Fox News Sunday

Senator Biden appeared on Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace yesterday, answering questions about Iraq, the Vice President, and Saumel Alito. The full transcript can be found here, but the relevant section on Iraq is below:

WALLACE: If you don’t want to pull the troops out — and I’m going to ask you for a kind of curtailed answer here, because I know you could go on for the rest of our show here. Give us a sense of what you think we need to do in Iraq to turn things around and how much time do we have.

BIDEN: Well, the 78 senators sort of laid it out in a Republican-sponsored amendment on the floor the other day. But basically, we need a political solution. It means you need a consensus constitution. You need to get people in there who, in fact, can help them set up ministries that don’t function now so the government can function.

You need to change the way in which way you, in fact, are rebuilding Iraq, so you actually do small bore projects to get the sewage out of the street and get electricity turned on locally. And you have to train Iraqi troops, which is now beginning to occur, notwithstanding what the secretary said.

And by the way, the number is somewhere between 25,000 and 30,000 trained troops and not very much up from what you asked him. There are the four things you’ve got to do. If you do those, if you change policy, change course here, we’ve got a shot of an Iraq that can be held together and not a haven for terror over the next year.

WALLACE: Well, let me just pick up on a couple of those things. You talked about trying to negotiate away some of the differences. I mean, on the constitution, they spent months trying to do that and were unable to, to a very large degree. How do you accomplish that?

BIDEN: The same way we did in Afghanistan, the way we produced (President Hamid) Karzai. You bring in the regional powers as well as the international powers, and you let them have at it in putting pressure on their constituencies.

It’s not in the interest of Iran to see a civil war break out. It’s not in the interest of Turkey to see a civil war break out, not in the interest of France to see one break out, nor in the interest of the Saudis. And so what you do is you have them in on the deal just like we did in Afghanistan, the six plus two talks, produce a consensus, and then build from there.

WALLACE: And what do you do on the military side? You say — and I must say, the secretary didn’t answer the direct question, the number of level one and level two troops…

BIDEN: What’s new, huh?

WALLACE: … which is roughly around 30,000. If that hasn’t changed over the last couple of months, how do you train them up faster?

BIDEN: Well, it has changed. It’s probably gone up from 5,000 to 7,000. What you do is you begin to lay out what the mission is. You change the mission. The mission for us is keep Iraq from becoming a haven for terror and having a stand-up government where each of the major parties thinks they have a stake in the outcome, not the democratization of Iraq to a liberal democracy, not the protection of every Iraqi citizen, et cetera. So mission dictates the number of troops.

WALLACE: And as for this plan, this contingency plan that apparently top generals have offered to the secretary of defense to move the number of troops down possibly to under 100,000 by the end of the year, do you think, based on conditions, that is possible, that’s a realistic assessment?

BIDEN: I don’t only think it’s possible. I think there’s no other choice. If you listen to General McCaffrey and many others you’ve had on your program, they point out we cannot — emphasize cannot — sustain 160,000 troops in Iraq this time next year without mobilizing the entire National Guard or fundamentally changing the commitments on rotations we made.

So they’re just stating a reality. They’re just stating flat-out what is the case. Casey’s already asked that, to the best of my understanding. The idea that he’s not been asked that, that it’s not already underway, I find a little bit disingenuous.

Part of the problem here is — I thought the best quote that the secretary used today — he said reading Churchill — and I wrote it down and he said persuading the people to let you win. That’s exactly what they’ve lost.

Failing to level with the American people, they have persuaded the American people we can’t win, because they don’t level. They don’t lay out a little bit like — if you saw David Brooks’ column this morning, the conservative columnist in the New York Times, he said they should do what Roosevelt did in World War II. He said take out your maps, folks, here’s where we’re winning, here’s where we’re losing, here’s what we have to do.

Why can’t the president do that? We’re losing the American people, and that is a disaster.

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