6 Times Obama Was Against Military Action in Iraq


"I will not allow the United States to be dragged into fighting another war in Iraq," President Barack Obama said today. At the same time, he was authorizing military action in Iraq. Specifically, the U.S. military did some targeted airstrikes against the Islamic State terror organization.

Sure, it isn't troops on the ground (though we've already got a few… hundred), but dropping bombs does sound pretty warlike for not being a war. It's not a war, I guess, in the same way that the word "is" didn't mean "is" to former President Bill Clinton.

In either case, it seems like an appropriate to dredge up all times Obama was totally against military involvement in Iraq, before he was for military involvement in Iraq.

2002: Iraq doesn't pose a threat to U.S.

In one of his first public statements as an Illinois senator, Obama had this to say:

I'm opposed to … a dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.

Now let me be clear: I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. … The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him.

But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors…and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.

Of course, the same could be said about the Islamic State that we're now fighting. They have no interest in America. They've got their hands full fighting a regional battle, and haven't demonstrated themselves to be a legitimate threat to the U.S. 

2008: Getting into Iraq was 'careless [and] has not made us safer'

Since before Obama took office in 2008, he was promising that getting America out of Iraq would be his priority as president.

"I will give our military a new mission on my first day in office – ending this war. Let me be clear," the fresh-faced presidential candidate said just about six years ago, "we must be as careful getting into Iraq as we were careless getting in. He went on to say how America's war in Iraq would be over by 2010, and how he "would make it clear that the U.S. seeks no permanent bases in Iraq." He added, "We cannot tolerate this strain on forces to fight a war that has not made us safer." Of course, all that took a few more years than he anticipated.

"So let's be clear, Sen. McCain would have our troops fight tour after tour of duty and our taxpayers keep spending $10 billion a month indefinitely," Obama criticized on the campaign trail. "I want Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future." Well, not anymore. 

2010: Leaving will be our 'great achievement'

Describing it as a "historic moment" this month four years ago, the president said, "I am announcing that the American combat mission in Iraq has ended." He went on to emphasize that it was time for Iraq's government would take "responsibility for their own security" and that "ending this war is not only in Iraq's interest, it's in our own. The United States has paid a huge price."

Plus, here's Vice President Joe Biden speculating that ending American military involvement in Iraq would be "one of the great achievements of this administration."

2011: SRSLY GTFO, or 'A Historic Moment'

White House

"We're here to mark a historic moment," a smiling president said. It was December, and he was at Fort Bragg in North Carolina. Ready to put an end to a long, misguided endeavor, he said:

I can tell you that it will indeed be a part of history. Those last American troops will move south on desert sands, and then they will cross the border out of Iraq with their heads held high. One of the most extraordinary chapters in the history of the American military will come to an end. Iraq's future will be in the hands of its people.  America's war in Iraq will be over.

MSNBC, which is today wondering if Obama doing enough to take on ISIS, applauded the president in 2011 for "keeping a major campaign promise" by getting America out of Iraq.

2012: Keeping the promise

White House

And then there's the 2012 campaign video, "Ending the War in Iraq: A Promise Kept," which speaks for itself. 

In another ad, Obama compiled some of the promising speeches already covered in this article, but there are some additional times he wanted to get out of Iraq.

And yet another one, in which his campaign said that Americans had "a clear choice" between Obama who "ended the Iraq War" and Mitt Romney, presumably, wouldn't have. But then again, Obama didn't really either.

2013: Still not our problem

White House

Then in 2013, the president's tone changed a bit. Playing hot potato with Iraq's leaders over the 7,000 or so people who were killed that year, he said

Although Iraq has made significant progress in areas like oil production and a range of other reforms that have taken place, unfortunately, Al Qaeda has still been active and has grown more active recently.  So we had a lot of discussion about how we can work together to push back against that terrorist organization that operates not only in Iraq but also poses a threat to the entire region and to the United States.

Though, there was no talk of American troops doing any of the dirty work. It was all about selling Iraq equipment to go it alone.

And, a White House official said in October, "I would not anticipate U.S. trainers going back into Iraqi soil," let alone American bombers flying over the country. 

To be fair, in 2013 the president was bogged down by Syria – which some were saying would be his Iraq. He insisted it wouldn't, because all he wanted to do was some tactical airstrikes on Syria… which is totally different than him announcing tactical airstrikes on Iraq.

Bonus: While Democrats now applaud the president's decision to tear this wound back open, here are the 2008 and 2012 Democractic platforms, which were all about ending the Iraq War. 

Maybe it was all a little too soon for PolitiFact to say that Obama made good on his promises.

For more Reason coverage of Iraq, click here