Monday, November 24th, 2014
Half-True
Biden
"Joe Biden is the only candidate with a plan to get us out of Iraq and keep us out."

Joe Biden on Friday, September 14th, 2007 in a television ad.

First with details, but it's not the "only" plan

A recent TV ad states that Joe Biden is the only candidate with a plan to "get us out of Iraq and keep us out." This isn't true: Most of the Democratic candidates have put forward plans for an Iraq withdrawal.

But those other plans have been sketchy and short on details, while Biden's plan was an early and significant proposal that went beyond the military and addressed the future of Iraq. Still, his sweeping claim to be "the only" candidate with an Iraq plan goes too far, so we give Biden a half-true.

Biden, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, developed his Iraq plan with Leslie Gelb, former president of the Council on Foreign Relations. The plan includes five points:

* Separate Iraq into three autonomous provices -- Shiite, Sunni and Kurd -- with a central government in charge of border defense and distributing oil revenues.

* Guarantee the Sunnis a proportionate share of oil revenues, even though their land is oil-poor, as an incentive.

* Increase reconstruction aid paid for by the Arab states. Tie it to jobs creation and protection of minority rights.

* Initiate a diplomatic effort with Iraq's neighbors and create a mechanism for enforcing regional agreements.

* Withdraw the bulk of U.S. troops by summer of 2008, leaving about 20,000 to fight terrorists and secure borders.

But if Biden was first with a thoroughly outlined plan for Iraq, he is not alone. Barack Obama, for instance, released on Sept. 12, 2007, a plan that rivals Biden's for specifics. Obama's plan does not call for decentralization, but it has in common some of Biden's other points: increased diplomacy to involve neighboring states; more aid for Iraq from other countries; and increasing accountability for regional agreements.

Obama's plan also calls for a new constitutional convention in Iraq led by the United Nations, and it outlines specific proposals for Iraq's humanitarian crisis, particularly for Iraqis within their own country and in other countries.

Other Democratic candidates' plans focus on troop withdrawal. Their plans also mention political reconciliation, but so far give few details on how it should unfold.