Gates is correct that Biden in 1975 voted against a Ford administration request to provide military and humanitarian aid to South Vietnam as U.S. involvement in the war was winding down. But the effort failed in the House—and just days after the Senate vote, the capital of Saigon fell to the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese army.
No evidence can be found to support this statement, at least in news clips at the time and copies of the congressional record that we examined. Our colleagues at PolitiFact, who had earlier this year examined Gates’ claims, located a reference to the statement in a 2008 opinion article published in The New York Post by Amir Taheri, an Iranian-born conservative writer; we also found a similar statement made by Taheri in 2008 Forbes column. He did not respond to e-mail queries to provide evidence for his claim, so at this point we have to rate this as doubtful.
This is generally correct. Biden was a reliable vote for amendments that would strip or curtail funds for the B-1 bomber (which President Jimmy Carter had eliminated), for the B-2 “stealth bomber” and for the MX intercontinental ballistic missile. Ultimately, Biden often voted in favor of the final spending bills, but as any denizen of Capitol Hill knows, the key votes are on the amendments. The Council for a Liveable World, which opposed the buildup, rated many of those amendments and Biden scored well according to its criteria.
No argument here. Biden was in the minority when the Senate, by a narrow margin of 52-47, voted to authorize the use of force in 1991. Many of the hyperbolic worries made by Biden and other Democrats in the debate before the vote turned out to be unfounded.
Gates was deputy head of the CIA (and then head of the CIA under George H.W. Bush), and his failure to anticipate Gorbachev’s emergence as a reformer ranks among Gates’ worst foreign policy calls. But, in fairness, just about every foreign policy analyst at the time was skeptical of Gorbachev, including almost all of Ronald Reagan’s top aides.
Biden appears to be referring to the 1999 NATO air campaign against Serbia during the Clinton administration, which during the crisis over Kosovo turned from aiming at strictly military targets to buildings that signified President Slobodan Milosevic’s political control.
It’s unclear what Biden is referring to here (a Biden spokeswoman did not respond to a query). In “From the Shadows,” Gates says that from his experience working on a missile base in 1967 as a young officer, he knew the war could not be won. He also describes the CIA as being highly skeptical about the war, with “antiwar sentiment strong at the Agency.” But Biden could be referring to Gates’ dismay at Biden’s vote on the final funding push mentioned above. (Update: In the Charlie Rose interview, Gates said he opposed the Vietnam War.)