Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War in 2002, but now tries to downplay his responsibility. Liam Glen writes on the Democratic frontrunner’s blatant lies intended to save face.
The US Invasion of Iraq is recognized as one of the greatest disasters of the twenty-first century. It should be no surprise that anyone who was involved in it is now trying to distance themselves from the responsibility.
This is a difficult task for many American politicians given the widespread support that the invasion had at the time, passing Congress by an overwhelming margin. Donald Trump during the 2016 election tested a bold strategy by falsely claiming that he was against it. At the time, these flagrant lies were considered outrageous and unprecedented.
Now, however, he looks to be outdone. Joe Biden’s vote in favor in the invasion has caused considerable controversy in the Democratic primaries. His current strategy – to lie and claim that he was actually against the war – has been allowed to go on with far too little scrutiny.
Biden’s Story vs. The Facts
During his statements in the latest Democratic debate, Biden admitted that the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq was a mistake. But his vote for the October 2002 resolution, he insisted, was only intended to pressure the Saddam regime into letting inspectors into the country.
Furthermore, Biden insinuated that he opposed the March 2003 invasion from the moment it started. This lines up with claims made by Biden and surrogates like John Kerry over the past few months. But the fact is that he has been a consistent hawk in matters relating to Iraq.
It is true that the 2002 Authorization of the Use of Force was approved with the hope that there would be no actual war. However, it still came with heated debate. Many had the foresight to see that the Bush Administration would misuse the power to invade Iraq whenever it saw fit. Biden was on the wrong side of that issue, and to his credit, he has admitted it.
But contrary to what he now claims, he did not become an opponent of the invasion once it started. Instead, he continued to cheer it on for years. In a July 2003 speech, for instance, he praised President Bush and attacked anti-war Democrats, saying “the costs of not acting against Saddam I think would have been much greater, and so is the cost, and so will be the cost, of not finishing this job.”
In a 2004 piece attributed to him in The New Republic, Biden criticized the administration’s handling of the war, but maintained that “I still believe my vote was just.” In fact, he concluded that “most pernicious legacy” of the invasion has been the spread of anti-war attitudes within the Democratic Party.
It was not in 2005 that he admitted that the Iraq War was a bad idea, saying, “It was a mistake to assume the president would use the authority we gave him properly.” Even then, though, Biden’s focus was not on condemning the very idea of the invasion, but simply Bush’s handling of it.
What Is a Return to Normalcy?
Trump’s lies about opposing the Iraq War at least have some ambiguity. As he was not as much of a political figure at the time, he only spoke on the issue sporadically. He made supportive statements before be invasion but turned against it as soon as it began. His claims to have been loudly against the war from the start are blatantly false, but they at least have a loose basis in reality.
Biden, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who supported the war for years, has no such leeway.
Any time a major politician makes such an egregious lie, it should be newsworthy. However, this is especially true given that Biden’s campaign centers around restoring politics to a pre-Trump era, to the supposed golden age before lies, hatred, and hyperpartisanship.
While Trump may take the darkest aspects of politics to a new level, he is hardly the source of all those troubles. Biden’s approach to this issue perfectly demonstrates that politicians have always made massive blunders. And they have always found deceit as a more effective strategy than simply owning up to their mistakes.