I only bring this issue up because some of President Obama's defenders deny that his neglect of Iraq since 2011 allowed ISIL to sweep through Iraq, and instead blame the problem on the original invasion which may be the biggest foreign policy error we've ever made (they say).
Remember that even without the many reasons for war provided in the 2002 authorization to use force (the functional modern equivalent of a declaration of war), regime change in Iraq and the promotion of democracy in Iraq were the official policies of America since 1998.
Let's go to President Clinton's signing statement, shall we?
Today I am signing into law H.R. 4655, the "Iraq Liberation Act of 1998." This Act makes clear that it is the sense of the Congress that the United States should support those elements of the Iraqi opposition that advocate a very different future for Iraq than the bitter reality of internal repression and external aggression that the current regime in Baghdad now offers.
Let me be clear on what the U.S. objectives are:
The United States wants Iraq to rejoin the family of nations as a freedom-loving and lawabiding member. This is in our interest and that of our allies within the region.
The United States favors an Iraq that offers its people freedom at home. I categorically reject arguments that this is unattainable due to Iraq's history or its ethnic or sectarian makeup. Iraqis deserve and desire freedom like everyone else.
The United States looks forward to a democratically supported regime that would permit us to enter into a dialogue leading to the reintegration of Iraq into normal international life. ...
The Iraq Liberation Act of 1998 provides additional, discretionary authorities under which my Administration can act to further the objectives I outlined above. There are, of course, other important elements of U.S. policy. These include the maintenance of U.N. Security Council support efforts to eliminate Iraq's prohibited weapons and missile programs and economic sanctions that continue to deny the regime the means to reconstitute those threats to international peace and security. United States support for the Iraqi opposition will be carried out consistent with those policy objectives as well.
What a loony tune NeoCon, eh? Iraq as a threat to international peace and security? Where'd that notion come from?
Hey, on the bright side, invading Iraq surely could have been justified on the basis of Responsibility to Protect (R2P) alone, don't you think? If President Clinton is to be believed, of course.
We are beginning our third war in Iraq (four, if you count the 1990s no-fly zone bombing campaign against Saddam's air defenses and that 1998 Desert Fox thing--or just one war if you count 1991 to today as one conflict interrupted by a ceasefire from 1991-2003 and our time out from the end of 2011 to last month).
Yet somehow only the second one was dumb?