I am often told that it is fruitless to discuss the vote on the 2002 Authorization To Use Military Force Against Iraq. I suppose the reason is that the only person the voting public has held accountable for that resolution is Hillary Clinton. I might be the only person in the world who thinks it is important to actually resolve issues as opposed to just pretending that they will eventually just go away.

It appears that Joe Biden was never criticized for voting in favor of the 2002 resolution, until now, because he had not run for president after the vote, until now. Additionally, Trump and congressional Republicans are now attempting to use that resolution as authorization for Trump to have assassinated General Soleimani. So, before you brush this topic off as irrelevant, you might want to consider how often it comes back into political discussions along with the lie that it was a war resolution rather than a peace resolution.

I initially wrote this piece in 2016 and posted it on Yabberz.com. I present it in the current political environment because it is still The Big Lie.

There are lies, and then there are LIES! We all tell lies every now and then for various and sundry reasons. We were taught in grade school that George Washington never told a lie. Actually THAT was a lie. I have not done the research to support my claim that President Washington never told a lie. However, President Washington was a man, and men lie.

All lies have consequences.  Some have small consequences and some have large consequences. Some lies can actually change the course of human history. In the United States of America the people who run our government used to be thought of as statesmen. For some time now, they are thought of as politicians. Politicians are professional liars. They do it so well that they actually make a living doing it. In this post I will attempt to expose one of the lies that actually changed the course of human history, and was a very large factor in the election of the first African American President of The United States of America. Chris Matthews said on the HBO series Real Time With Bill Maher, episode 297 on October 11, 2013 that he really believed the reason Hillary Clinton didn’t win the Democratic nomination in 2008 was because she voted for the war in Iraq and Barack Obama didn’t. When someone makes a statement like that I always say there are three very important things to consider as to why Barack Obama didn’t vote for the war and Hillary Clinton is said to have done so.

First Barak Obama was a state senator in Illinois at the time the vote on the Resolution To Use Military Force Against Iraq was taken in the United States Congress, and therefore he could not have voted for or against it. In fact, he later iterated that had he actually been in Congress at the time, he did not know how he would have voted. Second, Hillary Clinton actually was in Congress at that time and more importantly, she was a member of the New York delegation and New York City had been attacked on September 11, 2001. Indeed if I were a resident of the great state of New York and a member of that congressional delegation did not vote in favor of that resolution they would have never gotten my vote again, even though I always thought it was unwise and illegal for the United States to have invaded Iraq in 2003. Thirdly, and the premise of this post, is that the Resolution To Use Military Force Against Iraq was not a declaration of war and was not initially sold by the Bush administration to be an authorization to use war as a first option to force Iraq to allow weapons inspectors back in the country.

How did this lie begin? Sometimes the seeds for a history-changing lie are planted well before the actual lie is told, and the resulting history-changing lie is oftentimes an unintended consequence of a purely innocent and unrelated event.  Ironically, the seeds for this lie turned out to be very related to the actual lie.

The seeds for The BIG LIE were planted in 1990 when the United States, led by President George Herbert Walker Bush, led a U.N. authorized coalition to expel Saddam Hussein and Iraq from Kuwait after Saddam had invaded and annexed Kuwait. Unlike the “coalition” that invaded Iraq in 2003, the coalition in 1990 was a real coalition. It included the United Kingdom of course, but it also included Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In fact, Saudi Arabia contributed $36 billion of the $60 billion cost of the operation.

The seeds that were planted in Desert Storm that grew up to be the invasion of Iraq in 2003 were primarily two things. One was the establishment of a military base in Saudi Arabia by the United States. This was the reason Osama Bin Laden gave for waging a jihad against the United States that led to the attacks in September 2001. The second seed was the unsatisfied desire of the neocons to depose Saddam Hussein, which President George H. W. Bush refused to do. Bush 41 subscribed to a new world order under which he operated in the first Gulf War in 1990. He once noted that the “premise was that the United States henceforth would be obligated to lead the world community to an unprecedented degree, as demonstrated by the Iraqi crisis, and that we should attempt to pursue our national interests wherever possible, within a framework of concert with our friends and the international community (Bush and Scowcroft, 1999, pp.399 – 400) This is very similar to what President Obama calls “leading from behind”. Bush 43, on the other hand, laid out his vision of the future of U. S. foreign policy in his State of the Union speech in January 2002, following the September 11, 2001 attacks. The speech, written by neoconservative David Frum, named Iraq, Iran and North Korea as states that ”constitute an axis of evil” and ”pose a grave and growing danger.” Bush suggested the possibility of preemptive war: ”I will not wait on events, while dangers gather. I will not stand by, as peril draws closer and closer. The United States of America will not permit the world’s most dangerous regimes to threaten us with the world’s most destructive weapons.”

