Sen. Barack Obama snatched the 2008 democratic nomination from Sen. Hillary Clinton for many reasons, none more important than Obama's opposition to the Iraq War.
All of Obama's major opponents -- Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., then-Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del., former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C. and then-Sen. Clinton, D-N.Y. -- had voted for authorization for war. Obama, then an Illinois state senator and a candidate for the U.S. Senate gave a speech in October 2002. He called it "a rash war... based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics." Sen. Obama pre-emptively criticized President George W. Bush in 2007 for possibly taking military action against Iran's suspected nuclear sites -- should he do so without congressional approval. Such an action, Obama said then, would be in violation of the Constitution unless the President obtained congressional approval.
Flash forward. March 2011. President Obama joins the French and British in bombing Libya during that country's civil war. Libya had surrendered its weapons of mass destruction to the Bush administration in early 2004, fearing the same fate as the arrested and jailed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Obama describes the Libyan campaign as "humanitarian," but also consistent with our "core interests." He does not go to Congress.
Today, Obama supports military action against the Syrian government because it "crossed a red line" in its civil war by reportedly using chemicals to kill some 1,400 Syrians. Initially, Obama said he had authority to strike without Congress' approval, and that he did not intend to seek their permission. Time was of the essence, he said. The use of chemicals, says Obama, violates "international norms" requiring intervention -- and by the U.S. alone, says Obama, if necessary.
Then the British Parliament, for the first time since 1782, refused to give the prime minister authority for military action. Here, polls find Americans are overwhelmingly against military force in Syria. Obama abruptly announced that he would seek congressional approval -- but said he retained the power to act and refused to say whether he'd do so should Congress vote no.
Where was Obama's concern about chemical weapons during the 2002 debate on military action in Iraq? Obama opposed it despite Saddam's assumed possession of WMD and his use of chemical weapons on the Iranians and his own people. Of the intelligence community's assumption that Iraq possessed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons -- with the acquisition of nuclear weapons just a matter of time -- Obama had no doubt: