility.

What happens now when we need to rally the world about a weapons program in North Korea or Iran? Will anyone believe us?

In 1962, President Kennedy sent former Secretary of State Dean Acheson to France to brief DeGaulle about Soviet missiles in Cuba. Acheson offered DeGaulle a full intelligence report to back up the allegations. The French President said that wasn't necessary, he didn't need to see the report.

He told Acheson he trusted Kennedy. That he knew the President would never risk war unless he was sure of his facts. After the way this Administration handled Iraq, will we ever recover that level of trust with any of our key allies?

What price will we have to pay for the mistrust we've created?

Getting It Right In Iraq

Last month, Senators Lugar, Hagel and I traveled to Baghdad. We left behind two of our senior staffers for an extra week to see more of the country and talk to Iraqis. We saw first hand that we have the best people on the ground. We met with military commanders with officers and with enlisted men and women and we spent time with Ambassador Bremer and the A-team he's assembled. There's no doubt we've got the right people in place. And we've made some real progress.

It was clear to us that the vast majority of the Iraqi people are happy Saddam is no longer in power. They want us to stay as long as it takes to get them back on their feet. Much of the country beyond Baghdad is relatively calm - hospitals and schools are open; the newly formed Iraqi Governing Council is encouraging; and so are the local councils, one of which we visited.

But this very real progress is being undermined by our failure so far to come to grips with some very fundamental problems, and security is problem-number-one. It's always problem-number-one. I've seen it in the Balkans. I saw it in Afghanistan. And it's just as true in Iraq. Without security, little else is possible. The problem breaks down into two parts: First, we haven't put down the opposition from forces loyal to Saddam. General Abizaid finally admitted we're facing "guerilla war." Almost every day that our troops continue to get picked off, sometimes by a lone sniper, other times by roadside bombs that kill two, three, four, or more at a time. This cannot, it must not continue.

There's a short-term fix: more foreign troops to share our mission and more Iraqis to guard hospitals, bridges, banks, and schools. If we had them, we could concentrate our troops in the Sunni triangle -- where they're needed and where they can do the type of military job for which they were trained.

The second security issue is the pervasive lawlessness that makes life in Iraq so difficult for so many of its citizens. During the day, many Iraqis are afraid to leave home, go to work, go shopping even for the basic needs of their family. At night that fear makes much of Baghdad a ghost town. Without cops, there are countless reports of rapes and kidnapings.

When I was at the Baghdad police academy run by former New York City Police Chief Bernie Kerik, they told us just how far we have to go to get a functioning police force up and running.

Under Saddam, Iraqi cops rarely left their headquarters. If there was a murder, they wouldn't investigate out in the field. They'd ask people to come to them, and if they didn't - they'd get shot. We're not just RE-training Iraq's cops, we're training them from the ground up.

We've got to build back to the 18,000 police cars that are needed from the 200 available now. We've got to rebuild Iraq's major prisons, virtually all of which were burned or looted. Ultimately, only Iraqis can provide for their own security.

The Iraqi Civil Defense Corps we've begun to establish will help, but all of our experts agree that it'll take five years to train the necessary police force of 75,000 and three years to field an army of 40,000. Until then, security is on our shoulders.

Meanwhile, the Administration seems to have lost interest in the very issue they told us was the reason to go to war - Iraq's WMD. I can't fathom how we failed to secure the known WMD sites after the war, leaving them vulnerable to looting and smuggling.

And I can't understand how the Deputy Secretary of Defense could say, just last week, that he's "not concerned about weapons of mass destruction."

On top of these overwhelming security challenges, the country's infrastructure is suffering from almost 30 years of neglect. That certainly shouldn't have been a surprise.

Even before the war, demand for electricity exceeded supply - 6000 megawatts were needed; 4000 was the capacity. There were brownouts and blackouts. Today we're not even back to 4000 megawatts and may not get there until September. It'll take several years and more than 13 billion dollars to stay even with demand. The same is true with water - we'll need five years and more than 15 billion dollars to meet Iraqi demand. This feeds the gnawing sense of insecurity that paralyzes life in the capital.

Ultimately, our goal has to be to revive Iraq's economy because idle hands, rising frustration, and 5 million AK-47s is not a recipe for security. Finally, we're doing a terrible job of letting Iraqis know how Saddam destroyed their country and that we're working to make their lives better.

In fact, when I was in Baghdad, the CPA was broadcasting just 4 hours a day. I'm told we're up to nearly 14 hours but the programming - bureaucrats reading dry, dull official scripts - makes public access television look good! Meanwhile, Al Jazeera and Iranian TV dominate the airwaves 24/7 with more sophisticated programming. The bottom line is this: Iraqis simply can't understand how the most powerful nation on earth, which toppled Saddam in three weeks, and, with exact precision, directed laser guided bombs through the side door of a house, how that all-powerful nation can't get the lights turned on.

In short, Iraqis have high expectations and we're not coming close to meeting them. Some of this is out of our control but we've brought a large part of this on ourselves. And that's because the problems in Iraq today were compounded by the false assumptions this Administration made going in, and by its failure to listen to its own people and outside experts. They assumed we'd be greeted as liberators. They assumed our favorite exiles would be embraced by the Iraqi people as new leaders. They assumed that the civil service, the army, and the police would remain intact and that all we'd have to do is replace their Baathist leadership. They assumed that Iraqi oil revenues would pay for the lion's share of reconstruction. All these assumptions were wrong, wrong, wrong.

The result is: They failed to begin planning for post-Saddam Iraq until just weeks before we attacked forgetting that we began planning for post-war Germany three years before the end of World War II. They failed to plan for the looting and sabotage. They failed to account for the decay and destruction of Iraq's infrastructure. They failed to secure commitments from other countries to help pay for Iraq's reconstruction. They failed to see the critical importance of putting enough boots on the ground, both our own and those of other countries.

Back in 1999, our military planners ran an exercise that concluded we'd need 400,000 troops - not to win, but to secure Iraq. Just before we invaded, the National Security Council prepared a memo that said the number was more like 500,000.I don't know if the President read the memo... I wish he had!

We might have planned differently. We might have thought twice about trying out Secretary Rumsfeld's theory that the U.S. should put fewer boots on the ground in military conflicts. And all of this has led us into a box where we have few good choices left. If we don't change course if we don't bring others along with us; if we don't get 5,000 foreign cops to train and patrol with the Iraqis; if we don't bring in more than 30,000 foreign troops to help relieve us, as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs says we must; if we don't get the water running; if we can't make sure that a woman can leave home or send her children to school safely; if we can't get the lights on; if we fail to bridge the expectations gap by better communicating to the Iraqi people; if paralysis of progress continues for more than a couple more months; if ALL of this happens, we'll lose not only the support of the Iraqi people, but the support of the American people as the discontent and the death toll rise. At that point, I predict, this Administration will be seriously tempted to abandon Iraq. They'll hand over power to a handpicked strongman, dump security and reconstruction responsibility on the U.N., and we'll lose Iraq.

Imagine if we lost Iraq. In a worst case scenario, there'd be chaos and the threat of Iranian and fundamentalist domination of the country. The Middle East peace process would likely be derailed. Iraq would become a failed state and a source of instability. We'll have jeopardized our credibility in the world. And we'll be far less secure than when we went in.

So that leaves us with three options: We can pull out, and lose Iraq. That's a bad option; We can continue to do what we're doing: provide 90 percent of the troops, 90 percent of the money, and nearly 100 percent of the deaths. That's another, really bad option; Or, we can bring in the international community and empower Iraqis to bolster our efforts and legitimize a new Iraqi government which will allow us to rotate our troops out and finally bring them home.

That to me is the clear choice. We have to bring in our allies. And you may ask: why would they want to help? The answer is...it's in their interest. Iraq is in Europe's front yard. Most European countries have large Muslim populations. They have commercial interests. Stability in Iraq is vital for our European allies, and it's vital for the Arab world as well. They need to get invested just as we are.

Three Steps We Can Take

So what do we do to bring in the international community and sustain the support of the Iraqi as well as the American people? First, we need a new U.N. Resolution. We may not like it, but most of the rest of the world needs it if we expect them to send the troops we need and to help pay for Iraq's reconstruction. Let's keep in mind, the President personally tried for weeks to persuade India to send another 17,000, and they said "no...not without a U.N. resolution. With such a resolution, I think we could persuade France, and Germany, and NATO to play a larger and official role to secure the peace. But not without a resolution.

We have to understand that leaders whose people opposed the war need a political rationale to get them to support building the peace. We have to understand and be willing to accept that giving a bigger role to the United Nations and NATO means sharing control, but it's a price worth paying if it decreases the danger to our soldiers and increases the prospects of stability.

Second, it's time to act magnanimously toward our friends and allies. We are a superpower and we should be magnanimous because it's not just the right thing to do, but because it's the practical thing to do. Not simply because it's consistent with our values as a nation but because if we don't make the on-going war on the ground in Iraq the world's problem, it will remain our problem alone. The truth is, we missed a tremendous opportunity after 9-11 to bring our friends and allies along with us and to lead in a way that actually encouraged others to follow. We missed an opportunity, in the aftermath of our spectacular military victory to ask those who were not with us in the war to be partners in the peace. Instead we served 'freedom toast' on Air Force One.

The American people get it. They intuitively understand that we can't protect ourselves from a dirty bomb on the Mall in DC; a vial of anthrax in a backpack; or a homemade nuke in the hold of a ship steaming into New York harbor without the help of every intelligence service and every customs service in the world, without Interpol and yes, the French and the Germans and even the U.N.

Third, and most importantly, I said it a year ago, and I'll say it again: no foreign policy can be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. We learned that lesson in Vietnam, but we haven't applied it to Iraq. I cannot overstate the importance of keeping the American people fully informed of the risks, the costs, to the extent we know them, and the importance of staying the course in Iraq.

This Administration has been good at projecting power, but it hasn't been anywhere near as good at staying-power. Nor has it been good at convincing the American people that securing Iraq is a necessary, if costly, task... but that it's do-able.

If we learned one thing last year, it should be that the role of those of us in positions of leadership is to speak the truth to the American people - to lay out the facts to the extent we know them and to explain to the American people exactly what's expected of them in terms of time, dollars, and commitment.

Our role as leaders is not to color the truth with cynicism and ideological rhetoric but to animate that truth with the same resilience the same dignity, the same decency, and the same pragmatic approach the American people have applied to every task and every challenge.

It's long past time for the President to address the American people in prime time, to level with us about the monumental task ahead, to summon our support.

I and most of my colleagues will stand with him.

So yes, when it comes to foreign policy, I have a fundamental difference of opinion with some in this Administration and I'll be talking more about it in the next few weeks. But that's okay because I'm reminded of the words of Senator Arthur Vandenberg who said: "Bipartisan foreign policy does not involve the remotest surrender of free debate in determining our position. On the contrary, frank cooperation and free debate are indispensable to ultimate unity...It simply seeks national security ahead of partisan advantage. Every foreign policy must be totally debated and the loyal opposition is under special obligation to see that this occurs."

I think it is my obligation to articulate an opposing view.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Eulogy for Strom Thurmond

Nancy, Strom, Julie and Paul: James Strom Thurmond.

Fritz, he was one complex guy. For what else would explain that he asked, I'm told by Nancy, a guy named Biden from the state of Delaware to be one of his eulogists?

I'll never figure him out. And, Strom, I won't forget it. (LAUGHTER)

Lindsey, I always thought I was in control, but I knew down deep I wasn't, and I think this is his last laugh.

(LAUGHTER)

For what else could explain a Northeast liberal's presence here as the only outsider speaking today?

(LAUGHTER)

With the possible exception of Vice President Cheney.

(LAUGHTER)

Strom Thurmond was the only man whom I knew who in a literal sense lived in three distinct and separate periods of American history, and lived what would have been considered a full life in each of those periods, particularly in his beloved South.

Born into an era of essentially unchallenged and unexamined mores of the South, reaching his full maturity in a era of fully challenged and critically examined bankrupt mores of his beloved South, and living out his final three decades in a South that had formally rejected its past on race -- in each of these stages, my observation -- and I was only with him the last three decades -- Strom represented exactly where he came from.

There's an old hymn that includes these lyrics: "Once to every man and nation comes the moment to decide/ In the strife of truth with falsehood, for the good or evil side/ Then it is the brave man chooses while the coward stands aside."

No one ever doubted Strom Thurmond's physical courage. You've heard much written about it. Not 15 years ago I was reminded of this. I was coming across to vote in the Senate and going up the escalator, and a fellow who apparently had held a longtime grudge against Senator Thurmond, a tourist, literally interposed himself between me and Strom and said -- and Thad may remember this -- and said, If you weren't so old, I would knock you -- and, Reverend, I will not say what he said -- I will knock you down. And I immediately stood between them. And Strom literally took off his coat and said, Hold my coat, Joe.

(LAUGHTER)

Swear to God.

And I looked at him and said, No, no, no, no, no, no.

And with that, he went down and did 25 pushups.

(LAUGHTER)

He had to be 88, 87. He stood up and looked at the man, he said, If you weren't so young I'd knock you down.

(LAUGHTER)

Strom Thurmond was also a brave man, who in the end made his choice and moved to the good side.

I disagreed deeply with Strom on the issue of civil rights and on many other issues, but I watched him change. We became good friends. I'm not sure exactly why or how it happened, Nancy, but you know we did. And Fritz could never figure it out. Neither could I.

(LAUGHTER)

Fritz is my very closest friend in the Senate.

But I do know that friendship and death are great equalizers, where our differences become irrelevant and the only thing that is left is what's in our heart.

I went to the Senate emboldened, angered and outraged at age 29 about the treatment of African-Americans in this country, what everything that for a period in his life Strom had represented.

But then I met the man. Our differences were profound, but I came to understand that as Archibald MacLeish wrote, It is not in the world of ideas that life is lived: Life is lived for better or worse in life. Strom and I shared a life in the Senate for over 30 years. We shared a good life there, and it made a difference. I grew to know him. I looked into his heart and I saw a man, the whole man, and tried to understand him. I learned from him, and I watched him change oh so suddenly.

Like all of us, Strom was a product of his time. But he understood people. He cared for them. He truly wanted to help. He knew how to read people, how to move them, how to get things done. I'll never forget we went down to see President Reagan. He and I had the Thurmond-Biden crime bill. And we sat in a room with President Reagan and with Ed Meese, Jim Baker, and William French Smith, the attorney general, and Strom started to try to convince the president to sign onto our bill, and he turned to me and he said, Joe, explain it to them. So I did my little bit, and it looked like the president was coming along.

And I swear to the Lord in the Lord's house this is a true story, and with that, as Ed Meese, Mr. Vice President, thought the president might be convinced, Ed Meese stood up and said, Mr. President, time to go, time to go.

And with that, the president very dutifully looked -- not dutifully, but very respectfully -- looked over and said, Well, Strom, you're sitting next to him either side. He said I have to go. And he had his hands on the table, and the president went to get up like this, and Strom grabbed his arm and pulled him back down in his seat.

(LAUGHTER)

I never saw anybody do that to a president.

(LAUGHTER)

And the president -- true story -- the president looked very sternly at Strom, and Strom said with his hands still on his arm, he said, Mr. President, when you all get to be my age you'll understand you've got to compromise.

(LAUGHTER)

And the president then was about 85 years old.

Strom knew America was changing, and that there was a lot he didn't understand about that change. Much of that change challenged many of his long-held views. But he also saw his beloved South Carolina and the people of South Carolina changing as well, and he knew the time had come to change himself.

But I believe the change came to him easily. I believe he welcomed it, because I watched others of his era fight that change and never ultimately change.

It would be humbling to think that I was among those who had some influence on his decision, but I know better. The place in which I work is a majestic place. If you're there long enough, it has an impact on you. You cannot if you respect those with whom you serve fail to understand how deeply they feel about things differently than you. And over time, I believe it has an affect on you.

This is a man, who in 1947, the New York Times ran a lead editorial saying, "Strom Thurmond, Hope of the South," and talked about how he had set up reading programs, get better books for separate, but equal schools. This is a man who was opposed to the poll tax. This is am an who I watched vote for the extension of the Voting Rights Act. This is a man who I watched vote for the Martin Luther King Holiday.

And it's fairly easy to say today that that was pure political expediency, but I choose to believe otherwise. I choose to believe that Strom Thurmond was doing what few do once they pass the age of 50: He was continuing to grow, continuing to change.

His offices were next door to mine in the Russell Building, or more appropriately mine were next to his. And over the years, I remember seeing a lot change, including the number of African- Americans on his staff and African-Americans who sought his help.

For the man who will see, time heals, time changes and time leads him to truth. But only a special man like Strom would have the courage to accept it, the grace to acknowledge it and the humility in the face of lasting enmity and mistrust to pursue it until the end.

There's a personal lesson that comes from a page in American political history that is yet unwritten, but nevertheless, it resonates in my heart. I mentioned it on the floor of the Senate the other day. It's a lesson of redemption that I think applies today, and I think Strom, as he listens, will appreciate it.

When I first arrived in the Senate, in 1972, I met with John Stennis, another old Southern senator, who became my friend. We sat at the other end of this gigantic, grand mahogany table he used as his desk that had been the desk of Richard Russell's. It was a table upon which the Southern Manifesto was signed, I am told. The year was 1972.

Senator Stennis patted the leather chair next to him when I walked in to pay my respects as a new young senator, which was the order of the day. And he said, Sit down, sit down, sit down here, son. And those who serve with him know he always talked like this.

And he looked at me and he said, Son, what made you run for the Senate? And like a darn fool I told him the exact truth before I could of it, I said, Civil rights, sir. And as soon as I did I could feel the beads of perspiration pop out of my head and get that funny feeling. And he looked at me and said, Good, good, good. And that was the end of the conversation. (LAUGHTER)

Well, 18 years later, after us having shared a hospital suite for three months at Walter Reed and after him having tried to help me in another pursuit I had, we'd become friends.

I saw him sitting behind that same table 18 years later, only this time in a wheelchair. His leg had been amputated because of cancer. And I was going to look at offices, because in my seniority his office was available as he was leaving.

I went in and sat down and he looked at me as if it were yesterday and he said, Sit down, Joe, sit down, and tapped that chair. And he said something that startled me. He said, Remember the first time you came to see me, Joe? And I shook my head, I didn't remember. And he leaned forward and he recited the story.

I said to him, I was a pretty smart young fellow, wasn't I, Mr. Chairman? He said, Joe, I wanted to tell you something then that I'm going to tell you now. You are going to take my office, aren't you? And I said, Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman.

And he ran his hand back and forth across that mahogany table in a loving way, and he said, You see this table, Joe? This is the God's truth. He said, You see this table?

And I said, Yes, sir, Mr. Chairman. He said, This table was the flagship of the Confederacy from 1954 to 1968. He said, We sat here, most of us from the Deep South, the old Confederacy, and we planned the demise of the civil rights movement.

Then he looked at me and said, And now it's time, it's time that this table go from the possession of a man against civil rights to a man who is for civil rights.

And I was stunned. And he said, One more thing, Joe, he said. The civil rights movement did more to free the white man than the black man.

And I looked at him, I didn't know what he meant, and he said in only John Stennis fashion, he said, It freed my soul, it freed my soul.

Strom Thurmond's soul is free today. His soul is free. The Bible says, Learn to do well, seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow, come now and let us reason together, though your sins may be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.

Strom, today there are no longer any issues to debate, there's only peace, a patch of common ground and the many memories that you've left behind.

For me, those memories are deeply personal, and they will stay with me as long as I live. Strom Thurmond stood by me when others didn't, and when it was against his political interest to do so.

I had been accused of something terrible, in my view, on the eve of the Bork nomination. I gathered the entire Senate, I was then chairman, the entire Judiciary Committee, and I said to Democrats and Republicans alike, I will stand aside as chairman so it will not affect this proceeding.

And the first man to jump to his feet was your father, and he said, No. And I said, Well, let me explain. He said, You don't have to explain anything to me. You're my chairman.

And with that, everyone ad seriatim stood up, but Strom Thurmond was the first man on his feet -- did not seek a single explanation for what I had been accused of.

And clearly, when partisanship was a winning option, he chose friendship, and I'll never forget him for it.

I was honored to work with him, privileged to serve with him, and proud to call him my friend.

His long life may well have been a gift of his beloved God, but the powerful and lasting impact he had on his beloved South Carolina and on his nation is Strom's legacy, his gift to all of us. And he will be missed.

The British essayist William Hazlett once wrote, quote: "Death conceals everything but truth, and strips a man of everything but genius and virtue."

It's a sort of natural canonization.

The truth and genius and virtue of Strom Thurmond is what I choose and we all choose to remember today. To Nancy, to Strom, to Julie, and to Paul, to all his friends, the people of South Carolina who knew him so well and love him so much, America mourns with you. I mourn with you. For I knew Strom well. I felt his warmth as you did. I saw his strength as you did. I was the beneficiary of his virtues, as you were. And I'll miss him as you will, as we all will.

He lived a long and good life. And I know that today a benevolent God has lifted his arms to Strom. I just don't know what Strom is saying to that benevolent God, because you know he's saying something.

So I say, Farewell, Mr. Chairman. We stand in adjournment until we meet again.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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From the Analog to the Digital Community

Thank you very much. Madam president, does this mean that I get to go to the parties tonight across the street?

Madam president, Rabbi, Dr. Axelrod, Sara, you said that wordsmiths greater than you were going to speak today. I don't know where the hell they are... (laughter)

Members of the Board, faculty, parents, grandparents, spouses, the rest of you who worked your way through your graduate four years or more here, and my fellow conferee today, Leo. I want to personally say that I am flattered to be in your company and to thank you for your incredible work in dealing with the pandemics that this world faces: AIDSs, HIV, Tuberculosis, and Malaria. We just passed a bill the other night in the United States Senate which was much less than it should have been. And we're going to rely on you, Leo, and other leading activists, business leaders, and other humanitarian forces in the world to give it some life, and I look forward to working with you.

You know it is somewhat intimidating speaking before you; I've done many commencements at many great universities but never have I done a commencement speech where those who preceded me-each one of whom spoke, their speaking could have sufficed for the commencement speech-and have done it well. And to speak to a group of young people who people in my business seek to hire, seek to look to for help, communicators, professional communicators, and artists, this is somewhat intimidating. You are a remarkable class.

Recently, I spoke to a major state university, yesterday; I attended my daughter's commencement the day before from Tulane University; and I spend some time on, a little time on, college campuses in this town and around the nation.

The most remarkable thing about this class is that you arrived here, for the most part, possessing what most people go to college to find: And that is you know what you love; you know what matters to you; most of you are prepared to take the chance pursuing, in a very difficult environment, a competitive environment, the craft that you know you love. My dad who just died used to have a saying - You know I bet that each of you graduates today can come up with two or three sayings you heard you your mother and father repeat dozens of times - My dad used to say, "It's a lucky person who gets up in the morning, puts both feet on the floor, knows what they're about to do, and thinks it still matters." Most people spend their entire lives searching for the thing that makes them feel whole; most people spend their entire lives, even those who are by society's standards extremely successful, trying to find something they love and love to do. You start out with an overwhelming, overwhelming advantage.

You know looking back on my commencement the only thing that I can remember for certain about my commencement is that I can't remember who the hell my commencement speaker was. I cite that to point out that I have no illusions, today.

And by the way, let's get one thing straight…Dennis Leary, Jay Leno, Henry Winkler and you got me? I don't get it. I don't get it. (Laughter)

Any of you of the class of 2004 in here? I would make my tuition contingent upon getting one of these guys as my commencement speaker. Anyway, I'll give it my best. I'll try to be concise and informative and keep what Steinbeck would the "Hooptedoodle"-that is those descriptive passages that add nothing but content-to a minimum.

Let me begin by saying what is so trite to say but is heartfelt by all those in this magnificent theater, and that is congratulations. This is an exciting day in your lives, a day to celebrate possibilities...a time to think about what you're going to do and how you are going to try to do it…to imagine the adventures life will bring…and, I can assure you, there will be many, some planned and many completely unexpected.

My mother-God love her-we're about to celebrate her 85th Birthday-would tell you, if she were here today, that, although in high school I was but in law school I wasn't, the best of students, she always believed that I and any of her three other children could do anything at all that they wanted to do. She believed that I could become anything I wanted. She even believed that I'd run for President once; She never thought I'd be dumb enough to try it twice. But the bottom line is, the bottom line is, my mom-God love her-Jean Finnegan Biden-still believes; She believes with an absolute steadfastness of blazing clear faith-that we are capable of doing anything we set our minds to.

Today, that seems like an awfully simple, and I guess trite, thought…and like many simple thoughts it proves to be profoundly, comprehensively true. With your degree from Emerson-even without your degree from Emerson-but particularly with your degree from Emerson, quite simply you are positioned to do anything you want to do. But fate will intervene. For some of you it will be harder; for some of you it will be easier. The first thing that I have to say to you today is: Decide, Decide if you can. That's why I said you have such an advantage, this class, decide what it is you want to do. Whether you want to write the great American novel --what my son wants to do…one of them. Whether you want to produce a hit movie. Win an academy award. Be the best sports broadcaster there is. Not only dream it, go and do it.

There is another core belief that I have from my mom to you. She believes that out of every bad thing that happens, every bad thing that happens to you, and some bad things have happened to you and will happen to you. She genuinely believes that out of every bad thing that will happen something good will come…if you look hard enough for it. I've found that that's a pretty important notion, as preposterous as it seems. Because the journey you are about to undertake is going to be filled, as I said, with a lot of rewards but a heck of a lot of surprises. There will be boundless hope, but there's also going to be extraordinary challenges, and you are just flat-out going to have to deal with them. You have no choice. And if you encounter those disasters in your life from the perspective that that's all they are, you are likely to have great difficulty working your way through them. They are opportunities just like my dear mom says.

And I predict to you something that you will not remember although someone else may repeat it to you sometime during the rest of your life… I predict to you that when you look back on your life, the things that will have made the difference between whether you have succeeded in your mind-not society's, yours-or failed will not be the roadblocks that are thrown in your way, but how you dealt with them, whether you dealt with them. Look back on your life now. Think of every single time that you have sought the prize, whatever it was, and did not succeed, and someone else succeeded. I suggest you all have learned by now that the person who succeeded was not necessarily more talented than you, was not necessarily more gifted than you, was not swifter than you, but that they had more confidence than you, and they had an attitude, an attitude, an attitude that they could.

I've mentioned my mother for a couple reasons: Not merely because she's a special person, but because she represents a different time in America…an analog time when life was simpler on the surface and the important sense of community was greater. Her sayings and observations are not very different from what you've heard your grandparents-many of whom are in this audience-say. They may not seem as important here in the fast-paced lifestyle of the digital age. In fact, they may seem almost quaint in the world of American Idol and The Osbornes. Hers are personal values that sprang from family, neighborhood, and the faith she practiced, and it all added up to one thing: you are your brother's keeper and that it is in our self-interest to be of service to our brothers and sisters.

When mom was growing up in Scranton, Pennsylvania it made a difference whether her next-door neighbor, Johnny Colligan, lost his job. It made a difference whether or not Mrs. Flynn had breast cancer. It made a difference in the neighborhood. And it required everyone in the neighborhood to be of some service, even if it was merely a kind word. Service wasn't a career. It was an expectation, an essential part of living a meaningful life.

In a sense, helping the guy next door is sort of a uniquely American value, born out of the fact that we are a nation of immigrants. And our parents and grandparents came here…whether they were Jews on the lower East Side of Manhattan or Italians here in the North End or Portuguese in Fall River…or Irish in Scranton, we had to stick together. We had to help each other. It was how we survived. It was how we bonded. It was how we developed a sense of belonging, in the neighborhood and in the nation. Today, a whole lot of people don't even know who the hell there neighbor is, and they could quite frankly care less to their own detriment.

Most of you are probably not going to choose the course I've chosen. Most of you are more talented than I am, so you'll have other options. And I'm sure many of you hold what I do in relatively low esteem. Politicians and, my antecedent occupation, lawyers are not the most popular people in America-and with good reason. But my course of life was carved out, as yours will be, in large measure by the way I was raised, the opportunities I had, and the times in which I lived, just as yours will be carved out by these most extraordinary time. For me, I came of age in the shadow of the civil rights movement. I remember the images of Bull Connor in Birmingham, Alabama in '63…using fire hoses and dogs against elderly women marching in their Sunday best.

Two months before my graduation in 1968, I was sitting in an airport lounge waiting for a plane in Syracuse when I heard that Martin Luther King, one of my heroes, had been gunned down on a balcony in Memphis. That night, I listened to the extemporaneous words of Robert Kennedy when he said: "In our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God." And I thought 'My God' what grace can God bestow on this circumstance. Two days before I graduated from law school, I remember being physically shaken by the footage of Robert Kennedy, one of my heroes, lying in a pool of blood on the floor of a kitchen in the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. And as we sat to receive our diplomas, listening to a speaker I cannot remember, most of us knew that our first employer was going to be Uncle Sam in Vietnam.

1968 was a cataclysmic year, not merely because of these tragedies, but because we lost the very people we thought were going to change the world we wished to change.

When you started high school, there were nothing but good times ahead. Life seemed absolutely filled with hope. The stock market was up. The Berlin Wall was down. The sky was the limit. Peace seemed inevitable. We were looking at governmental surpluses. The budget was balanced. We were filled with hope and optimism. And then the impeachment and disgrace of the President and many other things intervened, culminating in your sophomore year on September 11th with the witnessing of an evil that most in this country thought was beyond our shores. In a sense it was like 1968 again. Every generation, that does much, is challenged by the events of their youth. Every generation is shaped by such events, and they have the benefit, as my mom would say, if you look at the good things that's in this tragedy, they renew our resolve. They remind us of our core values; and in a sense, they call us to action in a thousand different ways.

And your generation is no different. All the talk about the X generation and the Y generation and you having been coddled and not being able to meet adversity, et cetera is so much crap. I went on show after show after show and if I heard one more announcer say to me… I finally got myself in trouble with Peter Jennings, when he talked about this generation's incapability of accepting this challenge. I repeated myself and he asked again, and I said "What don't you understand about my answer." Every single generation of Americans, including yours, when pressed has risen to the challenge. And the notion that you cannot handle this new world we find ourselves in-all of us find ourselves in-I find preposterous. We no longer have soccer moms living in our suburban counties; we have security moms. We no longer have people wondering whether or not we are impervious to being struck by terrorists, we have people who assume-out of all proportion-that they are likely to be the victim of terror.

And you, those of you who are communicators as a profession and artists and actors…you have a phenomenal opportunity, a phenomenal capability to put this country back in perspective. But quite frankly, and I mean this absolutely sincerely, the country will listen less to me and to President Bush than it will to the well-placed and well-timed comment of Jay Leno and David Letterman and the nightly entertainment shows. It will matter more whether you are honorable, reasonable, and decent commentators because you will get more face time and more of your words will be heard by the United States of America than will those of the President of the United States.

The Annenberg School of Journalism, where my son attended, and I spoke at their commencement at Penn, did a study and for a ten-year period during the Presidential elections: The amount of time on the nightly news the candidate-the president and/or his challenger-got for any action taken was on average seven seconds. The commentator, those of you who trained these young men and women, their average time was two and a half minutes on the same subject. So you have great power. You have great power, inordinate power, and inordinate responsibility. And I'm banking on the fact that your generation, having been shaped by the recent events of your life, being better educated…more technologically advanced is poised to do whatever has to be done, like I would argue previous generations have. And I dare say, I think you'll do it better. You'll take your diplomas and enter a world that is as awesome in its chaos and complexity as it is starkly beautiful in its seeming simplicity of its great technology.

I know that you are today very much as we were n 1968, anxious about the future and dismayed by uncertainty, wanting to do well, and wanting to do good, and unsure about the chances of doing either. I know-and this is the one thing I ask you to take from me on faith today-that neither optimism nor pessimism enables you to predict your future… It will enable you to deal with the consequences that befall you but not to predict your future. But I also know-and I believe this as absolutely as I believe anything-that only a confident, optimistic attitude enables you to take a hand in shaping your future and, in turn, mine and my children and grandchildren

We did not understand this 35 years ago any better than I suspect you do today-and we were sobered by what we could see ahead, but even in the face of the upheaval that characterized our world in 1968, we still graduated-and it seems implausible now-but graduated with this overwhelming sense of purpose and confidence that we could change the world.

My advice to you today is to hold on to that sense of purpose. If you're looking for a secret to life, you probably won't find it. But if you're looking for the potential in the commonality of human experience, you'll find that there's more power in the human heart, than in all the gigabytes technology can provide you.

It was William Faulkner who said, in accepting the Nobel Prize, and I quote: "I believe that man will not merely endure, he will prevail. He is immortal not because he alone among creatures has an inexhaustible voice, but because he has a soul, a spirit capable of compassion and sacrifice and endurance."

In the face of the unspeakable evil that your generation has recently witnessed, Faulkner's statement about the spirit of man, about the capability for compassion, sacrifice, and endurance, may be in doubt. As a matter of fact, that sentiment is at the core of a raging intellectual debate in this country at this moment, between the so-called, neo-cons - the neo-conservatives -- and the realists, and those who see the need for idealism. For we are being told, those in my profession, that it is our notion of compassion, sacrifice and endurance that has made us, as a nation, the target; and if we are to prevail, we must understand that man is basically evil and must be constrained. This debate, and the outcome of the debate, is going to determine a great deal, if not everything, about the nation we become and the lives you are able to live. Those of you who graduate today from this particular university, this particular college with its emphasis on communication and the arts, have a great deal to do with the outcome of that debate.

Will we be a nation that looks inward, smugly, in the certainty of our own decisions, intolerant in the differences in culture, religion, and governance that exist in this world? Are we going to remain an open, tolerant society that still believes that compassion and sacrifice and endurance are essential characteristics of a great nation who finds itself, without having sought it-I might add-as the indispensable nation in the world. When I meet with my counterparts-whether its Jacques Cherac or any other leader in Europe or anywhere around the world, and they start to lecture me about the responsibilities of a superpower, I try to get them to understand that America and the American people do not view this as some great boon to us.

The folks in my home state, the folks in this state, do not like the notion that we are responsible for every other nation's fate in the minds of every other nation. This is not a status we sought, but it is a responsibility that is ours. And as I said the issue, the issue is-and it is not on the front pages of the Times and the Post and the Globe-but the underlying issue, the intellectual debate and ideas are what change nations, is whether or not compassion and tolerance are a detriment or an asset for this great nation to possess. And I as one refuse to believe that mankind is fundamentally evil and that simply keeping evil in check should be the extent of our goal as a nation and as individuals.

I grew up from the lessons taught by my parents, gentle and generous people, quick to offer help and very slow to judge…But possessed of one absolutely raw notion, a raw intolerance-an instinctive outrage at the abuse of power, at injustice inflicted upon the powerless at the hands of the powerful…whether it's a man striking a woman, or a nation engaging in genocide to subjugate its people. From a generation that looked genuine and overpowering evil in the eye, my parents' generation stared down Hitler, Stalin, the Holocaust, and they did not blink. They did not yield to the influences and abuse of power, the intolerance of absolute power, any kind of power. And the closely related values of personal integrity and respect for individual autonomy, a responsibility to family and community, these were the foundation I brought with me to the United States Senate and those are the values I wanted to express in my career. And it is my prayer that they will be yours as well, for ultimately it is how we will be judged in my view.

There is one additional point that I would like to make to you and it is this: whatever success that you achieve and many of you will achieve inordinate success, and you will become known beyond that which anyone would ever think is capable of being known, and with it, with it you will find yourself subject to not only critics which we all should be, but subject to being caricatured when you fall. And without your personal integrity, without your reputation, you will find that you have nothing. Because if you become successful rest assured that your integrity will be questioned at some point. And at that that point it is not likely to be the facts that rescue you; it is much more likely to be the reputation that you took into the endeavor that rescues you.

What I am trying to convey to you is that whatever challenges or uncertainty you face--at any time in your life-over time, if you rely on the basic values and apply them consistently, your commitment will see you through both the good and the bad times…in your own eyes and in the eyes of others. And that is not a promise produced simply to suit the spirit of a college commencement; it is a promise pulled from the pages of my own life and the life I suspect of many on this stage and behind me. For with each of our good times and our bad and we have all had them.

God knows life has dealt all of us a few blows, I will not forget either that I volunteered for some that I got. In a very personal way and with challenge to my integrity and I suspect others as well that was both the most bitter and the most heartening.

Bitter because it wounded me to the core but heartening because it drew the immediate unreserved support of my family, my friends, my colleges, my laws school, my classmates, and my colleagues in the Senate, and the people of my home state who trusted my lifelong commitment to the principles I have annunciated.

And that's why I want to emphasize to you-some of you are going to be on a tightrope, some of you are going to be on a high-wire-because some of you are extremely talented. In this era of mass world-wide communication, people will take pride in making you and braking you very, very quickly. But knowing who you are, knowing what you believe, and never allowing that inner understanding to weaken will always be your most enduring defense against life's challenges and your own failures.

So let me say in conclusion, for better or worse, this is the world you inherit. Like my dear mom says: You can do anything. So it's up to you. Let your generation be the one to bring us to a time when we stand on principle and are moved to action by the power of our words and our ideals…when we put a premium on personal integrity and enduring values…

Let your generation be the one to bring us to a time when the decisions we make individually and as a community reflect those values, including reflected in the work that you are about to undertake.

And let your generation be the one that harnesses the explosive energy of the digital world but keeps it firmly planted in its analog world.

I look at you now, safe in an environment that nurtures creativity and new ideas…and it takes all my strength to refrain from quoting Bob Hope's famous commencement speech at Georgetown when he looked out at the crowd and said-he stood up, he was introduced; it was the middle of Vietnam after the Tet Offensive-he was introduced to this body of graduating students and dignitaries and parents. He walked to the podium; he looked out at all of them and said, "Don't go." And he sat down. That was the entire speech.

I'm tempted to say to you "Don't go," but we need you to go; for God's sake, we need you to go. If their was any endeavor, any profession, beyond mine-politics-that needs people with ideals and standards with a commitment to values that you've learned at the feet of your parents, that's the one all of you are about to enter. Whether it's in advertising, mass communications, public relations, arts, literature, My God, if we cannot count on you to be truthful, possess integrity, and be willing to judge everything other than by the bottom line, then we're in deep trouble.

So let your generation adopt as its anthem, in my view, what I think is presumptuous of me in a group of artists and potential poets and communicators to suggest - being surrounded by your professors -- what were I your age, I think would we be adopted to your anthem.

I'm always quoting Seamus Heaney and other Irish poets, I apologize to the poets behind me. Everyone thinks I quote them because they are Irish; that's not the reason, I quote them because they're the best. And Seamus Heaney has a stanza in his poem in the light of which your generation has recently witnessed the evil we must conquer as our parents conquered Nazi Germany, as my generation went a long way to conquering the Bull Connors' of the world, but you should adopt in my view as your anthem the stanza in the poem which says, "History teaches us not to hope on this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime that long tidal-wave of justice rises up and hope and history rhyme." What I wish for you is that your generation catches the wave.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Law Enforcement's Greatest Friend in the U.S. Senate

Thanks for that kind introduction. For thirty years I've been trying to understand how it is that we can ask so much of our cops and yet give them so little support. Now more than ever we need you and you need our full and unconditional support. Sometimes it's a fight, but we're not ones to back down from a fight.

It's great to be with NAPO again with all of you. And to be recognized with this award is humbling to say the least. I can't tell you how much it means to me and I'm honored.

All those times I've met with you, all those times you came to my office and talked about what you needed in the way of funding and programs to keep doing the best job you could -- all those hours we spent figuring out how to get the COPS program off the dime. Those were times well spent. They paid off for you and for the country.

And by the way, nobody can tell me we're not better off when there's another cop on the beat. Nobody can tell me that we can't make a difference if we just listen to what you tell us you need, and then do the best we can to make it happen. It's a no-brainer.

Anyway, thank you again for this award. I sincerely mean that. And for all of your support. It's great to know that you think I've been there for you - but believe me - you make me look good.

The only reason we had any success getting the COPS program in the first place - and then saving it - is because of you.

I can assure you that when you speak Washington listens. I don't think I've seen my colleagues on the other side of the aisle move so fast as when they hear from their local police officers who say, we need this funding - don't mess with it. Believe me, they listen to you!

Let's talk about crime for a minute. Let's talk about Homeland Security and about the debate in Washington now about the budget, the tax cuts, and the deficits that threaten the progress we've been able to make.

I'm sick about it.

Look, tax cuts are easy, and there are many who say the hell with everything and just keep cutting taxes. Great, but what about homeland security? What about the need to modernize and upgrade your equipment and putting well trained, well equipped cops on the street.

What about it? How do we get there if the only thing we believe in is tax cuts even as everyone is looking for increased security to keep their kids safe when they walk out the door.

Look, I'm with you. And you've been with me, standing shoulder-to-shoulder to make things happen over the years.

I remember back in the early nineties you were there then for the Biden Crime Bill. You had a seat at my conference table when we put the COPS program together as part of that 1994 Crime Bill.

You were there for the 63 officers who died on September 11th. It was NAPO who came to me and said, "Joe, the death benefit the Justice Department pays just isn't enough for the sons and daughters and wives and husbands left behind. They can't make ends meet." You told me that payment needed to be doubled, and we were able to get that done in the USA Patriot Act.

I was so pleased to be able to stand with you and get that bill passed. But now we're facing huge deficits as far out as the eye can see. I'd by lying if I didn't say the pie is shrinking, and the tax cuts aren't going to help.

Let's talk about crime because the proof is in the pudding.

NAPO deserves a lot of credit for the crime drop of the nineties. When we created the COPS program in 1994 crime rates were pretty high. We ended up giving over 8 billion dollars to local police departments. Since 1994, we've funded 117,000 new cops.

The result? Crime dropped almost thirty percent from 1994 to 2000. There's no magic here. You made our streets safer and it was a heroic effort.

But mark my words: the current climate, both nationally and internationally, creates the conditions for a "perfect storm" for local law enforcement created by the budget cuts, the new homeland security responsibilities we're asking you to assume, and the end to the crime drop of the nineties.

Let me take that last point first. Crime rates are, in fact, going up again.

Last December, the FBI announced a two percent increase in crime from 2000 to 2001.

Violent crime was up 0.8 percent - the first increase in violent crime in a decade.

Murder was up two percent, property crime was up 2%, burglaries were up 3%.

Car theft - a crime that's often the work of professional criminals - jumped a full six percent.

I'll make you a prediction: when the FBI announces the 2002 numbers later this year, we're going to get more bad news.

The leading indicators from around the country are not good. The homicide rate in California's major cities jumped 11 percent in 2002.

Here in DC the murder rate is up from last year. In Chicago 2002 murders are expected to top 2001's levels. New York City is seeing a record number of bank robberies this year.

Is it a surprise? No. These crime hikes are not entirely unexpected. We all know that crime tends to follow economic and demographic conditions.

There's a recent study that says that a record number, over 2 million people, are in jail in the U.S. But buried in that study it says that, in nine states, prison releases outpaced prison admissions last year.

Those nine states include the four with the biggest prison populations: Texas, California, New York and Illinois.

Why is that a red flag? Because you know and I know that released prisoners are more likely to reoffend than the general public.

Put simply, today's demographics mean we could have more potential criminals walking our streets than in years past and that means your job gets tougher.

As far as the impact of budget cuts on what you do, it's obvious. You can't do more with less. Police departments are feeling the pinch. I saw one report last month that said that of the 44 biggest police departments in the country, 27 face personnel shortfalls. That's more than half.

I know that St. Louis has lost 168 officers from its high water mark for police employment in 2000.

Los Angeles has lost 570 officers from 2000 levels. Detroit has lost 224. Boston - 84 fewer cops than in 2000. After thirty years of studying this issue, there's one thing I know for sure about crime: If you've got an intersection with cops on three corners, crooks will go to the fourth corner to commit their crime. Fewer cops means more crime, and I'm extremely concerned your departments are being squeezed.

Then comes the kicker. Since 9/11, you now have to do a hell of a lot more than just walk the beat. You're expected to know how to respond to a chemical attack. You're expected to do intelligence work in some cases. And my friend Bob Mueller, the FBI Director, has pulled FBI agents out of local crime fighting task forces.

Five hundred eighteen have been reassigned from street crime and drug-fighting to counterterrorism. Don't just take my word for it. Here in Washington, the head of the DEA's field office is publicly questioning whether the FBI's personnel realignment has left a void in the city's drug enforcement efforts. It's a problem we're going to be hearing about nationwide.

When Tom Ridge changes the color, you need to know what to do. Be vigilant, they say. Just not on their nickel, apparently.

Why do I say that? Well, look at what the President has proposed for local law enforcement since taking office. In his first budget, the President asked Congress to end the COPS hiring program. Mission completed, he said. But we heard your call and we rejected his cuts.

Last year the President proposed an even more radical law enforcement budget. Completely end COPS, completely end the Byrne program, completely end the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program, he said. I'll replace all of those with a new grant, but I'll cut your overall funds by 40% in the process.

But it's not really a cut, he said, because you all can access the new 3.5 billion dollars in first responder money.

Give me a break. I'd call that robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Again we heard your call and we took a look at that budget and rejected it again. We wouldn't let them take your money so we restored the cuts to COPS, Byrne, and the Block Grant.

This year they're at it again. Police don't need help with salaries, overtime, and equipment purchases, the Administration says.

No, we're going to end those programs, evidence that they help cut crime be damned, and instead we're going to make you jump through hoops with your governor to get the money. And by the way, there are strings attached to the first responder money: Not one dime of the billions proposed can be used to add a new shield to the streets.

How many of you have seen any first responder funds in your departments yet?

I didn't think so. I'm not questioning the Administration's motives - they want to do the right thing. But their blind insistence on ending what works to pay for a first responder block grant makes no sense.

We should be doing both. Clearly there are training and equipment needs for first responders, needs that in many instances it does make sense to coordinate through governor's offices. But those programs should not be paid for on your backs.

COPS works. Studies indicate those hiring grants, and the work you are able to do because of them, directly contribute to cutting crime.

Your Executive Director Bill Johnson testified at a series of hearings my Crime Subcommittee held last year.

It was during those hearings that I released a study showing that COPS grants contributed to the significant drop in crime rates in the nation's 55 largest cities from 1994 through 2000.

COPS technology grants make you more effective. The Byrne program and the Local Law Enforcement Block Grant program fund drug-fighting task forces, pay for prevention programs, and provide you with the flexibility you need to tailor Federal programs to fit local needs. We shouldn't be cutting them. We should be full funding them.

As recently as last year, the nation's "top cop", Attorney General Ashcroft, sang the praises of the COPS program. "A miraculous success," he called it. But the Administration doesn't put its money where its mouth is. They've cut law enforcement funds by nearly 40 percent.

Let me tell you a few things we can do.

First, you can keep up the good work you have done on my COPS bill. I introduced that bill a few weeks ago. It would continue COPS for six more years and provide enough funds to hire 50,000 more officers.

It would let COPS fund pay for overtime, something we're going to do this year for the first time. We should make that permanent. Thanks to you the bill has 46 cosponsors. I need a few more, so please keep asking your Senators to add their name.

You need to tell the Senators and Representatives who sit on the Appropriations Committees that these cuts are unacceptable. Tell Senator Gregg - he chairs the Justice Department appropriations subcommittee - that COPS works and that you still need it.

Tell him that first responder block grants to the governors are no substitute for police hiring, overtime, and technology grants made directly to your departments.

If they won't do the right thing in the appropriations committees, I think we will have to have this fight on the Senate floor this summer. So when I come to you asking to support my amendment to restore these cuts, I hope you'll do what you've always done and answer the call.

We also need to do something about all these prisoners being released. "Prisoner reentry" the experts call it.

I'm working on a bill that will help ease this transition back into society, and cut crime in the process. If you've got any suggestions, I'm listening.

So in short, friends, we face challenging times ahead for law enforcement. I will be working here to make sure you aren't forgotten in the brave new world of homeland security. Most folks are still more likely to be mugged in the mall parking lot than be attacked by an Al Qaeda terrorist.

I will keep reminding my colleagues what worked in cutting crime over the past decade. We need to keep doing what works.

I've always said, and you've probably heard me say it. Cutting crime is a lot like cutting the grass. You can mow your lawn on Saturday and it looks great. But if you don't keep at it, the grass will be back up a few weeks later. If we don't keep the focus on crime in America, it's going to come back up.

Thanks again for your support over the years. I think we have time for a few questions.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Joseph Biden political platform:   Joseph Biden for President - Democratic Candidate 2008 | Joseph Biden news | Joseph Biden Biography | Joseph Biden Education | Joseph Biden hometown | Joseph Biden Employment | Joseph Biden Energy & Environment | Joseph Biden Fiscal Responsibilities | Joseph Biden Foreign Relations | Joseph Biden Health Care | Joseph Biden Homeland Security | Joseph Biden Iraq a Way Forward | Joseph Biden America's Veterans | Joseph Biden Women's Rights | Joseph Biden Contribute
Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



Winning the Peace: The Difficult Choices Ahead

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak here tonight.

This is a momentous time, and even though I've used that word often since September 11, 2001, it remains true today.

Our vulnerability was exposed as never before. On that day, our national priorities came into much sharper focus. Yesterday's soccer moms became today's security moms.

Since 9-11, we have taken several significant steps to try to make America more secure. In many ways we are succeeding, but in other ways the jury is still out. And what we do in the days and months ahead may well determine whether our actions overseas will lead to a more peaceful world, and whether the security we seek is within our grasp.

The President had no choice but to use force in Afghanistan. He acted swiftly and with the full support of the nation. We struck a major blow against al-Qaeda, we deposed the Taliban, and we sent a message to terrorists that the long arm of America's might will come down heavily on those who do us harm.

But I fear our goal of ensuring that Afghanistan no longer serves as a safe haven for terrorists has not been accomplished. To put it bluntly, we have not demonstrated sufficient leadership in support of President Karzai's efforts to extend security beyond Kabul. Afghanistan is at risk of falling back into chaos or worse. Having won the war, we are in danger of losing the peace.

Today, we are at a pivotal juncture in a second war. As in Afghanistan, our military performed superbly in Iraq. We've removed a brutal dictator. If we get it right from this point, we'll have reason to hope the Middle East may become a more secure and progressive place.

But that's the big "IF." Getting it right is a huge challenge. We must have staying power, and we have to work with others -- others in the region, others throughout the world, and with all the stakeholders inside Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that the choices we make to win the peace in Iraq will shape our future for generations to come.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that we face two valid but competing pressures in Iraq.

The first is to withdraw quickly - to bring our troops home as soon as we can and to avoid being seen as occupiers.

The second is to stay for as long as it takes to lay the foundation for a secure, stable and pluralistic Iraq, back in the hands of its own people and on a path to democracy. And that will take years of efforts and billions of dollars.

There's only one way to square this circle -- to avoid leaving too early and leaving Iraq in the lurch or, alternatively, bearing alone the massive burden of a prolonged occupation. The answer is to internationalize the problem.

Our goal should be to encourage participation by other countries and key international organizations in building Iraq's peace.

The best way to do that is to get that much maligned organization - the United Nations - to endorse, but not to run, the necessary security, humanitarian, rebuilding and administrative missions in Iraq.

I said "endorse, not run." Especially on the security side, the U.N. should not be running the show. But its endorsement - through new Security Council resolutions - would open the door to full participation by countries around the world and to NATO, the EU and Arab allies. Without that endorsement, it will be hard for leaders whose people opposed the war - and that was the case in virtually every country in the world, including those whose governments supported us - to convince their people to help pay for and run the risks of waging the peace.

