The VP Debate: Senator Biden on Iraq, October 10 2002

The most intriguing part was Senator Biden’s insistence that he ONLY supported the Iraq resolution to threaten, not to actually attack.

BIDEN: With regard to Iraq, I indicated it would be a mistake to — I gave the president the power. I voted for the power because he said he needed it not to go to war but to keep the United States, the UN in line, to keep sanctions on Iraq and not let them be lifted.

But here is what he said in 2002 about that resolution, and his characterization of it as “an enforcement strike”:

If we knew that al-Qaida had particular weapons, knowing, as we did, what their stated objective was, and with the intelligence we had, we would be fully within our rights–not under any doctrine of preemption–because of the existence of a clear, present, and imminent danger to move against al-Qaida.

Conversely, with Hitler in the 1930s, the rationale for moving against Hitler wasn’t a doctrine of preemption because we knew he was a bad guy. It was because his country signed the Treaty of Versailles. He was violating the Treaty of Versailles. The Treaty of Versailles did not have an end date on it. It didn’t say you cannot have forces for the first 2 or 3 years, or you cannot do the following things. We were fully within our rights as a world community to go after Hitler in 1934, 1935, 1936, or 1937. It was not based on the doctrine of preemption but a doctrine of enforcement of the Treaty of Versailles, and in a very limited time.

What we have here, I argue, as the rationale for going after Saddam, is that he signed a cease-fire agreement. The condition for his continuing in power was the elimination of his weapons of mass destruction, and the permission to have inspectors in to make sure he had eliminated them. He expelled those inspectors. So he violated the cease-fire; ergo, we have authority–not under a doctrine of preemption. This will not be a preemptive strike, if we go with the rest of the world. It will be an enforcement strike.

Here are the records of the conversation THAT day.

They reflect a very different Joe Biden from the man this evening claiming that he was against attacking Iraq.

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