Fact Check: John Kerry Tempers Biden's Support for the Iraq War

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Posted: Jan 13, 2020 4:30 PM
Fact Check: John Kerry Tempers Biden's Support for the Iraq War

Source: AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Former Vice President Joe Biden is still paying for a vote he made in October 2002. That month, he was one of 77 senators to vote in favor of the Iraq War. Since that show of force has become extremely unpopular and is cramping his presidential campaign, Biden and his surrogates have tried to distance him from it.

President Bush wanted to go after Saddam Hussein in 2002 because U.S. intelligence told him that the dictator was hiding weapons of mass destruction. Biden and other senators supported his decision, and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has been hammering the VP for the vote.

"It is appalling that after 18 years, Joe Biden still refuses to admit that he was dead wrong on the Iraq War, the worst foreign policy blunder in modern American history," the Sanders campaign said.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry laughed at the quote during his appearance on CBS's “Face the Nation” on Sunday. Then he started to stretch the truth about the former vice president's foreign policy record. Kerry insists Biden only supported the military action because he was acting upon unreliable intel.

Kerry reminded Sanders that he doesn’t have the national security experience that Biden has. Biden sat on the board of the national security council for eight years and even helped to negotiate the removal of troops from Iraq years later.

“I think that Bernie regrettably, is distorting Joe’s record,” Kerry responded.

“I know very well what Joe’s position was,” Kerry claimed. “It was very clear that what we were doing was listening to a president who made a pledge that he was going to do diplomacy, that he was going to exhaust diplomacy, build a coalition and ultimately we learned as Joe did and I did that the intelligence was distorted.”

“Joe was against what they were doing,” Kerry continued. “The vote was not a vote specifically go to war. It was a vote for the president to have leverage with respect to getting Saddam Hussein back to the inspections. I think we were let down. And Joe has said many times it was a mistake to trust the words of the administration who didn’t follow through on what they said they were going to do.”

But, video of Biden supporting President Bush's show of force in Iraq exists. Several videos, actually.

“The cost of not acting against Saddam, I believe, would have been much greater,” Biden said at the Brookings Institute in 2003. “And so is the cost, and so will be the cost of not finishing this job.”

Biden goes on to admit in the Brookings speech that President Bush’s case is “not a very popular” one, but he and many others "will support him when he makes the case."

He's singing a different tune now that he's running for president again, telling voters that he was "against the Iraq War from the start." Biden's foreign policy advisor Tony Blinken confusingly insisted on CNN that the candidate's vote in favor of military force was a vote "for tough diplomacy, not to go to war."

"Yet the Iraq war vote is part of the extensive record he cites, and he has struggled to accurately account for it on the campaign trail, repeatedly suggesting he opposed the war and Mr. Bush’s conduct from the beginning, claims that detailed fact checks have deemed wrong or misleading," the Times writes.

As Katie recently noted, this is hardly the first time Biden has bungled foreign policy. Remember when he advised President Obama not to go after Osama bin Laden?