Fact Check: Did Joe Biden Really Oppose the Iraq War?

Fact Check: Did Joe Biden Really Oppose The Iraq War?

As the Democratic race for president heats up and the candidates try to make themselves stand out from the crowd, some of them are getting pretty creative with the facts. Joe Biden is looking like the front runner in many polls, and he wants to keep it that way, so he’s been dredging up everything he can to make himself popular.

One way to be popular among Dems is to be against the Iraq war, which the Left associates with George W Bush. So, twice in the last few weeks, he’s told audiences that he was against the war from the beginning. The question is, does that square with what he was saying back in 2002?

Highlights

  • At the second Dem primary debate on July 31st, Biden admitted to “bad judgment” because he’d trusted President Bush not to go to war.
  • On September 3rd, Biden told an NPR interviewer that he thinks “my record has been good,” and insisted that “Immediately, the moment it started, I came out against the war at that moment.”
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  • He says he “got a commitment from President Bush he was not going to go to war in Iraq,” and that he believed he was only voting to apply pressure over weapons inspections.
  • It’s true that Biden has hardly been a cheerleader for the Iraq war. In fact, he’s laid a string of criticisms at the Bush administration’s feet, some of them justified. For example, he’s complained that there were no plans to rebuild Iraq after the war, and that turned out to be a major failure that let violent insurgents get a grip on the country.
  • Other criticisms are more political. Biden says Bush should have worked harder at building a coalition of allies, for example. In reality, most of the potential allies that could have been invited wouldn’t have contributed much to the war. The British were on the team, and in military terms that was plenty.
  • But, while Biden criticized the way the war was planned and carried out, it’s only recently that he’s started to claim he was opposed to it. And, looking back at what he was saying at the time, his memory isn’t accurate.
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  • The day after the war started Biden told CNN, “There’s a lot of us who voted for giving the president the authority to take down Saddam Hussein if he didn’t disarm. And there are those who believe, at the end of the day, even though it wasn’t handled all that well, we still have to take him down.”
  • The vote he was referring to, which authorized the use of military force against Saddam Hussein, took place on October 10, 2002. Biden gave a long speech before that vote — and he wasn’t saying “Stop the war.”
  • In fact, Biden called the resolution “a march to peace and security,” in a barely veiled criticism of fellow Dems who called it “a rush to war.” He went on to say, “Ultimately, either those weapons must be dislodged from Iraq, or Saddam must be dislodged from power.”
  • In a final warning to the Iraqi dictator, Biden said, “There is also a chance Saddam will once again miscalculate, that he will misjudge our resolve, and in that event, we must be prepared to use force with others if we can, and alone if we must.”
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  • So, was Joe Biden opposed to the Iraq war? He voted to authorize it, he spoke strongly in support of that authorization, and he made it very clear that he saw the need for military force if Saddam didn’t cooperate. Sounds like he wasn’t opposed to it at all.

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