At the Democratic debate in Des Moines, Iowa Tuesday, Senator Bernie Sanders took former Vice President Joe Biden to task for his support of the war in Iraq during the Bush administration.
Sanders said he never believed what he was told by the Bush administration about the war and made every effort to stop the armed conflict from happening.
“The war in Iraq turned out to be the worst foreign policy blunder in the modern history of this country,” Sanders said. “As Joe well knows, we lost 4,500 brave troops. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died. We have spent trillions of dollars on that endless war, money which should go into health care and education and infrastructure in this country.”
“Joe and I listened to what Dick Cheney and George Bush and [Donald] Rumsfeld had to say,” Sanders continued. “I thought they were lying. I didn’t believe them for a moment.”
“I took to the floor,” Sanders added. “I did everything I could to prevent that war. Joe saw it differently.”
Sanders’ comments came after Biden expressed his view that his vote to authorize military force in Iraq in 2002 was a “mistake.”
“I said 13 years ago it was a mistake to give the president the authority to go to war if, in fact, he couldn’t get inspectors into Iraq to stop what was thought to be the attempt to get a nuclear weapon,” Biden said. “It was a mistake and I acknowledge that.”
Biden said he would only send troops into battle “very, very reluctantly” and then, only for the right reason.
“We should not send anyone anywhere unless the overwhelming vital interests of the United States are at stake,” Biden said. “They were not at stake [in Afghanistan]. They were not at stake in Iraq and it was a mistake in vote. But I think my record overall, on everything we’ve done, I’m ready to compare it to anybody’s on this stage.”
Biden has told reporters that he was in opposition to the Iraq War from its inception, saying that he opposed President George W. Bush’s decisions.
“From the moment ‘shock and awe’ started,” Biden said during the Democratic debate in July 2019, “from that moment I was opposed to the effort and I was outspoken as much as anyone at all in the Congress and the administration.”
Before the decision to invade Iraq was made, Biden was the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 2002, Biden voted to allow the usage of military force against Iraq.
“It is appalling that after 18 years Joe Biden still refuses to admit he was dead wrong on the Iraq War,” said senior adviser to Bernie Sanders’ campaign Jeff Weaver in a Saturday statement. “Unlike 23 of his Senate colleagues who got it right, Biden made explicitly clear that he was voting for war, and even after the war started, he boasted that he didn’t regret it.”