National Public Radio presidential debate

SEN. BIDEN: By the way, terminology matters. I'm a great admirer of Senator Clinton. It's not about not advocating a rush to war. I'm advocating no war. A rush to war means that war, taken slowly, going slowly, is possible. I'm advocating no war, no justification for war.

SIEGEL: Take military off the table, you say.

SEN. BIDEN: Number two, the reason why — the reason why we are disliked so much is because we are trusted so little. The reason why we are disliked so much, obviously — I'm not talking about al Qaeda. I'm talking about the 1.2 billion Muslims in the world who look at us and, when we say and do things as we're talking about now with Iran, conclude that this is a war on Islam.

I'll make one point. When we went into Afghanistan, the word was, the Arab street would rise up. We did it the right way. The Arab street knew that Arabs, the Muslims in al-Qaeda were bad guys. They supported us. When we do things that don't sound rational to them, it undercuts our legitimacy. We have no legitimacy.

SIEGEL: Let me put this to Senator Edwards first and then others.

When we do things that policymakers in Washington may think are rational, like very strong support of Israel, that also upsets a lot of those 1 billion Muslims you've described. How would you, Senator Edwards, how would you as president, Senator Edwards, answer the complaint that the U.S., in its support of Israel, is so pro-Israeli, it can't be an evenhanded, honest broker of matters and is anti-Muslim?

MR. EDWARDS: Well, first of all, I think that what's driving this belief about America and the Muslim community around the world is the bullying, selfish, abusive behavior of George Bush and this administration.

I do want to go back to one quick point. I listened to Senator Clinton talk about what's happening inside Iran. We know what's happening inside Iran. We know a great deal about what's happening. We know, for example, that Ahmadinejad's candidates in the election this — December, about a year ago, got clobbered. We know that there's a serious political — lack of political support for this man, and we have a huge wedge there that's available to America.

Now, as to the Muslim community, I think that the most important thing for America to do is to demonstrate that we have a responsibility not just to ourselves but to humanity, and to help make education available to fight global poverty. We need to take serious steps to demonstrate that America's actually worthy of leadership.

SIEGEL: Senator Obama.

SEN. OBAMA: Well, I think John's point is right, but I want to broaden it a little bit.

Listen to the Republican candidates' debates and how they frame this issue. And if you were a Muslim overseas listening to Rudy Giuliani say, they are coming here to try to kill you, which is the tenor of many of the speeches that are delivered by the Republican candidates, you would get an impression that they are not interested in talking and resolving issues peacefully. Now, what we need to do is we need to close Guantanamo. We need to restore habeas corpus. We need to send a strong signal that we are going to talk directly to not just our friends but also to our enemies.

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