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[casi] Biden to Give Major Iraq Speech at Brookings - Follows Wolfowitz 29 Jul Hearing

At the 29 July Senate Foreign Relations hearing "Iraq: Status and Prospects
for Reconstruction" Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and [Whitehouse]
Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten, and US Army Acting
Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane testified.  Reportedly, the hearing featured
several "heated exchanges" between Senate Foreign Relations Committee
Ranking Minority Member Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Delaware) and Wolfowitz (see
below for some of Biden's statements).  Several Democratic Senators joined
Biden in rhetorically challenging Wolfowitz.  The Committee's Chair Sen.
Richard Lugar (R-Indiana) also expressed concernd about the absence of
specific cost information. [begin] Lugar said the administration should
supply "at least some idea of what is likely to be required of the American
taxpayer." [end] (1)

Below also find a url to the C-Span video footage of the complete hearing.

According to Biden's website, "On Thursday, July 31st U.S. Senator Joseph R.
Biden, Jr. (D-DE), the top Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, will
deliver a major foreign policy address on U.S. policy in Iraq at the
Brookings Institution.

One year after he convened the Foreign Relations Committee hearings on Iraq,
Senator Biden will review the Bush administration's handling of the war and
its aftermath. Biden will also discuss the policy struggles within the
administration and how these disagreements could affect the way America
deals with other trouble spots around the world.

Following the speech Senator Biden will take questions from the audience
(time permitting)." (2)

The speech will take place at noon.  Biden's speech might be noteworthy, at
least as an indicator of what forthgoing might happen in Congress (at least
on the Democrat's side, although there are reports about Republican
frustration with the Administration's regular unwillingness to provide
direct answers related to occupation, reconstruction, cost, transition,
etc.) that is Iraq-related.


"I think you're going to lose the American people if you don't come forward
now and tell them what you know, that [the reconstruction effort is] going
to cost tens of billions of American taxpayers' dollars and tens of
thousands of American troops for an extended period of time," Biden said,
his voice just below a shout.

Referring to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's penchant for saying
certain things are "unknowable," Biden admonished Wolfowitz: "Please don't
waste our time or yours by saying the future is simply unknowable. Pick a
number. Pick an idea."

[end] (3)


BIDEN: I want to try to ask a couple very specific questions, and if you
could help me by giving as quick an answer as you could.

Mr. Bolten, what are your working assumptions on the cost side for the rest
of '03 and for '04 for Iraq?

BOLTEN: For the rest of '03, Senator Biden, on the cost side our working
assumptions are those that Ambassador Bremer has brought back to us. He's
anticipating expenditures in the range for the total of '03 of about $7.3

BIDEN: How much will you be requesting for the remainder of the year, if
any, from the United States Congress to fund that need?

BOLTEN: We don't anticipate requesting anything additional for the balance
of this year.

BIDEN: And what do you anticipate for '04?

BOLTEN: I don't know the answer to that. Ambassador Bremer has laid out a
reasonably specific budget for the balance of '03, and I think he had an
opportunity to discuss that with you. But even that was relatively crude
because of -- they're just getting a handle on so many of the variables that
are in play right now.

BIDEN: Do you anticipate we'll be continuing to spend $4 billion a month for
our troops in Iraq for '04?

BOLTEN: That's roughly what we're spending now. Looking out over the
immediate term, we don't have any reason for expect a dramatic change in
that number, but I wouldn't want to predict beyond the next couple of
months, because the situation is so variable.

BIDEN: Don't you have to? I mean, we're talking about the '04 budget. We're
going to be voting on that in the next couple months. What the devil you
going to ask us for?

BOLTEN: Well, in the '04 budget -- and, Senator, as you know, we've been
very explicit about it -- we have not included the incremental costs of our
fighting forces in Iraq, nor the costs of reconstruction.


BOLTEN: Simply because we don't know what they will be.

BIDEN: Oh, come on now. Does anybody here at the table think we're going to
be down below 100,000 forces in the next calendar year? Raise you hand, any
one of you. You know it's going to be more than that. So you know at least
it's going to be $2.5 billion a month. Give me a break, will you? When you
guys starting to be honest with us? Come on. I mean, this is ridiculous.
You're not even...

WOLFOWITZ: Senator, to suggest that this is an issue of honesty really is
very misleading.

BIDEN: It is a suggestion of candor, of candor, of candor. You know there's
going to be at least 100,000 American forces there for the next calendar
year and you're not asking us for any money.

