- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Sen. Joe Biden formally launched his White House run this week with a forceful attack on his primary opponents’ plans for Iraq. While Mr. Biden continues to reserve his most strident criticism for the Bush administration’s policy, he had a number of sharp words for three Democrats leading him in the polls.

Mr. Biden, who filed papers yesterday, has tried to build on his chairmanship of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and establish himself as the leading foreign-policy expert in a crowded Democratic field. The outspoken Delaware Democrat held forth on Iraq during television appearances and an interview with the New York Observer, characterizing the policy suggestions from three other Democrats seeking the nomination — former Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton — as shallow, nonexistent and “a very bad idea,” respectively.

“I don’t think John Edwards knows what the heck he is talking about,” Mr. Biden told the Observer. Mr. Edwards wants to block funding for a troop increase and hastily withdraw some 40,000 troops. “John Edwards wants you and all the Democrats to think, ‘I want us out of there,’ but when you come back and you say, ‘O.K., John… what about the chaos that will ensue? Do we have any interest, John, left in the region?’ Well, John will have to answer yes or no. If he says yes, what are they? What are those interests, John? How do you protect those interests, John, if you are completely withdrawn? Are you withdrawn from the region, John? Are you withdrawn from Iraq, John? In what period?”

“I don’t recall hearing a word from Barack about a plan or a tactic,” Mr. Biden said. The Illinois senator has since introduced legislation to cap troop levels and require all forces to be withdrawn by the end of March 2008.

Mr. Biden was no less harsh when it came to Mrs. Clinton. On CNN’s “American Morning,” Mr. Biden said: “I think it would be a disaster if that is her plan to, one, cap the American forces — I think we should lower the American forces — and two, cut off funding for the local Iraqi forces. They’re the people we’re supposed to be training… To do both simultaneously is counter-productive.” This plan is a recipe, he told the Observer, for “nothing but disaster.”

Mr. Biden chided his competition for choosing approaches that are more “politically” than “substantively” correct, and for staying away from the Iraq debate until their presidential aspirations required that they enter it. We couldn’t agree more. Mr. Biden is probably too serious a foreign-policy thinker to be a viable candidate for the Democratic Party presidential nomination.

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