September 13th, 2007
06:42 AM ET
4 months ago

Obama to Bush: Don't invade Iran

Sen. Barack Obama spoke in Iowa on Wednesday.

CLINTON, Iowa (CNN) - Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama warned the Bush administration against expanding the war in Iraq to neighboring Iran, telling an Iowa audience Wednesday that he hears "eerie echoes" of the rhetoric that led up to the invasion of Iraq.

"George Bush and Dick Cheney must hear loud and clear from the American people and the Congress: You do not have our support, and you do not have our authorization, to launch another war," he said.

The Illinois senator's comments came during a speech on the future of the 4-year-old war in Iraq, which he said has only bolstered Iranian influence.

Obama said the Islamic Republic poses a "grave challenge" to U.S. interests in the Middle East by refusing international demands to freeze its nuclear fuel program and supporting Shiite Muslim militant groups - "But we hear eerie echoes of the run-up to the war in Iraq in the way the president and vice president talk about Iran."

"They conflate Iran and al Qaeda, ignoring the violent schism that exists between Shia and Sunni militants," he said. "They issue veiled threats. They suggest the time for diplomacy and public pressure is running out, when we haven't even tried direct diplomacy."

There was no immediate response to Obama's remarks from the White House.

A U.S.-led army invaded Iraq in 2003 after months of Bush administration warnings that then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was concealing stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons and efforts to build a nuclear bomb. But U.N. weapons inspectors found no sign of banned weapons before the invasion, and the CIA later concluded that Iraq had dismantled its weapons programs in the 1990s.The Bush administration now accuses Iran of arming Shiite Muslim militias that are attacking U.S. troops in Iraq, and of developing a clandestine nuclear weapons program. Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, told CNN on Wednesday that there is "no doubt" that Iran is supplying advanced explosives that have been used against American troops.

U.S. forces have conducted two rounds of naval exercises in the Persian Gulf this year. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., questioned Tuesday whether Petraeus needs the authorization to strike targets in Iran "in order to protect America's troops in Iraq." And administration officials have refused to say whether they believe they have that authority now.

Obama said he would use "tough and sustained diplomacy backed by real pressure" to limit Iranian influence, reminding Tehran that it faces further isolation - "including much tighter sanctions" - if it continues to defy international demands regarding its nuclear programs and to support violent elements in Iraq.

"As we deliver this message, we will be stronger, not weaker, if we disengage from Iraq's civil war," he said.

Earlier, Obama told CNN that Congress needs to send President Bush a "clear message" that change is needed in Iraq. He said that unless Congress forces the president to accept a timetable for withdrawing American troops, "We are essentially engaging in a bunch of symbolic action there."

Senate Republicans have managed to block efforts to wind down the war, using filibuster tactics that require a 60-vote majority to move ahead. But in Iowa, Obama said U.S. troops should begin to withdraw immediately despite Bush's warnings that chaos would follow a premature American withdrawal.

"He warns of rising Iranian influence - but that has already taken place. He warns of growing terrorism - but that has already taken place. And he warns of huge movements of refugees and mass sectarian killing - but that has already taken place," Obama said.

"These are not the consequences of a future withdrawal, they are the reality of Iraq's present. They are a direct consequence of waging this war."

Obama also used Wednesday's speech to remind supporters that he opposed the now-unpopular Iraq war from the beginning - unlike his leading Democratic rivals, Sen. Hillary Clinton and former Sen. John Edwards, both of whom voted for the 2002 congressional resolution that authorized the invasion. Obama, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, was an Illinois state senator at the time.

And he discounted Petraeus' congressional testimony this week about reduced levels of violence since Bush ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq in January. Despite the reduction from levels earlier this year, "We are at the same levels of violence now that we were back in June of 2006," he said.

"The same people who told us that we would be greeted as liberators; about democracy spreading across the Middle East; about striking a decisive blow against terrorism; about an insurgency in its last throes - those same people are now trumpeting the uneven and precarious containment of brutal sectarian violence as if it validates all of their failed decisions," Obama said. "The bar for success is so low that it's almost buried in the sand."

Related: Foreign policy expert stumps for Obama


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa • Iraq • President Bush
soundoff (191 Responses)
  1. Mike, Houston, TX

    I think Obama is going to win the Democaratic nomination for president. He is in the best physical shape and can therefore run from a fight faster than the others.

    He is the Neville Chamberlain of our day.

    September 13, 2007 04:52 pm at 4:52 pm |
  2. Rob, Ocala, FL

    To Michael, Indianapolis, IN.

