Tidbits for Political Junkies with Short Attention Spans & Hearty Appetites


Monday, April 12, 2004

This is an interesting development...

This exchange with Senator Joe Biden, from yesterday's Face the Nation, deserves wider notice (emphasis added):

SCHIEFFER: Well, the--turning it over to NATO--and--and many people have said that--but, Senator Biden, let me ask you this question: Do you think that NATO forces will be willing to come into Iraq? Have you talked to any foreign leaders, for example, who are members of NATO, who said, `If you'll give us a chance, we'll send some troops in there'?

Sen. BIDEN: Absolutely I have. I've spoke tone the president of France. I'm spoken to the permanent representatives in Brussels. I've spoken to the secretaries of defense in Great Britain. I've spoken to a number of European leaders. Now what's happening though is the
window's closing very rapidly. It's like that old bad joke I've told you before, Bob, about the center fielder who makes four errors in the first inning. The coach calls him out, puts in Pat. Pat's first play makes an error. He comes out, calls timeout and says `Pat, what's the matter with you?' And he says, `George has screwed up center field so bad no one can play it.' They're beginning to think we're screwing up center field so bad no one can play it. So that's why the president...

Sen. ROBERTS: You could have used a different name.

Sen. BIDEN: Well, no, but I think it's appropriate. I really do. Look, I promise you, the meetings I've had with these heads of states and the leaders of these European countries are saying we are willing to come in. Now let me make it clear. They're only willing to come in if they have genuine political input in what Iraq is going to look like, not--not under some super embassy ambassador or under Mr. Bremer. They have an equal input in what the country's going to look like.

SCHIEFFER: Well, let--let me just ask you, because I'm intrigued by you said you talked to the president of--of France. The president of France told you he would be able to send troops? He wanted to sent troops? How many troops did he want to send...

Sen. BIDEN: He--he--he--he--he...

SCHIEFFER: ...and under what circumstances?

Sen. BIDEN: He said two things. One, if there is a--a reso--he--he said it didn't even have to be the Security Council. He said it could be the permanent five members of the United Nations, if they had a say in the political outcome and a representative on the ground taking the place of Bremer on Ju--on July 1, he would vote for NATO being able to come in. And then if that occurred, he would gradually induce--in--in--put in French forces. There is no question there's only going to be able to be somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000 NATO forces at the front end of this operation. But when I spoke to General Jones, our supreme allied commander, that amount of force would allow NATO to take over the responsibility of guarding the borders, NATO take over the north, and/or take over the Polish division in the south, freeing up roughly 20,000 American forces in there. But the most important part of this, Bob, is once the American people know we're not alone, once NATO says they're in the deal even if it's with 2,000 troops, it means every major power in Europe has a stake in the outcome. Right now the American people know there's only one nation that has a stake in the outcome, and that's the United States.


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