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July 06, 2007

Joseph Biden On Iraq

Q: I have read the paper that you wrote with [former president of the Council on Foreign Relations] Leslie Gelb advocating a tripartite federal system for Iraq that divides the country among the Shia, the Sunnis and the Kurds. But given the rate at which things are deteriorating in Iraq, is there a point at which it becomes impossible for this plan to be implemented when a new president takes office on Jan. 20, 2009?

What I have been straightforward about saying all along is that I believe what I have recommended would, if implemented now, work. But I have also said that I may be left on Jan. 20, 2009, with no option but to withdraw and contain. To literally have inherited a fractured country. Not just a divided country, but a fractured country where there is no way to put Humpty-Dumpty back together.

For me, the first step here for a political solution to have a chance of working is to disengage from this civil war, limit the mission and provide circumstances where the political option, led by the international community, is there.

When Les [Gelb] and I laid out that plan [in May 2006], had President Bush accepted that plan, he could have implemented that plan as a made-in-America idea. Today, we have so little credibility in the world and the region that you have to have the international community as the one putting its stamp on this.

That's an example of how we have limited our ability to affect outcomes, having lost our credibility so profoundly that you have to have the permanent five [members of the United Nations Security Council] being the catalyst for this political solution. And who knows what happens in 20 months.

- from They Don't Own the Democratic Party, interview with Walter Shapiro at Salon.com

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