September 13th, 2007
06:42 AM ET
2 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. Tim, Cincinnati, OH

    Bush to Obama: Sit down, Junior, and eat your vegetables. Maybe one day you'll grow up to be President. Meanwhile, you're in the little leagues.

    September 13, 2007 07:19 am at 7:19 am |
  2. johnny,lafayette,la.

    coming from someone who must not watch fox news.and he runs for president..please call barnum and bailey.they need more clowns

    September 13, 2007 07:20 am at 7:20 am |
  3. Mark, Princeton, NJ

    Obama is dangerously irresponsible.

    September 13, 2007 07:23 am at 7:23 am |
  4. CppThis

    Why invade Iran when you can invade Pakistan instead?

    September 13, 2007 07:25 am at 7:25 am |
  5. Pat - Miami Florida

    The comments of Mr. Barack Obama are inflammatory, inappropriate, and antipatriotic, aiming to get the sympathy of the terrorists around the world and of all subversive elements in the US.

    September 13, 2007 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  6. Ramin Rezai, London , England

    Obama Don't bark like a dog please...

    September 13, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  7. Gary, Atlanta GA

    We know, we know. He's a Muslum even if he doesn't practice the religion, and that's whey OBAMA doesn't want us to attack Iran and that's why he wants us to leave Iraq.

    He shouldn't even be running

    September 13, 2007 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  8. Betty Maddocks, Hudson, N. H.

    If the Bush/Cheney attempt another war then Congress has to step up to the plate and impeach!

    September 13, 2007 08:02 am at 8:02 am |
  9. Ramin , London . England

    Obama only thinks for his position and abuse of situation to change public opinion. this guy and people like him will damage to people in Iran.

    September 13, 2007 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  10. Joe Thornton Warrenton Virginia

    Senator Obama,

    Your quote; "They suggest the time for diplomacy and public pressure is running out, when we haven't even tried direct diplomacy." I don't know who I will vote for next year, but I can assure you it will not be for a candidate who advocates "direct diplomacy" with a barbarous regime that overran our embassy in 1979 and held our diplomats hostage for more than a year. When the Iranians send a peace envoy to the US apologising to the american people for their unconscionable behavior then I will support direct negotioations. I am not a supportor of President Bush or the republican party, and I do not want war with Iran but I will not, and I believe the american people will not, support kowtowing to a backward totalitarian theocracy.

    September 13, 2007 08:14 am at 8:14 am |
  11. pl. at the UN for a while.

    Not the kind of ignorance and rhetoric one would have expected from a presidential candidate.

    Go ahead Mr Obama, tell the world that you would not take action, no matter what. Tell Iran that they are free to take the lead in the Arabic world, to bring stability, except to Israel.

    What you are proposing is a recepy for total, global, disaster.

    September 13, 2007 08:19 am at 8:19 am |
  12. Scott Williams

    I find it outrageous that a mere Senator is trying to tell the President of the Untied States how to conduct foreign policy. He needs to focus on his side of the government and let the President focus on his.

    The President was the Commander-in-Chief the last time I checked the Constitution.

    September 13, 2007 08:20 am at 8:20 am |
  13. Emile Mervin, Queens, New York

    I like Obama, but I don't think he understands what the US top brass in Iraq are saying: the festering problem in Iraq is partly due to Iran's Qoms (military unit) involvement. US soldiers are dying or being maimed by Iranian backed terrorists, and delaying withdrawal of US forces. Was it not Obama who said he'd use military force as President against a certain country? Which country was it?

    September 13, 2007 08:22 am at 8:22 am |
  14. Dean, Cols Ga

    Obama needs a new backbone and quit speaking for the American people when he has no clue as to what we have to say ecept that he's an idiot, I say take out Iran

    September 13, 2007 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  15. NA, Atlanta, GA

    I couldn't find a thing to disagree with in Obama's speech. As a professional nay-sayer, that's pretty remarkable. I would like to hear from some of the original generals that were forced out of Iraq.

    September 13, 2007 08:26 am at 8:26 am |
  16. Matt, Manchester, CT

    Oh yes Senator Obama, let's forth with the direct diplomacy that you suggest. I'm sure it will work like a charm with such a reasonable regime in Tehran. Let's also see if one of Neville Chamberlain's relatives could perhaps be a go between for us. Brilliant.

    September 13, 2007 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  17. A, Houston TX

    Just a few days ago he was talking about bombing Pakistan. This guy scares the hell out of me, he's not only a rookie at foreign policy, he's an opinionated rookie.

    September 13, 2007 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  18. Keith, Slippery Rock, PA

    I have to say I agree with him, we should stay out of Iran. Nothing good can come of it.

    September 13, 2007 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  19. Lance in Monrovia, CA

    Obama is my hero. I stood beside 9,000 people in Santa Barbara last Saturday and watched him say with confidence that his first priority is getting us out of the sandtrap we're in overseas.

    he spoke more eloquently, more logically, and more passionately than I've ever heard a politician speak.

    Screw that, he's not my hero, he's my leader. I'll do everything I possibly can to ensure that this man is the next President of the United States, and you know what, I've got a lot of help to do it to, because the other 9,000 people that arrived on short notice to be there felt the same damn way.

    Obama is an American Hero in the finest sense of the word. He cares, which is more than I can say for the pundits and other yapping candidates that fail miserably whenever they try to make Obama look bad.

    Obama 08!!!!

    September 13, 2007 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  20. Jose, Miami, Florida

    Maybe if we ask Iran, "Can you pretty please, with sugar on top, stop threatening the world with your nukes?", Iran will back down. Tipical liberal kumbaya and blind trust in an avowed enemy of this country. BTW Obama, you don't speak for all the American people so don't invoke the will of "all" when handing out your left serving advice.

    September 13, 2007 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  21. ki houston

    This man is already president for me ,he may be the only politician that tells the truth and makes since with his thoughts .Obama is my president now .yall can follow bush to hell if you want . not me

    September 13, 2007 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  22. Dave, Grand Rapids, Michigan

    Dear Senator,
    How you got elected is beyond me. Your denial of events in the world show how dangerous a person you are and how even more dangerous you could become as President. Evil has to be delt with, sometimes with power. Not everyone can be talked to. Iran is KILLING AMERICANS. It really is that simple. Iran is killing AMERICANS. They want to destroy Israel. You cannot talk or reason with such actions. They , Iran, are the main source of terrorism in the world. NOt the people, the leaders of that country. The Clerics, the IRGC. Until you realize the number one job of any President is to protect Americans, you will never be elected. No matter how articulate you may sound. Reality is, you are not very bright and a dangerous person is an ignorant person. Read history. It always seems to repeat itself when Freedom loving countries ignore the threats that exists and fail to deal with them when they emerge. God help us if you even get the Nomination.

    September 13, 2007 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  23. Ray

    Finally,
    Thank God there is a common sense running to be our president. Just wonder if Israel Lobby (AIPAC) will allow him to become president after these remaks. A war with Iran benifits one country ONLY, Israel, and will cause greater damage to our country USA. Good for Obama for being clear sighted.

    September 13, 2007 09:13 am at 9:13 am |
  24. Justin, Cleveland Ohio

    I agree with Mr. Obama. The president is sending signals to Iran that he sent to Iraq. We originally went into Iraq because of WMD then "terrorism". Mr. Bush, we can't invade every country because of terrorism! Let that country solve its own crisis.

    September 13, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  25. Jerome, Jersey City, NJ

    At this point, it appears that the only way in World War III can be averted, is if President Bush and Vice Presdinet Cheney are "taken out."

    September 13, 2007 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
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