Iraq is not a prize that we should be fighting over. It is a complex society sitting in the heart of a tough neighborhood. As my friend Tom Friedman of The New York Times puts it, we may have to rent Iraq for a time, but it's not our desire to own it. Yet, at this moment, we hold sole responsibility for Iraq.

We do not -- repeat -- DO NOT want to be seen as going from liberators to occupiers, having to bear all the burdens, risks and costs.

An indefinite American military occupation -- even a temporary one -- could fuel resentment throughout the Middle East, bolster Al Qaeda's recruitment, and make us a target for malcontents everywhere.

If we do not get the help of other countries in a significant way, we will soon find ourselves making decisions in the most minute detail about the country's governance.

If we are the only ones running the show, we'll get the blame for anything that goes wrong. And things will go wrong, no matter how good and careful our soldiers are. The events of this week in Fallujah risk being repeated day in and day out.

If we alone choose the new Iraqi government, it will be seen as a puppet regime by the Iraqi people and by Iraq's neighbors.

And if we're the only ones on watch, it will be our sons and daughters patrolling the streets of Kirkuk and Najaf, running the risk of suicide bombers and snipers. It will be our taxpayers footing the entire bill on an overstretched budget - after they've already had to pay for the entire war. But the flip side, as I said earlier, is that building an Iraq that is secure, whole, free, and governed by its own people will be a long and expensive project. Just as the removal of Saddam should have been seen as serving the whole world's interest, so too is rebuilding Iraq.

The best way to buy time is to bring in the rest of the world. That will give us the cover to stay in Iraq long enough to get the job done without alienating the Iraqi people and without putting the entire burden and risk of this great venture on our backs. So how do we get others on board? It starts with the U.N. endorsement I talked about a moment ago. But it goes beyond that to our entire attitude. We have to be mature, not spiteful. We have to repair the ruptures that have developed with our allies. We have to realize that an inclusive rather than an exclusive approach is the correct approach.

Now, I understand the tremendous frustration in this country about the way France and other allies dealt with the Iraq problem. I share that frustration and so do many members of Congress.

But I would respectfully suggest that retaliating against long standing allies - no matter how right we were and how wrong they were - is beneath a great nation and profoundly against our interests.

Just imagine if once the heavy shooting stopped in Iraq, the President had made a speech in which he addressed the countries that opposed the war. Imagine if he had said:

'I deeply regret that you did not join our effort to end Saddam Hussein's reign of terror in Iraq. You know how profoundly I disagreed with your position. But I want you to know that, equally profoundly, I believe it was your right as great democracies and long time friends of the U.S. to hold those positions and to disagree with us. We could not come together in war, but I want us to come together in peace. I want you to be full partners in helping Iraq build a better future.'

Imagine if the President had done that. He could have erased so much anti-Americanism. He would have looked ten feet tall. And Chirac and Schroeder and the rest would have looked two feet tall if they did not respond in kind. Magnanimity in victory is a great virtue - and in our naked self interest. We must mend diplomatic fences - as Sec. Powell is trying to do. He deserves our support. And by the way, folks, in the face of the Rumsfeld/Cheney juggernaut, Colin Powell has the toughest job in Washington. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the way he does his job and the quality of advice he provides this President. It's time to make Powell's job a bit easier by moving beyond the finger-pointing and recriminations that have been flying across the Atlantic and around the world. It's time to heal the rift that has developed.

Let me briefly summarize what lies ahead.

The key to long-term success in putting Iraq on a path to stability and modernization is to establish from the outset a process that is viewed as legitimate. It must lead to a new Iraqi interim authority that is viewed as legitimate. And that authority must nurture the institutions that, ultimately, could lead Iraq to become a new liberal democracy in a region that desperately needs a democratic model. Before laying out the steps to get us from here to there, let's understand the goal. We cannot simply jump ahead several steps and call for elections. In recent years, we have often witnessed the futility of countries putting the cart before the horse -- neglecting to build the essential underpinnings of liberal democracy: rule of law, a viable police force to create order, a credible judicial system, a free press, a secular education system, non-governmental organizations and the other elements of a civil society that operate with transparency and accountability.

If we try to impose liberal democracy by force and consider the mission complete once the tyrant is toppled and elections are held, we will be in for a nasty surprise, as we were in Algeria.

Trading a Shah for an Ayatollah is not a good bargain. Deposing Saddam and leaving a vacuum filled by a radical, anti-Western Shiite clerical regime would not be a good bargain either.

We also should avoid the temptation to hand things over to a new authoritarian figure who may happen to be friendly to us. Some will argue that given the dangers of a reversion to a neo-Ba'athist regime or a religious tyranny, we can ensure a quick departure by imposing an Iraqi leadership and giving it the means to maintain control. There will be strong pressures to pull out of Iraq before its political process has a chance to mature.

In my judgement, that would be grievous error. If our goal is enduring political stability, there is no escaping the fact that we will have to be involved for the long-haul so that Iraqis can develop the institutions of liberal democracy.

It is no surprise that religious-based groups have emerged as the most organized forces in Iraq. In a society where any political activity outside of the Ba'ath party was brutally suppressed for over three decades, the only networks left standing were in the Mosque.

This gives the Islamists an early advantage, but it does not mean that an fundamentalist Islamic Republic that seeks to impose the Sharia is inevitable.

Indeed, there is a long tradition in Iraq of moderate Shiite clerics who believe in the separation of Mosque and state. And there is a powerful example in neighboring Turkey of an state led by an Islamic party that is nonetheless secular, modern and democratic. In Iraq, we must invest the time and energy to encourage the development of moderate politics by developing the institutions... political parties, professional associations, labor unions, PTAs, sporting clubs all of the groupings we take for granted which form the vital fabric of a democracy.

Obviously, building these institutions will not be easy, and they will not spring up overnight. We need to take the time to do this right.

What we must do immediately is begin the process of legitimization that leads to direct Iraqi involvement in the rebuilding of their country. But we can only get there if we have the rest of the world participating. Otherwise, those Iraqis able and willing to take on responsibilities will be seen and labeled as tools of America, as collaborators with an occupier.

The irony is that many countries around the world are ready to jump in, but they prefer to do so under the umbrella of the United Nations. We should be smart enough to understand that it is in our best interest to not go it alone, and that the UN imprimatur will open the gate for other nations to provide genuine assistance and generate greater legitimacy.

A timely test is coming. The recent meeting of Iraqi political figures in Baghdad decided to reconvene toward the end May. The Administration has indicated its desire to have the next meeting create an Iraqi interim authority.

Is there any doubt the interim authority will have much greater legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis and throughout the region if the UN, the EU, and key Arab allies like Jordan are involved in its formation? Folks: we get one good chance at doing this right. We do not have the luxury of a trial-and-error process where we go back to the drawing board after Iraqis have rejected an authority they view as illegitimate.

Yes, speed is important. Everyone knows Iraqis need to see Iraqi faces in their interim authority as soon as possible. But legitimacy should be the priority even if that means the process takes a little longer.

Legitimacy will come not just through a broader representation from the international community, but even more importantly from a broad representation from Iraq's many communities and political persuasions. We should not make the mistake of seeing Iraq's three main ethnic communities - Arab Shi'a, Arab Sunni, and Kurds as monoliths that have to be balanced against one another. There is rich diversity of ethnic identities and more importantly, political views, within Iraq.

We should strive to include as many as possible be they Turkmen, Chaldeans, or Assyrians be they tribal leaders, religious figures, secular democrats or Arab nationalists be they regional and community leaders, professionals or ordinary Iraqis ready to contribute to the rebuilding of their country.

The meetings held in Iraq thus far amount to two town hall meetings. Political activity is just beginning to manifest itself. It is hindered by the fact that many are afraid to leave their homes because of lawlessness. An independent media has yet to take shape. Getting law and order restored, getting the power back on, and making Iraqis aware of a transparent and inclusive process inclusive are critical to the legitimacy of the interim authority.

But the interim authority is only the beginning. We should help Iraqis convene a constituent assembly charged with drafting a new Constitution. The new Constitution should be put to the public in a referendum. Once it is approved, elections should follow under whatever governing structures Iraqis decide.

And there should be transparency allowing Iraqis to see authority being transferred to them. Working with our international partners, we should establish a timeline with targets for the gradual transition to complete Iraqi sovereignty.

All of this is an incredibly tall order. But in reality there's no alternative. We took this on when we made the decision to move on Saddam. Only by winning the peace in Iraq, by getting it right, will we enhance our ability to promote and support democratic reforms throughout the region. That, in turn, will enhance our own security. For when there are no democratic outlets, dissent moves underground. It turns to resentment. And then it's ventilated by extremism and even terrorism.

So we must make it clear to our friends in the region that their future - and their future with us - requires a move toward democratization. If we listen to the voices of Arabs themselves if we tie progress to empowering women, reforming economies, and expanding political participation, we will help infuse a sense of hope in the region.

And, finally, by getting it right, we will succeed in the fundamental mission that led us to take on these momentous actions. We will have made America a little more secure, diminished that sense of vulnerability we carry around silently with us day after day, in the shadow of our ongoing battle for freedom and liberty, at home and abroad.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

Joe Biden political platform:  Joe Biden for President - Democratic Candidate 2008 | Joe Biden news | Joe Biden Biography | Joe Biden Education | Joe Biden hometown | Joe Biden Employment | Joe Biden Energy & Environment | Joe Biden Fiscal Responsibilities | Joe Biden Foreign Relations | Joe Biden Health Care | Joe Biden Homeland Security | Joe Biden Iraq a Way Forward | Joe Biden America's Veterans | Joe Biden Women's Rights | Joe Biden Contribute
Joseph Biden political platform:   Joseph Biden for President - Democratic Candidate 2008 | Joseph Biden news | Joseph Biden Biography | Joseph Biden Education | Joseph Biden hometown | Joseph Biden Employment | Joseph Biden Energy & Environment | Joseph Biden Fiscal Responsibilities | Joseph Biden Foreign Relations | Joseph Biden Health Care | Joseph Biden Homeland Security | Joseph Biden Iraq a Way Forward | Joseph Biden America's Veterans | Joseph Biden Women's Rights | Joseph Biden Contribute
Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



Winning the Peace: The Difficult Choices Ahead

Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak here tonight.

This is a momentous time, and even though I've used that word often since September 11, 2001, it remains true today.

Our vulnerability was exposed as never before. On that day, our national priorities came into much sharper focus. Yesterday's soccer moms became today's security moms.

Since 9-11, we have taken several significant steps to try to make America more secure. In many ways we are succeeding, but in other ways the jury is still out. And what we do in the days and months ahead may well determine whether our actions overseas will lead to a more peaceful world, and whether the security we seek is within our grasp.

The President had no choice but to use force in Afghanistan. He acted swiftly and with the full support of the nation. We struck a major blow against al-Qaeda, we deposed the Taliban, and we sent a message to terrorists that the long arm of America's might will come down heavily on those who do us harm.

But I fear our goal of ensuring that Afghanistan no longer serves as a safe haven for terrorists has not been accomplished. To put it bluntly, we have not demonstrated sufficient leadership in support of President Karzai's efforts to extend security beyond Kabul. Afghanistan is at risk of falling back into chaos or worse. Having won the war, we are in danger of losing the peace.

Today, we are at a pivotal juncture in a second war. As in Afghanistan, our military performed superbly in Iraq. We've removed a brutal dictator. If we get it right from this point, we'll have reason to hope the Middle East may become a more secure and progressive place.

But that's the big "IF." Getting it right is a huge challenge. We must have staying power, and we have to work with others -- others in the region, others throughout the world, and with all the stakeholders inside Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that the choices we make to win the peace in Iraq will shape our future for generations to come.

The problem, in a nutshell, is that we face two valid but competing pressures in Iraq.

The first is to withdraw quickly - to bring our troops home as soon as we can and to avoid being seen as occupiers.

The second is to stay for as long as it takes to lay the foundation for a secure, stable and pluralistic Iraq, back in the hands of its own people and on a path to democracy. And that will take years of efforts and billions of dollars.

There's only one way to square this circle -- to avoid leaving too early and leaving Iraq in the lurch or, alternatively, bearing alone the massive burden of a prolonged occupation. The answer is to internationalize the problem.

Our goal should be to encourage participation by other countries and key international organizations in building Iraq's peace.

The best way to do that is to get that much maligned organization - the United Nations - to endorse, but not to run, the necessary security, humanitarian, rebuilding and administrative missions in Iraq.

I said "endorse, not run." Especially on the security side, the U.N. should not be running the show. But its endorsement - through new Security Council resolutions - would open the door to full participation by countries around the world and to NATO, the EU and Arab allies. Without that endorsement, it will be hard for leaders whose people opposed the war - and that was the case in virtually every country in the world, including those whose governments supported us - to convince their people to help pay for and run the risks of waging the peace.

Iraq is not a prize that we should be fighting over. It is a complex society sitting in the heart of a tough neighborhood. As my friend Tom Friedman of The New York Times puts it, we may have to rent Iraq for a time, but it's not our desire to own it. Yet, at this moment, we hold sole responsibility for Iraq.

We do not -- repeat -- DO NOT want to be seen as going from liberators to occupiers, having to bear all the burdens, risks and costs.

An indefinite American military occupation -- even a temporary one -- could fuel resentment throughout the Middle East, bolster Al Qaeda's recruitment, and make us a target for malcontents everywhere.

If we do not get the help of other countries in a significant way, we will soon find ourselves making decisions in the most minute detail about the country's governance.

If we are the only ones running the show, we'll get the blame for anything that goes wrong. And things will go wrong, no matter how good and careful our soldiers are. The events of this week in Fallujah risk being repeated day in and day out.

If we alone choose the new Iraqi government, it will be seen as a puppet regime by the Iraqi people and by Iraq's neighbors.

And if we're the only ones on watch, it will be our sons and daughters patrolling the streets of Kirkuk and Najaf, running the risk of suicide bombers and snipers. It will be our taxpayers footing the entire bill on an overstretched budget - after they've already had to pay for the entire war. But the flip side, as I said earlier, is that building an Iraq that is secure, whole, free, and governed by its own people will be a long and expensive project. Just as the removal of Saddam should have been seen as serving the whole world's interest, so too is rebuilding Iraq.

The best way to buy time is to bring in the rest of the world. That will give us the cover to stay in Iraq long enough to get the job done without alienating the Iraqi people and without putting the entire burden and risk of this great venture on our backs. So how do we get others on board? It starts with the U.N. endorsement I talked about a moment ago. But it goes beyond that to our entire attitude. We have to be mature, not spiteful. We have to repair the ruptures that have developed with our allies. We have to realize that an inclusive rather than an exclusive approach is the correct approach.

Now, I understand the tremendous frustration in this country about the way France and other allies dealt with the Iraq problem. I share that frustration and so do many members of Congress.

But I would respectfully suggest that retaliating against long standing allies - no matter how right we were and how wrong they were - is beneath a great nation and profoundly against our interests.

Just imagine if once the heavy shooting stopped in Iraq, the President had made a speech in which he addressed the countries that opposed the war. Imagine if he had said:

'I deeply regret that you did not join our effort to end Saddam Hussein's reign of terror in Iraq. You know how profoundly I disagreed with your position. But I want you to know that, equally profoundly, I believe it was your right as great democracies and long time friends of the U.S. to hold those positions and to disagree with us. We could not come together in war, but I want us to come together in peace. I want you to be full partners in helping Iraq build a better future.'

Imagine if the President had done that. He could have erased so much anti-Americanism. He would have looked ten feet tall. And Chirac and Schroeder and the rest would have looked two feet tall if they did not respond in kind. Magnanimity in victory is a great virtue - and in our naked self interest. We must mend diplomatic fences - as Sec. Powell is trying to do. He deserves our support. And by the way, folks, in the face of the Rumsfeld/Cheney juggernaut, Colin Powell has the toughest job in Washington. I have the utmost respect and admiration for the way he does his job and the quality of advice he provides this President. It's time to make Powell's job a bit easier by moving beyond the finger-pointing and recriminations that have been flying across the Atlantic and around the world. It's time to heal the rift that has developed.

Let me briefly summarize what lies ahead.

The key to long-term success in putting Iraq on a path to stability and modernization is to establish from the outset a process that is viewed as legitimate. It must lead to a new Iraqi interim authority that is viewed as legitimate. And that authority must nurture the institutions that, ultimately, could lead Iraq to become a new liberal democracy in a region that desperately needs a democratic model. Before laying out the steps to get us from here to there, let's understand the goal. We cannot simply jump ahead several steps and call for elections. In recent years, we have often witnessed the futility of countries putting the cart before the horse -- neglecting to build the essential underpinnings of liberal democracy: rule of law, a viable police force to create order, a credible judicial system, a free press, a secular education system, non-governmental organizations and the other elements of a civil society that operate with transparency and accountability.

If we try to impose liberal democracy by force and consider the mission complete once the tyrant is toppled and elections are held, we will be in for a nasty surprise, as we were in Algeria.

Trading a Shah for an Ayatollah is not a good bargain. Deposing Saddam and leaving a vacuum filled by a radical, anti-Western Shiite clerical regime would not be a good bargain either.

We also should avoid the temptation to hand things over to a new authoritarian figure who may happen to be friendly to us. Some will argue that given the dangers of a reversion to a neo-Ba'athist regime or a religious tyranny, we can ensure a quick departure by imposing an Iraqi leadership and giving it the means to maintain control. There will be strong pressures to pull out of Iraq before its political process has a chance to mature.

In my judgement, that would be grievous error. If our goal is enduring political stability, there is no escaping the fact that we will have to be involved for the long-haul so that Iraqis can develop the institutions of liberal democracy.

It is no surprise that religious-based groups have emerged as the most organized forces in Iraq. In a society where any political activity outside of the Ba'ath party was brutally suppressed for over three decades, the only networks left standing were in the Mosque.

This gives the Islamists an early advantage, but it does not mean that an fundamentalist Islamic Republic that seeks to impose the Sharia is inevitable.

Indeed, there is a long tradition in Iraq of moderate Shiite clerics who believe in the separation of Mosque and state. And there is a powerful example in neighboring Turkey of an state led by an Islamic party that is nonetheless secular, modern and democratic. In Iraq, we must invest the time and energy to encourage the development of moderate politics by developing the institutions... political parties, professional associations, labor unions, PTAs, sporting clubs all of the groupings we take for granted which form the vital fabric of a democracy.

Obviously, building these institutions will not be easy, and they will not spring up overnight. We need to take the time to do this right.

What we must do immediately is begin the process of legitimization that leads to direct Iraqi involvement in the rebuilding of their country. But we can only get there if we have the rest of the world participating. Otherwise, those Iraqis able and willing to take on responsibilities will be seen and labeled as tools of America, as collaborators with an occupier.

The irony is that many countries around the world are ready to jump in, but they prefer to do so under the umbrella of the United Nations. We should be smart enough to understand that it is in our best interest to not go it alone, and that the UN imprimatur will open the gate for other nations to provide genuine assistance and generate greater legitimacy.

A timely test is coming. The recent meeting of Iraqi political figures in Baghdad decided to reconvene toward the end May. The Administration has indicated its desire to have the next meeting create an Iraqi interim authority.

Is there any doubt the interim authority will have much greater legitimacy in the eyes of Iraqis and throughout the region if the UN, the EU, and key Arab allies like Jordan are involved in its formation? Folks: we get one good chance at doing this right. We do not have the luxury of a trial-and-error process where we go back to the drawing board after Iraqis have rejected an authority they view as illegitimate.

Yes, speed is important. Everyone knows Iraqis need to see Iraqi faces in their interim authority as soon as possible. But legitimacy should be the priority even if that means the process takes a little longer.

Legitimacy will come not just through a broader representation from the international community, but even more importantly from a broad representation from Iraq's many communities and political persuasions. We should not make the mistake of seeing Iraq's three main ethnic communities - Arab Shi'a, Arab Sunni, and Kurds as monoliths that have to be balanced against one another. There is rich diversity of ethnic identities and more importantly, political views, within Iraq.

We should strive to include as many as possible be they Turkmen, Chaldeans, or Assyrians be they tribal leaders, religious figures, secular democrats or Arab nationalists be they regional and community leaders, professionals or ordinary Iraqis ready to contribute to the rebuilding of their country.

The meetings held in Iraq thus far amount to two town hall meetings. Political activity is just beginning to manifest itself. It is hindered by the fact that many are afraid to leave their homes because of lawlessness. An independent media has yet to take shape. Getting law and order restored, getting the power back on, and making Iraqis aware of a transparent and inclusive process inclusive are critical to the legitimacy of the interim authority.

But the interim authority is only the beginning. We should help Iraqis convene a constituent assembly charged with drafting a new Constitution. The new Constitution should be put to the public in a referendum. Once it is approved, elections should follow under whatever governing structures Iraqis decide.

And there should be transparency allowing Iraqis to see authority being transferred to them. Working with our international partners, we should establish a timeline with targets for the gradual transition to complete Iraqi sovereignty.

All of this is an incredibly tall order. But in reality there's no alternative. We took this on when we made the decision to move on Saddam. Only by winning the peace in Iraq, by getting it right, will we enhance our ability to promote and support democratic reforms throughout the region. That, in turn, will enhance our own security. For when there are no democratic outlets, dissent moves underground. It turns to resentment. And then it's ventilated by extremism and even terrorism.

So we must make it clear to our friends in the region that their future - and their future with us - requires a move toward democratization. If we listen to the voices of Arabs themselves if we tie progress to empowering women, reforming economies, and expanding political participation, we will help infuse a sense of hope in the region.

And, finally, by getting it right, we will succeed in the fundamental mission that led us to take on these momentous actions. We will have made America a little more secure, diminished that sense of vulnerability we carry around silently with us day after day, in the shadow of our ongoing battle for freedom and liberty, at home and abroad.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

Joe Biden political platform:  Joe Biden for President - Democratic Candidate 2008 | Joe Biden news | Joe Biden Biography | Joe Biden Education | Joe Biden hometown | Joe Biden Employment | Joe Biden Energy & Environment | Joe Biden Fiscal Responsibilities | Joe Biden Foreign Relations | Joe Biden Health Care | Joe Biden Homeland Security | Joe Biden Iraq a Way Forward | Joe Biden America's Veterans | Joe Biden Women's Rights | Joe Biden Contribute
Joseph Biden political platform:   Joseph Biden for President - Democratic Candidate 2008 | Joseph Biden news | Joseph Biden Biography | Joseph Biden Education | Joseph Biden hometown | Joseph Biden Employment | Joseph Biden Energy & Environment | Joseph Biden Fiscal Responsibilities | Joseph Biden Foreign Relations | Joseph Biden Health Care | Joseph Biden Homeland Security | Joseph Biden Iraq a Way Forward | Joseph Biden America's Veterans | Joseph Biden Women's Rights | Joseph Biden Contribute
Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



A Remembrance of Harvey "Hob" Ryan

When I come here to speak to all of you - and this isn't my first visit - I've always been struck by the extraordinary spirit among firefighters.

There's a camaraderie and a commitment that is unique and - quite frankly - heartwarming.

This is a family and, like all families, you hold on to each other - you reach out to each other, you're there for each other, and when one of us falls, all of us feel the loss.

Just two weeks ago I attended a service for one of the family one of the best and most dedicated professional firefighters in Delaware. Some of you may have known him. Certainly everyone here from Delaware knew him.

His name is Harvey "Hob" Ryan. He was 78 years old and he was with the Holloway Terrace Fire Company - a life member, a past officer of every professional organization, one of the founders of the fire school and one of the best.

Hob personified everything good and honorable about firefighting. He had courage. He cared. He wanted to serve.

He was a professional who believed that the best schooling makes the best firefighter. And he put his beliefs into practice every day.

There was no better example of what it means to stand a post on the frontline of what is now part of our Homeland Security force than the life and work of Hob Ryan.

I had the pleasure of spending time with his brother John and his widow Joan.

They told me that Hob's father was also a member of the company, so I guess it runs in the family.

I won't take anymore time tonight, but I would like to ask you yo join me in a moment of silence for Hob Ryan.

Thank you and have a great evening.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

Joe Biden political platform:  Joe Biden for President - Democratic Candidate 2008 | Joe Biden news | Joe Biden Biography | Joe Biden Education | Joe Biden hometown | Joe Biden Employment | Joe Biden Energy & Environment | Joe Biden Fiscal Responsibilities | Joe Biden Foreign Relations | Joe Biden Health Care | Joe Biden Homeland Security | Joe Biden Iraq a Way Forward | Joe Biden America's Veterans | Joe Biden Women's Rights | Joe Biden Contribute
Joseph Biden political platform:   Joseph Biden for President - Democratic Candidate 2008 | Joseph Biden news | Joseph Biden Biography | Joseph Biden Education | Joseph Biden hometown | Joseph Biden Employment | Joseph Biden Energy & Environment | Joseph Biden Fiscal Responsibilities | Joseph Biden Foreign Relations | Joseph Biden Health Care | Joseph Biden Homeland Security | Joseph Biden Iraq a Way Forward | Joseph Biden America's Veterans | Joseph Biden Women's Rights | Joseph Biden Contribute
Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



Toward Real Security

Mr. President, thank you. It's an honor to be here at such a great university. I know this particular law school must be the finest law school in America because my son applied here, was rejected and got accepted into a second rate university, Yale. And so I measure how important and how significant undergraduate and graduate institutions are based upon how they have rejected me or accepted my children.

I'm going to embarrass her but it's great to see my niece here who, for a brief shining moment was the deputy press secretary in the last administration and worked in the White House, and who is now attending law school across the way, my niece Missy. It's great to see you honey. So it almost doesn't matter how this speech goes today because I know one person in this room will love it, and I'm delighted you're here.

