Biden’s Lying About Iraq Shows Why Our Nation Has So Many Wars

Below is my column in The Hill newspaper on a week of disturbing false statements from the two leading presidential candidates for 2020. Both stories should give voters pause. Indeed, this week has also seen candidates like Kamala Harris challenged on not one but two statements on her record and, in a way, her selective hearing. Yet, despite Donald Trump’s bizarre conduct in the Hurricane Dorian controversy, the more serious (and less covered) falsehood was Joe Biden’s statement about his claimed opposition to the Iraq War. As someone who opposed the Iraq War, it is frustrating to see former and current senators falsely claiming to have been duped or being opposed to the war. At the time, neither Democratic nor Republicans senators wanted to even hear from those of us who opposed the resolution. Indeed, the key hearing held was absurd with neither party calling opponents to the war. What is striking however is how little press was given to Biden’s false claim in comparison to the Hurricane controversy.

Here is the column:

Former French President Charles de Gaulle once explained that “since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.”

This week, no one is more surprised than President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden. Trump succeeded in turning an innocent mistake about the weather into a blatant misrepresentation and then, after days of determined effort, into a subject of worldwide ridicule. Biden succeeded in denying his own words in support of the Iraq War — splitting television screens of himself saying diametrically opposing things with the equal vehemence. However, lying about hurricanes does not cause more hurricanes. Lying about wars is one reason we have so many of them.

Tragically, American voters are accustomed to politicians avoiding responsibility for their embarrassing or costly errors. Yet, Trump has taken that tendency to a truly pathological level with the debacle over Hurricane Dorian. He incorrectly said Alabama was in the hurricane’s path. Then, instead of simply correcting his mistake, he dug in deeper to avoid admitting it. Ultimately, he produced a hurricane-path map with a juvenile alteration made with a Sharpie to make Dorian appear Alabama-bound. As ridicule mounted, he refused to drop the matter and continued to tweet for days about Alabama being in the path.

Now, the Washington Post reports that White House advisers confirm Trump made the alteration — something he has denied. The controversy grew to the point that the normally apolitical Merriam-Webster Dictionary tweeted out the meaning of “mumpsimus,” or a “stubborn person who insists on making an error in spite of being shown that it is wrong.”

Voters could easily conclude that all politicians are mumpsimuses, or some more so than others. That, however, would ignore the gravity of lying about certain subjects — like war. Both Republicans and Democrats have long lied about wars. The Framers knew politicians would often take the nation into wars for stupid, self-serving or shortsighted reasons. They also knew few politicians would own up to their roles in costly wars. For that reason, under Article I of the Constitution, the Framers expressly required a declaration of war from Congress. Before politicians could send the nation’s sons and daughters off to war, possibly to die, they would have to do so with binding clarity.

During the Pennsylvania ratification convention, James Wilson explained the need for congressional approval as a guarantee that no one “will … hurry us into war [since] it is calculated to guard against it.” Of course, politicians are not big on personal responsibility, at least not in their own conduct. For that reason, virtually all of our wars have been undeclared and, as the Framers expected, politicians routinely misrepresent their roles.

Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry gave perhaps the most mind-numbing example of this. During his party’s primaries in 2004, Kerry portrayed himself as against the Iraq War even though he voted for it. Then, in the general election against President George W. Bush, he pivoted when confronted about his vote against spending $87 billion to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, declaring, “I actually did vote for the $87 billion, before I voted against it.”

Hillary Clinton engaged in the same kind of historical revisionism. She was a reliable hawk on military interventions, including the disastrous intervention in Libya, without even a resolution. On Iraq, she jumped on the popular bandwagon for war. When it became less popular, however, she claimed to have been misled, even though she and her colleagues ignored those of us opposing the original war resolution and refused to take the time to fully investigate the matter.

Ultimately, that war would claim an estimated 655,000 lives, including 4,500 Americans with another 47,500 American wounded. It would cost this country more than a trillion dollars. It initially was popular to send our troops to war — and, when it became unpopular, politicians simply denied responsibility. This is why lying about wars is not just another spin by the shameless. People died because Republican and Democratic leaders did not have the courage to stand against the drumroll for war.

