On Larry King Live last night, Vice President Joe Biden said Iraq "could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You're going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You're going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government."
The vice president said he’d been to Iraq 17 times and visits the country every three months or so. "I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society" he said. "It's impressed me. I've been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences."
At the briefing today, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was asked about Biden calling Iraq one of the great potential achievements of the Obama administration given that Biden had previously advocated that the country should be divided into thirds and split among Kurds, Shiites, and Sunnis, and then-Sen. Obama opposing the surge of US troops that many experts argue helped bring stability that allowed the reconciliation process to continue.
In fact, in January 2007 then-Sen. Obama said that he was "not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence. In fact, I think it will do the reverse."
Gibbs said the achievement was "putting what was broken back together and getting our troops home, which we intend to do in August of this year."
A reporter pointed out that the Status of Forces Agreement to bring troops home was signed before the president took office.
Gibbs called that agreement "something I think that the political pressure that the president, as a then-candidate, helped to bring about."
The nation "will long debate Iraq," Gibbs said. "We will long debate whether at a very important moment in our effort to root out terrorism, particularly in Afghanistan and in that border region with Pakistan, whether we took our eye off the ball. I think historians will debate that long after we are gone." Gibbs suggested that by invading Iraq the US was "occupy(ing) a country that until we got there didn't have a single member of Al Qaida," and taking its eye off the ball.
Gibbs said that "the vice president's been deeply involved in fixing the political process there so that elections can be held and so that our troops can come home as scheduled this summer."