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Biden warns against Bush spin

From NBC's Domenico Montanaro

Biden urged caution today with regard to President Bush's rhetoric in the run-up to the September Iraq report from Gen. David Petraeus and U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker. The president spoke today to the American Legion and warned that "Our allies in the region would be under greater siege" if troops were pulled too soon.

"We're going to be hearing a lot about the surge over the next few weeks. But remember it's purpose," Biden said in a conference call with reporters. He added that the purpose was to buy the Iraqi government time to find a political solution, and that's not happening, Biden said.

In President Bush's speech last week to the Veterans of Foreign Wars convention, he compared Iraq to Vietnam, though "The lesson he apparently drew is that we didn't stay in Vietnam long enough," Biden said. "I don't think most Americans read history the same way. I know I don't."

Biden added, "The president in my view likes to confuse al-Qaeda in Iraq with the al-Qaeda that attacked us on 9/11. They are not one in the same." Biden calls this the "Bush-fulfilling prophecy."

He also said the most recent National Intelligence Report "should have put to rest his [Bush's] refrain, 'We're fighting them in Iraq, so we don't have to fight them over here.' They took al-Qaeda's name and tactics and are focused on wrecking havoc on Iraq, not America -- at least for now."

Biden also repeated his call for President Bush and others to adopt his plan for Iraq, which includes decentralizing and splitting parts of the country along ethnic lines. Biden said this is not a partition plan, and that Baghdad would not be split up, because it would be a federal city -- as called for in the Iraqi constitution.

Biden points to Sarajevo as a place where this kind of plan was successful. "Once there was a political accommodation," Biden said, "the Serb living next door to the Croat no longer felt the need to take out his neighbor for fear of being taken out. Everything stopped" because there was an overarching political solution in place.

"There's nothing easy about the plan that I have," Biden said. "I just say to those who have legitimate criticisms of what I have: What's your plan? What is the political settlement offered by anyone other than what I have suggested?"