In Biden’s case, he attempted to take a Sharpie to the entire war and black-out his name. In a Kerry-like moment, Biden insisted in an NPR interview that he voted for the war before “immediately opposing it” because, he said, he had been misled. He claimed, “[Bush] looked me in the eye in the Oval Office. He said he needed the vote to be able to get inspectors into Iraq to determine whether or not Saddam Hussein was engaged in dealing with a nuclear program. He got them in and, before you know it, we had ‘shock and awe.’”

Bush’s staff denies such an exchange ever occurred. More importantly, Biden himself said repeatedly that he supported the war and continued to do so … while it was popular. Although he now insists otherwise — “That moment it started, I came out against the war at that moment” — he is repeatedly shown on videotape supporting the war. He said publicly before the invasion that it was important for the U.S. not to stop with “covert action,” if that failed, but to move to overwhelming “overt action” because “we can’t afford to miss.” Then, months after the invasion, Biden told CNN: “I, for one, thought we should have gone in Iraq.” Still later, he said at a Senate hearing, “I voted to go into Iraq, and I’d vote to do it again.”

Still later, he expressly said “we have always known” about the war in Iraq, namely that troops “would have to stay there in large numbers for a long period of time.” He stated publicly — again, after the invasion — that “contrary to what some in my party might think, Iraq was a problem that had to be dealt with sooner rather than later. So I commend the president. He was right to enforce the solemn commitments made by Saddam. If they were not enforced, what good would they be?”

It should not be a surprise that politicians who vote casually to send others to war would not be particularly troubled about denying their own responsibility. The problem is that undeclared wars often are not just measured by the lies, but also by the lives left behind.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

66 thoughts on “Biden’s Lying About Iraq Shows Why Our Nation Has So Many Wars”

  1. Ultimately, that war would claim an estimated 655,000 lives, including 4,500 Americans with another 47,500 American wounded. It would cost this country more than a trillion dollars.

    In a nation that values justice over entertainment every last member (296 in the house and 77 in the senate) of 107th US Congress that voted in October 2002 for the – Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq – would be indicted and tried by a jury of their peers in order to answer for their crimes against humanity and the US Constitution.

    Fat chance of this ever happening here in the US of A.

    Rule of law what is that?

    Something the US government and it’s agents repeatedly ignore until they need something (ie state secrets act, national security exemption) to hide their myriad of crimes behind.

    Fiat justitia ruat caelum

  2. “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

    – Harry S Truman
    ______________

    “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

    – Dorothy
    ________

    “If you’ve got it, flaunt it!”

    – Anonymous
    ___________

    “They see nothing wrong in the rule that to the victor belongs the spoils of victory.”

    – William Learned Marcy, U.S. Secretary of War/State, Governor/Senator N.Y.
    ____________________________________________

    Shhhhh……it happens. The world is dynamic. Good leaders take advantage of opportunities to improve the fortunes of their nations and enhance prosperity through trade. War is trade gone bad. War is like cancer. Everyone has it. Some can’t win it. Some can’t beat it. Good leaders do.

  3. Turley: Tragically, American voters are accustomed to politicians avoiding responsibility for their embarrassing or costly errors. Yet, Trump has taken that tendency to a truly pathological level with the debacle over Hurricane Dorian. He incorrectly said Alabama was in the hurricane’s path. Then, instead of simply correcting his mistake, he dug in deeper to avoid admitting it. Ultimately, he produced a hurricane-path map with a juvenile alteration made with a Sharpie to make Dorian appear Alabama-bound. As ridicule mounted, he refused to drop the matter and continued to tweet for days about Alabama being in the path.

    Turley fails to do the needed due diligence. Trump did not lie and neither die CNN who also broadcast that Alabama was a potential target. This was confirmed by NOAA (see below).

