Appearing on CNN’s Larry King Live Wednesday night, Vice President Joe Biden took personal credit on behalf of the Obama Administration for a liberated Iraq – with no mention that had President Obama’s wishes won the day back when the Iraq invasion took place in 2003, the oppressive Saddam Hussein would still be in power.
Calling himself “very optimistic” about Iraq and giving no credit to President George W. Bush for sending in U.S. forces against Saddam, the vice president said, “I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration. You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.”
Biden was not shy about highlighting his own role in the success story. “I’ve been there 17 times now,” he told King. “I go about every two months, three months. I know every one of the major players in all the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.”
When Congress in the fall of 2002 voted to endorse President Bush’s invasion of Iraq, then-Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama opposed the measure, which included Saddam’s “brutal repression” of Iraqis in its list of reasons for the U.S. to act.
On top of that, until July of 2008 the Obama presidential campaign website stated that “The surge is not working,” referring to President Bush sending tens of thousands of new troops to Iraq beginning in February, 2007, and transferring command to counter-insurgency expert Gen. David Petraeus.
In 2002, then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Biden voted in favor of Bush’s invasion of Iraq, calling Saddam Hussein “a long term threat and a short term threat to our national security.” At the time, Biden stressed, “We have no choice but to eliminate the threat. This is a guy who is an extreme danger to the world.” And Biden concluded, “He must be dislodged from his weapons or dislodged from power.”
Appearing on NBC’s Meet the Press in April of 2007, Biden said the reason he supported Bush’s going to war to remove Saddam was that “I believed he had the ability to acquire a tactical nuclear weapon—not by building it; by purchasing it. I also believed he was a threat in that … every single, solitary UN resolution which he agreed to abide by … after we kicked him out of Kuwait, he was violating.”
But in the same interview, Biden said his support for invading Iraq was a mistake: “I regret having had the—believed that this [Bush] administration had any competence … if I’d known that they were going to, once they used it, be so incompetent in the using of it, I would have never ever, ever given them the authority.”
Biden also insisted in the same 2007 interview that the U.S. could not finish the job in Iraq without an international summit of Mideast nations. He said, “we have to decentralize, not centralize this government. We’ve got to get the world community in on owning part of this, by calling an international conference to put pressure on the regional powers.”
According to the Joe Biden of less than three years ago, “If we don’t do those two things, I don’t see a happy ending to this whole undertaking. We may be forced into a position where there’s no option, at some point, to withdraw and try to contain the chaos.”
Apparently, all it took to turn that dismal outlook rosy was a year of Biden “providing sustained, high level focus for the administration on Iraq policy,” as the Obama White House website describes his role, and now Iraq has been transformed from “chaos” to possibly “one of the great achievements” of the Obama Administration, according to the vice president.
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