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Public Statements

Senate Foreign Relations Committee

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE): Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

Mr. Secretary, General Pace, Secretary Larson, I think—weren't we just at a meeting -- (off mike) -- this morning? (Off mike) -- on. I welcome you all.

Let me take this opportunity to publicly state in front of you, General Pace, and others how—what you already know and what the whole country has attested to, and that is how brilliantly our military forces performed. Their success is a tribute to their skill and courage, and to the commitment of the administrations, the last two administrations, in ensuring that our fighting men and women are the best-trained and the best-equipped in the world.

Mr. Secretary, I think it's not an understatement to say that no other member of the administration's been more identified with the effort to change the regime in Iraq than you have. You've been a passionate and articulate spokesman for the view that ending Saddam's regime was a moral as well as a strategic imperative. And the mass graves discovered since Iraq's liberation are a terrible testament to the uniquely barbaric nature of the former regime and how right you were about the moral imperative.

It is my hope that the Iraqi people will never again have to endure such brutality, and they can soon, with God wiling, enjoy the liberties that so many of us take for granted.

But it also is my hope that the administration recognizes that reaping the strategic dividends of Iraq's liberation from sending a message to reluctant states, such as Syria, which you've done well, to spreading democracy in the Middle East, which is a task undertaken, to shifting the balance in the region away from radicalism, all depend upon winning the peace. So does helping the Iraqi people build the kind of future they deserve.

This commitment has focused on the need to win the peace, and we have, as a committee, focused on one point in this effort that we have, under both chairmanships, sometimes been—not criticized for, but we've been questioned why we focus so much on it, and that was how to win the peace. For the last 10 months, it's been the subject of this committee, ever since the hearings last summer. We've made the simple point repeatedly about Afghanistan. But sometimes I fear that it's fallen on deaf ears.

What we saw in Afghanistan and what, unfortunately, we may be seeing again in Iraq, is that for all our success in projecting power, we are less adept at staying power. We know how to win wars, but, Mr. Secretary, with all due respect, so far we haven't gotten off to as stellar a start, in my view, in winning the peace. We can't afford to defeat rogue states—and I'm sure we all agree with this—to allow them to become failed states, which become breeding grounds for terrorism and instability.

I'd like to read from an article in Monday's Washington Post, which I'm sure you have seen, and probably already been questioned on. And, of course, the press is always interested in the dogs that bark more than the dogs that don't. But this is not an isolated case. Virtually every major news outlet has published similar reports. And your opening statement, Mr. Secretary, which I've had a chance to read, because you've been kind enough to submit it to us, in part makes reference to this and takes it on. And the Washington Post article I'm about to read from reflects the views of many so-called experts who have made the same point. But let me quote from the Post.

"Military officers, other administration officials and defense experts said the Pentagon ignored lessons from the decade of peacekeeping operations in Haiti, Somalia, and the Balkans and Afghanistan."

Continuing to quote: "It also badly underestimated the potential for looting and lawlessness after the collapse of the Iraqi government, lacking forces capable of securing the streets of Baghdad in the transition from combat to postwar reconstruction."

Continuing to quote: "Only in the past week did administration officials begin to acknowledge publicly these miscalculations.

They describe discontinued lawlessness as a serious problem in Baghdad and call for more U.S. forces on the ground to quell the wave of violence that has kept American officials from assuring the Iraqi people that order would soon be restored. How and why senior military and civilian leaders were caught unaware of the need to quickly make the transition from warfighting to stability operations with adequate forces mystifies military officers, administration officials and defense experts with peacekeeping experience in the '90s."

Continuing to quote: "Defense experts inside and outside the Pentagon say military planners are" carefully—or, excuse me—"are clearly influenced by the Pentagon's belief, expressed by Deputy Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and other senior leaders, that U.S. forces would be welcomed as liberators. They also point to the Bush administration's professed antipathy to military peacekeeping and nation-building, as articulated by the president during the 2000 campaign when he charged the Clinton administration with overextending the armed forces with such missions.

"Defense experts and some military forces also cited the Pentagon's determination to fight the war and maintain the peace with as small a force as possible, noting it reflected Rumsfeld's determination to use the war in Iraq to support his vision for transforming the military by showing that smaller and lighter armed units supported by special forces and air power could prevail on the 21st century battlefield."