I was supposed to speak here two weeks ago and the city became paralyzed to the significant snow storm. I'm speaking here today and it may be the coldest day of the year. I hope you don't think I'm like that old, bad joke about the guy who is married for 65 years and is sitting on the porch with his wife and he goes through all the bad times in his life and how his wife was always there for him. And he turns to her and says, "You know what, you're bad luck." Well, I hope you don't think I'm bad luck by being invited here.

Two weeks ago we were waiting to see what Saddam would do. Would he meet the demands of U.N. resolutions, or not, particularly 1441? Would we go to war, or not? I happen to think we will, not should, but will. And I happen to think the military phase of this likely conflict will move relatively well, in the sense that we will be successful and will be relatively short. I happen to think the aftermath will be an incredible undertaking for which we have not prepared the American people, and for which we are not fully prepared.

Today, two weeks later, we're on the verge of war - a war that is justified, but make no mistake, one that is elective.

Colin Powell has been working hard at the U.N. to gain the broadest consensus possible to show the world as a united world against Saddam Hussein and his possession of weapons of mass destruction. That show of unity is the last best chance to avoid this war. Unfortunately, I don't think in light of other actions on the part of the administration we are likely to get the show of unity I believe we could have had.

Showing Saddam we mean business is the only hope to get him to comply with the U.N. resolutions that he has ignored. But before we go any further, I think it's important to look at the events that have taken us from the Cold War to this new Borderless War, to understand more fully where we are today. On August 14, 1961, East Berliners awoke to find their borders closed. It was a Saturday and East German troops had dug up the streets and had begun to install barbed wire fences.

The next day, troops brought in the first concrete blocks to wall-off the city. When the wall was finally built, it was eleven feet high in places, and stretched for 66 miles.

Twenty-eight years later, on November 9, 1989, after 5,000 people had risked their lives to cross it -- after 3,200 were arrested trying - and 192 died in desperate attempts to reach freedom - the Wall finally came down.

In those 28 years the threat we faced was clear and obvious to the whole world. It was the threat of communism and it was unmistakable. The political map of the world back then was one dimensional. On that map only one line mattered.

It was the line - sometimes advancing, sometimes receding - between East and West, between our way of life and theirs.

We were spending billions of dollars on an arms race, building fallout shelters and teaching our kids to duck and cover. We fought surrogate wars around the world and lost 36,940 in Korea, and 58,178 in Vietnam.

Back then, the containment of communism was the cornerstone of American foreign policy. The wild card was mutual assured destruction. Everything else was secondary to holding the line.

When the Wall came down we felt a boundless sense of what was possible -- that technology, ideas, and information would spread our values and help share our prosperity.

By the late 1990s, for the first time in history, more than half the world's people lived under governments of their own choosing.

In our own hemisphere, where just a few decades earlier a third of the countries lived under authoritarian rule, every country but Cuba was a democracy. But for all the promise, there were signs of peril.

Countries were not going to war with each other but with themselves in the Balkans, Haiti, and Rwanda.

Almost imperceptibly, America's place in the world was changing. People were looking to us for the leadership no one else could provide. We were viewed at that moment as a potentially healing positive force.

When we assumed our new role of unchallenged pre-eminence, we became the focal point for a broad range of powerful emotions: admiration and attraction, but also anger and resentment. Many identified with us, but many feared losing their identities to us.

Some began to see us as the ugly Americans, others saw us as their salvation. American music was playing on radio stations around the world. People were watching American television programs and movies, eating American food, and wearing American jeans.

We became a symbol of the status quo, and so, unfairly, we became the target for people everywhere who didn't like their lot in life.

At the same time, our justifiable international activism in places like Bosnia and Kosovo, threatened every thug, every despot who liked things just the way they were. And they got the message.

We had entered a new era, but had trouble defining it. We still have trouble finding the right words to describe it. We called it the post-Cold War era, defining it by the period that had just ended. This reflected our struggle to define our place in the world.

Then came, in this very city, not far from here, the events of September 11th. In many ways, it was the first morning in America no longer defined by the Cold War. Everything was fundamentally different. We suddenly realized old notions no longer applied. I n fact, the notion of war itself had suddenly changed. It was no longer 40 Russian divisions crossing the Fulda Gap, bearing down on the rest of Europe to tear down democracies and establish communist regimes, it was something much more sinister.

Armies that once were uniformed forces deployed by nation-states had become stateless criminals in the service of international terrorist organizations.

It was clear that the notion of national security had also changed. We could no longer define our security in old Cold War terms like mutual assured destruction, when thousands of missiles on both sides were aimed at millions of innocent civilians to assure neither would ever use those weapons.

That morning - a few blocks from here - we were hit by a new reality. Suddenly, there was a new line on the map. It was multi-dimensional, and very difficult to follow.

It divided not just one ideology or even one civilization from another. It divided the powerful forces of order and construction from the emerging forces of chaos and destruction.

Those forces of destruction make up a nexus of new threats with no respect for borders: religious fundamentalism, international terrorism, organized crime and drug trafficking, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, rogue nations, and failed states.

They will become even more lethal if we allow them to get together in an environment of economic dissolution, environmental degradation, or the spread of infectious disease. Failure to understand the environment in which these forces have joined together is to deal at our own peril, and will prove disastrous for us - not only for us, but for the security of the rest of the world.

Our new war is not a Cold War, but a Borderless War for which we must reorganize ourselves and our resources. And the fateful question is, how do we reorganize ourselves? What should be the elements of that reorganiztion?

It seems to me the first thing we have to realize is that we have, and the administration has, too narrow a definition of what constitutes security. We are still mired in Cold War thinking. We have yet to develop a comprehensive approach to national security that addresses the growing vulnerability people are feeling.

Yesterday's soccer moms have become today's security moms. And we have to do all we can to make them feel less vulnerable, but in fact to make us less vulnerable. And the answer does not lie in the formulas of the past.

It seems to me real security needs to be viewed as a Rubik's Cube, one thing closely tied to and affecting the other - national security, homeland security, economic security, energy security, security in our homes, our schools, our neighborhoods. They're all related. Until we retool and begin to see security in this new light, we will remain insecure and vulnerable.

We need a long-term strategy and none has been articulated so far. We need an offensive and defensive strategy, not an ad hoc reactive policy that relies on tired old notions or shortsighted ideas that deal with the urgent at the expense of the important. If we were in Washington the pundits would call it a "new paradigm." But what that really means is we have to do this right, and do it wisely.

The first question is: Do we have the right offensive strategy to deal with these new threats? Do we have the right offensive strategy?

Well, I don't think we have a strategy. The central focus of our offensive strategy, for the foreseeable future, must be to to deal with, in order of priority, what the most urgent and immediate threat is. When New York goes from code orange or yellow to red -- or whatever the hell these codes are these days -- it doesn't have a damn thing to do with anything that is happening in the nation states, including Iraq. It has to do with Al Qaeda. It has to do with loosely knit and large fabric international terrorist organizations which represent the most clear and present danger to our security.

Everyone, with the possible exception of the president or some of his advisors, understands that our number one enemy in the world at this moment is unbridled international terrorist organizations with the potential capacity to lay their hands on weapons of mass destruction at it's worst, and innovative means of using conventional weapons at it's least.

The sense of vulnerability shared by today's security moms is not because of Saddam, it's because of Osama and Al Qaeda.

And it will take a sustained effort to build new kinds of international cooperation that will be our most effective weapon in the war against terrorism so we share intelligence better, cooperate on law enforcement, on disrupting financial networks, on extraditions.

This should have been our number one priority after 9-11. We could have, should have, and should still rally our allies, the U.N., NATO, and others to build this cooperation.

Let me just give you one example of what I mean about lost opportunity. The whole world watched as we boarded, with the help of the Spanish, a vessel traveling in international waters that had embarked from North Korea that had missiles with the capacity to deliver lethal quantities of weapons of mass destruction long distances, in the hull of a ship buried beneath cement in an attempt to camouflage the existence of that cargo. But because there exists no international standard for stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction or the means to deliver them, the whole world stood by as we uncovered this shipment and had to let it go, destined for God knows who, sent by an unstable dictator of the most isolated communist regime in the world, North Korea.

How did we get to that place? Why did we not spend the better part of the last year working out in conjunction with our allies in Europe and around the world an international regime that would benefit everyone of the single nation states despotic or other wise?

Immediately after 9-11 it became clear to everyone including the Chinese leadership, with whom I met, that, as was stated to me, that they could picture that second plane going into an 87 story tower in Shang Hai as well as they could into the World Trade Towers in New York City. It was the ultimate wake up call. And we had immediately after that action the world united in a way that it has not been for a century.

But what did we do? Did we move toward this cooperation? It seems to me we have to recognize that we cannot expect other countries to share our concerns if we show disdain for their concerns.

We made it clear to the rest of the world what we thought our priorities were, and when they told us, regionally and internationally what theirs were, we found little regard for their concern. We unilaterally announced our pulling out of the ABM treaty, we suggested we would not negociate any further on the international criminal court, we pulled out of the Kyoto agreement without any willingness to negociate any changes, and we sent a stark message to the rest of the world at the very moment that it was prepared. It was prepared at least in its rhetoric, to consider whether or not there would be new rules of the road.

In taking on failed states like Afghanistan that become a haven for borderless thugs like bin Laden, or outlaw states like Iraq that break their commitments to the world, and their peace agreements that they sign - my dilemma here is, I think this administration is so badly handling the situation in Iraq that it frustrates me because I think Iraq must be dealt with. I separate myself from those who think that Iraq is this feckless state that is of no concern and those who think it requires us to immediately invade it.

I find myself with choices that frustrate me, frustrate me beyond belief. But, what happened when we in fact moved on Afghanistan? We showed the ultimate resolve of the American people, but at the same time what did we do? We raised questions about not our military power but our staying power. In Afghanistan, our military did a terrific job ending the Taliban's regime. But Al Qaeda continues to be a dangerous threat in the region, but there are tens of thousands of Taliban alive and well and functioning in the region. And we now risk seizing defeat from the jaws of victory by relying on warlords to secure Afghanistan beyond Kabul.

There is a growing power vacuum, with Al Qaeda sneaking back in, not withstanding the significant arrest that took place in Afghanistan this past weekend. We run the risk of allowing fundamentalism and terrorism to take root again, outside nations to begin to influence the shape and policies of Afghanistan.

So let's be very clear: This Administration has not, in my view, done nearly enough in Afghanistan to win the peace, and if we go to war in Iraq, we can't afford to repeat that mistake. We'll have to stay until the country is secure, its weapons of mass destruction destroyed, and a stable, pluralistic - if not a democracy which I think would be almost impossible to guarantee -- but a pluralistic government in place of Saddam Hussein. For failure to do so, we'll not just be letting down the Iraqi people, we'll be jeopardizing our national interest in the extreme.

Winning the war but losing the peace in Iraq is not an option. We don't want to make that mistake again, but make no mistake, in order to avoid that mistake it will be timely and costly. Very, very costly. And that's all the more reason, I might note parenthetically, why we need more support than we have among the coalition of the willing.

In this Borderless War, perhaps the single most important element of an offensive strategy is to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

It's not enough to preempt problems when they erupt. We have to prevent them from happening in the first place. And the single most important preventive action we can take is to help Russia secure and destroy stockpiled weapons, which Russia is seeking assistance to destroy. So that these very weapons do not fall into the hands of agents of chaos.

I find it fascinating we are so concerned about the possibility and the unlikely prospect of Saddam turning over weapons of mass destruction to Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups who would have him if not their first target, as at least their second target, and yet we seem so caviler about the weapons of mass destruction that exist in other parts of the world. Over the past decade, with Russian cooperation, we've spent millions of dollars paying U.S. scientists, paying U.S. contractors, not Russians, to go to Russia and destroy thousands of nuclear weapons in Russia. We've made major progress and in the process we've made everyone in America safer and in the world for that matter.

We've destroyed or deactivated 6,032 nuclear warheads, 491 ballistic missiles, and countless backfire bombers.

We are employing 22,000 scientists formerly employed in weapons of mass destruction programs, but there still are another 60,000 out there trying to raise families -- available to the highest bidder, and with no work at all in sight.

Unfortunately, this Administration came in predisposed against these programs and initially sought to cut their budgets when, in fact, we need a significant increase in the budgets for these so called threat reduction programs. So there is much more to be done.

We need to extend threat reduction programs beyond Russia to countries like India and Pakistan. Let me give you one example, there is a -- it looks like a Home Depot, about 40 to 60 kilometers South, I believe West, of Moscow. In that "Home Depot," and I say that because it has these large shelves that are lined up just like when you walk into a Home Depot, there are stacked 1,987,000, chemical tipped artillery shells. The smallest of which, if dropped on Giants stadium on game day, would kill every single solitary person in Giants stadium. But this administration, for almost two years, blocked the construction of a 200 million dollar facility that we were going to build with American money and American contractors, where we were going to take every single one of those shells, convey them to this destruction facility, drill two holes in the bottom of the shell, take out the offending material, dilute it, and crush the cannister.

The far right within this administration, and the administration is not all far right, there is a real split in this administration, the far right in this administration argued we should not do that because fungible money. If we were to spend the money to do that then the Russians wouldn't spend the money to do that and they'd take the money they didn't have to spend and do bad things with it. A little focus for you here, the entire Russian budget, for everything from highways to agriculture, to defense, is less than 40 billion dollars. A half a dozen states have budgets bigger than that. New York's budget is bigger than that, and I believe by a long shot. Their entire military budget is 9 billion dollars. Fungible money? Fungible money?

Once again, we cannot be reactive and shortsighted in dealing with weapons of mass destruction, especially nuclear weapons. The situation in North Korea may be the best and most immediate and striking example of the single most immediate danger we face. The situation has gone from bad to worse, with no apparent policy to deal with it. If you note there are no red lines drawn by this administration with regard to North Korea. There is no policy besides the fact that they want a multilateral discussion. Yet, the multilateral participants say they do not want to be part of the discussion and insist we should be discussing the future with North Korea.

North Korea is on the verge of producing enough plutonium to make more than an additional 6 warheads in a matter of months, or taking a portion of that plutonium, which is very difficult to detect, it is not in the minds of the average American radioactive that can be picked up a Geiger counter. It can be put in a tin and put in your suitcase and transported across borders, with very little capacity to be detected. It's the stuff of which small portions of which can be made part of what is fully in the realm of possibility, a home made nuclear device, a rifle device, that if you had small portions of this radioactive material that is about the same circumference as the bottom of this bottle of water and about a quarter of an inch thick, in the right configuration, smashed together rapidly can in fact produce a nuclear chain reaction that would have brought down the trade towers, I'm told by the scientists of Las Alamos, in three, t-h-r-e-e seconds and kill over 120,000, New Yorkers, New Jersey, or Connecticut residents depending on which way the wind is blowing.

We also need a much clearer and clear-eyed policy of dealing with Korea. North Korea is the world's worst proliferator. It is on the verge of becoming the plutonium factory of the world. Keep in mind their entire trade exchange is 200 million dollars. How much could they get in the open market for just small amounts of the plutonium? It would be very difficult to protect against moving. What do we do, how can we account for our security, if in fact they began a reprocessing facility, in taking these 8,000 spent rods which contain the plutonium now, and they have the capacity to take it out in weapons grade form? How do we account for it? What does that mean we have to plan for? How uncertain does that make our policy? For fear that it may show up in the hull a container ship coming up the Hudson River or the Delaware River.

North Korea may be to blame for the crisis. But two years of American policy incoherence has not helped matters. We've see-sawed between engagement and name calling. But in the end, there's no substitute for direct talks. It's the most effective way for North Korea to understand what it must do if it wants more normal relations with us and the rest of the world. For I know of no other alterative. When the president asked my view, I said what we should be doing is negotiating with South Korea and speaking to North Korea. For how can we go to war against the North if the South will not participate?

Our final offensive hurdle is to continue to adapt our armed forces to new demands and new missions. That means making them lighter and faster. It means downsizing our permanent presence in Europe and Asia in favor of rapid rotations and smaller deployments. It means fielding more unmanned aerial vehicles like the Predator. It means expanding and fully funding our Special Forces. And it means developing international security force gendarme, which I have been proposing for the last 12 years, that is a police force that has quasi military capability, that's international in scope and can move into those areas of the world where they must act to deal with despotism, whether it's Milosovic or whether it ends up being Saddam Hussein and take the place of warriors who are trained to fight wars not to maintain peace. There is much more to do that I will not bore you with, but we have to reshape the nature of our defense establishment.

There's a lot at stake, and getting this right won't be easy. It's not unreasonable to wonder how we're going to manage it all. It certainly won't get done "the right way" by sticking our heads in the sand when it comes to making the tough choices.

The president's budget doesn't suggest any choice we have to make that is tough. Think about this -- you students in here are obviously very bright or you wouldn't be here at this great university -- I challenge you to think of a single time in American history when an American president has called a nation to war, deployed a quarter million of its men and women, and said simultaneously that we are going to take care of your health care problems, we are going to give you a three quarter of a trillion dollar tax cut, and by the way, there is no sacrifice. None, don't worry, we can do al of this.

The point is, a strong offensive strategy doesn't come cost free. It doesn't come without setting priorities and making trade-offs. Some of you may have heard, if you're insomiacs or watch C-Span or other networks, what I say to my colleagues when I'm on those shows. To those who are most ready to move, I say: "I want you to look out there at the American people right now and tell them that when we make this commitment to go and to stay that you are prepared to vote against a tax cut to pay for those military forces to stay in place. Or you, who may have a different focus, are you prepared to delay voting for a prescription drug plan for a nation because you know you're going to have to spend the money to be in place for a significant portion of time?" For I challenge you to tell me how it is remotely possible to meet our economic needs, our domestic needs, and this foreign policy agenda, whether it's going to war or developing a way to deal with this new borderless enemy without making some sacrifices.

My dad and Missy's grandpa, who just died, used to say, "If everything is equally important to you Joey, nothing is important to you." We have to make some hard choices.

In my view, the American people should at least have a clear estimate of the cost ahead of time as well as a clear understanding of the trade-offs and there has been no national discussion about that. None. I've been a broken record nationally for the last 11 months that the one thing my generation, the Vietnam generation, no matter what our view was on that war, could agree on is that no foreign policy can be sustained, no matter how well informed it might be, without the informed consent of the American people ahead of time.

I believe our nation's single greatest responsibility, our federal governments single greatest responsibility, is to provide for the physical security for the people of the United States of America, and if that means we must forgo other things that we need then so be it. But we must tell the American people forthrightly, up front, ahead of time. And there has been no honest discussion about that at this stage of our debate.

The second part of a strategy for real security is a smart defense. That means retooling to make sure ports, airports, highways, trains, power plants, public buildings, and neighborhoods are as secure as we can make them.

Look, Osama bin Laden sat in a cave in Afghanistan with a laptop and communicated by satellite phone, through internet sites, and with e-mail to his minions around the world. So it'll take more than duct tape to defend ourselves.

What do we do? The President was right, in my view, to implement a Democratic idea: the Department of Homeland Security. But, as Cuba Gooding said in his movie, the movie that he won the Academy Award for: "Show me the money Remember that line? Well, follow the money. Follow the money in this new homeland defense initiative. Look at the new budget with a reckless 42 percent cut in state and local law enforcement and homeland security assistance. Ask your republican mayor, ask any mayor, ask any governor whether or not he or she has one additional police officer, one additional first responder, one additional piece of equipment, one additional program to deal with the threat that lives on our streets.

It's not going to be somebody wearing a camouflage uniform, night goggles, and trained as a special forces person that is going to run into the next Al Qaeda operative on a street in New York or Wilmington, Delaware. It's going to be a cop, it's going to be somebody on the street. It eliminates all direct support for police departments at a time when police are being asked to do more with less that we're going to have a 40 percent cut in the help to deal with local law enforcement.

We've got to have a defensive strategy that empowers those charged with defending us, and brings to bear the power of our technology. We need to give state and local police access to terrorist watch lists which they don't have now. We should expand the National Guard's role in homeland security, including disaster relief and emergency response.

We should ensure the security of 100 percent, not 2 percent of the 21,000 cargo containers that arrive in the U.S. every day, that our ports have secure entrances, sufficient inspectors, and state-of-the-art screening. And we should insist that countries at the point of origin keep the right records and bills of lading to be able to attest to what is in those containers before they are shipped. This is not rocket science.

First responders need radios that work, the proper gear to protect themselves, and the training to protect others. We have no public health service in this country. Frontline health workers must be trained to recognize the symptoms of biological and chemical attack and given modern tracking equipment to spot outbreaks in days, not weeks. For if we have this capacity, the thing that people live in fear of will be manageable.

We don't tell you all that if tomorrow a out in the square a dirty bomb goes off in an orderly fashion in the next 24 hours exit on the other side of the building, none of you would be harmed. The cancer rate is 1 in 20,000 right now your risk would increase from 1 in 20,000 to, if I remember correctly from the information I have been told, 1 in 19,975. But because no one explains that to anyone, more people would die stampeding out of this room and out of the city, than the few that would die from the blast.

If we have detection equipment to determine whether or not a pathogen has been released in the air, if you in fact are exposed to smallpox and we know within seven days, we have enough vaccine in the US to inoculate every single person in the United States. It's a matter of notification. It's a matter of coordinating the health departments in every city so they can spread online that there is an outbreak of smallpox in the city. We need not have serious loss of life even with a terrorist distribution of smallpox. So why aren't we doing this? Why aren't we taking the action, defensive in nature, fully within our capacity?

We have to improve security at our nuclear plants and toxic chemical facilities. Remember that little explosion in India of a chemical facility? Thousands of people died. Ask your Senators, who are working like hell to do all of this, ask your congressmen, Democrat or Republican, whether or not the chemical plant in your area is anymore secure today than it was on 9-11. Ask how many resources have been expended to be sure that it has significantly reduced the possibility of being sabotaged. We have 103 nuclear plants in the U.S. - 21 of which are within 5 miles of an airport.

Implementing a strong defensive strategy will take time, but government has to do everything possible to make homeland security a top priority. We are not going to stop someone from walking in here with an explosive device in their backpack and blow up a restaurant and or this room. But we can significantly increase the possibility that no one will do that at a nuclear power plant, which can in fact, have disastrous consequences for large number of people.

Finally, along with a strong offense and a good defense, we need a long-term strategy.

We have to ask ourselves: how do we shape the international environment to make us more secure? This may be the toughest question of all and the one in which I believe the administration is paying the least attention to.

The attack on America provided an opportunity to unite other nations. We have to remember that the world is not against us.

Remember, not long after September 11th the French newspaper, Le Monde ran a headline that said: "We are all Americans." NATO spontaneously invoked article five. Article five of the NATO treat says an attack on one is an attack on all and requires the common defense.

It was an extraordinary statement when both of those things happened. But then we began to dictate to the world and appeared to be the unilateralists the world feared we might be. We told NATO that we didn't need their troops in Afghanistan. We announced a new doctrine of preemption, that to this day no one can explain, and we said at the U.N., "No matter what you do we are going, it doesn't matter." These are not things that encourage people to cooperate with us. And we have never laid out a clear rationale as to why we must go in now but why we must stay and will we stay.

But let's not misunderstand. The world is not against us. A minority of fundamentalists are. Only a very small number of them are terrorists.

The cause of their hatred isn't poverty. Most of the 9-11 hijackers were middle class. And no grievance can justify their actions. They are beyond the reach of reason.

But a far larger number of people around the world are all too prepared to explain terrorism, to turn the other way, and even to provide sanctuary, support, and successors. These are the people we have to reach.

And we cannot reach them if we abdicate our role to help resolve regional conflicts that matter to them, to stand for democracy, and to stand with those trying to build better lives. Remember Saddam Hussein did not come into being because of us, he came into being because he thought the Saudi kingdom oppressive. And it wasn't until we placed troops in Saudi Arabia that we became his direct enemy, we were the thing in his view that stood between him and taking down that regime.

My grandfather and Missy's great grandfather, every Sunday we had dinner at my grandmom's house, supper at 3:00, and we always had this big pot roast. It was always cooked in a big old pressure cooker. I remember my grandmom used to make me get out the pressure cooker and it was heavy when I was 12 years old. And it had this great big lid on it with this valve on top. And I remember saying to my grandmom one day, "What's this for?" And she said, "Honey, it's to let the steam off. It's kind of like your grandpop." She said, "I have to let him let the steam off, if I don't this pot will blow off the top." If there is no quasi let alone democratic outlet in a country, the only place that dissent goes is underground and it becomes the fodder for terror.

It is very much in our interest that we push in the direction of progressive governments in that region of the world. In the Middle East it deserves our utmost attention. On its own terms the path in my view to security in the Middle East is through a peace agreement, not through Bagdad.

We're deeply invested in seeing an end to hostilities between Israel and all its neighbors. And when we were, we did not face this same dilemma. But progress would also pay dividends by securing Arab support on Iraq and the war on terrorism.

We have an opportunity to promote democratic change and good governance in the Arab/Muslim world, a region desperate for progressive reform.

As the world's most powerful country, we must be seen as determined leaders, in empowering people economically and politically.

Only then can we overcome the resentment of so many who see us as indifferent to their plight.

Let me tell you, in my thirty years as a Senator, I've never met a world leader who doesn't view the United States as the reason for all of his difficulty, and the solution to all of their problems. It is an unfair burden, but it is a reality.

The fact is: we are where we are. At this moment in history, at the same time we are at our most vulnerable, we are at our most unchallenged militarily, economically and ideologically. Some people don't like our power.

Others resent our progress, so we have to do a better job of explaining ourselves and use our power in a way that doesn't dissipate our influence - but enhances it.

In conclusion, we've obviously entered a period of increased vulnerability, of transforming shifts in the political landscape. Our security is no longer a one dimensional game played out in Washington or in capitals around the world. It's much more complicated, it demands cooperation, and it requires more profound leadership to build that cooperation. The decisions we make in the next several months are going to seal our fate for the next several decades.

