Times Republican: Biden promises to uphold commitment to veterans
By KEN BLACK
Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Delaware, told a group gathered at the Iowa Veterans Home that Iraq was mired in a civil war that presented no good solution for Americans.
Biden said during recent trips into the country he has had the opportunity to talk with various members of the military about what went wrong. When troops cleared an area of insurgents and terrorists, instead of occupying that area, they moved on, allowing the terrorists to fill in once again behind them, the Democratic presidential hopeful said.
The problem resulted from a force that was significantly undergunned and undermanned, Biden continued.
"Now, in the midst of a civil war, we could send 500,000 troops in and it isn't going to change it," he said.
Although not specifically mentioned during the Marshalltown stop, Biden has favored a three-state solution in Iraq, which would leave the country with three states and a loosely-connected federal system.
Currently, Biden does not see much hope for a good solution for the United States in Iraq. He said the recent conflict has stretched resources too thin.
"It's breaking the Army right now," he said. "It's breaking the military. These kids are doing everything we've asked them to do."
And, he said, they are coming home injured and maimed. The senator said the number of amputees in the current conflict with outnumber those in any other war.
"They are coming home. That's the good news," he said. "The bad news is they are coming back in bad, bad shape."
Because of the medical bills, and long-term care that will be required for some soldiers, Biden said a significant priority of the federal government must be the Veterans Administration. Right now, that department is underfunded by $3 billion a year, he said.
"If I'm elected president and only have $10 and they tell me I got to spend $9 to keep our commitment to veterans, I'm spending that first," he said.
Overseas, he painted a complex picture of relations in the Middle East, saying that the Israel-Palestinian conflict has had chances to be resolved, but resolutions have thus far failed not only because of political reasons, but also because of bad luck, in some cases.
Further complicating issues in the region is Iran, which used to be kept in check on one side by Saddam Hussein and on the other by the Taliban. But now, without those two regional forces in place, Iran has been able to destabilize things.
To improve the situation, Biden said Saudi Arabia needs to be taking more responsibility and more leadership. And if they fail to do that, he would pull troops out of Saudi Arabia and leave them to whatever hostilities might ensue.
"They can't scramble their camels," he said. "Let's see them scramble their jets."
From an energy perspective, Biden said he promotes the use of ethanol and other renewable forms of energy. At the same time, he said corn is not the final answer, even from an ethanol perspective.
"I think it is the way to jumpstart our ability to being energy independent," he said.
Instead of corn, he said cellulosic ethanol, coming from sources such as switchgrass, will be the future.
He also proposes mandating every new vehicle sold in the United States to be flex fuel by 2009. Further, Biden favors mandating every gasoline station to sell E85 fuel, an 85-percent blend of ethanol.