Later the article says: "Officials inside and outside the administration say the shift in mission should not have been a surprise. In January, the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank, published an action strategy for Iraq that recommended that the Pentagon plan as diligently for the postwar period as for the war. To avoid a dangerous security vacuum, it is imperative to organize, train and equip for post-conflict security missions in conjunction with planning for combat,' the document states. In February, an official from the U.S. Institute of Peace briefed the Defense Policy Board, an influential advisory panel, on a $628 million proposal developed by the institute and based on peacekeeping experiences in Kosovo. It called for bringing 6,000 civilian police officers, 200 lawyers, judges, court administrators and corrections officers into Iraq as soon as the fighting stops.

"Both proposals, according to senior administration officials, were matched by databases inside the government. But the Pentagon had no plan for civilian policing assistance in place and almost no military police on hand when the fighting stopped in early April."

Last paragraph: "Before the war began, General Eric K. Shinseki, the army chief of staff, told Congress that, quote, Several hundred thousand,' end of quote, forces would be necessary to stabilize Iraq after the war. Several days later, Wolfowitz told another congressional committee that far fewer troops would be needed than Shinseki's estimate. Quote: Way off the mark,' end of quote."

Well, this is (sic) the first time we're hearing this—this isn't the first time we're hearing this kind of thing.

The points highlighted in this story were raised during the hearings that the chairman and I have held since last July. And it's no surprise. The secretary, I'm sure, will have an answer for this, but I'm confident you have come prepared today to address and rebut several of these items mentioned in the story. And there's no doubt that we are seeing positive changes in Iraq, that we're making progress, especially outside of Baghdad. But the overall impression has begun to take hold—and justifiably, in my view—that there was either a lack of planning or overly optimistic assumptions or both. I mean, we were honestly surprised by the rise of the Shi'ites and the resurgence of fundamentalism. Did we plan for that? Were we honestly surprised by the lawlessness that plagues Baghdad? I have to say, Mr. Secretary, in my view there's a real danger that if we do not recover quickly, the damage may be irreparable.

The Taliban take-over in Afghanistan was a sobering lesson to the people willing to pay almost any price for the basic sense of security. And the longer it takes us to restore law and order, the most likely it is that the Iraqis will turn to extremist solutions, in my view. Just as many in Iraq, in the region invented the conspiracy theory the United States wanted Saddam to remain in power, they will now begin to believe that we want to see Iraqis remain in a state of anarchy so that we can control their riches.

We have two competing pressures, I acknowledge. One is the understandable desire to leave as soon as possible and not become occupiers. The other is to stay as long as necessary to make sure that Iraq can stay together and function on its own without descending into chaos. It is still my view—it has not changed—that only if we satisfy both these demands are we going to be all right.

It would seem to me that the common sense solution remains invite in NATO, involve our European allies, involve friendly nations in the Arab and Muslim world, the good start today with the Security Council that has changed emphasis. Only then will we lighten our burden on our forces, spread the risk, and prevent us from being seen as occupiers and vastly improve our chance our success. And yes, getting the endorsement of the much-maligned United Nations will make it easier, I believe, for those governments whose people opposed the war in the beginning and still oppose it to contribute to the building of the peace.

And as I said, I'm pleased that we—the president has made significant progress at the U.N. today, and that NATO has said yes to Poland's request for assistance in the managing—in managing its sector. Now, if we could show a little magnanimity in victory instead of talking about retaliation and limiting contracts with countries that were not with us in the war, maybe we can get even more friends in on the peace. I don't believe Iraq is some kind of prize. Iraq, just as Afghanistan—and I can't say I've seen it yet.

But I think Iraq, just as Afghanistan, the single most important issue, as you all would agree, I suspect, is security. And if people are afraid for their lives, if they won't go to work or to school, if shooting and lawlessness reigns, engineers, builders and technicians won't be able to make the repairs needed to get the economy going, the oil flowing, civil servants will stay away from their offices, and doctors from their hospitals.

And the people who drive the buses, run the power plants and pick up the garbage aren't going to do their job.

And as good as our soldiers are, most of them are not trained to be police, and to control crowds and to capture common criminals. Where are the Military Police, the gens d'armes? Who is going to do this job? How could we have failed to learn from the Balkans about the need to bolster our soldier-peacekeepers with properly-trained peacekeepers?

Now, Mr. Secretary, I read your prepared remarks. I have a number of questions I want to ask you. I have already taken longer than I usually do in an opening statement. But I believe if we had more police, our soldiers would have more flexibility to perform other critical tasks that we've fallen short of the mark on, like securing nuclear facilities where we've seen looting. No one is talking about 100,000 police, as you claim in your statement. We're talking about 10,000. Actually, the report suggested to you was 6,000, and we should have planned for it. And if the security situation is still too dicey for even heavily-armed gens d'armes, then we need more troops, maybe even several hundred thousand, as General Shinseki had indicated early on.

