Vice President Joe Biden: Iraq Fight Against ISIS 'Moving in the Right Direction'

PHOTO: Vice President Joe Biden speaks about U.S. policy in Iraq, April 9, 2015, at the National Defense University in Washington.Jacquelyn Martin/AP Photo
Vice President Joe Biden speaks about U.S. policy in Iraq, April 9, 2015, at the National Defense University in Washington.

Vice President Joe Biden today argued the momentum against ISIS in Iraq was "moving in the right direction" and that claims to the contrary did not "reflect the circumstances on the ground."

"[ISIS] momentum in Iraq has halted and in many places has been flat-out reversed," Biden told students and faculty at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in southeast Washington, D.C.

"We are pounding [ISIS] from the sky," he said, adding that ISIS can be beaten from Syria, too.

The speech came just days before a visit from Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to Washington. Biden applauded Abadi, congratulating him on his work negotiating oil deals and a budget, conducting foreign relations with neighbors and working to build a “functioning federalism” in Iraq.

Biden continued to advocate for strong federalism in Iraq, a position he has held for years.

"We want what Iraqis want: a united, federal and democratic Iraq ... where power is shared among all Iraqi communities," he told the decorated members of the U.S. military and foreign diplomats at the half-hour-long speech.

In 2006, Biden penned a New York Times op-ed article arguing for federalism in Iraq, with Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite territory and shared power, a position he reiterated as a presidential candidate in the 2008 race. He again echoed the position.

ISIS intended to tear Iraq apart, he said, but "actually united the Iraqis.”

Biden, a former chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, has been criticized recently for some foreign policy positions. Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates wrote in his memoir last year that Biden "was wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue of the past four decades," and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton distanced herself from Biden in her own book, specifically with the regards to the successful U.S. raid that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden.

The only laugh in an otherwise sober speech came when Biden joked he may have spent more time recently on the phone with Abadi than with his wife.

Still, Biden hailed the thousands of Americans, including his son, who have “spent significant time on Iraqi soil.”

"Their blood and toil helped give Iraq another chance," he said.

Now is the time, politically, to help the Iraqi people and government make the most of that chance, he argued.