    As for the chart there is confusion about NOAA’s data. There are two sets of NOAA charts: 3 & 5 day watch/warning and probability. Trump’s initial chart was the 3 day watch/warning while the drawn in line was the 5 day. At the same time the probability chart showed a probability of hurricane-winds as high as 30% and that diminished at a slower rate than the watch/warning area when the storm turned NE. All parties involved (i.e., White House, NOAA, MSM) failed to make the distinction between the two type of charts and their time frame clear. Trump was right to point out that Alabama could be hit harder than expected consistent with the probability chart. At the same time Birmingham NWS office was right to say a day later that no impact was expected consistent with the watch/warning chart.

    All in all a tempest in a teapot.

    NOAA Confirmation that Alabama was at risk from hurricane

    From Wednesday, August 28, through Monday, September 2, the information provided by NOAA and the National Hurricane Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical-storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama. This is clearly demonstrated in Hurricane Advisories #15 through #41

    https://www.noaa.gov/news/statement-from-noaa

    1. NOAA employees were bullied into making this statement by “little mister can’t be wrong”. Everyone on earth knows he’s a pathological liar and bully who absolutely cannot accept responsibility for anything, including if it were true (which it isn’t) being misinformed or not up to date. At the end of the day, the entire exercise is a waste of time. The NOAA employee is being investigated for violating the principles and foundation of the entire agency–which are non-political.. The disciples will believe whatever lies Trump tells, and the rest of us are disgusted and can’t wait for that aberration to vacate the White House.

      1. This ain’t hard Natacha. Either there was a report like Olesmithy says, or there ain’t. If there is, then you need to admit that you are are clinically insane and willing to say anything that makes Trump look bad, whether true, or not.

        Sooo, he gave you the link. . .

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  4. Biden’s lying has nothing to do with the dynamic of international relations. Wars we have are a consequence of what the anxieties and ambitions of our officialdom are in relation to what’s going on out there. They’re typically making decisions under conditions of uncertainty. They need the counsel of people who know something – about what you can do with military force, about how you interpret ambiguous or contradictory information, about what the likely costs of an action are, of how to assess counterfactual scenarios. They don’t benefit from the counsel of law professors. (They also don’t need the counsel of degenerates who are steamed because Hitler didn’t finish the job on the Jews).

    1. “Degenerates” you say?

      The Israelites killed every living thing in Jericho to preclude the possibility of attack from the rear on their march into Canaan, which one might surmise was pragmatic and tactically sound.

  5. Out of 243 years in existence we’ve gone about 16 years without fighting a “war.”

    Bolton still has a job, one of the prime architects of two wars (Iraq, Afghanistan) which Bolton’s boss said were wrong. One of Trump’s biggest campaign issues was to end the wars he would inherit (Trump lied of course). Nobody pays the price for bad decisions, especially bad wars. That’s a prime reason why we have so many. Biden should be laughed off the stage, like all the other war mongers, but no, stupid Americans just line up, spread their cheeks, and cry out for “More war!” Bill Kristal (son of a Bolshevik war monger: apple, meet tree) still is accepted in society as if he’s a normal member. Progressives love one of the world’s biggest war mongers Hillary Clinton.

    I have every reason to believe that any POTUS who refused to fight wars would risk the end of his/her Presidency. The deep state would take him down politically or kill him outright.

    There’s too much easy war profiteering. Nothing gets people to roll over and give the MIC their hard earned money like a nice bloody war wherein we kill and maim a lot of people with skin darker than ours. Just claim, “It’s for the chillun, it’s for your ‘safety and security.”

    You can count on sum total 3 things from here on out, no matter the party and not matter the POTUS:
    1. More war
    2. More debt
    3. Less freedom

      1. Remember the genocidal abortion lover’s promise with Roe v. Wade: “all children shall be loved and wanted!” How’d that turn out, about 66 million dead unborn babies later?

        Last count by the Kaiser non-profit research group, 40% of murdered unborn American babies are black.

  6. here is the relevant part of Turley’s post

    “Hillary Clinton engaged in the same kind of historical revisionism. She was a reliable hawk on military interventions, including the disastrous intervention in Libya, without even a resolution. On Iraq, she jumped on the popular bandwagon for war. When it became less popular, however, she claimed to have been misled, even though she and her colleagues ignored those of us opposing the original war resolution and refused to take the time to fully investigate the matter.