    Michael, I totally agree with you. We do not have the right to tell other nations how to govern themselves or who their leaders should be. I do not agree with every thing President Bush does. I truly feel that trying to spread democracy to all countries and enforce our form of government and culture on them is a bad thing. However, I also feel that we must do what is necessary to protect our own national interests. Our economy is totally dependent on foreign oil to run. If that flow is interrupted, it could lead to a recession or even worse. We all need to conserve and find alternate sources of renewable energy to end this dependence but until then it is what it is. No country or their people have the right to take over our embassy and you stating this should be construed as a patriotic act is incomprehensible. I guess what your saying is that every nation that disagrees with our foreign policy has the right to take our people hostage. Maybe you should move to Iran and see how you like it. I bet you will have a different attitude when you get back. I have no problem with the Iranian people. I think they have the right to elect their own government like everyone else. What I have a problem with is the extremists in these countries, like Bin Laden who want to force me and all others to follow Sharia law and practice Islam. That my friend is where I draw the line. I dont think the US government is telling the people in Arab countries to convert to Christianity or you will fall under our sword.

    And to Jeremy in Chicago, IL.

    I have served in the military but I am now pushing 50 so the military will not take me, but I can tell you this for sure, if my Commander in Chief, be he George w. Bush or Barack Obama called me today and said Rob we need you and we dont care how old you are, Id pack my bag and be there ready, willing and able. I love my country and would gladly stand and fight for it if asked. I am not a hypocrite. I would never ask our soldiers to go anywhere or do anything I wasnt prepared to do myself. If President Bush needs me, he can call me and I will be there.

    September 13, 2007 05:01 pm at 5:01 pm |
  3. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Vish wrote:
    "We need diplomatic relations, not this kindergarten crap of you hit me so i'll hit you back. GROWN MEN TALK OUT THEIR DIFFERENCES."

    I agree. You, fine Sir (or Ma'am, not sure), indeed have a point. Grown men do indeed talk out their differences. We "negotiate," if you will.

    So, what exactly is our response when the terrorists' opening offer in this lovely negotiation is, "I want to kill you, infidel?"

    How do we come back with a counter offer? How about, "Well OK. But how about kill me in five years?"

    "No, no. I will kill you immediately."

    Counter: "Well, how about just blow me up. Maybe take a leg or an arm."

    "No. Kill you immmediately."

    Counter: "Well, how about you just kill all the people? Would that suffice?"

    "No. Kill you. Immediately."

    How exactly do you negotiate, or "talk out" your differences with someone whose opening offer is to kill you?

    September 13, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  4. JimmieFromDayton

    Senator Obama is the best person to lead this nation into the future. I'm tired of the corruption and misinformation that comes from the president and the republicans in the congress.

    September 13, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  5. TiamatDrgn Columbus, OH

    Why is it that every time Barack says something it sounds so boring and empty, for example...

    We need to strengthen the borders while providing health care for our seniors to make this country a better place for all our children so that they don't have to fight and die on foreign soil....God Bless America.

    Yawn.

    September 13, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  6. Ramin , London , England

    I as an Iranian who suffred from hands of ayatollah's, support president bush because he is realy man to stand against terrorist. I understand how is hard to get victory over terrorist and
    if i warning you to stand against terrorist and ayatollah's I don't want scare or control you by making fear . I am realy ready to join U.S Army to make free my country from terrorist even i should kill too many iranian whose support them and i don't run away from this because i'm a man too.

    September 13, 2007 07:22 pm at 7:22 pm |
  7. Patrick, Bartlesville Oklahoma

    Obama is quickly sounding like the fear mongerer that a lot of liberals accuse Bush of being. This smells of hypocracy.

    September 13, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  8. Anonymous, California

    The best solution would be to simply drop a few nukes, clear the region, salvage what's worth saving,if anything, and then make another Las Vegas out of the entire region....no more conflict..C'est Finis!

    September 13, 2007 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  9. Trish M Charlottetown PEI

    I think many are jumping too quick to Glory here...
    I agree with Barack's Statement "Don't Invade Iran." BUT Did he hear the undertones in the speech of the Iran President?

    eeerie echoes to say the least.

    The Iran President in my view has been planning on how he can make good on the Iraq war for the past six years. I want the Iraq War to end but not while there's another Master Mind close by plotting another one to take it's place.

    Would't the Iran President be celebrating as American and Nato troops head home. We know he has nuclear possibilities he has not denied it. As American and Nato troops leave he'll be sending troops to take their place to pick up where they left off, but not as peace keepers and stabilizers but rather destoryers.

    I really feel Barack should assess his statements again and elaborate on what his plan would be to keep Iran reigned in after the troops head home. Other wise the world may be facing more devastation after the Bush Iraq War than they have during. Let's not forget to include Syria and North Korea in our assessment.

    September 13, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  10. KD, Dallas, TX

    Terri in Plantation, FL....Thank you for writing this.

    How interesting. Whenever I come to this place, I find the country's most uniformed people calling a former professor of constitutional law, a man who has been lauded by the best and brightest foreign policy experts, 'unintelligent'.

    I always wondered how this country could have been stupid enough to elect this president for a second term. One only needs to see the majority of posters to the Political Ticker to understand how that could have happened.

    When someone who was outspokenly against this war since before it was waged gives an intelligent,comprehensive and realistic solution to this administration's disastrous fiasco in Iraq, it apparently brings out the nutjob 30% who still buy the hype of the most corrupt and incompetent president in our history.

