Last week, the Bernie Sanders campaign released an ad going after Vice President Biden for his support of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq.
The first thing to note is, despite the ad being two minutes long, only two quotes from Biden actually appear in the thing. Both of which, might I add, are in the first minute.
Here they are:
Biden: Contrary to what some in my party might think, Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with.
This quote comes from a speech Biden gave on 6/31/2003, a few months after the invasion took place. However, we’ll get to what Biden meant by “had to be dealt with,” slightly later.
The other example happens right after where a number of members of the Bush administration, as well as then-Senator Biden, are seen using a familiar phrase:
Donald Rumsfeld: Weapons of mass destruction —
Dick Cheney: Weapons of mass destruction —
George W. Bush: Weapons of mass destruction —
Joe Biden: Weapons of mass destruction —
Yep, he said a phrase some other people said, clearly that means he’s a full on neo-conservative.
I’ll admit, I didn’t try very hard to find the exact clip that was being used (because all it showed was that Biden said four words. Hey, in Al Franken’s 2003 Lies And The Lying Lairs That Tell Them an entire chapter was called “My Personal Search For Weapons Of Mass Destruction.”) however, I was able to find more context to other comments Biden made.
Before I show you Biden’s comment I would like you to read a quote from Vice President Cheney on 8/26/2002:
There is no doubt that Saddam Hussien now has weapons of mass destruction [and is preparing to use them] against our friends, against our allies, and against us.
Okay, here are the things that were wrong with that statement:
- No evidence existed that Saddam Hussien possessed weapons of mass destruction.
- Even if he had them, no evidence existed that he planned to use them against anyone outside of Iraq. In fact, if he truly planned on nuking the US or Israel, it’s odd he just never found the time too when he had chemical weapons back during the Iraq-Iran War. For that matter, if he planned on striking other Muslim countries in the Middle East, it’s odd that countries like Saudi Arabia were against the invasion of Iraq to the point where they wouldn’t even let Prime Minister Tony Blair land a plane in the kingdom and forced President Bush to move his military headquarters to Qatar.
Compare that to a quote from Biden from the same month (August 2002).Mind you, I got this quote from a Vice article that had the thesis of “Biden single handily caused Bush to invade Iraq.” (Okay, I might be exaggerating.)
In my judgment, President Bush is right to be concerned about Saddam Hussein’s relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and the possibility that he may use them or share them with terrorists.
To argue that Biden’s and Cheney’s statements are the same is to either engage in an act of extreme simplification or dishonesty. Biden was concerned that Saddam Hussein was pursuing weapons of mass destruction, Cheney said he already had them. Biden said Hussein then might share them with terrorists, Cheney said Saddam was going to use them against the US.
The other main difference: Biden was right. Hussien was pursuing weapons of mass destruction, both through negations with Kim Jong-il and with trying to get uranium from Niger.
This sums up the vast majority of what Biden did during the buildup towards the war. He showed concern Hussien was going to get weapons (a perfectly valid concern considering he had kicked UN inspectors out of Iraq, refused to comply with UN resolutions demanding he prove he had WMD’s, and the last time the US allowed him to get these weapons he used them for genocide both in Iran and Iraq) while Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, and others would say he already had them.
To end this article, we’re going to use the enemy of all Bernie supporters: The voting record of political opponents.
Here is how Biden voted on the Iraq War during his time in the Senate:
- In 1990, Biden voted against the first Gulf War after Saddam Hussein had invaded Kuwait. He asked, “what vital interests of the United States justify sending Americans to their deaths in the sands of Saudi Arabia?” This was a reference to the fact it was commonly believed Hussein planned on taking over both Saudi Arabia and Iran after Kuwait.
- In 2002, Biden helped draft a failed resolution stating that, while President Bush had the authority to use military force, it was only as a last resort after all diplomatic efforts to dismantle Hussien’s weapons program had failed.
- In 2006, Biden stated that he believed authorization of military force in Iraq had been a mistake, as Bush had “used his congressional authority unwisely.”
- In 2008, Biden had called the Iraq War “a war of choice,” and said we must withdraw from Iraq and instead shift our military force to the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Does this sound like war mongering? Of course not! Bernie and his buddies are simply making things up to paint Joe Biden as a some kind of hardcore interventionist and not the moderate, diplomacy centered candidate he truly is.