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WCF Courier - Biden Touts Iraq War Solution

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Location: Waterloo, IA

WCF Courier - Biden Touts Iraq War Solution

By JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD, Courier Staff Writer

For the first time since endorsing him for president, State Rep. Doris Kelley met with Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware, at Jeorgi's Restaurant Wednesday morning.

Kelley, who introduced Biden at the event, has said his political solution to end the Iraq war was a key factor in her decision to support him.

Speaking to a packed house, with restaurant owners Safet and Zineta Dizdarevic, who are Bosnian immigrants, looking on, Biden said a solution similar to the one that ended the Bosnian war is the best solution to end fighting in Iraq.

"Do we trade a dictatorship for a regional war, or do we leave (Iraq) with a loosely organized federated republic like in the Balkans," Biden said.

In an interview after the event, the senator, who is visiting Iraq early next month, said foreign policy experts, and even some "major players" in President Bush's administration, are beginning to privately acknowledge that such a plan is the only remaining solution to the Iraq problem.

Pursuing this policy is one of several changes the nation must make to regain its moral standing in the world, Biden said. At the top of the list is closing Guantanamo Bay, ending extraordinary renditions --- sending suspects to another country to be tortured --- and abiding by the Geneva Convention's definition of torture.

Biden, though, saved his most pointed words for the Bush administration, repeating a claim he made in Davenport earlier this week: The Bush administration won't deviate from a failed Iraq policy because it doesn't know what to do next, so it wants the next administration to clean up the mess.

"I really believe that (Vice President) Cheney's a really smart guy. And I ask myself, how could Cheney and Rumsfeld, before he left... how could they continue the policy? They continue because they don't think they can fix it, and they just want to keep it from falling apart, splintering, before they leave office, and hand it off to the next guy."

Biden also criticized fellow Democrats, including presidential hopeful Bill Richardson, governor of New Mexico, for "dumbing down" the Iraq war issue. Richardson has said repeatedly he's the only candidate who will remove all U.S. troops in six months.

"My good friend Bill Richardson guarantees he'll get every troop out. Well governor, what about those 4,000 civilians inside the green zone?" he said.

DeWitt Hansen of Waterloo said he came away impressed with Biden's answer to his question on border security --- beef up border patrol and increase funding for security technology --- as well as the senator's answers to questions from the crowd.

"I think he was bold on answering the questions. I liked him," said Hansen, whose son recently returned from a tour in Iraq.

Jeff Ersland of Evansdale, who retired from John Deere three years ago, said in addition to national security, Social Security is a top issue for him. Biden responded to his question by saying the country must increase the cap on Social Security taxes to those making $119,000 a year to keep the program solvent.

"I want Social Security to be there for myself, and my children and my grandchildren," Ersland said.

Contact Jens Manuel Krogstad at (319) 291-1580 or

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