Indeed, I find it a little ironic that you're quoted today as saying that one of the lessons of the Balkans in terms of post- conflict situation is to have forces, quote, "so big and so strong that anybody—that nobody would pick a fight with us," end of quote. By your own testimony, you say that you're still—that they're still picking fights with us in Iraq. And our land commander, General McKiernan, complained a week ago that he can't stabilize a country the size of California with only 150,000 troops. So, I'm anxious to hear what we're going to do from this point on.

I ask unanimous consent, Mr. Chairman, that the rest of my statement be placed in the record as if read.

SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary.

Let me begin by saying that in a sense, you're the wrong guy for me to be questioning. And what reason—what I mean by that is I have known you for 30 years. One of the things that I am absolutely convinced about is your absolute conviction that we have to build a stable country there, as long as it takes.

I remember sitting at a couple conferences on "Whither NATO?" and "What about Bosnia?" and I remember you being critical of the candidate for president then, saying we had to get out of Bosnia, and we had to get out of the Balkans and—during the last campaign. And so, I --

SEN. BIDEN: Well, let me --

SEN. BIDEN: Well, it's important to go into it for this reason: One of the things I'd like to know is, when is the president going to tell the American people that we're likely to be in the country of Iraq for three, four, five, six, eight, 10 years, with thousands of forces and spending billions of dollars, because it's not been told to them yet? They have not been told. They were not told before we went in, and you knew we were going to have to stay there, and he knew. It's not been told to them since then. And we are facing a $400 billion deficit, and we're going to be left holding the bag here a year from now, when the military needs and the administration needs considerable input in dollars in Iraq, and the American people aren't going to understand why we're not spending it on education, and instead we're voting to spend it, as I will vote to spend it, on Iraq.

And that's the reason why I raise the question. You seem to want it both ways. You point out that, why would anyone doubt our resolve? We've been in Bosnia for eight years, and the problem is a lot less significant and less difficult in Bosnia than it is in Iraq. That would seem to compute that we're likely to be in Iraq for a long time—a long time. If the problems are so much more complicated, which they are, in, as you point out, in Iraq than Bosnia, then we're going to be around a long time. I don't know about you, but home constituency doesn't understand that. They think Johnny and Jane and going to come marching home pretty soon. Nobody in this country thinks we're going to be there for the next four, five, six, 10 or eight years, like in Bosnia.

And so I would hope the president at some point will make our job easier of continuing to support him, which I have done on every single step of the way in his effort here, and tell the American people. When are you going to say that? Aren't we likely to be—I'm asking you, are we likely to be in Iraq for at least the next four years in significant numbers with significant monetary commitment? Is that likely?

SEN. BIDEN: Is it possible at all, Mr. Secretary, to be out of there in the next two years?

SEN. BIDEN: With nothing functioning now. You point out that it's much more devastated than we thought it was going to be. There is little infrastructure left.

SEN. BIDEN: What—what are the resources? I just attended a meeting with oil experts, with Mr. Larson present and with Ms. Chamberlain present, where the following numbers were—to get it—for us just to get to the point where we're talking about increasing to 1 million barrels per day export, there's going to be a need for a $5 billion investment in the oil fields to get to that point. To get to the point where you'll build up production to 5.5 million barrels per day, estimated by the folks testifying today—and I'd ask either of your colleagues if they disagree with it—seven to 10 years, and an investment of 30- to $40 billion in the fields.

Now, nobody I know in the oil business is suggesting that there are going to be revenues that remotely cover the cost of rebuilding Iraq coming from those oil fields in the next three years. I have not hear anybody. For the record, I'd love you to submit—take as much time as you want—any evidence to suggest that a significant part of the reconstruction of Iraq required in the next three years will come out of oil revenues from Iraqi oil. Would you be willing to do that for the record?

SEN. BIDEN: Okay. Because I have not heard a single person suggest that yet. Not one. And I just wonder when we're going to start leveling.

Look, you want us to continue to support you. You wonder why our European friends say how they could doubt our staying power. Every European I've met with for the last year, including as recently as two days ago --

Look at Afghanistan. Look at Afghanistan. You make this case that somehow this is so fundamentally different than Bosnia. Well, how about Afghanistan? American soldiers are still being shot at. Al Qaeda is still alive and well. The Taliban didn't go anywhere. Those 60,000 forces we talked about in (total ?) are now living in mud huts all throughout there. They're not all in Pakistan, or into Iran. They are still there. And it's a shambles.