In 1947, Harry Truman said something that should be said by a President today. He said:

"This is a critical period in our national life. The process of adapting ourselves to the new concept of our world responsibility is naturally a difficult and painful one. The cost is necessarily great. It's not our nature to shirk our obligations. We have a heritage that constitutes the greatest resources of this nation. I call it the spirit and character of the American people."

We have not called on that spirit. We have not, to date, reflected that character.

Where is that voice today? This too is a critical period in our national life. A time to accept our responsibilities and our obligations and understand and adapt to this new world. Most importantly, our most important weapon is if we share our values. And, without doubt, a time for that American spirit in a way that we have been silent thus far. Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for your indulgence and I will be happy to try to answer any questions you have.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Joseph Biden political platform:   Joseph Biden for President - Democratic Candidate 2008 | Joseph Biden news | Joseph Biden Biography | Joseph Biden Education | Joseph Biden hometown | Joseph Biden Employment | Joseph Biden Energy & Environment | Joseph Biden Fiscal Responsibilities | Joseph Biden Foreign Relations | Joseph Biden Health Care | Joseph Biden Homeland Security | Joseph Biden Iraq a Way Forward | Joseph Biden America's Veterans | Joseph Biden Women's Rights | Joseph Biden Contribute
Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



Two Crises: Iraq and North Korea

Usually, at this time of year, I would have come here to speak primarily about the President's budget proposals. Now, our primary concern is war and peace. But we can't talk about one without talking about the other. So let me briefly comment on the budget before I give you my take on the international situation.

Let me say at the outset, and I know some of you will disagree, the President can't have it both ways.

He can't call on this country to go to war, send our men and women in uniform into harm's way, and then cut the resources of the federal government to stand behind them.

As the stock market reminds us every day, there's enormous uncertainty that comes with the prospect of going to war. But, in my view, you can't tie the government's hands when we have all said how important it is to fund homeland security, continue the war on terrorism, and, now, look seriously at the prospects of a war in Iraq. And let me say this - never before in modern times have we gone to war and, at the same time, cut taxes.

Not to mention cutting them in the face of ballooning deficits.

Over the past two years we've gone from a projected surplus of 5.6 trillion dollars over ten years to 2.1 trillion in deficits for the next decade.

We've been down this road before, and we paid a high price. During the decades of deficits, we paid hundreds of billions of dollars in interest on the national debt, getting nothing for the hard-earned tax dollars we collected to do that.

We had higher interest rates because the government was borrowing from capital markets and pushing private borrowers - from corporations to car buyers, from small businessmen to homeowners - to the end of the line.

When we finally got rid of deficits, by making hard choices, we enjoyed the longest strongest period of economic growth in history. Astonishingly, this Administration is now telling us that deficits don't really matter all that much. Budget Director Mitch Daniels told us last month that we've returned to an era of deficits, but now he said, "we ought not hyperventilate about this issue." He said it with a straight face.

Alan Greenspan, on the other hand, warned us last September that "an abandonment of fiscal discipline will eventually push up interest rates, crowd out capital spending, lower productivity growth, and force hard choices on us in the future."

Amazingly, the budget assumes that the big tax cut passed in 2001 will expire, as current law requires in 2010. But the President wants to make it permanent - at a cost of an additional 665 billion dollars. And that doesn't include the cost of the stimulus package that would, with interest, add another 900 billion dollars, almost a trillion dollars more, to the deficits over the next ten years.

I'm not sure these numbers add up.

Today, we face budget deficits over 300 billion dollars in the next two years. But those numbers, and future deficit projections, as disturbing as they are, don't even reflect the huge cost of a war with Iraq, or the cost of managing the repercussions of such a war. It could run to the hundreds of billions of dollars.

Look, as war becomes a more certain prospect, our first duty is to make sure we're strong enough and well enough equipped to meet the challenge and compete the mission.

Now is not the time to handcuff our budget with massive deficits or irresponsible spending.

For years I came here and the one thing you all told me was that we had to balance the budget. Well, we did. And we even paid down the debt. Now look where we're going.

Having said that, let me turn to the prospects of war in Iraq, and then briefly mention the situation on the Korean peninsula.

There's an old quote. I'm not sure who said it. It was from a seventeenth century theological treatise.

It said, "Peace is not an absence of war; it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, and justice."

Peace is always the goal, but sometimes war is the only course. Sometimes war is necessary - as it may be in Iraq. And sometimes diplomacy is the better part of prudence - as it is in North Korea.

Either way, the goal is the same: doing what's necessary to make the world more secure, not less secure.

War is everyone's business. The nation is mobilizing for it. But there are questions. There are fears. There's uncertainty and doubt. We're told it will be a potentially short war, but - let's be clear - winning the peace could be a much more daunting task. I'm not certain Americans understand what it will take to hold the separate parts of Iraq together once Saddam is gone. I'm not certain they've been fully informed as to how we plan on balancing the conflicting interests of the Kurds and the Turkmen in the north and the Shi'a in the south.

I'm not certain Americans are fully aware that we will have to commit ourselves to staying in Iraq for a significant period of time.

It will mean doing something the President has said he would not do, and that is nation building.

Nation building is a word the Administration may not like, but something that may be necessary if we are to ultimately secure the weapons of mass destruction and stabilize the country, make sure a government is in place that won't reignite the fuse.

This week Secretary Powell brought America's case to the United Nations. He showed the world compelling evidence that Saddam is in material breach of United Nations resolutions.

He made the case. He made it forthrightly and he made it well. I may not agree completely with every detail of what he said or the implications of every detail.

But bringing the case to the United Nations was the right thing to do. Solidarity in the United Nations Security Council is the best means to avoid war. Let me repeat that. Only when Saddam realizes there is a strong international consensus will he stop trying to drive a wedge between the U.S. and our allies. Consensus is our best and probably our last chance to concentrate his mind clearly about his choice of war or peace.

While a second UN resolution isn't a requirement, and while we can win a war on our own, we are much better off if we have the support of the UN and a broad coalition.

I think we'll have the French with us eventually. The Germans will not be with us. They'll abstain. But there will be a coalition when and if the time comes.

The harder part will begin AFTER the war, with what will likely be a lengthy and costly period of nation building and/or occupation.

It's better to have our allies with us on the take off so they'll be with us on the landing. Just as importantly, we need the American people with us on the take off.

The challenge is for the President to be straight with the American people. I do not believe they have, as of yet, been fully informed of what is expected of them to win the war, and what will be expected to win the peace.

Let everyone here be absolutely clear: I supported the resolution to go to war. I am NOT opposed to war to remove weapons of mass destruction from Iraq. I am NOT opposed to war to remove Saddam from those weapons if it comes to that. But the lesson of the past is clear.

To sustain any foreign policy - especially when it comes to war - it is absolutely essential that the American people be completely and thoroughly informed as to what to expect or they will lose their resolve quickly.

I've urged the Presdient to be straightforward with the American people about the burden they will be asked to shoulder.

They're being told the war in Iraq will be a short war, essentially bloodless, and Johnny will come marching home again in several weeks, if not several months. They're being told the war will be prosecuted quickly and successfully and I believe that may well be true.

Our military is the strongest in the world. The best in the world. The most powerful military force history has known.

Let me tell you - on December 8th I was in Qatar being briefed by General Franks, witnessing the war games that were being conducted. We were assembled in a secure room - a gigantic hanger with a huge movie screen. There were around a hundred high ranking officers.

I've never seen so many stars in my life other than when I was a kid looking up at a clear summer night.

I was asked, being briefed by these officers, whether or not I would address the assembled crowd, all active military personnel planning this war.

I've got to tell you, these men and women to a person were ready to go and were secure in their knowledge that they would successfully complete their mission by defeating Saddam Hussein, if ordered to do so.

They're prepared. They're ready. They know what's expected of them and they know what must be done.

What they were unsure of was us - the politicians. Whether we were willing to tell the American people exactly what was likely to be asked of them. Whether we were willing to tell them the cost of the war. The economic disruption it will cause, and explain how we can have the first wartime tax cut in history while we face a potentially prolonged engagement.

Those troops wanted to know whether the American people were going to be willing to give them the support they would need over the long haul, not the short haul. And, make no mistake, it will be a long haul, no matter how quickly and successfully we wage the war.

In my view, it could take from one to five years to win the peace and may take as many as 75,000 troops to secure victory with a cost of 20 billion dollars or more.

The point is, we have every reason to have faith in our military. But while it is reasonable to expect the best, it would be irresponsible not to prepare for the worst.

Iraq could start giving away its weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. It could create a humanitarian nightmare among the Kurds in the north and the Shi'a in the south, denying them food and medicine, even use chemical weapons against them. Saddam has done it in the past and could do it again.

Maybe none of these things will occur, but if we prosecute this war without the American people fully aware of the possibilities - without understanding the consequences - without an explanation of the implications of our actions around the world, we will be hard pressed to win the peace and even harder pressed to win the hearts and minds of the world.

To be honest, some in the Administration think it doesn't matter what other nations think. All that matters is that we win, because everybody loves a winner. That's wrong! Dead wrong! Let me tell you, it matters.

It matters because our basic immediate interests cannot be fully secured without longer term cooperation with other nations.

We must convince them, not coerce them.

Our allies in Europe resent it when they hear us saying that Europe is tired, indecisive, and ultimately unwilling to do what's necessary to keep the peace.

They resent it when they hear us say that Europe commands too much of our resources and attention. We must understand that words matter and how we convey our values matters deeply.

Let me give you an example. There's a new government in Turkey, led by an Islamic party.

That Islamic party is, in turn, led by Prime Minister Gul and the party chief, Erdogan. They have decided they want Turkey to remain a secular state and they want to be integrated into Europe and the West. It is very much in the the interest of the United States of America - very much - that happens.

We do not want an Islamic state in Turkey. We want a secular state looking West. Turkey can be a predominantly Muslim but secular, democratic and modernizing state.

We could have essentially bought their support to allow us to launch military strikes against Iraq from Turkey.

But if we did that, without winning the support of the Turkish people - 85 percent of whom are unalterably opposed to war with Iraq and unalterably opposed to their government cooperating with us - we may meet our immediate goal and lose a lot more down the road.

So what happens if we go to war and we launch from Turkey with the support of the new Islamic leadership but without the support of the people. Well, the majority of this Islamic party that is radically Islamic will play to its populist instincts and cause incredible trouble for the existing administration in Turkey.

And, I believe, ultimately they will force the leadership to move away from their commitment of a secular, westward-looking state. We've already seen backsliding in Afghanistan where one war lord is returning to the repressive customs of the Taliban.

I'm reminded of that old Biblical proverb - what does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul - what does it profit us if our actions and our methods, without world opinion behind us, without being circumspect about our words and our actions - what does it profit us if the end result is that we radicalize the Islamic world?

So what do we do now? First, it is clear that Saddam is in material breach and the world must act.

Second, we must lower the rhetoric. We cannot appear to be a petulant nation.

Third, if we are to go to war, we must tell the American people what is expected of them and what will be necessary to win the peace.

Fourth, we must clearly articulate our commitment, once the war is over, to stay until there is a stable Iraq - that, after Saddam is removed from power, we will, we must, we have to engage in nation building.

Make no mistake, we will win the war, but, if we are to win the peace, we must have the American people with us on the take-off, if we want them with us on the landing.

They have no idea what's expected of them.

They do not know what the cost will be to remove Saddam, and they should.

They do not know how many troops - how many of you - will have to stay in Iraq to secure the country. They do not know whether we can count on our friends and allies to share the burden once the war is over. They do not know whether we can afford to attack Iraq, fully fund homeland security, have the first wartime tax cut in history, finish the unfinished war on terrorism in Afghanistan and other places, fund missile defense, equip our military, take care of veterans and the elderly at even current inadequate levels, not to mention crime, drugs, education, and cops on the street.

But let's be clear. These questions are not excuses for inaction.

They are not a reason to wait. They are not a rationale for standing down. The American people support the President. We are in this together. We stand with our troops. We support them. But, if we are to win the peace as well as the war, let's not forget the lessons of the past. To sustain any foreign policy, to further our interests around the world and make us more secure, the best thing we can do is have the informed consent of the American people before we got to war with Iraq.

Now let's talk for a minute about North Korea and what the difference is between the two crises.

The challenge is clear. We must stop North Korea from going into serial production of fissile material and nuclear weapons.

The threats are real but our options are few.

Some support a military strike to take out North Korean nuclear facilities. I don't think we should ever rule out force, but in this case it's hardly an attractive option - it must be a last option.

Even if we could destroy the North's nuclear facilities - and I would note, parenthetically that we don't even know where many of them are - the risk of sparking a general war on the peninsula would be very real.

And let's be clear, it would be a messy bloody war. North Korea forward deployed artillery tubes can hit Seoul without warning from hardened firing positions.

There are also political obstacles to a military strike. South Korea and Japan strongly oppose any attempt to use military force to compel the North's nuclear disarmament.

As for sanctions, we don't have many arrows left in the quiver. We've already cut off North Korea's access to international loans and the U.S. technology. Moreover, the North's largest trading partners, China and South Korea, are opposed to pressure tactics.

Wise handling of this evolving challenge on the Korean peninsula must, therefore, rely on diplomacy.

We must make every effort to convince North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-il, that his pursuit of nuclear weapons makes him less secure, not more secure.

We must try to convince him that if North Korea behaves responsibly, it will find true peace on the Korean peninsula, and its people will enjoy the benefits of that peace.

That's going to be a tough sell, but, in the case of North Korea, war is not an answer.

Having said that, these are not easy decisions. Certainly going to war in Iraq has not been an easy decision, but before we make it we must be fully aware of the consequences and the costs. Tom Paine said: "War involves in its progress such a train of unforseen and unsupposed circumstances that no human wisdom can calculate the end."

He was right. We may not be able to calculate the end, but we must be informed at the beginning about the costs and consequences of our actions, and what will be expected of us to win not only the war, but to win the peace.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



On the Possibility Of A War With Iraq

Thirty years ago my generation learned an important lesson: No matter how brilliant or how well thought ought a foreign policy may be, it cannot be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. It cannot be sustained without every one of you understanding what is being asked of you and why.

I do not believe that, even after the President's State of the Union Address last week - how many of you saw it? I don't believe that he adequately informed the American people as to what a war with Iraq will mean.

I'm not saying he's wrong to go to war. What I'm saying is that he needs to be very clear about his reasons for it, what it will cost, what the consequences of our actions will be around the world.

I would bet the majority of you and the majority of the American people are willing to support the President. They're willing to go to war. In the Senate, I voted to give him the authority to do it. But we need to know what it will take to the win the war and what will be expected of us to win the peace.

How many of you know about the President's new preemption doctrine? Raise your hands.

How many of you who have heard of it, wonder exactly what it means?

I can tell you that most American who understand it are confused by it and are wondering whether or not this is the basis upon which America should act around the world. But we are about to test it.

How many of you think this war in Iraq will be short and essentially bloodless?

How many of you think that the war will go well and be over quickly?

How many of you think that defeating Saddam Hussein will be a major setback for Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations?

How many of you think Saddam is months away from having a nuclear weapon that could strike American soil?

How many of you think the cost of the war will be manageable and not cause further economic disruption?

How many of you know that this is the first time in history that a President is calling for a war at the same time he's calling for a 674 billion dollar tax cut?

In short, how many of you think you've been honestly told why we're going to war and what it will entail - what the costs are and what the reaction around the world will be.

Look, I'm one of those who believe the war will go well.

I believe it will be prosecuted in such a way that showcase American military prowess. But it may not.

It may take a year. It may take two. It may take as many as 75,000 troops five years to secure victory in Iraq. It cost 20 billion dollars more. It cost the lives of innocent women and children in Baghdad and we could become the bad guys in the eyes of the many more Muslims around the world.

While it is reasonable to expect the best, it would be irresponsible not to prepare for the worst.

Iraq could lash out against Kuwait, Israel, or Saudi Arabia in an effort to start a wider war.

It could use weapons of mass destruction against its neighbors or against our troops.

It could destroy its oil fields.

It could start giving away its weapons of mass destruction to terrorists.

It could create a humanitarian nightmare among the Kurds in the north and the Shi'a in the south, denying them food and medicine, even using chemical weapons against them as Saddam has done in the past and as I saw myself when I met with survivors a month ago in northern Iraq.

Maybe none of these things will occur, but we must prepare the American people for what could happen.

Your generation, my generation, every American would pay whatever price and pledge support to the President, to rid the world of the threat of Saddam, but the President's policy will not be sustained without informed consent.

I just returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos where I found myself confronted with the most uniform and significant anti-American sentiment I have ever encountered in my 30 years of dealing with foreign leaders abroad.

It raises several questions: Why do they feel this way? Why should it matter? And, if it does matter, what should we do about it?

Why do they feel this way? Several reasons. There's a lack of strong leadership in their respective countries that's unwilling to tell their people the truth about Saddam and the commitment their countries made 10 years ago to deal with him.

There are selfish economic motives with regard to oil, or telecom issues, and scores of other areas.

They don't like America's predominant military, economic, and cultural position in the world - from Coca-Cola, to rap music, to English on the internet.

They don't want to be Americanized.

There's a feeling that the President is being pushed by the right wing of his party to further leverage this predominant position.

And there's a seething resentment at our unwillingness to use the forces they offered in Afghanistan after declaring a Article 5 breach had occurred under the NATO treaty.

All of the above compounded by this new doctrine of preemption that is yet to be explained to us, let alone to them - gives the world the appearance of a great power being petulant.

And there's one other thing. How many of you are following what's happening in Korea?

Well, there a lot of people around the world who think there's an apparent contradiction between our treatment of Iraq and our treatment of North Korea which already has weapons of mass destruction including nuclear, and has ejected international inspectors.

In contrast to its approach toward Iraq, the Bush Administration has now apparently settled upon a diplomatic path to try to bring North Korea back into the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and prevent a grave crisis on the peninsula.

Until recently, the Administration's Korea policy has been incoherent and ineffectual.

The Administration dug itself quite a hole on North Korea.

When Bill Clinton left office, we had what is called a nuclear Agreed Framework - a fancy term for an agreement that was stemming North Korea's ability to produce plutonium.

We were negotiating a deal to end its long-range ballistic missile programs.

But the new Administration rejected those negotiations.

So what happens? North Korea has predictably upped the ante, and it remains to be seen whether they are using their nuclear program for leverage or whether they want to become a nuclear power.

They say they have no intention to build nuclear weapons, but the facts on the ground suggest otherwise.

What you need to know about North Korea is that there bottom line is survival.

But, given the President's thinly disguised disgust for North Korea, his national security doctrine of preemption, America's new limits on food aid, and its talk of "tailored containment," - another fancy word that means a little special treatment for an evil nation - North Korea might conclude that we're trying to strangle them, and that the only remedy is to become nuclear power.

So what does that all mean?

It means we need to convince North Korea's leaders that only by giving up their nuclear weapons programs - and their long-range ballistic missile programs - can they develop truly cooperative relations with the United States and the rest of the international community.

It means we have to convince them that their future is more likely to be secure without nuclear weapons than with nuclear weapons.

Because, if North Korea develops a nuclear arsenal, there is a real risk that South Korea and Japan will do the same - and you know that means? It means destabilizing Northeast Asia and dealing a death blow to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Worse yet, North Korea could sell nuclear weapons - to countries like Iran, Iraq, Syria or Libya? Or to al Qaeda?

The stakes could not be higher.

But here's the problem. How many of you think we're treating North Korea differently than we're treating Iraq?

How many of you think we're being tougher on Iraq?

How many of you think the world sees us as acting on our own, unilaterally, unceremoniously withdrawing from international agreements and structures?

How many of you think it matters what the world thinks?

Well it does matter. And let me tell why?

There are those in the Defense Department saying, if we move in the face of world public opinion, rogue nations will know we mean business and they could be next.

Some in the Administration think all that matters is that we make it work in the long run because everybody loves a winner.

Wrong! It matters what other nations think because our basic immediate interests cannot be fully secured without longer term cooperation with these other nations. We must convince them, not coerce them.

You've all taken history. You've all learned about World War I and World War II.

Well, I can tell you that France and Germany resent it when they hear us saying that Europe is tired, indecisive, and ultimately unwilling to do what's necessary to keep the peace, that it commands to much of our resources and attention, particularly, as the Secretary of Defense said, "Old Europe," meaning France and Germany.

I think this is an inaccurate description of where President Bush is, but I do believe that words matter. And his choice of words and failure to clearly explain his choices, and basis for action when we DO act, has undermined our standing in the world.

Conveying our values to the rest of the world so as to diminish the misunderstanding of our motives, constantly runs into the assertions that come from some in this Administration.

It matters what other nations think.

How many of you know there's a new government in Turkey?

Well that government is led by an Islamic Party. The Islamic Party is leg by Prime Minister Gul and the party chief, Erdogan.

They want Turkey to remain a secular state, integrated into Europe and the West. We want that to happen.

We can offer $5 billion and essentially buy Turkey's support to allow us to launch military strikes against Iraq from turkey.

But if we do that in the absence of a worldwide consensus, we may meet our immediate goal but lose a lot more down the road.

The radical Muslim minority in the Party will play to its populist instincts and could force the existing leadership to move away from their commitment to a secular state.

So, paraphrasing the old biblical proverb - what does it profit a man if he gains the world and loses his soul - what does it profit us to move on Iraq from Turkey if the end result is that we radicalize the government there?

So what do we do about Iraq and what do we do to get the American people and the world behind us?

First, we need to lower the rhetoric.

We need not to appear to be a petulant nation, wondering why the rest of the world won't act with us, showing our impatience.

We need to make the case with proof, not only privately to our partners but to the American people and the world, of Saddam's crimes and the weapons he possesses. And we need to support the inspectors because their presence in Iraq diminishes the possibility of Saddam sharing weapons of mass destruction with terrorists or continuing his quest for nuclear weapons.

Fourth, we need to articulate clearly and repeatedly not only the legal basis for our action, if we must move, but our commitment to stay until we have a stable Iraq.

We need to clearly state that our objective is to eliminate weapons of mass destruction and not the destruction of Iraq.

And we have to make it clear that we will participate in nation building.

But most importantly - and I'll leave you with this thought and then answer your questions - the lessons of the past cannot be forgotten. We need the informed consent of the American people and the world if we want them to be with us and if we want to this right.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



Delaware National Guard Deployment Ceremony for 280th Signal Battalion

The whole of America's strength and power is only as good as its parts. A standing army is only as powerful as the reserves which reinforce it. A reservist is only as strong as the Guardsman or woman who can fill their position so that Homeland Security is not compromised. The Guard is only as dependable as the community which can support its deployment.

This is the business of America, and we are all in it together.

We are all in it together in that the war on terror cannot be fought without sacrifice and struggle. Your parent unit may sacrifice the Delaware Guard, your employer may sacrifice a worker, your family may sacrifice a parent. But what's critical here, as we all know too well, is that the nation gains a soldier.

I understand that this deployment, however honorable, however necessary, is disruptive. I understand it causes conflict. I pledge to continue to help work-out those conflicts inherent to Total Force.

The business of America, the business of national defense, the business of democracy is always a work in progress.

To rearrange your private life for public service - that is the unique and noble commitment of the citizen soldier. That is your part to play, and on behalf of all Americans, I thank you for your dedication and loyalty. I assure you, I'll be working on my end, too.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Joe Biden Biography. US Health System. Iraq. Polls 2008. Runs 2008. Presidential Election 2008. Joseph Biden



Remarks to The World Affairs Council

John: Welcome Senator Biden to the National Conference of the World Affairs Council of America.

Do let me know in the back when either I or the Senator speaks if you cannot hear properly. I also want to extend a special word of thanks to Mike Haltzel and Frank Jannuzi of the Senator's staff who have helped arrange this meeting during an extraordinarily busy week during the American Congress.

As you know we heard one spokesman for the executive branch this morning Jim Kelly and we'll hear from Secretary of State Powell tomorrow. But any comprehensive discussion of American foreign policy must include a discussion with members of the Congress and no one with a more respected, knowledgeable or influential of the Congress than our guest today, Senator Joe Biden of Delaware.

I had the pleasure of meeting Senator Joe Biden about 30 years ago. We were organizing a meeting of our Atlantic Conference involving leaders from Europe, North America, South America, and the United states. The chairman of that conference Senator Frank Church said to me, said: "John, one of the priorities of this conference is to identify young leaders who will someday be running the Western world," and he said, "I strongly recommend that you invite a young man from Delaware who had just recently arrived in the US Senate, his name is Joe Biden, you probably have never heard of him but you are going to hear a lot more about him in the coming decade."

Senator Church's words were too true because now Senator Biden in the last three decades has become one the most influential and respected members of the United States Congress. In his 30 years in the Senate he has served as chairman of tow important committees, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Here today we are going to focus on his record in the foreign policy field but those who know his record well know he has made significant contributions in the Judiciary field, the Civil Rights field, and the environmental field to mention only a few.

After graduating from the University of Delaware and Syracuse Law School, Joe Biden practiced law for several years, served on the local county council and was elected to the Senate in 1972. He has, over the years, become recognized as the leading foreign policy spokesman of the Democratic party and over the years working closely with his friend and partner Senator Richard Lugar, he's come to epitomize the best of the non-partisan foreign policy tradition in the United States with a record that is widely recognized not only in the U.S., but in Europe and Asia as well.

He's been a wise counselor to seven presidents in the last three decades. And they have listened to him, some more than others, in great part because of his knowledge and expertise and his non-partisanship. He has also been a strong proponent of educating the American public about foreign policy issues and he's been extraordinarily generous with his time despite the great pressures in the Congress in Washington and has traveled around the country on many occasions addressing many foreign policy institutes, including many world affairs councils represented today. And therefore, it is a special pleasure for me to introduce Senator Joe Biden who will speak to this National Conference. He is going to speak briefly and then take questions with whatever is on your mind. Joe Biden.