The Bush doctrine reversed the new world order seed that had been planted by his father and installed a new order of pre-emptive war that was counter not only to the new world order but to any foreign policy in which the United States had engaged in the history of the nation.

After the seeds for the big lie were planted the seeds had to be watered in order to germinate. The watering was done by the neo-cons and the press. The neo-cons wanted to go to war because war is the primary way for the United States to dominate the world and that is the objective of the neo-cons. The press is lazy but they desire high ratings. The Bush administration and the neo-cons had convinced the American public that Saddam Hussein had something to do with the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and that anyone who opposed that notion was unpatriotic.

The administration sold the Resolution To Use Military Force Against Iraq to Congress and the American people as an attempt to secure United Nations approval to use military force IF (BIG “IF”) Saddam Hussein would not allow weapons inspectors back into Iraq to give an accounting of the weapons of mass destruction that were to be destroyed after the U.S. led coalition liberated Kuwait in 1991. U.N. weapons inspectors had overseen a WMD destruction program until they were forced out of Iraq by Saddam Hussein in 1998, after which the Clinton administration adopted a policy of regime change in Iraq. However, it is unlikely that President Clinton or any other U.S. president in our history would have pre-emptively invaded a sovereign nation without provocation or an imminent attack on the U.S.A. or a U.S. ally.   

The following excerpts from a speech delivered by Senator Clinton on October 10, 2002 after she had voted for The Resolution To Use Military Force Against Iraq is clear evidence that she did not vote for a war or invasion of Iraq and specifically warned against such action except as a last resort.

“…If we were to attack Iraq now, alone or with few allies, it would set a precedent that could come back to haunt us. In recent days, Russia has talked of an invasion of Georgia to attack Chechen rebels. India has mentioned the possibility of a pre-emptive strike on Pakistan. And what if China were to perceive a threat from Taiwan?

So Mr. President, for all its appeal, a unilateral attack, while it cannot be ruled out, on the present facts is not a good option.”

Senator Clinton further stated:

“…Because bipartisan support for this resolution makes success in the United Nations more likely, and therefore, war less likely, and because a good-faith effort by the United States, even if it fails, will bring more allies and legitimacy to our cause, I have concluded, after careful and serious consideration, that a vote for the resolution best serves the security of our nation. If we were to defeat this resolution or pass it with only a few Democrats, I am concerned that those who want to pretend this problem will go way with delay will oppose any UN resolution calling for unrestricted inspections. (She did not know at the time that she was speaking of Bernie Sanders). 

This is a very difficult vote. This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make — any vote that may lead to war should be hard — but I cast it with conviction.”

And she ended the speech thusly:

“…So it is with conviction that I support this resolution as being in the best interests of our nation. A vote for it is not a vote to rush to war; it is a vote that puts awesome responsibility in the hands of our President and we say to him – use these powers wisely and as a last resort. And it is a vote that says clearly to Saddam Hussein – this is your last chance – disarm or be disarmed.

Thank you, Mr. President.”

So Senator Clinton did not vote for a war or invasion of Iraq. Nor was the resolution sold by the Bush administration to Congress or the American public as a war or invasion of Iraq. So my contention has always been and continues to be that in reality no one in Congress actually voted for a war with or invasion of Iraq since no such proposal was ever introduced in Congress. The purpose of the resolution was to present a united Congress in full support of President Bush’s efforts to seek United Nations approval to send weapons inspectors back to Iraq to give a full accounting of weapons of mass destruction, which the Iraqi regime contended had been destroyed. Further, the resolution indeed required the president to come back to Congress before using military force, in order to support a claim that all diplomatic means had been exhausted. Bush did not do that.