SEN. BIDEN: No, no. I want to shift to the comparisons. Tell me how—how the—you're using—you're suggesting that the reason why you can't bring in large numbers of police and why you didn't plan on doing that is because it is implicitly incompatible with the environment that they're in, what we really need are soldiers there and not police there. And I'm suggesting to you the same situation exists --

SEN. BIDEN: Tell me the plans you have that, so if it is different in three months, you're able to drop in 6,000 police officers. Do you have a plan?

SEN. BIDEN: What—what is being—go ahead, sir.

SEN. BIDEN: Well, with all due respect, I respect the general, but his judgment about where we are three months from now is going to be better than most, but still it's going to be a guess where we're going to be three months from now. I want to know where we are today. And that's what I'm worried about. I'm not worried about anybody being able to predict three months from now. What I'm concerned about is that --

Look, I met with the British defense minister. Why—what's different in the city that you acknowledge is the most stable? What are they doing differently there than we're doing in Baghdad?

MR. WOLFOWITZ: Well, they've been there a lot longer. They're dealing with a population --

SEN. BIDEN: Why—what do you mean "a lot longer"? How much longer have they been there? A week? Two? Three?

SEN. BIDEN: I don't know why we can't walk and chew gum at the same time, have police in the city and forces --

SEN. BIDEN: They're not trained to be police.

SEN. BIDEN: Looting is not urban combat. But I'll—I'll come back to that later.

SEN. BIDEN: But they're thugs. They're not—they're not Ba'athists.

SEN. BIDEN: Thugs. Worse than thugs.

SEN. BIDEN: In the second round I'll point out why I don't believe they are incompatible.

SEN. BIDEN: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.

Along those lines, I'd like to request—if you think it's appropriate; I think it's in order—that Secretary Wolfowitz, in addition to making briefings available to us in a timely way—which you committed to do, and you have done in the past, and I'm confident you'll do in the future—whether or not you could in classified forum, and/or in open forum, in writing, give us your best estimates—because I know Secretary Larson was at this meeting today—another sort of either myth or truth, that there's so much potential revenue, oil revenue out there, that we're really not going to have to take a lot out of our pocket in order to get whatever has to be done done.

I'd like to have the administration's—and I'm confident you have it—best estimate of what the schedule for oil production is; your timetable, your best estimate; that is, what will we have up and running in the next month, what do we expect to have up and running, what's our goal in the next year, what's our goal the next three years, how much investment it will require to get us there, and how much revenue we think will be produced for the Iraqi people. It would be very important to know that. Because the vice president, a guy named Mr. McKenzie (sp), for BP Amoco today said—cited the numbers I gave earlier. At sum total, it's $30 billion to $40 billion direct investment. People aren't going to invest if there's not security, et cetera. I don't know who's correct. I don't know what the rule. But I'm confident, I would be dumbfounded if you haven't gamed that out already and given your best estimates. For the record, if you would submit that, I'd appreciate it. Okay? Whomever.
MR. LARSON: No, we would be happy to do our best to submit something of that sort. What I did want to just say very briefly to give a flavor of it is that I think you had quoted a representative from BP as talking about the amount of investment that would be required to get up to 1 million barrels per day of export --

SEN. BIDEN: And then up to 5 --

SEN. BIDEN: Well, that's very useful. Because I may have misunderstood, but he said today that—also, Mr. Yergin and Mr. McKenzie (sp) agreed. I may have misheard him—I mean, misunderstood him. But he said to get to there would require an investment of over $1 billion now, to get to where they were at a million barrels a day. Now, that may not be correct. If you guys don't know these numbers, we're really in trouble; we are—really have a problem. So, I'm confident you've got to have a good estimate.

And secondly, in two to three years, we're talking about trying to get to 3.5 million barrels a day, I'm told. And I'm told that would—a minimum requirement to get there would be a $5 billion out- of-pocket investment by a consortia or—it doesn't have to be by us, but someone's got to invest up to $5 billion. And then, they both said—different organizations—that the objective of getting to 5.5 million barrels per day, which they have not been able to do but have the capacity to, would be a $30 (billion) to $40 billion investment. I am not an oil man. I have no idea whether those figures are accurate.

But it's very important; we know that, because most of our colleagues think—I actually have colleagues approach me on the floor and say: Look, Joe, you guys in Foreign Relations keep saying we're going to have to put a lot of money into Iraq. Dammit, why don't we just take the money, and that's—pay for our own troops, too, by the way. Not only rebuild Iraq; there's enough money to pay for our troops.

