When, in 2002, then-Illinois State Sen. Obama gave his famous anti-Iraq War speech, he argued that America had no business in this "dumb" war. Period.
Obama considered Iraq a blunder of epic proportions, a misadventure totally devoid of any national security interest. Obama never doubted the assumption given to then-President George W. Bush by all 16 of our intelligence agencies: that Saddam Hussein possessed stockpiles of WMD, specifically chemical and biological weapons. CIA director George Tenet, who served under Obama's predecessors -- Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton -- called the intelligence behind this assumption a "slam dunk."
Nor did Obama question our intel behind the other charges against the dictator: that Saddam Hussein was paying $25,000 to families of homicide bombers; that he was stealing from the oil-for-food program; that he was shooting at the American and British plane patrolling the southern and northern no-fly zones; that he had attempted to assassinate President George H.W. Bush; that he'd used chemical weapons on his enemies and on his own people; and that during his nearly 25 years of power, he had murdered at least as many as 300,000 Iraqis.
As Obama put it in 2002: "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. He has repeatedly defied UN resolutions, thwarted UN inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons and coveted nuclear capacity. He's a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him."
In 2007, Obama conceded that pulling out carried risks, but the "risks are even greater" if we stay: "There's no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there. ... It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions." In 2008, the then-U.S. Sen. Obama ran to get us out of the Iraq war.
In December 2011, we pulled out -- with no stay-behind force. Obama said: "We're leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq, with a representative government that was elected by its people. We're building a new partnership between our nations." When the last of the troops left, Obama called Iraq "self-reliant and democratic."