Bush's Troop Initiative Doomed, Biden Says

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By Dan Balz and Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, April 12, 2007

Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.) said yesterday that the Bush administration's "surge" strategy in Iraq is doomed to fail and criticized Gen. David H. Petraeus for offering what he called an overly optimistic assessment of the situation on the ground.

Biden, in an attempt to separate himself from the crowded Democratic presidential field, also asserted that none of his principal rivals for the nomination has offered a viable plan for success in Iraq.

Biden's assessment came after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) defended the administration's strategy and chastised Democrats for not giving Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Iraq, and U.S. troops enough time to make it work.

Biden paraphrased comments made by Petraeus several years ago that "there comes a moment in an invasion where you have a brief opportunity to set things straight and then it turns into an occupation. He was right then; he's wrong now."

Biden was interviewed at the studios of washingtonpost.com as a guest on "PostTalk."

Biden also talked about his prospects against such high-profile Democratic presidential candidates as Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.) and Barack Obama (Ill.) Acknowledging that he trails the front-runners badly in money raised, Biden said he thinks he will have plenty of cash to compete in the 2008 campaign's four earliest tests -- caucuses in Iowa and Nevada, and primaries in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Biden said his path to victory includes a top-three finish in Iowa's Jan. 14 caucuses, a strong showing in New Hampshire and a victory in South Carolina, where he has focused considerable time and energy.

On Iraq, Biden maintained that advocates of President Bush's troop increase -- most notably McCain -- have no plan beyond it. "Assume the surge worked, then what?" asked Biden. "Stay there forever?"


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