CONCORD, N.H. -- Sen. Joe Biden said Tuesday he doesnít expect to succeed in his push to redefine the presidentís authority in Iraq, but defended the effort as key to prodding the president in a new direction.
The Senate is expected to vote next week on a measure co-authored by Biden that would repeal the 2002 measure authorizing the war and replace it with a new resolution restricting the mission.
"Itís not likely I have 60 votes to prevent a filibuster, but it is likely that if I continue to push, each time I push thereís less and less support for this war in Iraq," Biden said in a phone interview on his way to New Hampshire, where he planned two days of campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden said his measure would allow American troops to remain in Iraq until 2009 only to protect the U.S. military, train Iraqi soldiers and protect Iraqís borders. It also would tell the president "What you can not do with those troops is, you can not stick them in the midst of a city on patrols involved in the middle of a civil war," Biden said.
In town hall meetings Tuesday and Wednesday, Biden planned to emphasize the pending resolution as well as the long-term plan for Iraq he released nearly a year ago.
"A lot of people in both parties are talking about initiatives they have that call for various things - capping the troops, benchmarks, when we begin to draw down troops - but none of them answer the really important two-word question: Then what?" Biden said.
He proposes dividing the country along ethnic lines to give the Shia, Sunni and Kurdish groups "breathing room" and then convening an international conference sponsored by the permanent five U.N. Security Council nations plus Germany, Indonesia, India and Egypt to pressure Iraq to accept a federal form of government.
Joining the Iraqi government in inviting Iran and Syria to a "neighbors meeting" on stabilizing Iraq, as Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice announced Tuesday, is "positive, but I donít think itís efficient," Biden said.
"Itís two years late," he said. "I think youíve got to begin to make Iraq the worldís problem ... By not having the United Nations and the other major powers engaged in this debate, the chance of success I think is not as good."