So, in case you all don't know it, not only the American public, but a lot of our colleagues think that once they turn the spigot on—and we're going to be able to do it pretty soon, they think—that man, we don't have much of a problem. That is the furthest thing from the truth, as based on the people I've gone to and asked independently before this morning's meeting that, Wendy, you and I attended. Not one person who has any knowledge of the oil business, that I'm aware of, indicated that's true.

So, I'd like to know what you all think, because you have to have planned this. You went—your Marines and your military guys did something no one thought they could do; they secured those fields—they didn't get blown up; they're there. You did your job, old buddy. Now the question is can we do the rest of the job? And if we do it, what is it? It's very important for our planning.

Since my time's going to be up and you don't know the answer, I'm not going to ask you to comment anymore.

But the second thing I want to ask before my time goes by is could you also provide for the record what the plan is for plussing up training, if at all—police forces—not when we're going to need them; but at some point, we're going to need them. Now, it may be a week, it may be a month, it may be a year, it may be two years.

If this were a military operation, you'd clearly have in train how you were going to get that number of military forces whenever you needed them. I'd like to know what the game plan is; what your projections are; how—who you're training, who you're going to; whether you're training indigenous forces; how long it will take; whether you are looking for our allies and friends who have offered, I am told, Carabinieri and others to participate; what you project when you draw down, or when you think it's appropriate, General, for police presence to be there. What numbers are you looking at?

What is the game plan? As that old song goes, what's the plan, Stan? What are you looking to? Because we have to be looking to what kind of money we are going to be being asked to appropriate down the road here.

And the third thing I would you like—I'd like to know for the record: What is the—what is your expectation, because you've obviously, understandably—it's not a criticism—had to recalibrate this? I remember speaking to the vice president and speaking to the secretary in closed hearing and in open hearing, with the secretary, about the expectation, a reasonable one—not a criticism—that there would be an infrastructure left, once we decapitated the Ba'ath Party operatives within police force and within the military, to stand up an indigenous Iraqi capability.

I'd like to know what the assessment is now of that possibility, what the time frame is, your best guess. And no one—we understand no one knows for certain, but you have to have a plan.

I'd like you to be willing to do what you at the outset, I thought, at least indirectly acknowledged. And you gave us a good reason, Mr. Secretary. You said, "We didn't tell you our plans, because we didn't—and we didn't begin until January to make any, because we didn't want anyone to think that we had prejudged that we would go independently, absent the U.N. participation." I think that's kind of thin, but I'll accept it.

You then told us that General Garner didn't come to us, when we asked him to come to us, to give us a sense, because you thought it was not appropriate at that time, and events overtook us, and that you want to rectify that.

I for one don't want to be in the other side of that glass looking in after the fact, being told that our requirements are something no one told me about.

And I will end by saying there is a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll which goes to the very first point I raised, because we're going to have a hard time. I don't know whether this is going to cost us, sum total, a billion, 20 billion, 60 billion, a hundred billion, more. I don't know. But in the following—in the poll, done by NBC/Wall Street Journal—support or oppose: the U.S. spending up to $60 billion over the next three years—that's 20 billion a year—over the next three years to rebuild Iraq. Support, oppose. Thirty-seven (percent) support. Fifty-seven (percent) oppose.

I'm confident, if we told the American people now what it takes, they would be prepared to do whatever it takes, which leads me to the concluding point. I would also think it's useful if you would, for the record, state—and I won't ask you to do it now, unless you want to—what are the stakes in Iraq. I have a clear view what the stakes are in Iraq if we don't get it right. The chairman—and we've both written about—my good friend from Nebraska has a clear notion what he thinks the stakes are. I'd like to know what the president and the administration thinks the stakes are for failure. What is it?

Not—we're not going to fail. But why—in order for me to convince my constituency to continue to spend this money, I have got to—we have to say to them, "If we do not succeed, this is what will happen. This is what will happen."

So you've stated several times—you must have a notion of what you think is at stake. What is at stake here?

I'd like that in writing for the record: What is at stake?

And so, there are my four requests: the oil projections; police training, if any; the schedule for standing up any indigenous Iraqis in any of these requirements; and what's at stake.

And I won't try to take any more of the committee's time. I thank the chair. If we had time, I'd ask you to answer them now, but we don't.

SEN. BIDEN: Mr. Chairman, could I ask unanimous consent that with regard to the question I asked, statement I made to the secretary early on about the—Candidate Bush saying we should get out of Bosnia, I submit for the record the newspaper report. It was on October 25th, 2000, quoting Dr. Rice, who was then his chief foreign policy adviser, and another insert of October 27th, from the Plain Dealer, responding to that.

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