Biden Vows to Fight Any Iraq Troop Boost


Richard Moore

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Biden Vows to Fight Any Iraq Troop Boost

Dec 26, 1:01 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. Joseph Biden, the incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, said he will fight President Bush if the administration 
decides to send more U.S. troops to Iraq.

Biden, who has his eye on the Democratic presidential nomination, also warned 
that if congressional Republicans do not join him in speaking out against Bush 
that they - not Democrats - will suffer in the 2008 elections.

"I just think it's the absolute wrong strategy," Biden said Tuesday of an 
increase in troops.

Bush is scrubbing his options in Iraq, after Republicans lost control of 
Congress in the Nov. 7 elections and an independent bipartisan panel determined 
Bush's plan was dangerously off track. The Iraq Study Group, led by former 
Secretary of State James A. Baker III and former Democratic Rep. Lee Hamilton, 
concluded that the U.S. could pull combat troops out of Iraq by early next year.
The few troops left behind would be tasked with advising Iraqi units.

While administration officials say all options remain on the table pending 
Bush's final decision to be announced next month, a surge of up to 30,000 troops
is widely considered a favored option by Bush.

Biden said he is interested in the study group's findings and wants to hold a 
series of hearings on Iraq beginning Jan. 9. Biden said he has asked Secretary 
of State Condoleezza Rice to testify and she has agreed; the timing of Rice's 
testimony, however, is not decided. Rice said she would come to Capitol Hill 
after Bush announces his new plan in Iraq.

In a conference call with reporters, Biden said the purpose of the hearings 
would be to generate a bipartisan consensus among lawmakers on Iraq and pressure
the president to abandon any talk of surging U.S. forces into Baghdad.

"Even with the surge of troops, in a city of 6 million people you're talking 
about a ratio that would still be roughly above one to 100," Biden said. "It's 
bound to draw down support that we need in other parts of Iraq, including Anbar 

Biden, taking advantage of the quiet holiday week to generate media attention by
holding a telephone press conference and appearing on CBS'"The Early Show," said
he thinks Republicans will have more to lose in 2008 than Democrats if the 
violence in Iraq continues and U.S. troops remain committed in such large 
numbers. There are currently an estimated 140,000 troops in Iraq.

"I think we'll only have to accept responsibility for the war if we remain 
silent," said Biden, who has spoken candidly of his desire to run for president 
and has made repeated visits in the past year to early voting states like Iowa 
and New Hampshire.

Biden said he delivered this message in a recent meeting at the White House, 
where he told Bush: "Mr. President this is your war."

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