Friday, September 19th, 2014

Democrats who supported Syria action rewrite history on Iraq war

President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed their partnership on the Iraq war during a press conference near Belfast, Northern Ireland. (2003 AP Photo)
President George W. Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair discussed their partnership on the Iraq war during a press conference near Belfast, Northern Ireland. (2003 AP Photo)

Dangerous weapons caches, an uncooperative leader, appeals for international response — there’s plenty about the showdown over Syria that invites Americans to recall the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

But if you were supporting President Barack Obama’s recommendation that the U.S. conduct air strikes against Syria, the last thing you want is a comparison to an unpopular war in Iraq. (Obama has now delayed requests for action to pursue diplomatic means of disarming Syria’s chemical weapons; an agreement between the United States and Russia was announced Saturday.)

Some politicians, though, are simply rewriting history. Two of Obama’s key supporters seem to have forgotten details about the Iraq invasion.

Secretary of State John Kerry said as a senator, he "opposed the president’s decision to go into Iraq." He was certainly critical of President George W. Bush’s diplomacy, and the president’s handling of the war.

But his recent comment to MSNBC’s Chris Hayes glossed over his 2002 vote to authorize force in Iraq and his 2003 remark that he thought it was "the right decision" to disarm Saddam Hussein and that "when the president made that decision" he "supported him." We rated his claim Mostly False.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., drew a different contrast between Syria and Iraq when she spoke with CNN’s Wolf Blitzer this week. She argued President Barack Obama has international support on Syria, unlike when the United States "stood alone" against Iraq.

Although Democrats often criticize Bush for invading Iraq without more global backing, including that of the United Nations, Bush did put together a coalition. Nearly 50 countries, most notably Britain, ultimately supported the invasion, with many sending troops of their own. That's roughly on par with the support network that Obama has put together for action against Syria, and possibly exceeds it. We rated her claim Pants on Fire.