    Ultimately, that war would claim an estimated 655,000 lives, including 4,500 Americans with another 47,500 American wounded. It would cost this country more than a trillion dollars. It initially was popular to send our troops to war — and, when it became unpopular, politicians simply denied responsibility. This is why lying about wars is not just another spin by the shameless. People died because Republican and Democratic leaders did not have the courage to stand against the drumroll for war.

    In Biden’s case, he attempted to take a Sharpie to the entire war and black-out his name. ”

    yes this is a dangerous example of falsehood by Biden and the Democrat candidates faking out their peace loving voters is despicable.

    they finally have a strong and SINCERE antiwar candidate in Tulsi Gabbard and the Dems want to shut her up and try hard to sideline her in the primary process

    1. Ultimately, that war would claim an estimated 655,000 lives, including 4,500 Americans with another 47,500 American wounded

      For the record, Kurtz, violent deaths in Iraq since 2003 are enumerated at 288,000 by the people who count them. Over 40% of the civilian deaths occurred during a span of years when there wasn’t a single American combat troop in Iraq. As for the previous nine years, you might get it through your head that it wasn’t American or British soldiers setting off bombs all over the country.

      1. i’m quoting Turley, preach at him
        heck if I know how many got whacked by us or one side or another in the civil war
        a lot is a fair guess

  7. “What is striking however is how little press was given to Biden’s false claim in comparison to the Hurricane controversy.”

    The soi-disant “mainstream press” ignoring outright, massive lying by Presidential candidates from their favorite Big Political Party stopped being “striking” to me in the 1970s, when even callow, teenaged-me could see that they had a dog in the fight and were determined to see it win, even by pretending their side could do no wrong. In my opinion, the media (both its press and “entertainment” divisions) finally ran out of credibility with most of America in 1980, which is why Ronald Reagan was not only elected, but elected by thumping majorities then and in 1984. The media had come back from the credbility well with buckets of lies once too often.

    I’d say “Great, the media will do it once more in 2020!”, except that this time they are doing Putin’s work for him, dividing the nation so that they can actually get away with the lies they tell – just like they did in the 1970s, hammering away at their opposition with obvious nonsense, but with a younger electorate who actually believe they can get their student loans forgiven, free health care, and all the other goodies Democrats are pomising them without any pain to them, personally. They don’t mind AOC’s Green New Power Grab because they think they’ll stand a chance against Congressional lobbyists when their side wins..

    All Huey Long had going for him was a slightly more sound “Every Man a King” populist agenda (which still couldn’t be funded except by broad-based confiscation, working folks paying into Long’s “deduc box” after the election. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the clown car full of Democratic Presidential candidates get to pretend they’re saving the Earth, too.

    No, the media’s full-couirt press of lies from entertainers AND “journalists” stopped being “striking” to me when it was mostly Dan Rather and his buddies lying to us, and not entire cable and broadcast news operations like CNN.

  8. (music)
    And it’s one, two, three: what are we fighting for?
    Don’t ask me I don’t give a damn!
    Next stop is Viet Nam!

    And it’s five, six, seven, Open up the Pearly Gates!
    Ain’t no time to wonder why…
    Whoppee! We’re all gonna die!

  9. Former French President Charles de Gaulle once explained that “since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.”

  10. So, while I am NOT anti-religion, didn’t the Catholic Religion have something to do with greasing the skids of lying and coverup? So then why would N. Polosi have any problem with lying and or covering up? The ethics and morals are on the road to hell in this country.

  11. Our nation has so many wars because the people in their Collective Capacity are not making the decisions to go to war!

    Article 2 Section 2 Clause 2 of the Constitution; “He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur;”, includes the decisions to go to war, which means that no President, or Political Party, can make the decisions to go to war, it must me made by a 2/3 Consensus Majority of the States, which are the people of each State in their Collective Capacity.