What was the response of the press after the vote on the resolution? On October 11, 2002, the day after the vote, Four out of six of the nation’s major newspapers did not report objections to a rush to war by Democrats. Conservative outlets like the Washington Post reported that Congress had voted to use military force against Iraq without pointing to the conditions related to that action, while liberal outlets reported that Congress has given President Bush the authority to decide to go to war with Iraq if necessary. The New York Times included in its report a quote from Senator Clinton;

 “Mrs. Clinton said she had concluded that bipartisan support would make the president’s success at the United Nations ”more likely and, therefore, war less likely.”

USA Today reported that Congress has passed a resolution that “could” be used as an authorization to go to war with Iraq.

In my opinion, the nomination was stolen from Senator Clinton in 2008 by the DNC and the press (led by NBC). The DNC disallowed delegates won by Senator Clinton in Florida and Michigan that would have given her the momentum to capture the nomination outright. NBC led the media in sabotaging the nomination by promoting claims by the Obama campaign that Bill and Hillary Clinton were racists because Hillary said although Martin Luther King led the civil rights movement it took Lyndon Johnson to get the bill passed in Congress, and Bill Clinton had said that Obama had won the South Carolina primary just as Jesse Jackson had won the primary in that state in 1988 because they both ran good campaigns. I fail to see how either of those statements were racist but the claim that they were racist was enough to influence many black voters who had held the Clintons in high regard, to abandon Hillary in the Democratic primaries. The media and the Obama campaign successfully convinced Democratic primary voters in 2008 that Senator Obama had superior judgment because he came out early on in opposition to the war in Iraq while Senator Clinton had voted for the war.

President Obama is a shrewd politician and maybe he would have won the nomination without promoting THE BIG LIE. However, as a supporter of the president, I would have felt a lot better about him had he not promoted THE BIG LIE!   

And now, in 2016 Senator Bernie Sanders is repeating The Big Lie!

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On one hand, I can’t say I know what was in Joe Biden’s or Hillary Clinton’s minds when they voted for the AUMF that was the vehicle for Bush launching the Iraq War.

To be clear though, many Americans didn’t support it and suspected Bush’s Admin was lying to force this war. There were protests in the US and around the world against it (that the MSM barely covered). The majority of Democrats in The House recognized that it would lead to war in Iraq and did not vote for it. 21 of the 50 Dem Senators voted against it.

So Biden and Clinton at the very least showed poor judgement compared to the many Dems who saw it for what it was and opposed it. The two believed an already discredited Bush when most Dems in Congress didn’t. The real question is why did they lean towards believing Bush instead of suspecting his, Cheney’s and the rest of the Admin’s motives? Not recognizing Bush’s motives does reflect on their decision-making abilities.

At the time, I was very disappointed in both of them, couldn’t understand why they would believe what seemed like obvious deception and warmongering to me.

Then I just figured, they may have been concerned that they might be hammered as “weak” on foreign policy if they ran for president after voting against the AUMF and it turned out Saddam had WMDs or staged some subsequent attack.

But the truth is that their vote for and the passage of the 2002 AUMF helped sell the public on supporting the eventual going to war against Iraq.

It was a big mistake in judgement, we can look back now and see that. And it is not the case that most Dems in Congress felt similarly, most actually opposed their position and many of them were concerned that it was a ploy to push the US into war. They were right and Biden and Clinton were, at best, misguided.

The Iraq War brought about ISIS which brought about the refugee crisis which helped bring about widespread nationalistic sensibilities in many Western countries. It was a disaster that continues threats and bloodshed today so for me, the decision to support the AUMF that led to all of this is a legitimate issue to use to consider the judgement of a candidate.

Biden and Clinton may have thought it would move peace forward but de facto, they were very wrong and were on the wrong side of a disastrous chain of events.

It didn’t and doesn’t disqualify either of them from running for president but it is reflective of their decision-making and valid in terms of voters’ considerations of the judgement of candidates in the primary.

Biden has been on the right side of many major issues but also on the wrong side of big issues. Personally, I do not have the greatest confidence in his decision-making but if he is the Dem om, I will fully support him to beat Trump.