Former Vice President Joe Biden said in 2008 that the president has the authority to go to war without the approval of Congress, in order to prevent an “imminent attack” on the United States.
Biden has criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to approve a drone strike that took out Iranian military leader Qasem Soleimani in recent days, asserting that the president “does not have the authority to take us into war with Iran without Congressional approval.”
Let’s be clear: Donald Trump does not have the authority to take us into war with Iran without Congressional approval. A president should never take this nation to war without the informed consent of the American people.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) January 6, 2020
However, Biden took a different approach while campaigning as Barack Obama’s running mate in 2008. On his campaign website in a section about Iran policy, Biden wrote, “It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens.”
The portion about preventing an “imminent attack” is key, as the State Department claimed in a statement following the Soleimani strike that the general was plotting to attack U.S. facilities and service members in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. The attack was “imminent” and could have killed hundreds of Americans, U.S. Special representative for Iran Brian Hook claimed. (RELATED: Soleimani Was Planning ‘Imminent Attacks’ That Could Have Killed Hundreds Of Americans, Top US Official Says)
According to Biden’s 2008 view, the president would have ample authority to take out Soleimani. It’s also tenuous if the targeted drone strike is equivalent to war — Iran’s US ambassador claimed the move was an “act of war,” but Trump has stated that he approved the strike in order to “stop a war.”