In 2002, Joe Biden voted to authorize going to war with Iraq. A decade earlier, he had voted against doing so. The war Biden opposed liberated Kuwait with very little loss of American life. The war Biden supported proved far more problematic.
Now Biden claims that “immediately, th[e] moment [the second Iraq war] started, I came out against the war at that moment.”
This claim isn’t true, as we’ll see in a moment. But first, let’s suppose it were true. What kind of a man votes to authorize a war and then opposes it the moment the shooting starts? What kind of a man claims to have done so?
Biden’s contention is that he voted to authorize war only “to get inspectors in and get the UN to agree to put inspectors in.” Did he imagine that having U.N. inspectors in Iraq would mean no war? If so, Biden wasn’t just a fool — he has always been that — he was criminally reckless.
A more respectable position for someone who voted to authorize war but later opposed it would have been to support the war and turn against it only after the U.S. found just a small amount of weapons of mass destruction and the war appeared to be a quagmire. That’s not what Biden says he did, though.
But Biden isn’t telling the truth. Months after the war began, in a July 2003 speech, he stated:
Nine months ago, I voted with my colleagues to give the president of the United States of America the authority to use force and I would vote that way again today. It was the right vote then and would be a correct vote today.
Thus, by his own admission, Biden would have voted to authorize war even if he knew (as he did when he gave this speech) that we would go to war, U.N. inspectors notwithstanding.
Indeed, the U.N. inspectors are a red herring. As CNN documents, by November of 2001 and in early 2002, Biden was saying he believed that war with Iraq was inevitable and that the war on terror could not be won without regime change in Iraq. For example, in December of that year, he told Larry King “I think that eventually we go to Iraq.”
For once, Biden was right.
Ramesh Ponnuru reminds us that Biden isn’t the only candidate for president who has failed to tell the truth about his position on the Iraq war. President Trump falsely claims that he opposed to going to war. But Trump wasn’t in a position to vote to authorize the war. Biden was, and he did.