Joe Biden On Iraq: Staying Is "Killing Us"

Joe Biden On Iraq: Staying Is "Killing Us"

Senator Joe Biden continued to press his argument against the administration's strategy on Iraq across the TV dial this morning. On the Today Show, he assailed both the cost of the Iraq war, the lack of a plan forward, and the fact that there seems to be "no end in sight." "The costs of staying are immense," Biden told Today host Matt Lauer, "It's killing us."

LAUER: You didn't wait to hear from General Petraeus last week. You said the surge is a failure. Yesterday you heard him say the progress is real but it's fragile and reversible. Did he say anything yesterday that changed your mind?

BIDEN: No. Look, what I said was that the military side of the surge works. It's brought down violence. But we went from drowning to treading water. And now we're having 30 to 40 Americans die a month, 225 a month wounded. and we're spending $3 billion a month with no end in sight, Matt. They have no plan how to get down below 140,000. They have no plan how to end this war and they have no political prescription as to how to bring the parties together.

LAUER: In terms of the security improvements that have been made -- General Petraeus laid those out -- with the challenges with the Iraqi government, when he uses those words, "fragile and reversible," Senator, are you okay with the fact that withdrawing troops might take us backwards in Iraq?

BIDEN: No. Look, Matt, we can debate whether or not the cost of drawing down troops will hurt. That's debatable. For example, as many military experts argued if we were to withdraw gradually and more substantially from Iraq, that al Qaeda would be hurt more than if we stayed. I asked yesterday -- I asked our ambassador and I asked Petraeus, where is the greatest threat from al Qaeda, in Afghanistan where we don't have enough troops to fight them, by their own admission, or in Iraq? They said they're more dangerous in Afghanistan. We don't debate the cost of staying, Matt. The costs of staying are immense, as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has's killing us.


Biden went on to correct Lauer's contention that the planned drawdown Petraeus plans will take troop levels below their pre-surge status (they won't - Petraeus plans to stand pat at 10,000 troops over the pre-surge level). He also disputed Lauer's contention that Petraeus' plan seemed "level headed," saying, "It doesn't seem level-headed when you don't have any plan."

Asked to evaluate the performance of the three presidential candidates, Biden told Lauer that he only saw the questions of Barack Obama. He praised the Senator's line of questioning, but continued to withhold any sort of endorsement.

Biden also appeared on The Early Show, Morning Joe, and American Morning.

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