The Feb. 10 news article “18 years on, Biden and Sanders still bicker over Iraq War,” an account of the 2002 Iraq debate, did not fully explain what was happening in the Senate at the time and how it affected then-Sen. Joe Biden’s (D-Del.) strategy. That fall, Mr. Biden, along with Sens. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.) and Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), were promoting an alternative military force authorization that would constrain the president’s power to wage war in Iraq in important ways. Military force rejectionists in the Democratic Party posed no barrier to then-President George W. Bush’s plans. 

But the White House saw the Biden-Lugar-Hagel resolution, backed by two Republican foreign policy heavyweights, as a major threat. Lugar and Mr. Hagel were recruiting Republicans, and Mr. Biden was appealing to the pragmatism of antiwar Democrats. The Biden-Lugar-Hagel plan offered war skeptics in Congress a chance to do more than cast a protest vote. It was an opportunity to limit Mr. Bush’s war powers. Rep. Richard A. Gephardt’s (D-Mo.) deal with the White House surrendered legislative prerogatives and undercut the Biden-Lugar-Hagel plan. 

Mr. Biden deserves credit for trying to drive the legislative outcome to a better conclusion rather than just focusing on personal political expediency. 

Dan Diller, Falls Church

The writer was legislative director to Sen. Richard G. Lugar from 1993 to 2002 and Republican deputy staff director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 2003 to 2013.