Joe Biden went on offense on national security against John McCain today, but skipped a few points in making his attack. He painted McCain as dangerously out of touch, and used Iraq as an example. However, Biden made the counterpoint himself — without even realizing it:
“John is more than wrong — he is dangerously wrong. On a question so basic, so fundamental, so critical to our nation’s security, we can’t afford a commander in chief so divorced from reality and from America’s most basic national interests,” Biden said.
He spoke at the Cincinnati Museum Center, where President Bush made the case for attacking Iraq.
“Mark my words: If, God forbid, there is another major attack on America, it will not come from Iraq,” Biden said. “It will almost certainly come from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border — where the Bush-McCain approach let down our guard and let our enemies off the hook.
“And unlike John McCain — who opposed Barack Obama’s call to take out the high-level terrorist targets in Pakistan and called it ‘bombing our ally’ — we will not tolerate a terrorist sanctuary in Pakistan.”
We need to do better in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to be sure. But part of the problem there is the NATO command structure — the very multi-nationalism that Biden and other critics of the Bush administration wanted in Iraq. The muddled chain of command and the unwillingness of most of our western European allies to contribute to actual fighting in Afghanistan has handicapped our effort there for years.
However, on Iraq, let’s recall that Biden voted for the authorization to use military force (AUMF) that approved the war in Iraq. He exercised the exact same judgment as McCain did in 2002, and for years Biden expressed support for ongoing operations in Iraq. Not until Democrats decided to use it as a political football in 2006 did Biden begin to back away from his support for the war.
Even then, Biden and Barack Obama would have created the very kind of terrorist sanctuary that he now decries in Iraq, had they been in charge of American military policy in 2006-7. With al-Qaeda terrorists engaging us throughout western and central Iraq, Obama would have had American troops retreat, leaving AQ in place to establish its own state within the borders of a failed Iraq. Biden would have forced a sectarian/ethnic split of Iraq that the Iraqis themselves rejected, creating a civil war along with the failed state and giving even more impetus for terrorist groups to use Iraq for their bases of operations.
In fact, Biden still promotes his plan to partition Iraq even now. He still wants to snatch defeat from the jaws of obvious victory.
John McCain, on the other hand, backed the one military policy that actually defeated the terrorists and the militias: the surge. Even Obama has finally acknowledged the success of the surge, an admission that McCain’s judgment proved superior in this case. He diagnosed the problem early in the war and put his political career on the line by supporting the surge strategy, while Obama and Biden scurried to pander to the Code Pink contingent by backing defeat and retreat.
Biden guarantees that another major attack on America will not come from Iraq. Why not? Because George Bush and John McCain stood firm and fought for victory, despite the ankle-biting from people like Obama, Biden, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Hillary Clinton. If they had controlled policy during the critical years of 2006-7, we’d be looking at the rise of a terrorist caliphate in western Iraq that would have gained recruits, international prestige, vast territories for their purposes, and access to oil revenues for their plots.
If we want to talk about judgment, then we win that argument every time. Biden has to tie himself in knots just to approach that debate. He voted for the Iraq war, and then attempted to lose it. How exactly does that bolster his credibility?