    It is any wonder the rest of the world considers us illiterate morons!

    I would also like to add that WE are the aggressors, we are the country that is feared by most of the world due to our impulsive, not thought out, manipulative administration that took us to war with Iraq. The world is less safe, specifically in the middle east. Another blogger made a very good point. What do you see the terrorists bombing...Great Britian, US, and our bases and ships wherever they are. Don't be so darn naive. We created this mess because of our continual interference in dictating the middle east to gain oil revenue and reserves. Why can't people see how others view us, even if you don't know every aspect our country has interfered in with the middle east, the war in Iraq should be explanable enough. WE have nuclear weapons. Don't you think that many are afraid of us as a result. Thank God other countries don't have the mentality of some of the bloggers on here running the show or our country would be toast already. Nuclear energy is a wonderful source of energy. Yes, it can also be used to create bombs. I don't know what's right in this aspect, I only wish that Einstein would have been listened to with the advice he gave when this type of energy was first discovered. He knew the potential ramifications. It will end up causing WWIII. But my fear is, it won't be because of Iran, but rather because Bush will create a reason to take the US to war in Iran. He is primping us already for that very real possibility. Bush scares me more than anyone else, even Bin Ladin. Bush has caused more death and destruction than what was dealt to us on 911. I wish we would have focused our energy on Afghanistan and gotten the real bad guys instead of being the aggressor in a war built on lies.

    September 13, 2007 08:51 pm at 8:51 pm |
  11. JC, Motor City, MI

    Don't invade Iran, let's invade Pakistan.

    Invade your friends and not your enemies.

    September 13, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  12. Cary - Lowell, IN

    Don't invade IRAN???!!!! Are you inhaling again, Barack?!

    President Yabba Dabba Doo of Iran just made a speech the other day in which he said Israel shouldn't "have life". He's essentially saying he's going to drop a bomb on Israel. If people out there think we don't need to remove Iran's nuclear threat, they are also smokin' somethin.

    September 13, 2007 10:49 pm at 10:49 pm |
  13. Dan, TX

    Posted By Eric, from THE Republic of Texas : September 13, 2007 5:23 pm
    "How exactly do you negotiate, or "talk out" your differences with someone whose opening offer is to kill you?"

    First get someone who is a better negotiator than you are! Seriously. North Korea is much more dangerous than IRAN in a number of ways, but somehow, when we actually negotiated with them, we resolved the nuclear issue. But somehow Iran is different? I don't think so. Most people, even in Iran, do want to live. If you believe that all the people of Iran just want to kill Americans and Israelis and that is all they live for, you are insane.

    As always, I appeal to everyone to go to at least your own favorite candidates web page and look at your own candidate's views on the issues. You might then actually compare candidates and be in a position to start to have an intelligent discussion.

    September 14, 2007 01:45 am at 1:45 am |
  14. Tom - Dedham, Mass

    Shouldn't we be at least warning or talking tough with Iran just a "little bit" considering that they are CURRENTLY sending artillary that is being used to kill our men and women?

    How about Iran JUST stating that we should all love each other and sing Kumbya with the EXCEPTION being the Israeli's who should NOT HAVE LIFE.

    What do you people think he means by that?

    Since Condi has done so well with North Korea, lets play the game with progressives and the UN and set up a sit down and discuss what his intentions are and request that he stop arming people to kill us and lets all try to get along. A common ground if you will.

    I am ok with that, BUT what do you do IF he thumbs his nose at us and says my goal is to wipe out Israel and I will continue to arm the "freedom fighters" against the infidels?

    What would you do?

    September 14, 2007 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  15. Danny Boy TN

    Here is a quote from Iran's president. The media keeps misquoting him. ( Ahmadinejad has made anti-Israel comments in the past.

    In October 2005, he caused outrage in the West when he said in a speech that Israel's "Zionist regime should be wiped off the map."

    His supporters have argued Ahmadinejad's words were mistranslated and should have been better translated as "vanish from the pages of time" — implying Israel would vanish on its own rather be destroyed.)
    So there you have it. He never said Israel should get destroyed, only that Zionism should be destroyed. There is big difference in the two.Obama is right, dont bomb Iran. But no one ever listens.

    September 14, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  16. loretta

    what is the democratic party thinking by giving us candidates that we don't want to vote for? The united states is not ready for a black president and neither is it ready for a woman president who would not stand up to her husband for his cheating. I will vote republican, something I have never done, if I have too. Obama is not another Kennedy. His heritage is not even american. I met robert kennedy and he was a great man and so was his brother. Obama does not compare to them. I am disappointed that his daughter and his brother would compare him to Kennedy. What is wrong with the people of the united states? Isn't this man a moslem? This don't match what america stands for. The united states is a baptist, protestant country. Have we lost the sight of God? Without the things this country was build on thei country will fail. Obama or Clinton don't have the ability to run this country. They don't showme that they can.

    January 27, 2008 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
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