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Biden Pushes Plan for Partitioned Iraq After Troop Drawdown

A series of conversations about what may happen in Iraq after U.S. troops leave continues with Sen. Joseph Biden, D-Del., who has been pushing for the partitioning Iraq into more clearly organized ethnic areas.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Now, the third of our senator conversations this week on leaving Iraq. Judy Woodruff has talked with Democrat Carl Levin and Republican Lindsey Graham. Earlier this evening, she interviewed Joe Biden, Democrat of Delaware, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Senator Biden, thank you for joining us.

    SEN. JOE BIDEN (D), Delaware: Happy to be with you, Judy.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The future of Iraq, you spoke on the Senate floor today about the Levin-Reed amendment. It didn't pass, but it would have by next April have all U.S. troops out except for three specific purposes: to defend against al-Qaida; to protect diplomats; and also to train Iraqi troops. How many U.S. troops would it take to do that?

  • SEN. JOE BIDEN:

    Probably close to 50,000, Judy, but it's hard to tell. That would be a military decision. When I first wrote that legislation back in January, which became — it was originally the Biden-Hagel, then it became Levin and Biden, and now it's all the same thing, which is basically to say: Get out of this civil war.

    When I spoke to the military, it would be somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 for a while, assuming you've got a political settlement in addition to getting us out of the cities and the civil war, to just do those functions.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    And how long would they have to stay?

  • SEN. JOE BIDEN:

    Well, it would depend on how sure the political settlement was. If I can make an analogy, Judy, look at what we did in Bosnia. There was more sectarian violence in Bosnia from Vlad the Impaler to Milosevic than in 5,000 years of history in what's now called Iraq.

    And what did we do? We had a thing called the Dayton Accords. We separated the parties. Everybody bought onto the separation, that is the Bosniaks were Muslims, the Croats, and the Serbs, and they bought onto it. We've had for 10 years — NATO has roughly averaged 20,000 people there. Not one single solitary troop has been killed, thank God, in 10 years. And now they're uniting to become part of Europe.

    So it depends on how solid the political agreement among the parties is in order to determine how long or if it makes any sense in keeping any forces there to try to maintain a political settlement, not trying to enter in the midst of a civil war.

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