News Release

Biden’s Deceitful Record on Iraq Invasion

CNN and other media are reporting that Joe Biden will enter the 2020 presidential race this week.

STEPHEN ZUNES, zunes at usfca.edu, @SZunes
Zunes is a professor of politics and coordinator of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of San Francisco. He just wrote a piece for The Progressive on Biden’s positions on the Iraq invasion. In his floor speech defending his vote for authorizing the 2003 Iraq invasion, Biden said that “few resolutions that come before the Congress are as grave and consequential as the one before us today.”

Zunes writes: “As chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2002, Biden stated that Saddam Hussein had a sizable arsenal of chemical weapons as well as biological weapons, including anthrax, and that ‘he may have a strain’ of smallpox, despite UN inspectors reporting that Iraq no longer appeared to have any weaponized chemical or biological agents. And even though the International Atomic Energy Agency had reported as far back as 1997 that there was no evidence whatsoever that Iraq had any ongoing nuclear program, Biden insisted that Saddam was ‘seeking nuclear weapons.’

“At the start of hearings before his committee on July 31, 2002, Biden stated, ‘One thing is clear: These weapons must be dislodged from Saddam, or Saddam must be dislodged from power. If we wait for the danger from Saddam to become clear, it could be too late.’

“In an Orwellian twist of language designed to justify the war resolution, Biden claimed in Senate session in October 2002, ‘I do not believe this is a rush to war. I believe it is a march to peace and security.’ …

“During the summer of 2002, as the Bush administration was pushing for war, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, under Biden, had the opportunity to hear from any number of academics, former foreign service officials, United Nations personnel, and others specializing in Iraq. Public statements and leaks from the administration in the preceding months had been filled with false claims regarding Iraq’s military capabilities and links to terrorist groups while insisting a U.S. invasion and occupation of that country would go smoothly, with minimal casualties or other negative consequences.

“When the hearings commenced on July 31, eighteen witnesses were called, none of whom challenged the administration’s claims that Iraq was in possession of chemical and biological weapons and a nuclear weapons program. All three witnesses who addressed the question of Al-Qaeda claimed that Iraq directly supported the Islamist terrorist group.

“Despite overwhelming opposition among academics and foreign service officers familiar with the region, among the twelve witnesses who addressed whether the United States should invade, six were supportive, four were ambivalent, and only two opposed it. Among the witnesses was former Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, whom Biden insisted was credible despite multiple perjury indictments for lying before Congress and his history of grossly exaggerating the military capabilities of Nicaragua, Cuba, the Soviet Union, and other designated enemies of the United States.

“Throughout the hearings, Biden insisted that Iraq was a threat to U.S. national security and that ‘regime change’ was a legitimate U.S. policy. And he expressed skepticism that renewed inspections would work.

“Scott Ritter, the former chief U.N. weapons inspector, noted just prior to the hearings, ‘For Senator Biden’s Iraq hearings to be anything more than a political sham used to invoke a modern-day Gulf of Tonkin resolution-equivalent for Iraq, his committee will need to ask hard questions — and demand hard facts — concerning the real nature of the weapons threat posed by Iraq.’

“But Biden had no intention of doing so, refusing to even allow Ritter — who knew more about Iraq’s WMD capabilities than anyone and would have testified that Iraq had achieved at least qualitative disarmament — to testify. (Ironically, on ‘Meet the Press’ in 2007, Biden defended his false claims about Iraqi WMDs by insisting that ‘everyone in the world thought he had them. The weapons inspectors said he had them.’)” See video of some of Biden’s statements on YouTube and Twitter.