WaPo Gives Biden Two Pinnochios For Iraq Withdrawal Claim

Biden has tried to reassure voters they can trust his judgment on issues of war

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July 22, 2019

The Washington Post awarded Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden two Pinnochios for his claim that he got 150,000 troops out of Iraq during his time as vice president.

Biden made the claim during the first Democratic presidential debate.

"I made sure the president turned to me and said, 'Joe, get our combat troops out of Iraq.' I was responsible for getting 150,000 combat troops out of Iraq, and my son was one of them." Biden said.

When Biden was a senator, he voted for the Iraq war, which he now regrets. Biden tried to reassure voters that Americans can trust his judgment on issues of war because he was in charge of pulling combat troops out of Iraq.

"He was chairing meetings at the Cabinet level in the Situation Room, as the president would on a regular basis, and traveling frequently to Iraq from the summer of 2009 through 2011 — seven trips between the summer of ’09 and 2011," the Post reported. "He was on the phone with Iraqi political leadership pretty regularly during this period. In a very broad sense, he was running Iraqi policy from the White House on behalf of the president."

While the Obama administration was successful in withdrawing 150,000 troops during Obama's first term, the U.S. kept several thousand military contractors in Iraq throughout this time and after 2011. The Obama administration then sent troops back to Iraq during his second term to combat the rise of the terror group ISIS.

The Post gave Biden two Pinnochios for his claim:

Biden had a big hand in withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq during Obama's first term. It was a sensitive role and one Biden relished, by many accounts. But he was still the vice president during Obama's second term, when thousands of U.S. troops returned to the country. It’s puzzling to see him leave that out of his remarks on the campaign trail and in the debate.

The Biden camp argues that these are two very different conflicts and that the troop levels were much higher pre-2011 and much lower post-2014. However, as top Obama administration officials have said in public, the two conflicts are inextricably linked. The Islamic State gained a foothold in Iraq in large part because U.S. forces had withdrawn.