Senator Joe Biden (D-DE): Thank you very much.

Let me begin by saying there is high praise and high praise. I just want you to know I have been a student of this man for at least the first ten years of my career. John was kind enough to not only invite me to that conference but also to instruct me and to help me in exposing me to those in this country who are part of the foreign policy establishment and give me constructive advise in my career, and I appreciate it very much. It's a very high praise coming from you John.

There are a number of exaggerations John engaged in a moment ago. Not the least of which is me being a counselor to seven presidents. I have been a witness to the personalities and the policies of seven presidents. I got here when I was 29 years old, I've been here for 30 years and I have offered some advice more to some presidents than others. And I've had the opportunity to be listened to by fewer presidents than seven.

But I'd like to suggest that, if I could make one editorial comment about the World Affairs Council, I think you have, as an organization, a tremendous opportunity and its presumptuous of me to suggest this: a serious obligation. I have had the great pleasure of speaking in front of many different chapters, but I also have the opportunity frequently to speak to the foreign affairs community, the New York council, the Chicago council.

You have a distinction that is an asset that is slightly different than other foreign policy organizations. And that is more of you are in the community and are quote "not professional" foreign policy experts. The last time I spoke to the New York Council on Foreign Relations, I spoke to people from former Chancellors of Germany to several Secretaries of State to a number of Under Secretaries and that is important and it is an opportunity for me to exchange ideas and hear what they have to say. These are not people who are probably like many of you, who, I don't mean this as a criticism, but who are not part of your home communities who are involved in other civic clubs in your city or state.

It is no way to diminish your significance and importance, but you have broader range of involvement, and, I may be wrong about this, but a broad range of contacts and opportunities that spread across the spectrum of the community than some of the quote elite unquote foreign policy establishment groups. But I think there is no time, quite frankly, in modern American history where there has been a need to expose and educate the average American to foreign policy.

People often ask me why I haven't chosen to be governor of my state of Delaware, which I have had to opportunity to do. I've never had the slightest interest to be governor of my state because to do so would mean I could not engage in the single most important pursuit that I think I am able to contribute to. The fate of my children and grandchildren is going to depend so much more on how well we order our affairs internationally and establish our place in the world, than anything, anything, anything else we could do. The only thing that could even rival affecting my children and grandchildren's futures is the Supreme Court of the U.S. and who chooses who sits on it. Nothing else is as important.

We have a rare opportunity and the opportunity is after 9/11 for the first time in, at least my career -- and there are only six Senators who have served here longer than I have at this point. In my career, there has never been a time when the American public so intuitively and intellectually understood the connection between what happens to them in their home, what happens to their job, what kind of future their going to have, and America's place in the world.

And there is a gigantic educational requirement, and I don't mean that in an elitist sense. The American public is a heck of a lot smarter than their leaders are most of the time. Their intuitive instincts are pretty damn good. And foreign policy professionals try to make it sound complicated to make ourselves feel important. Well, foreign policy is complicated for one reason, in my opinion and then I'll cease this editorial comment, its complicated because all it is, is a logical extension of human relationships with a heck of a lot less information to go on.

I'm not being simplistic, think about that for a minute. That's all it really is. Healthcare is a more complicated subject than foreign policy, but we're able to know more about the healthcare industry, than we are able to know about the motivations, the desires, and the instincts of other parts of the world and people with whom we have to deal.

And so this is not the stuff of which average Americans are incapable of understanding and we tend to treat it like it's beyond their competence. Which leads me to the first major point I would like to make.

I come out of a generation that many of you do, this so called Vietnam generation. And even to this day, as we continue to re-litigate that war, its amazing how there is such an incredible overhang in American politics among my generation. The one thing and only one thing we could probably all agree on is that the lesson learned from Vietnam is that no matter how brilliantly conceived a foreign policy strategy is, it cannot be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. It cannot be sustained without the informed consent of the American people. And the importance of that informed consent rises in direct proportion, in my view, to the gravity of the circumstance and circumstances we face and the decisions we have to make.

And that is not being a democrat with a "small d" and talking about the right of the people to know. It is a very practical, practical prescription. For if we lead the public and commit America to a course of action, for which the public is unprepared and uninformed, our ability to sustain the policy we started is in jeopardy from the outset.

Let me be very specific: Iraq. There is an overwhelming consensus, believe it or not, in this place about the principle points relating to our debate on Iraq.

The strategic objective that I think we should be articulating probably has what 90% of my colleagues would agree with, Democrat and Republican. To vastly oversimplify it, it is in the best interest of the United States and the world that Saddam Huessen at some point be separated from his weapons of mass destruction with as much support and consensus the world community can muster under our leadership. They're concurrent objectives, we tend to speak of them as if they're separate, but if the Lord almighty came down and sat in front of this dais and said that, I can guarantee you that all the civilized nations of the world will support disarming Saddam if he will not do it himself that would be the only, in my view, and the most likely prescription for us to be able to avoid war because only then would Saddam have to make a fundamental decision, essentially not only his power but effectively his life or his weapons.

In that circumstance the prospect of the latter being surrendered is at its highest probable point. We do have disagreement tactically here, as to how immediate the danger he presents and the manner in which we are most likely to be able to bring about the prospect of him at whatever point separating himself from his weapons, absent a war.

It is my view that there is no immediate threat in the sense that Saddam Hussein presently possesses the capability to wreak havoc upon the United States or is there any historical basis to suggest that he is more inclined than say the Iranians or the North Koreans or anyone else to cooperate with Al-Qaeda.

As a matter of fact, the historical record shows that as a secular dictator in a Muslim world he is the most likely target for the Osama Bin Laden's of the world. Now it does not mean that he may not reach the point that the enemy of enemy becomes my friend and therefore there is cooperation. But this notion that somehow there is an immediate clear and present danger because he is likely to cooperate or has cooperated with Osama bin Laden, and/or because he has the capacity to thrust upon us biological/chemical or nuclear weapons, is possible but unlikely.

But there is no doubt in my mind, speaking as a Democrat who is not happy with this Administration's foreign policy and the way it approaches it generally, there is no doubt in my mind that, left unfettered over the next five years with access to roughly two billion dollars a year and an unimpeded ability to import material, which it is clear that he has had, that he will have a nuclear weapon within that time frame.

Does that mean that he would use them against us? No. Does that mean that it would fundamentally change the foreign policy option of any president of the United States? Yes.

Because I believe he seeks them for only one reason. He seeks them for the ability to increase regional hegemony. And I don't want another President faced with the prospect of a nuclear Iraq if he moves into a Kuwait again.

We are told that we can assemble two hundred and fifty thousand folks to route him. And then we are told in a closed briefing, when asked of the intelligence community, Defense Department, or Secretary of State, what would be the effect of him using a tactical nuclear weapon on those assembled troops and they say: "Well, a hundred and fifty thousand people would die." Many presidents would very well make the decision that they could not take that chance and we would begin to conclude that its not much in our interest that there be stability in that region.

That to me is the worry. But what happens when you're in a job like mine, and I'll never forget Frank Church saying this to me. He said two things which stick in my mind. One I will not speak to. But he said in that meeting: "Joe, you have to understand there are nuclear theologians," he said. "You're the only guy I know that read Summa Theologica. This is like the argument of how many angels on the head of a pin," he says. "These guys are in a different world."

He said something else to me as well, if I recall correctly. He talked about us usually being left by presidents with Hobson's choices in my position as chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. Now I'm the ranking member. That's a euphemism for having no power. (Laughter)

We are left with Hobson's choices. That is to say, most of the good choices, many times, have been obviated. Presidents have discarded them in my view, from my perspective, mistakenly.

Guys like me and women like-minded women get left with having to make a judgement about which of the two not so good choices is the better to be made and that's where we are right now, in my view. I would have, and some of you were kind enough to suggest, followed what I have been saying on some of these issues for a while, I believe we have approached this in somewhat of a ham-handed way.

Thank God for Colin Powell. I mean that sincerely. (Applause)

I think that we have made it much more difficult for ourselves, but that's irrelevant at the moment. As the old saying goes: we are where we are where we are. And where we are right now is with over one hundred and approaching two hundred thousand in the most awesome concentration of military power in the history of the world in the theater and with a man who is in fact in material breach of 1441, the resolution most recently passed in the United Nations.

If we withdraw in these circumstances without a fundamental change in his behavior, I have reached the conclusion that that is even more damaging to us then if we were to go with an anemic cast of the willing to take him down. If he does not -- as my fundamentalists friends in southern Delaware say - have an altar call and see the light, which I do not think he is likely to do.

So the place which I began from this moment, after having the four hour hearing with Mr. Armitage and Ambassador Negropante before our committee. And that's where I just came from. We are left with a dwindling number of choices. I do not believe that the most urgent threat to our security is Saddam Hussein.

I believe our most urgent threat is the unattended and unfinished business of al-Qaeda and it is very unfinished. We are making a botch of Afghanistan in my view. We are putting ourselves in a very dangerous circumstance.

North Korea presents more of a clear and present danger because not only can they become the plutonium factory of the world, and, I might add, all you need is two pieces of plutonium less than the circumference of the top of this glass an eight of an inch thick pushed together at very high speeds to develop a one kiloton nuclear weapon.

I asked our national laboratories if they could construct off a shelf what a terrorist group possessing reasonable but not exceptional knowledge could build. And they not only said they could, but they'd build it for me, literally not figuratively. All off the shelf. All, all, in the open market. Absent the fissile material.

We know for a fact that Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda have had a full blown effort to gain the technological expertise to do such things, including as you recall, rough diagrams found in Kandahar by news organizations of such devices.

So to put it in perspective, our failure, if you notice, I was told if you check Lexis-Nexis, since 9/11, or shortly thereafter, the President only mentioned Osama Bin Laden 6 times. He probably mentioned Saddam Hussein 6,000. In relative terms they're not close. I would note parenthetically that we no longer have soccer moms in San Diego or Wilmington or Washington or Seattle, we have security moms. An abnormally high percentage of women between the ages of 25 and 40 with children, believe that they are likely to be a victim of a terrorist attack, which is not accurate but close to 40% believe that. Which has another destabilizing effect on us as a country.

So to make a comparative point, I think Saddam Hussein is a genuine danger and cannot be left unattended. Do I think it should have been moved front and center to the degree it has now? My answer to that is no, but it has. I think there are other things that are of a much more immediate concern, but that's not where we are right now. And so what do we do? What do we do?

My suggestion is that we should, and what I have attempted to do, and I will not speak for Dick Lugar, who is a close friend and whom - which will shock you all, we agree on almost everyone of these major issues - is to weigh in on a side of an incredibly divided administration. I have been a relatively good observer for seven presidents. I have never seen an Administration so fundamentally divided on basic animating principles of foreign policies as this Administration is.

They would deny it, necessarily, but Colin Powell and Rumsfeld and Cheney have about as much in common as this glass of water and this microphone. (Laughter)

If you think I'm joking, I am not joking. For those of you think, and those of you who are very strong and supportive Republicans who don't like my saying that, I ask you and suggest to you, you should read. We tend not to read what people say. For ten years John, you have had foreign policy experts coming out of the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the intellectual right, who are very bright people, these are very bright people who truly believe that at the pinnacle of our power what we should be doing is further increasing the leverage we have around the world and that can most be done by the exercise of unilateral power. Not because these are bad guys seeking domination over the rest of the world, because they really believe the better way to order the world in the 21st century is to avoid the sins and carnage of the 20th century, to jettison the old Europe - and keep in mind there is a, connect the dots here, the same people who have taken the position on how to approach Iraq that fortunately the president has not adopted, are the same people who have been saying for 20 years -- John, with or without NATO what difference does it make? We spend too much money, Europe is unimportant, other parts of the world are more critical for example.

And so some folks believe, and I will not use names, but these folks sincerely believe that if we go it alone even when help is offered to reject it, we will demonstrate to the world our resolve. We will leverage the power we have, and to put it in colloquial terms Khomeini will sit there and say, " Oh my God! Look what they did in the face of the whole world of objecting, in Iraq we better straighten up our act." Kim will say, whoa, we see what's coming we'd better, you think I'm exaggerating. The only thing I'm doing here is unfairly and not fully, because of time, giving the complete rationale for their argument. And there is a chance they may be right. But I disagree with it.

But understand, let's assume that there is a serious possibility that's the way we should conduct ourselves. Let's assume they're right. That is not a view shared by the State Department and Colin Powell. They are more traditional internationalists who believe multinational organizations have a value. Speaking for myself, I would argue what's going to sound to you very counterintuitive: to the degree we increase our relative power around the world, politically, economically, culturally, to the degree that happens, we need even more a thing called the United Nations.

The more powerful we are, the more we need international institutions because the option is we become somewhat schizophrenic. Think about the intellectual rights argument. Do you ever wonder how the same people could be called isolationists and unilateralists? They're not inconsistent terms.

There are the isolationists of old, which is a strong strain that has run through American history for over 200 years. Yet we find ourselves in a position not sought, but a fact, as being the world's sole superpower.

So that creates a dilemma, that's why you get things like, how could we suggest we intervene but not nation build? They are not people who are there to build societies, they should come home. Think about that. How do they rationalize what I think is a third inconsistency? They don't want international organizations having no faith in them, they don't want to stay and clean up the mess, yet they want to intervene to eliminate danger. I don't argue that they have a difficult task reconciling the three, which is why we have what I call "intellectual schizophrenia" going on now.

I've been here a long time in this Senate, it is an important body, but I do understand the limitations of even the most powerful senator within the context of affecting and determining foreign policy. I understand it is important, but I understand it's limitation. So I and others - and I will not say their names in fear of them being associated with everything I said and hurting them - what I and others have attempted to do is weigh in at strategic moments on the side of the argument that is represented by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Powell, on the one hand, an unusual alliance, think about that, those of you who are seasoned in this.

Name me the last time the State Department and the Defense Department uniforms have been in agreement on almost everything and the civilian Defense Department in the White House have been in agreement or at odds with one another.

So we are going through a period that is some what difficult. I realize I'm not speaking to specific issuses. I'm going to end with this and then try to put within the context I have spoken very briefly. My staff has a brilliant speech here for you that I have ignored that we'll make available to you if you'd like, seriously. (Laughter) It is really quite first rate.

But what I'm trying to do here, and probably because I'm doing it extemporaneously I'm not doing it well, is try to paint a little bit of a picture for you of the place we are at at the moment and the conflict that exists within the Administration between the Administration and the Congress and the country at large, and the fundamental divide we are going to have to remedy. We're going to have to choose one of these paths and once chosen its not very easy to change in the near term.

We can come up with this cockamamie tax proposal that the president has, which, probably if you're wealthy you like it some of you. But its crazy in my view and it will do harm to the economy in my view.

Aassume, for the sake of the discussion, I'm right. Let's argue in the alternative for a moment here, let's assume I'm right. And guess what? As my father, who just passed away, he'd say: "Joey, America is so big, so strong, so capable. No one could screw it up in four years, unless they go to war." We can rectify a tax cut, pass a piece of legislation next year and change it, but if we go into Iraq based on a theory of preemption and lay that out we will have undone a basic tenant that the civilized world has operated on since 1648.

Preemption is dangerous and unacceptable internationally. Can you tell me how we convince India or Pakistan that they do not have the right to engage in preemption? You tell me how you put humpty dumpty back together again. We will not be able to undo in a Congressional semester, if you will, in the life of a Congress, or the term of several presidents, what we may get wrong now. And so, from my perspective, I think we require at this moment a little patience, a little less questioning of each other motives, not our judgement but our motives and a healthy dose of humility with a little bit of perspective.

Let me explain what I mean by that and then I'll stop. And that is that if my granddaughter, I have three granddaughters, the one who is most precocious - she has to be, her name if Finnegan Biden. When my 4 year old Finnegan Biden is writing her thesis at the University of Chicago, and hopefully by that time the Chicago School of Law and Economics will have passed into history, she will be writing and her classmates will be writing about "why didn't my grandfather understand that this chaos was predictable?" Think about it.

There is an Irish poet named William Butler Yeats, you're all familiar with him, who writes about the Easter rising. He wrote a poem, one line of which said "the world has changed, it has changed utterly. A terrible beauty has been born."

The world has changed utterly in the last 12 years and a terrible beauty has been born. Meaning, there is an overwhelming opportunity and incredible peril if you don't do it correctly. That is to be expected that we would have this ringing out of new ideas, new principles, new rules of the road for international relations. Because never before, I would argue, in the history of man, including the Roman empire, has any one nation relative to any other single nation has been so predominant, politically, militarily, economically, and culturally. And it's a hard and difficult process to work our way through.

And so my one admonition is, even though I have strong disagreement with the intellectual right -- I'm not talking about the Christian Coalition, I'm talking about the intellectual right in this country -- I have strong opposition, I do not question their motives. Their motives are not oil, their motives are not domination. Their motives are what they believe to be the most secure stability and peace for the United States of America. But I will say I think they are dead wrong.

But if we only speak of motives we will never get to our fundamental differences and work out a consensus as to what should be the guiding principles in the 21st century in American foreign policy. I apologize for the disjointed presentation. I'd be happy to take your questions.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Making the Right Choices for Delaware Seniors

You know, my dad is 87 now and he's not doing too well these days. But he always says to me, "Joey, it's a great day when you can get up, put both feet on the floor, and make a difference."

Folks, if I've learned one thing in the thirty years I've been in the Senate it's that my dad is usually right.

He's certainly right about making a difference. It's what it's all about. It's what public service is about and I'm proud to have served in the United States Senate.

But the job won't be done until we get a few more things right. Like a comprehensive Medicare prescription drug plan.

One that's fair. One that's affordable. One that's reliable.

Medicare is one of the greatest public policy successes of the 20th century.

It has made life better for millions of American seniors for more than a generation.

But to provide seniors with the comprehensive care they desperately need, Medicare needs a prescription drug plan now.

A prescription drug benefit must meet several criteria. First, it must be available to everyone. A program which gives vouchers to seniors so they can purchase drug coverage from a private insurance company fails the test because the insurance companies would have little if any interest in providing such coverage.

A prescription drug benefit must be affordable. Plans in which the government picks up only a small fraction of prescription drug costs is an invitation to disaster. It will lead to many more instances of seniors having to chose between food and medicine, a choice none of us should have to make.

A prescription drug benefit must be voluntary. But, in order for such a program to attract enough participants to make it work, the specifics of the plan must be acceptable. If there were high monthly premiums, large deductibles or gaps in coverage you wouldn't sign up.

A prescription drug plan must be stable and reliable. You shouldn't have to deal with new standards, rules, and providers every year. If you're disabled, you shouldn't have to start over with a new plan if you move across state lines. Medicare has been and must remain universally accepted.

And finally, a prescription drug plan must provide extra help to those with the lowest incomes or the highest drug expenditures. A reasonable subsidy to help poor seniors, and caps on out-of-pocket costs to help those whose medical conditions require expensive medication, are essential to a successful plan.

It's a new world... What used to be cured only by dangerous surgical procedures now can be cured with a pill.

But I don't have to tell you how expensive those pills can be.

People like my dad are lucky. He can afford his medical care. But what if he couldn't? What would he do then?

So many Americans are caught in a middle-class squeeze. So many of our seniors on fixed-incomes keep seeing prices go up.

So many in my generation are trying to save enough for their own retirements. Trying to save enough to put their kids through college. Hoping government will help them with Student Loan Tuition Deductions or Tuition Tax Deductions.

And at the same time we have an obligation to protect Medicare and Social Security and make sure every senior has a safe and secure retirement... Isn't that true?

And isn't it true that you're just as worried about your children and your families as they are about you?

Isn't it true that they seem stressed-out and caught in the middle, doing too much and being too busy, having too many responsibilities, and working longer hours just to make ends meet?

I know that my father wants to be able to take care of himself. He doesn't want to rely on me. He's strong-willed with a lot of pride.

And he gets furious when he reads the news and hears about people's hard earned pensions being lost, leaving them with no retirement.

And, when he gets upset, I know it won't be long before he says, "Joey, you've got to do something."

And then I know I've got to go back to Washington and try like hell to make sure that we pass a law that protects every worker's pension. Not just because my father said it... But because it's fair and just and right for someone who works for thirty years in good faith to reap the rewards of their labor... Isn't it?

Don't you think it's fair and just and right to have decent health insurance at a time in life when you need it most?

Isn't it right to expect every doctor to TREAT patients, not FIGHT insurance companies?

The other day my dad said, "Joey, the insurance companies seem to always measure health care by how much money they earn. But shouldn't they be measuring it by how many lives they save?"

And, as usual, my dad was right, as usual. Insurance adjusters should be processing claims, not patients.

And the medical records of those patients should be private, and should remain between a patient and his or her doctor.

Folks, the bottom line is that the middle class is being squeezed. Not just the young. Not just seniors. But everyone who's trying to make ends meet and live a decent safe life.

Sometimes it seems that the more we try to hold on to what we have, something happens to take it away. And all any of us really wants is to just keep what we've got and give something back to our children.

We want our pensions safe. We want to give our kids a chance at a decent college education. We want Medicare to pay for a life-saving course of antibiotics as well as for surgery.

We want to find the proper balance between openness in the information age and a person's right to privacy in their financial records and their medical records.

We want to make sure the air we breathe and the water we drink is safe and clean and if it's not we want the polluters to pay.

These are common sense things that will make all of us more secure because real security means more than winning the war on terrorism. It means making sure we have a decent life here at home. Let me tell you, my dad has some stories to tell. When I hear about all he's seen and done in his lifetime, I realize why his generation - your generation - is the Greatest generation because you got up every day and put one foot in front of the other and made a difference.

Now it's up to my generation to keep going, to keep moving forward. To keep making a difference. Do more, and dig deeper to find the best in each of us, and put it to work for all of us.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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The Power of Words

Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for asking me to come and speak this evening. It is fitting that this museum is the venue for the theme "the power of words." The Jewish people know better than anyone else that words can have profound consequences - both good and evil.

For centuries, words like justice, tolerance, honor, and truth have moved us. They have brought us to our feet. Words like peace and hope have made us believe in ourselves and the goodness of our fellow man.

When leaders like Jefferson said, "I have sworn upon the altar of God, eternal hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man," - we saw how the power of words could shape a nation.

In 1985, we rose to our feet when Elie Wiesel said: "I've learned that suffering confers no privileges. It all depends on what one does with it. And that is why survivors ...have tried to teach their contemporaries how to build on ruins, how to invent hope in a world that offers none. How to proclaim faith to a generation that has seen it shamed and humiliated."

But there are also words that can drop us to our knees and expose our greatest frailties. Words like hatred, vengeance, prejudice, and intolerance.

When Pope Eugene the Fourth said Jews "could never be partakers of eternal life," ...

When Saint Augustine said, "The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver,"

When Torquemada, the Spanish Inquisitor of the 15th century, decimated the largest Jewish community in Europe to achieve the cult of "pure blood"... ...we realize that words can sow the long-lasting seeds of intolerance.

When a century ago the Russian czar's secret police concocted the infamous Protocols of the Elders of Zion and said that the Jews had plotted to seize the world, we realize that those seeds of intolerance can grow into a powerful hatred.

When in 1935, Adolf Hitler took those same words and used them to his own ends saying, "... they reveal the nature and activity of the Jewish people and expose their inner context as well as their ultimate final aims," we realize that those seeds of intolerance can not only endure but they can change the course of human history.

And consider this: "They (the Jews) always try to warp and distort everything fair and beautiful! Basically, they are a model of moral ugliness, debasement, and degradation. If only Allah would curse them more and more, to the end of all generations. Amen."

Or this: "During this holiday, the Jew must prepare very special pastries, the filling of which is not only costly and rare - it cannot be found at all on the local and international markets.

"Unfortunately, this filling cannot be left out, or substituted with any alternative serving the same purpose. For this holiday, the Jewish people must obtain human blood so that their clerics can prepare the holiday pastries. In other words, the practice cannot be carried out as required if human blood is not spilled!"

These words were not spoken in 1492, or 1901, or 1939. They were spoken today. The "blood libel" repeated again, in our time. In Al-Akbar, the Egyptian government daily, on April 29, 2002. And in Al-Riyadh, the Saudi government daily on March 10 and March 12, 2002!

Over the past 54 years since Israel's founding, the vile lies of anti-semitism have found new fertile ground in the Middle East.

And the echo of words from a century ago reverberate in our time, threatening us with the same hatred and the same intolerance. Once again, we see seeds of intolerance taking root.

Even in Europe, we've witnessed the phenomenon of anti-semitism without Jews having taken hold in many countries. And in recent months, in those few countries where Jews still live, attacks on Jewish individuals and institutions have demonstrated that anti-semitism is alive and well.

I am happy to inform you that tomorrow, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will be voting on a resolution condemning anti-semitism in Europe and calling on governments to take measures to protect their Jewish citizens.

Folks, the scourge of anti-semitism has proven to be incredibly resilient for over two millennia.

We hope that we have turned the corner here in the United States, but we can't take that for granted.

We need to be vigilant and we need to use our words to effectively counter the voices of those who would propagate hate to destroy our freedom.

Words matter. They can change history or force us to repeat it.

But make no mistake, there is absolutely nothing inevitable about a new rise of anti-semitism. We must understand that every leader in every nation must actively oppose the language of hate to prevent it from taking root again.

When we celebrate the power of words, let's understand that there are those who would use words to twist the truth, to cajole, persuade, and mislead.

We were reminded of the powerful effect of words just recently when the Israel Defense Forces were accused of carrying out a massacre in the Jenin refugee camp.

Massacre is a very powerful word, conjuring the most grotesque images of human suffering. But as dozens of relief workers, human rights activists, and journalists have swarmed to the camp in recent weeks, it has become apparent that there was no massacre in Jenin.

There were not 500 civilian dead, as some Palestinians claimed.