WOLFOWITZ: Senator, I don't know -- I don't know what we're going to have

BIDEN: Let me finish please. Let me finish.


BIDEN: And you are not asking us for any money in next year's budget for
those troops. Now, what do you call that?

WOLFOWITZ: Senator, there will be a supplemental request, there is no
question about that. And there will be a supplemental request when we think
we can make a reasonably good estimate of what will get us through the whole
year, so we won't have to keep coming up here with one supplemental request
after another so I don't sit here and say, "Well, maybe the number's going
to be 100,000," and then it turns out it's 120,000, then people accuse us of
being misleading or dishonest.

We know what the number is now. We know what we're trying to do in terms of
enlisting other countries. We don't know whether the Paks are going to come
through with a division. We don't know whether the Turks are going to come
through with a division. We don't know how rapidly we're going to be able to
train Iraqis.

BIDEN: Are you suggesting, if, in fact, they come through with divisions
we're going to reduce American forces?

WOLFOWITZ: I believe that that's exactly the purpose of getting foreign
troops in. In fact, in southern Iraq today we are handing responsibility for
key provinces in Iraq over to the Poles and the Spaniards and the Italians.
And we're taking Marines out, we're not replacing them with Americans.

BIDEN: So we're going to have a net reduction of American forces for the...

WOLFOWITZ: I'm not predicting, Senator. I don't know until we get these
Baathist criminals under control, we're going to put in whatever it takes to
do the job.

WOLFOWITZ: But we are trying to get other people to fill in for us. We're
trying to get Iraqis to fill in for us. And I think by the end of the year
or early next year, we'll have a much better fix on what it takes to get
through the year.

BIDEN: Do you have any expectation that you're going to be able to stand up
an Iraqi army of any consequence in the next six months?

WOLFOWITZ: There are two different things here, and then, thanks for giving
me a chance to explain it.

We're working on training an Iraqi army, which is a two- to three-year
project to produce regular units, lots of training, lots of discipline. You
don't need that kind of an army to guard six power lines, you don't need
that kind of an army to take over for Marines guarding hospitals, you don't
need that kind of any army to guard...

BIDEN: That's the civilian defense force you're talking about.

How long do you expect to have stand up...

WOLFOWITZ: Civilian defense force -- we believe we can have thousands of
those people available within about 45 days.

BIDEN: Within 45 days. And how about the police?

WOLFOWITZ: The police we're standing up rapidly, and as you noted correctly
at the police academy. They're not all equally good. I visited a group down
in Basra that still are struggling, but up north in Kirkuk, for example, the
Iraqi police have taken over the whole function of...

BIDEN: The Iraqi police have taken over in -- well, OK, I find this, kind
of, incredible.

The picture you painted -- are there any substantive changes or consequence
you're recommending to the president or is everything going along as
planned, you've, kind of, got everything on course here and everything's
pretty well in hand? I mean, you've told us about how the military says
we're well ahead of where we were in Bosnia. Are you happy with where we
are, right now?

WOLFOWITZ: Senator, I'm not happy with where we are right now and if there's
any way to accelerate anything, we're looking at it.

We're looking at how to accelerate training Iraqis. I've talked about that
at some length. We're looking at emergency ways of accelerating electric
power production; some of that is already under way. I believe the reason we
are able to get the oil production up over a million barrels a day is
because we brought in portable generators to provide electricity. That's the
kind of...

BIDEN: The report called for -- what? -- 5,000 of those. Are they up -- 550
diesel-driven emergency generators to be installed -- are they up and

WOLFOWITZ: I don't know. I can check that for the record. I don't know the

But that is an example of where we're looking at acceleration. We're looking
at acceleration in some nonmilitary areas. For example, up north, one of the
big issues, the so-called de-Arabization. A lot of Kurds and some Turks were
moved out of their homes in a, kind of, slow motion ethnic cleansing and
Arabs were moved in. The Arabs would be happy to leave but it's going to
take some money and some legal efforts to do that. We'd like to get that
started more quickly than what was originally planned.

Your point, Senator, which I agree with, is there's a window of opportunity
here. I can't measure how long it is, but I do believe that the sooner we
move within that window, the better off we'll be further out into the
future; and that money invested now, even if it's not quite efficient, will
save us a lot of money in the long run. And money invested on the civil side
can help bring down that $4 billion a month that we're currently spending on
our troops.

BIDEN: My time's up, but I'm confused.

General Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said that if we get these
30,000 additional foreign troops that there will not be enough for us to
reduce our military in Iraq for months, possibly years, and he said we need
more than 30,000 and even that. I don't get you guys. Myers says that,
you're telling me, "We get these additional troops, we're going to draw down
American troops."

KEANE: Can I respond to that, Senator?

BIDEN: Sure.

KEANE: The two pacing items that involve U.S. troop commitment is one,
obviously, the level of violence and the security situation we're currently
facing. We have to get that down. And the second thing is the involvement of
multi-national forces, and also, the Iraqis themselves, the civil defense
forces that deputy secretary mentioned and also the Iraqi army and police
forces. Those are our pacing items.

And General Abizaid, when he looks to the future, does not want to look
beyond March. But even with looking toward March, what he sees is definitely
two multi-national divisions, probably by the end of September, and the
possibility of a third that hasn't been committed yet, but the State
Department and the Defense Department is working with that. If that does
happen, that will reduce U.S. commitment by one division and also one

And we're moving very quickly, obviously, to get the Iraqis to do more for
themselves, to help defend their own people, and that's in its embryonic

KEANE: It's those two items -- the level of violence, multinational division
participation, and also the Iraqis themselves will see us reduce the U.S.
troop commitment.

BIDEN: These forces are nowhere, and I'd be interested to see about your
civilian force.

But at any rate, I thank you.

[end] (4)


BIDEN: Mr. Chairman, if I could just briefly close my comments by saying
that there is an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on the 13th of -- two
weeks ago. And it said a smaller circle of civilians in the Defense
Department who dominate the planning of postwar Iraq failed to prepared for
the setbacks that have erupted over the past two months.

Based on the testimony here today, I think we're making the same mistake
again. I think you're failing to prepare for what is the reality on the

I no more agree -- just for the record -- with your assessment that "Iraq is
the hotbed of terror" now than I did when your assertions about Al Qaida
connections at the front end. And I voted to go into Iraq and I'd vote to do
it again.

And it seems to me the failure of Iraq would be a lot worse than anything
that happened before Iraq.

The president, it seems to me, has to tell the American people, General,
what you were saying earlier: Prepare them for what is expected of them. And
it's going to be tens of billions of dollars and tens of thousands of troops
for an extended period of time.

That window is going to close in Iraq. But it's also going to close -- as my
friend, Senator Corzine, was implying -- in terms of American public opinion
if we don't start to level with them. Our credibility as a nation is at
stake right now. And I think you're going to lose the American people if you
don't come forward now and tell them what you know, that it's going to cost
tens of billions of dollars of American taxpayers' dollars, and tens of
thousands of American troops for an extended period of time. They think
Johnny and Jane are going to come marching home.

And I'd also point out that you need cops now, you need a different mix of
troops now. And I didn't hear anything today to indicate that you're going
to get that to happen.

I think you've got it wrong in the first place in terms of prewar planning,
the assumptions -- as you said, Mr. Secretary -- turned out to be an
understatement of the problem. I think you're understating the problem

BIDEN: We can do this. We can win this. We can win the peace. But you better
start to tell the American people now, or they're not going to be around.
They're not going to be around. They're going to be asking us to bring the
boys and girls home, which would be a tragic mistake.

So level with them. Billions of dollars, tens of thousands of troops, I'll
vote for it, I'll support it, I'll stay with you. The president has to tell
them now, now, now, now.

LUGAR: Let me thank both senators.

I thank the witnesses, especially for your testimony, staying with the

We are at the end of the roll call vote, and this is why senators have

But we appreciate very, much your being here today. And we look forward to
staying closely in touch with you.

[end] (5)

Hearing Url:,DESE;;

1. Esther Schrader, "Lawmakers Grill Wolfowitz on Iraq", Los Angeles Times,
30 July 2003,,1,5847981.story?coll=la-iraq-complete
2. Senator Joseph Biden's office, press release, "Senator Biden to Deliver
Major Policy Address on The National Dialogue on Iraq: One Year Later", 28
July 2003,
3. Esther Schrader, "Lawmakers Grill Wolfowitz on Iraq", Los Angeles Times,
30 July 2003,,1,5847981.story?coll=la-iraq-complete
4. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, hearing, "Iraq: Status and Prospects
for Reconstruction", transcript, Federal Document Clearing House, 29 July
5. Ibid.

Nathaniel Hurd
Consultant on Iraq policy
Tel. (Mobile): 917-407-3389
Fax: 718-504-4224
777 1st Avenue
Suite 7A
New York, NY  10017

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