Senator Joe Biden of Delaware, whose vice presidential buzz has grown louder in recent days, returned today from a fact-finding trip to war-torn Georgia.
And that visit underlined what he could bring to the Democratic ticket with Barack Obama -- long and deep experience in foreign policy, an area where Obama is relatively lacking. Biden, who contested the nomination this year, could however contradict the outside-Washington ethos that Obama is cultivating.
As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden issued this statement about his Georgia trip.
"During my time in Georgia, I surveyed the human and geopolitical consequences of the conflict there firsthand. I visited a facility where some of the tens of thousands of Georgians who have fled the fighting are seeking refuge, unsure about whether they will ever return to their homes. On the tarmac of Tbilisi's airport, I consulted with the dedicated US Air Force personnel who are bringing urgently needed humanitarian assistance to the region. I spent many hours in talks with Georgia's President, Prime Minister, Parliamentary Speaker, and other national leaders discussing how Georgia and the West should respond to this crisis. And I conferred extensively with U.S. Ambassador to Georgia John Tefft and, via phone, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice about how the United States should meet this challenge."
"I left the country convinced that Russia’s invasion of Georgia may be the one of the most significant event to occur in Europe since the end of communism. The claims of Georgian atrocities that provided the pretext for Russia’s invasion are rapidly being disproved by international observers, and the continuing presence of Russian forces in the country has severe implications for the broader region. The war that began in Georgia is no longer about that country alone. It has become a question of whether and how the West will stand up for the rights of free people throughout the region. The outcome there will determine whether we realize the grand ambition of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace."
“Russia must make good on President Medvedev’s commitment to immediately withdraw Russian troops to their positions before the current fighting began. We also need a truly independent and international peacekeeping force in Georgia’s conflict regions. And we must help the people of Georgia to rebuild their country and preserve its democratic institutions."
“When Congress reconvenes, I intend to work with the Administration to seek Congressional approval for $1 billion in emergency assistance for Georgia, with a substantial down payment on that aid to be included in the Congress’ next supplemental spending bill. This money will help the people of Georgia recover from the damage that has been inflicted on their economy and send a clear message that the United States will not abandon this young democracy. I hope this $1 billion commitment will be matched by others in the international community.
“I have long sought to help Russia realize its extraordinary potential as a force for progress in the international community, and have supported legislative efforts intended to forge a more constructive relationship with the Kremlin. But Russia’s actions in Georgia will have consequences.
“Russia’s actions have already erased the possibility of advancing legislative efforts to promote U.S.-Russian partnership in the current Congress, including an agreement to allow for increased collaboration with Russia on nuclear energy production and the repeal of the Jackson-Vanik Amendment, which currently blocks the country’s integration into the World Trade Organization. Russia’s failure to keep its word and withdraw troops from Georgia risks the country’s standing as part of the international community. That is not the future the United States or Europe want – but it is the future Russia may get if it does not stand down its forces and live up to its commitments.”
Biden's office also issued a statement today about the resignation of Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf.
“I congratulate the people of Pakistan on the peaceful resolution of their political crisis, and I applaud the decision of President Musharraf to give up his office for the good of his nation.
"The two major parties in the governing coalition – the PPP and the PML-N – worked together to bring about a change in government through constitutional and nonviolent means. This transition represents the first time in Pakistani history in which a president installed by the military has been removed by constitutional political action.
“I urge Pakistan's leaders to focus now on the pressing challenges of the future and resist the temptation to settle scores of the past. President Musharraf made the right choice in stepping down. I hope his resignation marks the end of the political turmoil that has immobilized the Pakistani government in recent months.”
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.