In fact, a senior official in Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement acknowledged that the death toll was about 50. So let me repeat: there was no massacre in Jenin.

Even one civilian death is one too many, but the word massacre serves to breed only more outrage and incite more violence. The word TRUTH is more important here.

The large number of Israeli deaths in Jenin - 23 in all - demonstrates that something far more complicated went on there.

Israeli soldiers could easily have pummeled the camp from afar. Instead, they went from booby-trapped house to booby-trapped house -- not to inflict civilian casualties, but to prevent them.

By contrast, how many journalists were allowed to investigate the Syrian massacre at Hama in 1982, which killed as many as twenty thousand?

Was there ever a UN fact-finding mission to investigate the genocidal campaign carried out by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in the late 1980s?

Indeed, was there ever an investigation of the violence emanating from refugee camps like Jenin itself, which spawned some two dozen suicide bombers, who murdered more than 50 Israelis and wounded more than 1000?

Of course not. There is a double standard when it comes to Israel.

The point is, when we use a powerful world like massacre, we must follow it with an equally powerful word like truth.

One more example of the Power of Words:

There is a disconnect between the proposal by the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia calling for peaceful, normal relations with Israel and some of the hateful words that we hear emanating from the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia cannot have its ambassador to Britain writing poetry praising suicide bombers without firing him.

Period. No "ifs, ands or buts."

Saudi Arabia cannot have articles in leading newspapers claiming that the blood of non-Jews is used in making Jewish holiday pastries.

Saudi Arabia cannot have its textbooks warning students not to befriend non-Muslims. Saudi Arabia cannot talk about peace and support Jihad.

Should we be surprised that the Arab street is so violently hostile to Israel when it is fed a steady diet of vile lies about Israel in the official media...

When Arab youth, comprising 65 percent of the population, are taught intolerance...

When religious leaders preach hate...

It is up to Arab leadership to change the culture of their countries - to open minds and hearts to change, not to close them. Nothing is more important for laying a solid foundation for peace and security.

And nothing will be a clearer signal that they have changed their attitudes than a change in their lexicon - using Arabic words as well as English.

It is profoundly in the self-interest of Arab states to take these steps. They are painfully aware that the very existence of their regimes is at stake.

And it appears we are beginning to see tentative signs of change. An Israeli newspaper reported this week that official Saudi publications have stopped using the word martyr to describe those who carry out terrorist attacks in Israel, and have started using the term suicide.

The distinction is a critical one in Islam. I hope that the report proves correct. And I hope this step heralds many more like it.

Even better would be to call such attacks what they really are: Homicide.

In the end, genuine peace must be built not just on painful compromises, but also on the truth. And telling the truth means using the right words.

Given the theme of tonight's gala, I think it would be appropriate to share with you some of my favorite words from a translation of Sophocles' "Cure at Troy" by Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney, who was thinking about his native Ireland, though he just as easily could have been thinking about the Middle East:

Human beings suffer, They torture one another, They get hurt and get hard. No poem or play or song Can fully right a wrong Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols Beat on their bars together. A hunger-striker's father Stands in the graveyard dumb. The police widow in veils Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don't hope On this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change On the far side of revenge. Believe that further shore Is reachable from here. Believe in miracle And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing: The utter, self-revealing Double-take of feeling. If there's fire on the mountain Or lightning and storm And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing The outcry and the birth-cry Of new life at its term.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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The Chances of a Lifetime: Making a Difference

Thank you, Dean Fitts, for that kind introduction. And congratulations to all of you who have worked so hard to earn that law degree. You've done well, and have done yourselves and your families proud. We're all familiar with Gary Trudeau's now famous quote - that commencement speeches "were invented largely in the belief that outgoing college students should never be released into the world until they have been properly sedated."

I suppose that applies to Law School as well. And I suppose that's why I was invited to speak here today - to properly sedate you...

Or it might be because, when I graduated, I just happened to choose a path that led me to the practice of law and then into public service - a path I hope many of you will likewise follow.

But whether it's public service, criminal law, constitutional law, or corporate law, I'm sure you have a plan, a very specific, well-thought-out plan setting out where you'll be next year and where you hope to be twenty years from now.

Well, let me tell you from experience - law degree or not - life doesn't always stick to a plan.

Before I speak about the law, before I extol the virtues of the our legal system, our constitution, and constitutional law....

Before I talk about the rewards of a life devoted to the practice of law, let me say, life is a series of chances, a string of accidental occurrences over which you may have no control.

What you can control is your response to those occurrences, and what you make of them.

With every twist of fate comes an opportunity. What you do with those opportunities will shape who you are.

How you adjust to happenstance, for better or worse, will be the sum total of your lives.

But those accidental occurrences may force you to reshuffle priorities and change your plans.

Plans are good to have. And a checkmark next to accomplishments every now and then is a good thing. The law degree you receive today is an extraordinary accomplishment, one of those good things... But understand that the magnificence of the journey may be in the diversions on the road ahead.

Some will bring great joy. Some will inspire. Some will confound.

Some will make you wonder. Some will make you think. Some will require unanticipated action. Some will demand hard choices. And some will shake you to the very core of your being.

But your rule should be: Accept them all with the same resolve and the same passion. See them all as opportunities. Take them. Shape them. Let them move you, and most of all, learn from them.

They'll come when you least expect it. They'll take you left or right of your goal and sometimes far off the mark.

Call them the luck of the draw. Call them fate. Call them divine intervention.

But whatever you call them, they will change your perspective...

Let them. And maybe, in the process, they will bless you with the opportunity - as corny as it may sound - to be a better person, a better citizen, a better lawyer, a better father or mother, a better friend and a better partner.

With the hours of study, the late nights, the personal sacrifice that went into earning that Law Degree, I'm certain you want it all to go right. I'm here to tell you that it will.

Part of what you learned here, at the University of Pennsylvania, was the experimental approach, the creative approach to law and life...

You've learned to broaden your focus and your horizons...

You've learned an interdisciplinary approach - that the law, like life, doesn't exist in a vacuum...

You've enhanced your legal education with classes in other fields... And that will give you a broad perspective and a clear focus when the unforeseen rears its head.

I have some experience with the power of unforeseen events to dramatically change our perspective.

There's an old proverb that says, "adversity introduces a man to himself."

I don't know if many of you know it, but I almost did not take the oath of office after I was first elected to the Senate. I almost didn't serve.

A few years after I sat where you're sitting, filled with the same brash confidence, I started a family and my own law firm. Just two weeks before my thirtieth birthday, I was elected to the United States Senate.

Less than four weeks after that, my family was shattered by a double fatal car accident.

Needless to say, that tragedy shook me, and I hope and pray none of you have to endure such loss. That shaky time in my life gave me a clear perspective on what IS and is NOT important in life.

It made me realize that in the face of the greatest tragedies we can choose to stand still or put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

Until that day, I thought I'd done everything right, that I was in control of the Fates, that the plan was working, that nothing could change my focus, nothing could alter my goals, my vision, and how I lived my life.

But I found out that life is sometimes a roll of the dice.

Sometimes it happens to us and sometimes all we can do is reach down into the depths of our soul and find the strength to keep going and hopefully make a difference.

My dad is almost 87 now, and he still says what he's been saying since I was a kid. He says, "You know, Joey, it's a lucky person who gets up in the morning, puts both feet on the floor, knows what they're about to do, and thinks it still matters." And when I get up every day, I still believe that it matters.

When you leave here, each of you can make a difference, and let me tell you why.

You have chosen an honorable, noble profession at the heart of our way of life. You will be men and women who practice law in a society built on law.

Being Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee is my day job. At night I'm a constitutional law professor and I know that what separates this nation from every other is the magnificence of our legal system.

We are not defined by a common nationality or a common culture, but by an idea set down in our Constitution, our Bill of Rights, and a dynamic legal tradition that guarantees equal justice under law.

Think about it. We cannot define an American in any other way. Is an American an African-American? Is an American an immigrant from China? Is an American an Irish Catholic from Scranton, Pennsylvania? Or a Hasidic Jew from Bensonhurst? Or a shrimp fisherman from Baton Rouge? Or a lumberjack from Idaho?

Is an American a Muslim?

In fact, there are more Muslims in America than there are Episcopalians.

So, what really defines an American? You can't define it by religion. You can't define it by race? I would suggest that an American is defined by a powerful idea which was established in our Constitution and maintained in our legal system.

Walk into any church, any school, any town hall any legislature. Walk into any park where people gather and express their ideas in a demonstration, or a parade, or from a soapbox. And ask the least educated person what gives them the right to be there.

They'll tell you that it's the Constitution. In their gut, in their heart they know that the idea, the essence of being American, is embedded in that document. Whether they can quote the words or not, they know that it absolutely guarantees them the right to be there.

When the Russians came to see me in 1989 and asked for help in writing their new constitution, a delegation of twelve sat in my conference room. They were led by a man named Oleg Rumianstev who was like a young James Madison.

The first thing he asked was: What is the most significant element of American constitutional law?

I told him that in every place where there's a dispute between the government and the individual, the Constitution leans toward the individual. In every single case, we err to the side of the individual. It was a fairly revolutionary notion then, as it is now.

The founders of this nation had great admiration for the strengths of human nature, and they had no illusions about its shortcomings...

They had no doubt that people could and should govern themselves. But they knew from bitter experience that government is power, and power is always a temptation to abuse...

So they wrote a constitution designed deliberately to guard against that abuse. They created a society that served the interests of the community, and preserved the freedom of the individual. They embedded in the Constitution the values that we should make our life's work - like equal rights and equal justice under law and the values that flow from them, like personal integrity, respect for individual autonomy, and responsibility to family and community and service.

Those are the values that can empower you to make a real difference as you begin your practice.

What I'm trying to convey is that no matter what challenges you may face, no matter what uncertainties you encounter, no matter what obstacles stand in your way - match your principles with your purpose and apply them consistently.

In time of great adversity, when your judgement as a lawyer is second guessed, when your actions are criticized, or your motives come into question, all you will have is your integrity and the pride of your profession.

Whatever life brings, lean into it. In good times and bad, your integrity will see you through.

That's not a commencement speech promise. It comes from the pages of my life.

No amount of material success, no catalogue of honors and achievements, and no reputation based on anything other than your commitment to principle can defend you when you're called to account.

As men and women of law, you will have an unparalleled opportunity to make a difference in your community and in your profession.

But making a real difference will require knowing who you are, knowing what you believe, and keeping the flame of that knowledge burning as brightly as you can, every day.

It will be your most enduring defense against life's challenges and your own frailties.

Make no mistake, your frailties will always be tested and the tests will surpass any that have challenged you here.

All I can say is hold on to your values, and let them guide you.

It is a privilege to be a lawyer, to be a custodian of the ennobling principles of the Constitution, and to uphold the trust and standards of this most honorable profession.

But there are a few rules to keep in mind:

First, like doctors, do no harm.

Breed respect for law.

Feel a sense of public obligation and be of service to the community as you serve the law.

Take special care to assure that equal justice under the law is as much the heritage of the powerless as the powerful.

And never forget the words of Judge Learned Hand who warned: "If we are to keep our democracy, there must be one commandment: Thou shalt not ration justice."

So I say to you today, take that diploma and get out there and make a difference.

For guidance, look to those who made history and just happened to be lawyers. Look to Thomas Jefferson who created the idea we call America, and challenged the nation to form a new government that respected the inalienable rights of each individual.

Look to Abraham Lincoln who signed the emancipation proclamation and challenged anew our commitment to equality and justice.

Look to Clarence Darrow who stood up for an unpopular cause and challenged a Tennessee Law barring the teaching of evolution - losing a trial but striking a blow for academic freedom.

Look to Thurgood Marshall who challenged the notion that "separate" could ever be "equal" - establishing the right of every individual to the best education offered by a state and calling into question the practice of rationing opportunity by race.

But also look to those whose names may have been forgotten, but whose deeds will be remembered.

Look to the abolitionist, Louis Tappan who orchestrated the stunning legal strategy on behalf of a group of Africans on the slave ship Amistad.

Look to Alabama Circuit Judge James Horton who presided over the "Scottsboro boys" trial in which young black men were convicted by a racist jury of crimes they didn't commit... And then set aside those verdicts costing him his judicial career.

Look to Charles Hamilton Houston. The pioneering civil rights lawyer who fought racism across the south, all the way to the Supreme Court... And argued the Gaines case, challenging the constitutionality of the University of Missouri law school policy of excluding blacks.

Look to Sarah Weddington who argued Roe v. Wade. Look to Thomas Emerson who argued for holding right to counsel in Griswold v. Wainwright.

Look to Ed Masry, Erin Brockovich's boss, who challenged the toxic dumping practices of public utilities.

I remember how I felt 32 years ago when I took my diploma and, with it, the opportunity and the obligation to do good. To do justice.

It's a powerful and exhilarating sensation. Feel it. Go with it. It's the best feeling for every young lawyer to have and to keep - because you are now the custodians of not only our conscience, but our Constitution.

St. Thomas Aquinas called the law "an ordinance of reason for the common good, made by him who has care of the community."

In that spirit: Get out there and practice the law.

Work for the common good.

Accept life's accidental occurrences with integrity and resolve. See them as opportunities. Make a difference for the community and maybe, in the process, change the course of history.

Both opportunity and obligation come with that diploma. Don't let them slip away.

Congratulations and good luck.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Securing the Future and Getting It Right

-Text of Remarks AS PREPARED-

Thank you Dean Van Zandt. Thank you President Bienen. I'd also like to express my gratitude to Northwestern and the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations for sponsoring my remarks today as part of the Alan Weber Lecture series.

There are many foreign policy academics and professionals here today. But first let me speak to the students in the audience.

I've been surprised recently when people in MY generation have asked me if your generation is ready to do what has to be done to win the war on terrorism.

The answer is: Absolutely...Certifiably...Yes.

I want to tell you about my firsthand observations of dedicated American troops in Afghanistan. Courageous young men and women your age whom I met when I was there.

They have a crystal clear understanding of why they're in Afghanistan. They haven't forgotten the reason we went in the first place. And neither should any of us.

September 11 brought this nation together. Yet, from a generational point of view, it resonates differently for my father than it does for me. And I'm sure it resonates differently for me than for you.

We speak of the World War II generation as the greatest generation. They were challenged more than most, they faced greater hardship, had great expectations, and knew great victories.

They suffered through a Depression and a World War. They witnessed the rise of communism. They watched the Wall go up, fought the Cold War, and watched the Wall come down.

For them, September 11 presented yet another opportunity to unite in victory over yet another enemy.

For my generation - the Vietnam generation - September 11th has been a kind of catharsis. It seems decades of pent-up animosity have been pealed away. In fact, the will and resolve of the American people to win this war may be the salve that heals the wound of Vietnam once and for all.

But for your generation - September 11th will be the one seminal moment that changes history. It probably will change your lives. Like the deaths of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy changed mine.

For you, the war on terrorism may be as long and as hard-fought as the Cold War was. But it also presents extraordinary opportunities for strategic realignments.

Every student here will not only bear witness to the post-9-11 world - you will be the ones to help shape it.

If we get it right, we will have made the world a safer place. If we get it wrong, we will be condemned to repeat our wars rather than move beyond them.

I think we'll get it right, because, in many significant ways, we've changed.

Before September 11th we were a nation focused on ourselves, constantly looking in the mirror, but rarely out the window.

We seemed to leap forward with answers, before asking the right questions. Some pushed for a massive investment in missile defense. Others, as late as September 10th, believed that the more imminent threat was from a terrorist attack.

Then, on September 11, we came face to face with our worst fears. A horrified world stood with us. And, rightly, the President reached out. In a moment of epiphany, which we can only hope will be permanent, the President saw the benefits of multilateralism.

Now, every American has a better appreciation of why foreign policy matters. Every American better understands what it means to our security, our economy, our way of life.

Now we're focusing on the real threats. We've engaged in a serious national discussion about bioterrorism, dirty radiological devices, a vial in a backpack, cropdusters and anthrax spores.

We're focusing on the wisdom of a multi-year, multi-billion dollar commitment to increasing our conventional military forces. And we're talking about homeland defense.

Now, we're more circumspect about leaping forward with answers before we know the right questions, here at home and abroad as well.

Which brings me to Afghanistan and the war against terrorism. Make no mistake, both are far from over.

We had two objectives that were clearly laid out after 9-11. First, Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorist network had to be brought to justice. Second, security and stability had to be brought to Afghanistan.

Like the soldiers I met, let's remember why we went to Afghanistan in the first place. It was a lawless, failed state. It was a safe haven where bin Laden operated with impunity. How well have we met our objectives? We've come a long way, and had some major successes. But no one seems to have a clue where bin Laden is today, al Qaeda is still a force, and Afghanistan is in grave danger of backsliding. Without a strong international security force, it could, once again, erupt into a genuine conflagration.

Just last week, hardcore militants were captured in Kabul with plans to assassinate Afghanistan's interim leader, Hamid Karzai.

They wanted to derail plans for the Loya Jirga - the Grand Council - and kill as many U.S. and western troops as they could.

The author of the plot, a man by the name of Hekmatyar [Heck-MAHT-yar] is one of the most vicious warlords in recent Afghan history. He ordered much of the destruction of Kabul during the 1990s.

Before his return to Afghanistan, he had been living in Iran, and he maintains very close ties to the government there.

And the warlord in the western city of Herat, Ismael Khan, also seems to have a better relationship with Tehran than with Kabul.

It's clear the job in Afghanistan is far from complete. Without a strong international force to keep order, Afghanistan will fall prey to warlords like Hekmatyar.

Succeeding in Afghanistan is critical to our security, but our resolve may be waning. We haven't gotten Bin Laden. Al Qaeda is still there, seeping across the border to and from Pakistan, apparently at will.

The Taliban has melted into the hills, but it has certainly not been eliminated. We've never found Mullah Omar. The Karzai government is under constant threat.

To say the least, this is an extremely critical period in Afghanistan. And, just as important, it is a critical period for the United States. If Afghanistan fails, we will pay a heavy price.

If we don't stay the course, the "swamp" everyone talked about will fill up once again. If we don't stay the course, other nations in the region, especially Pakistan, will be in great jeopardy.

And if we don't stay the course, it will be impossible to get even our erstwhile allies in the Middle East and Europe to take us seriously.

The fact is that even with a 5,000 member international security force presently on the ground in Kabul, there is no security. And as much as we have accomplished in the war, we have not done enough to secure the peace.

With the arrival of spring, time is of the essence. There are serious threats of renewed attacks. Taliban and Al Qaeda forces are massed along the Pakistan border.

Warlords are consolidating power. And Afghanistan's neighbors, Iran and others, are maneuvering for influence again.

And now we find that our NATO ally Turkey is having cold feet about assuming leadership of the international security force. They're uneasy about America's real commitment. They're not sure we'll provide even the financial support to pay the troops.

It turns out that the ambivalence shown by the Administration in staying the course has had a real impact. And that's as true for our allies as our adversaries.

They've actually been paying attention. They understand the consequences of our unwillingness to be part of a long-term strategy. When I was there three months ago, I spent four days in Kabul. Virtually every conversation I had revolved around a single question:

Would America have the will to stay the course? After all our military success. After all our promises on reconstruction. After all our commitments to prevent Afghanistan from relapsing into chaos and warlordism - would we really have the stomach to get the job done?

Would we stay engaged? Would we demonstrate the leadership necessary to keep the international coalition together?

I'll tell you what I told them: Leadership matters. We have no choice but stay engaged. We have no choice but to take the lead. We have no choice but to see this to a successful conclusion. We have to get it right.

If Afghanistan descends into lawlessness and disorder, two things are certain:

First, the Taliban or some new and equally brutal group will establish control over all or part of the country. They'll provide safe haven to any terrorists, drug traffickers, or thugs willing to pay their price.

Second, terrorists will use Afghanistan as a base to launch attacks on the U.S. again, and destabilize regimes around the world.

If we exit prematurely, mark my words, U.S. troops will be right back in Afghanistan. Only then, we'll be doing the fighting all by ourselves.

Moreover, if we leave and have to come back, we may find ourselves in Pakistan, a nation six times as large and possessing a nuclear arsenal.

The victories we've seen over the past five months have been American victories - but they've been Afghan victories as well.

At every step along the way, we've relied on our Afghan allies. The pattern has generally been hundreds of American troops spearheading thousands of Afghan fighters.

This pattern is far from perfect. The porousness of our cordon at Tora Bora and, most recently, Shahi-Kot demonstrates that.

Afghan troops may not be a substitute for U.S. infantrymen, but they helped us achieve quick and impressive victories. And that point is vital to our future strategy.

I was constantly reminded, when I was there, that we abruptly backed away from Afghanistan in 1989, just as soon as we felt we had met our short-term objectives. If we do it again, when a new nest of terrorists emerges and military action is needed in the future, we shouldn't expect Afghans to fight along side us.

What should we be doing? We need to help with everything from economic reconstruction to helping clear minefields. We need to help build-up Afghanistan's political institutions.

We need to help Afghans create their educational infrastructure, their medical infrastructure, their legal and judicial infrastructure for their long-term self-sufficiency.

But none of it is possible without first having security on the ground. That's the central piece of this puzzle.

If we establish security, all else can follow - and without it everything is at risk. And without a genuine U.S. commitment, no one on the ground believes the mission can succeed.

As the British commander, Major General John McColl, told me in a briefing in Kabul, "How long do you think my Parliament will let me stay once America leaves?"

So what's the solution?

Right now the International Security Assistance Force is strictly limited by its UN mandate. Its 5000 troops are confined to Kabul, and even there they have to tread gingerly.

The mandate ends in June, precisely when its continuing presence is most needed. That's when the Loya Jirga is to be convened as the next step in the process of political rebuilding.

So here is what we've got to do.

First, this international security force must be extended from Kabul to Mazar, Khandahar, Jalalabad, and maybe Herat and Gardez. It will need more than the current force of 5000.

Some say it will take 25,000. I won't presume to know the number needed, but we should let the military planners have as many troops as it takes to do it right.

Second, the mandate of the international security force should be extended for two years. This would provide sufficient time for the creation of an indigenous Afghan army and police force, and it would ensure a smooth transition to the new Afghan government.

Third, the international security force must be given robust rules of engagement. It must be given all the equipment, airlift, and intelligence necessary to accomplish its mission.

Let's be clear here. These troops need to be rough, tough, combat-ready peacemakers with the ability to impose order.

Fourth, the United States must be fully engaged as the guarantor of last resort for the mission. That doesn't mean we have to send U.S. troops, but we shouldn't rule it out.

I'd prefer it if we could accomplish our mission without deploying a single U.S. soldier. I'd prefer it if other nations could do the job without our troops on the ground. Maybe they can. But recent experience, in the Balkans and elsewhere, suggests this will not be possible.

We have a mission to accomplish in Afghanistan, and if the deployment of American troops is deemed necessary, we must step up to the plate.

The stakes are too high to get it wrong this time. But the stakes will be just as high in the next phase of the war on terrorism - wherever that takes us - and in the Middle East. In closing, let me say again: Leadership Matters and American leadership matters most.

It matters that we keep our word and our commitments in Afghanistan. It matters that we maximize our opportunities to realign vital relationships with former adversaries like Russia and China.

It matters that we stay engaged in the Middle East, where the consequences of disengagement are measured in blood. It matters that we hold true to our values and leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of peace everywhere and terrorists anywhere.

It matters that we lead with a sword when threatened and plowshares when possible, and that American resolve is brought to bear at the peace table as well as on the battlefield.

Leadership is a challenge we must meet and an obligation we must accept.

To the students here, the choices will be yours.

Robert Kennedy said,

"The world demands the qualities of youth, not a time of life, but a state of mind, a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over the love of ease. It is a revolutionary world we live in, and thus it is young people who must take the lead."

Your generation has greater opportunities and greater challenges than, perhaps, any generation in history. It'll be up to you to lead, to move forward and make a better world.

Thank you very much.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Prospects for Progress: America and Iran After 9-11

-Text of Remarks AS PREPARED-

It is an honor to be invited to speak before such a distinguished gathering.

The number of accomplished individuals in the audience today is a testament to the extraordinary achievements of the thriving Iranian-American community. You have enriched the United States with your many talents, and your cultural traditions have strengthened the diversity of our country.

You also have a critical role to play in serving as a bridge between Iran and the United States.

Today, I would like to share with you my views on United States policy toward Iran and the kind of relationship I believe Iran and the United States should have. To save you the suspense, the short answer is - a much better relationship than we currently enjoy.

I say this for one simple reason - I believe that an improved relationship with Iran is in the naked self-interest of the United States of America.

Iran sits in the geo-political heart of a region that has long been important to our security concerns.

On its Eastern frontier sits a newly-liberated Afghanistan where the military mission is far from over. Farther East is a nuclear-armed Pakistan that just a short while ago stood on the precipice of a potentially devastating conflict with its arch-rival India.

To the West is a recalcitrant Iraq, with a dangerous leader who Iranians grew to know all too well during the long and bloody Iran-Iraq war. To the North are the undemocratic, potentially energy-rich states of Central Asia and the conflict-ridden Caucasus.

To the South are several American allies that sit atop the largest known oil reserves on the face of the earth.

So it is not an understatement to say that the direction Iran takes in the coming years will have a significant impact upon American strategic interests in this region.

Clearly, we cannot speak of Iran's direction without addressing its internal political dynamics. Since President Khatami's election in 1997, Iran has been embroiled in a gradually escalating power struggle that the outside world has watched with considerable interest.

While elections haven't been perfect, the Iranian people have made clear in four separate ballots over four years that they are demanding fundamental change.

The result of these elections has been the creation of a divided government. An elected branch consisting of the parliament and the Presidency that, by definition, is more in touch with the will of the people.

Juxtaposed to that is an appointed branch which holds many of the key levers of power including the judiciary, security organizations, and other bodies populated by those whose vision largely revolves around the perpetuation of their own authority.

