Beltway Happenings

June 21, 2005--Having recently returned from his fifth visit to Iraq, Sen. Joe Biden, ranking member of the Foreign Relations Committee, delivered a speech on "A New Compact for Iraq" at the Brookings Institution.  While Biden took the Bush administration to task for its rosy rhetoric on Iraq, he also offered a series of constructive suggestions on how to improve the situation there. 

Biden stated, "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."

In recent months Americans' support for the Iraqi mission has declined as there have been near daily reports of insurgent bombings in Iraq.  Some members of Congress have called for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. forces, a notion Biden rejected.

Biden said, "The disconnect between the administration's rhetoric and the reality there 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."   Biden said the "first order of business is to regain the confidence of the American people."

Next, Biden said, "We...need to make real policy changes on the ground in four key
areas: security, governance and politics, reconstruction and burden-sharing."  Biden offered numerous proposals.  For example in the area of reconstruction, he called for small projects to quickly  improve Iraqis' quality of life.  "Instead of building a 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 doorstep of every Iraqi when they step out of their house." [full transcript on Brookings Institution site].

RNC press secretary Tracey Schmitt issued a statement criticizing Biden's "gloomy view of the significant progress made in Iraq."  "Freedom is on the march in Iraq and Biden's flawed rhetoric is nothing more than political pandering in an effort to grab headlines," stated Schmitt.

Sen. Joe Biden
The Brookings Institution: Iraq Index
The White House: Renewal in Iraq
Department of Defense: Iraq Daily Update, War on Terror
Iraq Blog Count
The Economist: Iraq

Copyright © 2005  Eric M. Appleman/Democracy in Action