12.21.11

Outrage at Biden's Taliban Comment: Daily Beast Writers Weigh In

The VP’s comments in Newsweek—that the Taliban ‘is not our enemy’—have created a firestorm. An Afghan war vet, a 9/11 responder, and GOP presidential candidates weigh in.

The White House rushed to Vice President Joe Biden’s defense on Monday, saying his comments that the Taliban “is not our enemy” were taken out of context. Biden made the remark in an interview with Newsweek’s Leslie H. Gelb. “Look, the Taliban per se is not our enemy. That’s critical,” Biden said. “There is not a single statement that the president has ever made in any of our policy assertions that the Taliban is our enemy.” The remark drew ire, especially since the U.S. is set to begin peace talks with the Taliban. Sticking up for Biden, White House spokesman Jay Carney said his words were “only regrettable when taken out of context,” arguing that Biden had clarified the Tailban would be a threat if they allowed al Qaeda to strike the U.S.

Read the full Newsweek interview here.

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GOP Pounces on Biden Remarks
By Howard Kurtz

It’s hardly surprising that Biden’s latest comments have caused a political furor. That’s especially true since American soldiers are fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan during a war that President Obama inherited but chose to escalate while pulling U.S. combat forces out of Iraq, the last of which left this week.

Republican presidential candidates seized on the vice president’s remarks, which were a hot topic on Twitter. “VP Biden’s comment that the Taliban ‘is not our enemy’ is an outrageous affront to our troops carrying out the fight in Afghanistan,” Mitt Romney tweeted.

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Biden Gets it Wrong—Again
By James Kirchick

When Barack Obama selected Joe Biden to be his running mate in 2008, the media lauded the decision as the perfect choice to beef up a ticket in need of foreign policy credentials. Announcing his decision just weeks after Russia’s August invasion of its tiny neighbor Georgia, the selection was clearly motivated by Biden’s well-cultivated reputation as a foreign policy savant, supposedly evidenced by his long-time service on, and chairmanship of, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “No Democratic politician has more foreign policy experience and expertise than Senator Joe Biden,” declared London’s Daily Telegraph. The Economist labeled him a “foreign policy heavyweight.” And NPR’s Jennifer Ludden deployed the word that Democratic partisans have repeated endlessly in trumpeting Biden: “gravitas.”

Can we finally put to rest the myth that Joe Biden has any clue what he’s talking about in the realm of foreign affairs? Had Sarah Palin made such an ignorant comment, she would have been mocked as an incompetent. But not Biden, who somehow maintains a reputation as a foreign policy “wise man.”

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Khue Bui for Newsweek

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I Hate the Taliban, But Joe Biden Was Right
By Benjamin Tupper

The Taliban tried to kill me and I hate them, says Afghanistan war veteran and author, but Vice President Biden was right to say in Newsweek that they’re not our enemy.

When I read that Vice President Joseph Biden, a man I respect, voted for, and plan to vote for again, told a Newsweek reporter that “the Taliban, per se, is not our enemy”, I was floored. I felt an immediate sense of anger and betrayal.

But the truth is that I knew the answer to my own question before I even asked it.

But the vice president can say such a thing because the vice president is absolutely right.

One of the hardest lessons I have taken away from my experience in Afghanistan is that no matter how much I hate the Taliban and what they stand for, and the cowardly and reckless ways that they shed innocent blood in order to terrorize, the fact remains that the Taliban worldview, as much as I detest it, is an authentic and naturally occurring part of the fabric of Afghanistan.

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9/11 Rescuer Incensed at Biden Story

Retired firefighter Lee Ielpi, who arrived at the World Trade Center within a half hour of the second collapse on September 11, and whose son, Jonathan, also a firefighter, died in the South Tower, is among those incensed.

I find it troubling that the vice president would make such a statement. I think that if we were to ask the many thousands of families who have lost their loved ones fighting this war in Afghanistan, I don’t think they would be pleased either. The people we’re fighting in Afghanistan are the Taliban. They supported al Qaeda. I don’t know how we can make a statement that they aren’t our enemy. They’ve killed thousands of our soldiers. Ask the families of the thousands of soldiers who have been killed and wounded whether the Taliban are our enemy.

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Twitter Reactions

When Joe Biden told Newsweek “the Taliban is not our enemy,” many took offense. From Mitt Romney to Reince Priebus, we gather the can’t-miss tweets.

Mitt Romney

Reince Priebus, RNC Chairman

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