It is this hardcore clique which refuses to give way to the will of the people. Over the past few years they have thwarted the goals of Iranian reformers. They've arrested journalists. They've imprisoned close allies of the President, and often resorted to violence.

They've harassed and persecuted minorities in Iran - Jews and the Baha'i.

They direct policies that pose a threat to our interests. Not the least of which is that Iran continues to support terrorism and the escalation of violence in the Middle East.

Its recent involvement with the Karine-A arms smuggling incident is a reminder of the policies that Iran must abandon if there is to be a true rapprochement. And many questions remain unanswered about the role played by some Iranians in the Khobar Towers attack that left 19 US servicemen dead.

But shortly after September 11, ordinary Iranians held a spontaneous candlelight vigil in Tehran in solidarity with the victims. Yet some of Iran's leaders don't appear to understand how drastically the world has changed after September 11.

Their continuing support for groups such as Islamic Jihad puts them on the wrong side of the new fault-line separating civilization and those who seek chaos. As you all know, Iran is continuing an aggressive drive to develop weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile systems. In these efforts, it receives considerable foreign assistance, especially from Russia. While support for terrorism appears to be directed by those in the hard-line branch of the government, the support for Iran's missile and nuclear weapons programs is more broad-based.

The reason is a combination of three main factors: first, fears over Iraq and to a far lesser degree, Pakistan. Second, the belief that nuclear weapons will enhance Iran's stature. Finally, we cannot dismiss the fact that some elements within the government see a potential blackmail value in the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and long-range missile capability.

Whatever the motivation, the United States must place the highest priority on preventing Iran from gaining such dangerous and destabilizing capabilities. There are a number of options for doing so.

We cannot simply dismiss Iran's security concerns. They've been the victims of chemical weapons attacks by Iraq. But the neighborhood has the potential to change for the better.

Already, the Taliban menace no longer threatens Iran. Next door, Pakistan's President is reigning in religious extremism.

And I believe that the U.S. will ultimately have to facilitate a regime-change in Iraq.

These three developments alone would dramatically alter Iran's security environment for the better.

We must also be willing to hold discussions with Iran to develop creative solutions as we did in North Korea. And we must step up our efforts to end support by Russian entities for Iranian nuclear and missile efforts. In my view, this hasn't received enough attention over the past year.

Clearly, although we must combat the spread of weapons of mass destruction to any country, the threat from Iran is not simply a function of capability, but of intention as well.

If Iran evolves in a more democratic direction and the U.S.-Iranian relationship improves, then the threat it poses certainly will be reduced.

This, then, raises the question of the ongoing power struggle underway in Iran.

The United States is not in a position to have a major impact on this struggle. Nor should we intervene in any direct way.

We should be mindful of the painful history between our two countries, which includes reported CIA support for a coup in 1953. And it still resonates with many Iranians, and it should counsel us to be extra-cautious.

Nonetheless, we should be clear about where we stand. We are squarely with the Iranian people in their desire for a democratic government and a democratic society.

Iran has a disproportionately young population. Half of its people were born after the Revolution.

These young people and many of their parents and grandparents have grown wary of Iran's isolation.

They want Iran to take its rightful place in the international community and to embrace a rapidly-changing world. They want the same kinds of social, political, and economic freedoms that others enjoy. And they deserve to have these aspirations fulfilled. As I said, we should have a better relationship with Iran. Unfortunately, that is not for us to decide. And it is unlikely to come about absent a change in the attitude or composition of the present Iranian regime.

While the Bush Administration continues the policy of its predecessors by seeking dialogue with Iran, some in Tehran have a different view.

Part of the government clearly wants to talk to us and has talked to us over Afghanistan for example. But hard-liners regard us as a useful bogeyman to continue to stir up the passions of their most zealous and ardent stalwarts.

So the question is what can we do from the outside to help the Iranian people realize their aspirations.

In my judgment, we must direct our policies in a way that they do not rest on the principle of reciprocity.

In other words, we should assume that the continuing power struggle will prevent Iran from responding to any particular American gestures. And take steps that are carefully calibrated with the aim of assisting those who seek change within Iran.

How do we do it? First, we must recognize that the most entrenched elements in Iran seek to perpetuate Iran's isolation through confrontation with the outside world.

Those who seek change want to increase Iran's international linkages.

Let me outline five specific steps the United States can take.

First, the Bush Administration should issue a general license to permit American non-governmental organizations to financially support a broad range of civil society, cultural, human rights, and democracy-building activities in Iran. Such funding is currently banned by Executive Order.

It is unfortunate that it is our own government, not hard-line clerics in Tehran, that have prevented practitioners of democracy in America from aiding their struggling counterparts in Iran.

Second, we should continue to work with Iran on matters of mutual interest as we did on Afghanistan.

It is true that some hard-line elements in Iran are clearly interested in stirring up trouble in Afghanistan, but the story that many don't know is that Iran and the United States coordinated their efforts on Afghanistan closely over the past several months.

The dialogue on Afghanistan should serve as a model and should be extended to other areas of mutual interest, like the future of Iraq - another topic for discussion and cooperation.

Third, the United States should acquiesce to Iran's bid to begin accession talks to the World Trade Organization. The process of accession would take several years, but Iran would have to make structural changes that would increase transparency and undermine the key power bases of the hard-liners.

Fourth, we should be willing to indirectly assist Iran on refugee and narcotics matters. Iran has a huge population of Afghan and Iraqi refugees. American non-governmental organizations that assist refugees are willing to help and should be supported in their efforts by our government.

Likewise, Iran has paid a heavy price in blood and treasure in battling narcotics traffickers on its eastern frontier. Iran has asked the international community for help and it makes sense to assist them through the United Nations.

Fifth, we should continue to encourage citizen exchanges. A track-two circuit has developed in recent years and it is important to keep it going. Organizations such as the American Iranian Council, the Open Society Institute, and the Nixon Center have played a critical role, and I applaud them.

I also applaud the President for his view that there should be a direct dialogue with Iran. In that regard, let me also extend an invitation in my capacity as Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. I am prepared to receive members of the Iranian Majlis whenever its members would like to visit. If Iranian parliamentarians believe that's too sensitive, I'm prepared to meet them elsewhere.

Without speaking for any of my colleagues, I am confident that many of them would join in such an historic meeting. Indeed, some - including my friend Senator Arlen Specter - did participate in an earlier brief encounter at the Metropolitan Museum of Art organized by the American Iranian Council.

We should be under no illusions that these steps will by themselves have a decisive impact. The direction that Iran takes - the form of government it chooses - are ultimately matters for the Iranian people to settle.

As we all know, Nowruz marks the start of Spring. Let us hope that in this season of renewal that Iranians and Americans can find a way to build on shared interests and work constructively to overcome their differences peacefully.

I pledge to do my part and I know that all of you will lend your energies to this critical effort.

Thank you.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Rising to the Challenge

Let me begin with a little bit of good news for Delaware and Milford in particular. You know, the Boys and Girls Clubs have always been the places where we pass on the values of our community to a new generation.

This year, under the Crime Bill for which all of us, police chiefs and local officials, have fought so hard, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Delaware will receive $400,000 in federal funding to keep up their good work which includes a 20 million dollar capital campaign this year that will double the number of kids served.

But the best news is that, with that campaign, there will be a new Boys and Girls Club opening here in Milford

I mention this, because, as I said, these Clubs are where the values of a community are passed on to the next generation, a generation that will grow up with new challenges in a world fundamentally altered by the events of September 11.

I've been surprised recently when people have come up to me and asked if I think that this generation is willing to do what has to be done to win the war on the terrorism.

The answer is: Absolutely. Certifiably yes.

You should have seen our men and women in uniform I met during my four days in Kabul and my seven days in the region. They're dedicated and courageous young men and women. They know what they're doing and they have a clear and reasoned understanding of why they're in Afghanistan.

My parent's generation may have been the greatest generation because it may have been challenged more, but this generation is ready.

For those in my generation, the Vietnam generation, oddly enough, this has been a kind of catharsis. For the first time we're totally united.

It seems that decades of pent-up animosity have been pealed away. In fact, the war on terrorism may be the salve that heals the wound of Vietnam once and for all.

So, when someone asks if this generation is up to it, if it has the right stuff to win the war, to do what it takes, the answer is definitely yes.

Our resolve and our success so far in Afghanistan has a leveraging effect.

We're showing the world that we mean business, and a leader like Musharraf in Pakistan has to look at the U.S. and say; "they mean it, and it's in my interest to listen."

But at the same time, we must understand that our credibility depends on finishing what we started in Afghanistan.

There are three notions that became clear to me in my meetings with Chairman Karzai, and talking with Ministers and ordinary Afghans, all of whom understand why we're there.

The first notion is that the war is not over. Al Qaeda is still there. We are holding a few hundred prisoners, but there were thousands of Al Qaeda and Taliban. And they're still out there unaccounted for, maybe in Afghanistan, maybe in Pakistan. But they're out there.

Second, everyone in Afghanistan, everyone with whom I spoke, understands that the most immediate need is security.

They need troops on the ground. They need an international force to police the streets and keep the peace. And America needs to be part of it. If others want to do it, fine. But we need to have a presence.

President Bush is in somewhat of a box on this. He berated the Democrats for nation-building, and now he's confronted with the prospect of having to do it himself. I don't mean that as a political jab. I mean it in all sincerity. He has a difficult decision to make. How does he stay the course in Afghanistan, prevent it from becoming a lawless breeding ground for terrorism again, and not help rebuild the nation?

Which brings me to the third notion: There is no doubt that we have to stay in Afghanistan for as long as it takes, or I will guarantee you, as surely as I'm standing here, the swamp we drained will fill up again in six to eight months, and we'll be back where we started.

I'm not talking about another Marshall Plan or anything like rebuilding Europe after World War II. Afghanistan is a Third World nation that needs the most basic infrastructure.

It needs water purification. It needs sewage treatment. It needs to be cleared of land mines. It needs a reliable power supply.

The country is devastated. Destroyed. It needs new roads and communications, and the most rudimentary reconstruction of buildings so life can get back to normal.

We need to engage in the reconstruction of Afghanistan.

If we don't show leadership in the international community, if we don't sign on to at least a 15 percent share of the cost to help rebuild, no other country will do it.

Folks, we have to remember why we went there in the first place.

We have to remember that we have an interest in staying and getting it right this time.

We can't afford to let the swamp fill again, and have another bin Laden operate a new Al Qaeda in another failed state.

So, what do we do?

We have some hard choices to make.

Everyone is talking about Iraq and the President is talking about a so-called Axis of Evil, a great rhetorical flourish that connects Roosevelt and Reagan.

But this Axis - Iran, Iraq, and North Korea - are three very different countries which pose very different threats, requiring very different solutions.

When it comes to Iraq, there is some tough talk in this Administration, and I agree that Saddam has to go. I can't imagine that, five years down the road, we could claim to have won the war on terrorism if Saddam is still in power.

There are those who believe we should decapitate the regime now. But before we do, we need to have some reasonable vision for a post-Saddam Iraq.

We need to have an idea of what Iraq will look like and what the impact of our actions will be on the region.

Folks, the world is watching what we do in Afghanistan because if we don't stay the course and get it right there, they know we won't get it right in Iraq either.

What we need is a plan. What we have now is hubris, but we need a plan.

The President seems to think we can do it all and do it now.

He seems to think we can fight the so called Axis of Evil, build a missile defense system, even though estimates are that a mid-phase system alone will cost somewhere around 50 billion dollars.

That estimate, by the way, leaves out the cost of defending our allies, which the President insists he also wants to do.

With the President's budget calling for 7.8 billion dollars for missile defense for FY '03, the Administration is well on its way toward an expenditure in the hundreds of billions for missile defense.

Then add to that what I believe to be necessary increases in conventional military spending - which I've always supported. Today, the cost estimates for the top six modernization programs begin at a minimum of 350 billion dollars. 339 F-22s to replace an aging F-15 fleet will cost 62 billion dollars. 2912 Joint Strike Fighters to replace aging F-16s, A-10s, and F-14s will cost about 223 billion. 30 new C-17s will cost six billion.

A thousand Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles to move Marines from water to land at high speed will cost 14.9 billion.

And one more aircraft carrier will have a price tag of about 6.5 to 7.5 billion.

And we haven't even mentioned Social Security for my generation, for all of us baby boomers who will be retiring soon.

We haven't mentioned education. We haven't mentioned Medicare. We haven't even mentioned a real prescription drug plan.

I hope I'm not dating myself too much by quoting Senator Everett Dirksen's famous words: "A billion here, a billion there...before you know it, you're talking about real money."

I may not be a mathematician, but the President's budget just doesn't add up.

The point here is: We can't do everything. We have some hard choices to make and we have to set priorities.

I've always said, even as late as September 10th, that we should prioritize the threats we face, that the greatest threat is from a terrorist attack, not an ICBM with a return address. Missile defense couldn't have saved the World Trade Center or the Pentagon, and it won't defend against a ship coming into the Port of Wilmington with a dirty bomb in the hold.

A dirty bomb is fissile material wrapped around a massive explosive devise. It's a real threat. If it happens, it would mean not only thousands of casualties, but radiation that would render Wilmington uninhabitable for generations.

And then there's the threat of what I like to call "the candy story." Some call it Russia.

I think of it as a global candy store for weapons of mass destruction protected, in some cases, by nothing more than a fence and a padlock.

There are 60,000 unemployed nuclear scientists in Russia with the key. They have no pensions who are looking to take care of their families. It's not unreasonable to think they might consider selling their expertise. It's not unreasonable to think they might sell the key to that padlock to the highest bidder. And then the candy store is open for business.

The threat of the spread of weapons of mass destruction is out there, folks, and it has to be among our highest priorities.

We have to focus on what's most important, what's most immediate, what makes the most sense given the limited resources we now have.

The 400 billion dollar surplus that we were projected to have by 2004 is gone. Now we're facing hard choices.

But there is a way out. There is an answer. It will come if we understand that we can't stuff ten pounds in a five pound bag.

What we need is plain talk from our leaders on what we can and cannot do, what is and isn't possible and then we have to decide what does and doesn't make sense.

America is at its best when we're challenged, and today the challenges and the choices are tougher than ever. But the American people are bold and visionary.

We understand the need to win this war and are willing to make the sacrifices to do it. And America's leaders have to find a way to work together, rise to the challenge, and come up with solutions as bold and visionary as the people of this nation.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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Hard Choices for America's Future: Strategic Opportunities for a New Century

As the shock of 9-11 begins to wear off, one unanticipated consequence now emerging is a fuller appreciation of why foreign policy matters. Before 9-11, few Americans believed that what happens beyond our borders affects their lives. We were a nation focused on ourselves, constantly looking in the mirror, but rarely out the window.

But on September 11, our perspective abruptly changed. Suddenly foreign policy became something that affected our economic security as well as our personal security. Before September 11, only a few of us were discussing the real threats we face, and how to defend against them. Even fewer were discussing anything even remotely resembling a multi-year, multi-billion dollar commitment to homeland defense. A few weeks later, a half dozen letters made threats of biological or chemical weapons, or a deadly vial in a backpack, much more real.

We were forced to come face to face with our worst fears. We saw the kind of death and destruction that could be wielded by religious fundamentalism, anti-Americanism and terrorists fueled by blind hatred. And we learned that we should not leap forward with answers before we're sure we've asked the right questions - like whether or not to invest in missile defense when a more imminent threat was transnational terrorism. Now we are faced with the hard choices about what we need to do and how to do it.

The good news is we are the world's only superpower. The bad news is we're the world's only superpower. All too often nations expect us to make their problems our highest priority. So, while we can't be all things to all people, we should not shrink back from our unavoidable responsibility to bear the burden of international leadership. If 9-11 was a wake-up call to the American people, it was also a wake-up call to the unilateralists in the Bush Administration.

George Bush came into office disdainful of engagement with the world. He spoke of "nation-building" as an unacceptable option.

When he became President he pulled back from treaties on nuclear testing, on germ warfare, on environmental protection, and announced his intention to withdraw unilaterally from the ABM Treaty.

Less than a year after he was elected, when the first plane hit the World Trade Center, the notion of unilateralism was put to the test. To his credit, he realized it was time to reach out to allies and embrace new partners.

I commend him for this. Epiphanies, I believe, are veto-proof. We can only hope they're permanent as well.

The response has been positive. NATO soldiers flew surveillance flights over the eastern seaboard of the United States.

Musharraf made the strategic decision to align Pakistan with the West.

Putin provided us with intelligence on Afghanistan. He helped secure our presence in the Central Asian republics, and countries around the world joined with common purpose in a common struggle.

Today we must ask if President Bush is going to maximize the strategic opportunities we now have to shape the next fifty years as the Cold War shaped the last fifty, and make long-term engagement one of the strategic weapons in his diplomatic arsenal.

U.S. foreign policy must recognize that many of the new threats we face will require multilateral responses. But no one, least of all the enemies of the United States, should have any doubt that another attack on this nation would lead to our use of overwhelming force, in concert with others or alone, and with the full weight of American power and resolve. But more and more, from law enforcement to intelligence, we have to work closely with international partners. The reason is obvious: Al Qaeda is neither limited nor deterred by national boundaries.

Isolation is not an option. Unilateralism is not an option.

We must be engaged -- the question is how.

Let me be clear. I don't believe engagement is simply supporting treaties on biological weapons, or the environment, or even the ABM Treaty, although these are important, if not critical, symbols of our intentions.

America's engagement around the world is a long-term investment in our security, and should be at the core of our foreign policy.

The first real test of post- 9-11 engagement is to stay the course in Afghanistan. After twenty-three years of almost constant war, the country is in total chaos. Food and water are scarce. Kabul is a moonscape. Devastated. Destroyed.

Not, primarily, by American bombs but by years of war, failed regimes and struggles among armed warlords.

Our military personnel call it: "the other end of ground zero..."

And yet after four days in Kabul, I was surprised at the deep pool of goodwill from a nation so often portrayed as bitterly resentful of any foreign presence.

The Afghan people want us to stay. They need our help. They need security. They know the difference between those who come as enemies and those who come as liberators.

Let me share with you a story Hamid Karzai told me just a couple weeks ago in Kabul... Let me give you two more examples of what I mean. I met with the Minister of Education and asked him what he needed most urgently. I expected to hear about rebuilding shattered schoolhouses, or the need for desks, books, pencils, and so on. But he looked me in the eye and said, "Security. Without it, nothing can be built."

When we went to the old Soviet Embassy, we met with some of the 20,000 refugees from the Shomali Plain living in absolute squalor with little water, little food, and no hope.

But even the prospect of escaping those conditions to return home could not overcome their fear. The Shomali plain, a vast and fertile agricultural area just north of Kabul, was the breadbasket of the nation before the Taliban turned it into an arid sea of dust.

All they wanted was to go back to their farms, but the refugees told us they couldn't because they had no assurance their families would be safe if they tried to return.

Security is the basic issue in Afghanistan.

If Chairman Karzai is to govern effectively, the first things he needs are a military, a police force, and an infusion of economic assistance. And he needs them now.

Tokyo was a start, but more will have to be done, and the United States will have to take the lead. If we don't, no one else will. And like it or not, our leadership role must include soldiers on the ground. If others step forward, fine, but whatever it takes, we should do it. History will judge us harshly if we allow the hope of a liberated Afghanistan to evaporate because we failed to stay the course.

A robust multi-national force helping the nascent Afghan government extend authority to all its borders is a wise investment by the West and our regional allies in Central Asia.

President Bush's aversion to even the rudimentary elements of establishing order and stability -- because it might put him on the road to "nation building" - must be outweighed by our national security need to prevent Afghanistan from backsliding into a lawless safe haven for anti-American terrorists. This means a continued engagement in Afghanistan until we can transition from a multi- national to an Afghan force. But first things first.

Pockets of Al Qaeda and Taliban still need to be rooted out. Incidents of firefights and even major battles continue throughout the country.

Just last week the Kabul government suffered a setback with the reversal at Gardez.

At a Kandahar hospital there was a shootout where Taliban with grenades strapped to their chests had been holed up for six weeks.

Their leader, Mullah Omar, is still at large. No one knows where Osama bin Laden is hiding, if he's alive. Their top lieutenants are still on the run. Others have been killed or fled to other countries. And we have to finish the job before we talk about what comes next.

But we can't seem to talk about what comes next without talking about Iraq. It's obvious we must end the reign of Saddam Hussein. It would be unrealistic, if not downright foolish, to believe we can claim victory in the war on terrorism if Saddam is still in power.

But rather than talking about it now, let me in the interest of time, save my thoughts about Saddam for the Q&A at the end of my remarks. Clearly, whatever strategic decision we make on what comes next - it will require hard choices.

Engagement in Afghanistan, engagement with allies and friends around the world, waging war on terrorism, and homeland defense will take more than our will and resolve. It will take a huge increase in the level of spending. But most of all it will require us to prioritize, something many in elected office find it hard to do. Our job in Washington is to debate what comes first, to determine priorities.

Some people are calling the new budget a "guns and butter" budget, while this morning's Post calls it a "War Budget". Either way, without the squandered 400 billion dollar surplus we were projected to have by 2004, we've got more than a numbers problem. We've got a priorities problem.

Let me focus for a few moments just on the guns side of the equation. I agree with the President, and have argued for some time, that an increase in conventional military spending is necessary to prepare the nation for the next generation of challenges.

Let's look at the top six modernization programs. The cost estimates today begin at a minimum of 350 billion dollars.

339 F-22s to replace an aging F-15 fleet will cost $ 62 billion.

2912 Joint Strike Fighters to replace aging F-16s, A-10s, and F-14s will cost about $223 billion.

30 new C-17s will cost $6 billion.

A thousand Advanced Amphibious Assault Vehicles to move Marines from water to land at high speed will cost $14.9 billion. And one more aircraft carrier will have a price tag of about $6.5 to $7.5 billion.

And let's not forget about national missile defense estimates by the Congressional Budget Office that an effective mid-course intercept system alone would cost more than $50 billion. And that estimate leaves out the costof defending our allies, which the President insists he also wants to do.

With today's budget release calling for $7.8 billion for missile defense for FY '03, the Administration is well on its way towards an expenditure in the hundreds of billions.

We haven't even gotten into President Bush's promise of pay raises for our men and women in uniform and other high ticket items to enhance the quality of life for military families.

And we haven't gotten into what demands we'll encounter in combating the so-called Axis of Evil, three very bad actors, for whom we must devise very different approaches.

Today, with delivery of the President's little blue budget book, it's not too soon to begin prioritizing the most pressing threats to our security. In my book, not to mention that of the Joint Chiefs and the National Intelligence Estimate, terrorism with weapons of mass destruction - but without ICBMs - is the greatest threat we face.

There are many sources for these weapons, and it takes years to get or build them. But there's a shortcut, a place that has it all. It's "the candy store." Other people call it "Russia."

A year ago, Howard Baker and Lloyd Cutler issued a report on the state of Russia's nuclear materials. Baker testified to the Foreign Relations Committee regarding "the enormity of this danger." He said: "And the fact that we have not blown ourselves up so far is no guarantee that we could not still; or that some rogue nation or rogue group has not yet successfully stolen a nuclear weapon does not mean that they cannot still do it if all you have is a padlock out there."

How shall we meet that threat, along with the threat that chemical or biological weapons might find their way from Russia to the rogues?

Senator Richard Lugar and I believe one way is to reduce Russia's Soviet-era debt, in return for Russia investing the proceeds in non-proliferation programs. We hold over $3 billion in such debt, and our allies hold several times that. Debt reduction could help Russia secure its sensitive materials and technology - and avoid an expected payment crunch next year.

Baker and Cutler proposed spending 30 billion dollars over 8-to-10 years to secure Russia's nuclear materials and technology.

I would add another $10 billion for our share of chemical weapons destruction in Russia, a few billion dollars to keep their chemical and biological weapons experts out of harm's way, and some more to track down and secure their missing radioactive materials that could be used to make a radiological "dirty bomb." That adds up to roughly $ 45 billion - which is still less than the price of that mid-course intercept system to defend us against ICBM's. Does anyone doubt that our first priority must be to close Russia's candy store? By the way, we haven't begun talking about things the American people believe ought to be very high priorities: Social Security, Medicare and a real prescription drug program.

Ladies and gentlemen, I hope I'm not dating myself too much by recalling former Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen's famous words: "A billion here, a billion there...before you know it, you're talking about real money. I may not be a mathematician, folks, but this budget doesn't add up. You just can't fit ten pounds into a five pound bag.

No one could have imagined the tragedy of September 11, or the associated financial costs we're still incurring. But when our nation is challenged, that's when we're at our best. And our best means we must have the will to make the hard choices.

Now we need to prioritize, to determine how best to secure America's future. In my capacity as Chairman, I want the Foreign Relations Committee to reclaim its highest function and shine a bright light on the issues of the day. To discuss with experts how our national security concerns abroad are indivisible from the physical and economic security of the American people here at home.

Starting tomorrow with Secretary of State Colin Powell we hope to lay out for the American people the difficult but inevitable choices we must make to ensure our continued well-being and prosperity.

We will be looking at a broad range of issues: How do we protect ourselves from weapons of mass destruction? What about nonproliferation? How do we take advantage of new opportunities to enhance key bilateral relationships?

What's next in the war on terrorism? What do we do about infectious disease, democratization, human rights?

Folks, in a twist of fate, we may be able to turn recent calamity into good luck. History may have given us the best chance we've had since the end of World War II to build a new framework for international affairs.

So far, the American people have been served well by the President and his Administration in the prosecution of the war on international terrorism, but the war is only five months old and the new patterns of cooperation and support are young and fragile. We should nourish them and help them flourish.

Today the doors to international cooperation and American leadership have opened, but if we slam them shut too often we will lose our chance to realign forces for decades to come - and we will be condemned to repeat our wars rather than move beyond them.

Joe Biden Democratic Candidate. Presidential Election 2008

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