Protesting the Iraq War under President Bush was a cottage industry for Democrats, even though they voted for it. But now that Obama’s hand has been forced, Democrats are doing their best to lend cautious support.

Kristina Wong of The Hill describes the liberal predicament:

Left frets over Iraq mission creep

The president’s expansion of the U.S. military mission in Iraq is conjuring up two dirty little words for anti-war Democrats: Mission creep.

Just two months ago, when Obama announced he was going to send up to 300 American troops to Iraq, he emphasized that they would only have an advisory, non-combat role.

On Friday, however, U.S. fighters bombed terrorist targets in northern Iraq. Hours before, the president had announced he was authorizing such strikes as well as the airdropping of aid to Iraqi refugees stranded on a mountaintop.

The White House has stressed that the two missions — the airstrikes and the airdrops — are narrow and discrete. But neither has an end-date, prompting concern from some Democrats and liberal anti-war groups.

“I oppose open-ended military commitments, which the president’s actions in Iraq could become,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“I am deeply concerned that these actions could lead to prolonged direct military involvement, which I would strongly oppose,” he added.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), another senior Democrat on the committee, said he supported the president’s actions, but “as one of only 23 senators who opposed the war in Iraq, I do not believe this should be an extended campaign involving US ground troops.”

Even Elizabeth Warren has been forced to make a statement on the subject. Naturally, she supports Obama’s decision.

Andy Metzger of Mass Live writes:

Warning against a new U.S. war in Iraq, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday stood by President Barack Obama’s decision to authorize targeted airstrikes to help defend Americans in Erbil, Iraq, and provide aid to a religious minority taking refuge in the Sinjar mountains.

“It’s a complicated situation right now in Iraq and the president has taken very targeted actions to provide humanitarian relief that the Iraqi government requested, and to protect American citizens,” Warren told reporters. “But like the president I believe that any solution in Iraq is going to be a negotiated solution, not a military solution. We do not want to be pulled into another war in Iraq.”

You could say Democrats were for bombing Iraq, before they were against it, before they were for it.

The anti-war movement has been conspicuously silent since Obama assumed office. Perhaps their time has come again.