    The President can’t even hold secret talks with the Taliban at Camp David without first getting the advice and consent of the States as they are assembled in the Senate as Equals with Equal Suffrage, that’s what By and With means, Before and During, Not After!

    Why is it we choose to interpret the Constitution for our own purposes when the Constitution is written for our protection and Majority Consensus!?

  12. Thank you Professor Turley. This topic should be the #1 topic on the news every day we have troops in foreign lands, and or drop bombs and shoot guns on or in foreign lands. Alas, far too many people view service in the armed forces as patriotic. Thus they do not want to hear the news that they have been lied to. So when a senator (small S for a small man) votes for the war, beats the drum for the war, then lies about it when public opinion turns, I am not surprised. Until parents tell their kids do not sign up in the armed forces for reasons that have nothing to do with patriotism, we will continue down this horrendous path.

    Dropping bombs and shooting guns at people in a foreign land is an act of war.

    1. Bush the younger got the rules changed to go to war. He also believed his own BS. So did so many others. Someone made up the WMD story.

      1. “W” actually got an authorization for war from the Congress. It’s Obama who changed the rules when he overthrew Qaddafi and tried to overthrow Assad without one. I despise them both nonetheless.

        1. Ivan, ” I despise them both nonetheless.” as do I.
          But the Prez needs soldiers to fight these obscene “wars”. So tell your sons and daughters, do not volunteer in an armed service that has nothing to do with defense. Dropping bombs on another country is an act of war. If our sons and daughters did not join up, the Prez couldn’t send them to their deaths.

  13. “Trump succeeded in turning an innocent mistake about the weather into a blatant misrepresentation and then, after days of determined effort, into a subject of worldwide ridicule.”

    This is just pure bullpoop! See here:

    https://market-ticker.org/akcs-www?post=236759

    Plus, I remember seeing the cone, and some of the squiggly lines heading into Alabama, and even Louisiana. This was not a Trump mistake, but another example of the anti-Trump media latching on to anything possible to make Trump look stupid and incompetent. Like the whole Russia-gate thing.

    You see, lying about Iraq is pretty much not-news, since even on this blog, the truth seems ot be malleable.

    I would suggest that whoever wrote this take the time to read the above, and the NOAA remarks and then amend this article. That is, if the “truth” matters.

    If the “truth” doesn’t matter, then this whole article is simply the pot calling the kettle black.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  14. Biden is a headliner for the decline of values in America. No doubt supported and vicariously funded by Soros. With the decline of values, America has become just another banana republic of truth telling. Elected members of Congress are immune from prosecution if they slander or lie. And they have the biggest mouths of the day.
    So, Chicago teachers to Venezuela and say they never saw a homeless person. What lies. And they actually believe their lies!

  15. Biden’s flipping and flopping was well covered. I’m not sure how you missed it. As to the Donald and his “ tell them I was right” mania, he kept running around getting more and more insane about it. He caused more attention; he could have just said nothing but he had to keep it up, Sharpie and all.

  16. As an avid reader of the Washington Post Turley seems to have never been informed of alternate opinions of what the weather reports showed and what Trump actually said. Apparently the Washington Post dumbs people down rather than raises them up. However, even the Washington Post recognizes that many people are alive that experienced what Biden has said throughout the years so it is not unexpected that Turley would remember Biden’s history and essentially call Biden a liar. Unfortunately I don’t think Turley recognizes to the fullest how contrary to almost all other Presidents Trump has kept or tried to keep most of his promises. That is why Turley has to rely on trivial arguments like the weather when plays his usual game of blaming Trump so that he can at the same time blame Biden.

  17. The issue is not that politicians lie – they all do – the issue is that the press once again is trying to deceive the American public.

    The press has extraordinary protections/privileges, but the MSM continues to abuse those privileges in order to manipulate American voters (citizens don’t count unless they vote).

    It is the right of the MSM to lie/deceive/manipulate; but they should exercise those rights without extraordinary privilege.

    1. Monument, why is it the right of MSM to lie/deceive/manipulate?
      I just happen to disagree. No one has the “right” to be any of those character traits, JMO.

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