Biden Calls on Congress to Fund U.S. Commitments to Iraq

WASHINGTON, Nov. 21, 2010 — Iraq has made tremen­dous progress, but the coun­try still needs Amer­i­can sup­port, Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden said in a com­men­tary that ran in The New York Times this morn­ing.
Biden is the Oba­ma administration’s point man for Iraq.

The vice pres­i­dent praised the Iraqis for form­ing an inclu­sive gov­ern­ment in Bagh­dad and made the case that the Unit­ed States must main­tain sup­port for the fledg­ling democ­ra­cy.

“Since the elec­tions there in March, our admin­is­tra­tion has said that the Iraqi peo­ple deserve a gov­ern­ment that reflects the results of those elec­tions, that includes all the major blocs rep­re­sent­ing Iraq’s var­i­ous com­mu­ni­ties and that does not exclude or mar­gin­al­ize any­one,” Biden wrote. “That is what they will now have.”

The Iraqis are using pol­i­tics, not force, to work through the nation’s issues. “It has­n’t always been pret­ty, but pol­i­tics rarely is, in Iraq, in Amer­i­ca or any­where else,” the vice pres­i­dent said. “By agree­ing to form a nation­al part­ner­ship gov­ern­ment, how­ev­er, Iraqi lead­ers have sent an unmis­tak­able mes­sage to their fel­low cit­i­zens, their region and the world: after more than sev­en years of war and decades of dic­ta­tor­ship, Iraqis seek a nation where the rights of all cit­i­zens are rec­og­nized and the tal­ents of all are har­nessed to unlock the country’s full poten­tial.”

Iraq, how­ev­er, still faces enor­mous chal­lenges, and the Unit­ed States must con­tin­ue its engage­ment with Iraq. That engage­ment will change from a mil­i­tary to a civil­ian lead. About 50,000 Amer­i­can troops are in Iraq, down from a high of more than 166,000 in 2007. The troops who remain are in advise and assist brigades, and work to train the more than 650,000 mem­bers of the Iraqi army and police.

“Mean­while, we are estab­lish­ing a diplo­mat­ic pres­ence through­out the coun­try and, under the terms of our Strate­gic Frame­work Agree­ment, build­ing a dynam­ic part­ner­ship across a range of gov­ern­ment sec­tors, includ­ing edu­ca­tion, ener­gy, trade, health, cul­ture, infor­ma­tion tech­nol­o­gy, law enforce­ment and the judi­cia­ry,” Biden said.

Iraq today is far safer and more sta­ble than at any time since the out­break of war in 2003, he said. In 2009, Iraqi forces took charge of secu­ri­ty in major cities, and in August, they assumed pri­ma­ry secu­ri­ty respon­si­bil­i­ty nation­wide.

“In recent months, using their own intel­li­gence, Iraqi forces have killed or cap­tured dozens of senior lead­ers of al-Qai­da in Iraq and oth­er ter­ror­ist groups,” the vice pres­i­dent said. “The week­ly tal­ly of vio­lent inci­dents through­out Iraq has dropped to about 160, from near­ly 1,600 in 2007.”

But Iraqi forces are not yet ready to oper­ate ful­ly on their own, and the Unit­ed States must con­tin­ue its sup­port.

The Unit­ed States also must help the Iraqi gov­ern­ment with civil­ian chal­lenges includ­ing con­duct­ing a cen­sus, con­tin­u­ing to inte­grate Kur­dish secu­ri­ty forces, main­tain­ing com­mit­ments to the Sons of Iraq, and resolv­ing dis­put­ed inter­nal bound­aries and the future of the north­ern city of Kirkuk, which is claimed by both Arabs and Kurds.

The Iraqis still must pass a hydro­car­bon law and sta­bi­lize the econ­o­my to encour­age for­eign invest­ment.

“While the day will come when Iraq’s vast nat­ur­al wealth can ful­ly finance its secu­ri­ty and invest­ment needs, and when its civil­ian insti­tu­tions no longer require such inten­sive sup­port, it has not yet arrived,” Biden said. “Iraq has increased its own spend­ing in these areas, and with sus­tained Amer­i­can engage­ment, it will emerge from gen­er­a­tions of trau­ma to become a sta­ble and self-reliant nation.”

This hope is why the Unit­ed States — even as it faces eco­nom­ic trou­bles of its own — still needs to fund impor­tant ini­tia­tives in Iraq. Biden is ask­ing Con­gress to approve bud­get requests to sup­port the broad­er diplo­mat­ic pres­ence, mod­ern­iza­tion for Iraqi secu­ri­ty forces and financ­ing for a police devel­op­ment pro­gram.

“The draw­down of Amer­i­can troops will save $15 bil­lion in the com­ing fis­cal year — we seek to direct less than one-third of that amount to pro­vide need­ed assis­tance to Iraq’s secu­ri­ty forces and to our State Department’s civil­ian-led efforts,” he said.

“The Iraq war has cost our nation dear­ly, with the great­est price of all paid by the 4,430 heroes who have made the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice,” the vice pres­i­dent said. “Now it is in America’s fun­da­men­tal inter­est to help pre­serve the gains Iraq has made, pre­vent the re-emer­gence of vio­lent extrem­ists and encour­age Iraq to become a piv­otal Amer­i­can ally in a strate­gi­cal­ly crit­i­cal region, and a respon­si­ble region­al actor in its own right.”

Source:
U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

More news and arti­cles can be found on Face­book and Twit­ter.

Fol­low GlobalDefence.net on Face­book and/or on Twit­ter

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →