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Joe Biden on Iraq, Iran, China, and the Taliban

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
December 19, 2011
Newsweek

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On Thursday, Dec. 15, Vice President Joe Biden sat down in his sunlit White House office adjoining the Rose Garden to do what he loves best—talk about foreign policy—with Leslie H. Gelb of Newsweek/The Daily Beast. What follows are excerpts of their exclusive review of the year's hotspots.

NEWSWEEK: I know you feel strongly and correctly that economics is really at the heart of not only our country's future, but our power in the world. You have a bank crisis in Europe right now. And Goldman Sachs just said that at a minimum this means a 1 percent drop in our gross domestic product. And it's likely to be much worse, as you know, because the Europeans can't seem to conjure up the courage to tackle their problem seriously. What are we planning to do about it?

VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: We're using every bit of influence,cajoling—from my getting in a plane, to the president appearing, talking to [Treasury Secretary Timothy] Geithner, engaging, and being very blunt. I was in Greece [earlier this month]. The president has been meeting with our G8 partners and specifically—very, very specifically on the phone with everyone from [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel to [French President Nicolas] Sarkozy, [British Prime Minister David] Cameron. I mean we are engaged in making it clear to them that there is an answer. They've got to step up.

NEWSWEEK: But they're looking to us for something we can't give anymore, which is cash to bail them out.

BIDEN: We're not going to. These guys at the end of the day are going to have to choose: they either lose now or lose later. And if they lose later, they lose real, real big.

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