July 15th, 2008
09:05 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama: Iraq 'distracts us'

Barack Obama says the war in Iraq has been a distraction.

Barack Obama says the war in Iraq has been a distraction.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Barack Obama says that the war in Iraq has become a dangerous distraction and that if elected president, he would deal with the dangerous threats facing the country.

The Senator from Illinois and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee is expected make those comments when he gives a policy address on Iraq and Afghanistan and national security at the International Trade Center here in the nation’s capital, in what his campaign calls a major speech.

Watch: Obama stands by his Iraq plan

“This war distracts us from every threat that we face and so many opportunities we could seize. This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy, and the resources that we need to confront the challenges of the 21st century. By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe,” Obama says in excerpts released by his campaign.

“Instead of being distracted from the most pressing threats that we face, I want to overcome them. Instead of pushing the entire burden of our foreign policy on to the brave men and women of our military, I want to use all elements of American power to keep us safe, and prosperous, and free. Instead of alienating ourselves from the world, I want America – once again – to lead,” adds Obama.

Obama will also repeat again that ending the war in Iraq and removing U.S. combat troops from that country remains a top priority.

Watch: Obama's Iraq dilemma

“As president, I will pursue a tough, smart and principled national security strategy – one that recognizes that we have interests not just in Baghdad, but in Kandahar and Karachi, in Tokyo and London, in Beijing and Berlin. I will focus this strategy on five goals essential to making America safer: ending the war in Iraq responsibly; finishing the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban; securing all nuclear weapons and materials from terrorists and rogue states; achieving true energy security; and rebuilding our alliances to meet the challenges of the 21st century,” says Obama.

John McCain is also speaking out today on the war in Iraq. The senator from Arizona and presumptive Republican presidential nominee is expected to start a town hall in Albuquerque, New Mexico today, that starts just minutes after Obama’s speech is scheduled to end, with a rebuttal.

"Senator Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan. And I note that he is speaking today about his plans for Iraq and Afghanistan before he has even left, before he has talked to General Petraeus, before he has seen the progress in Iraq, and before he has set foot in Afghanistan for the first time. In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy,” says McCain in an excerpt released by his campaign.

Watch: McCain says Obama is shifting his Iraq stance

A new ABC/Washington Post poll shows that Americans are split between Obama’s proposed timetable to withdraw most U.S. forces from Iraq within 16 months of taking office, and McCain’s plans to oppose a specific timetable.

In his speech today, Obama will also say that more emphasis should be place on the battle in Afghanistan.

“In fact – as should have been apparent to President Bush and Senator McCain – the central front in the war on terror is not Iraq, and it never was. That’s why the second goal of my new strategy will be taking the fight to al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan.,” says Obama.

Obama is expected to see the situation on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan this summer as part of a Congressional codel.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama
soundoff (201 Responses)
  1. JDM

    Just a trip back in time?! The good old days!
    After my 3rd infantry vacation trip to Iraq (Gulf war One). We had that country under control. Saddam only control a small part of the country, but large enough to keep Iran afraid to do anything.

    Afgans were running to the hills because 10th Mountain, The 82nd and SF was crushing them! UNTIL THEY WAS TOLD TO REPORT TO IRAQ!!!!!


    July 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  2. people say No to McCain

    how many of our sons and daughters have to die in Iraq while McCain, Bush and Chaney ignore the real enemy in Afgan? since Bush has been in office our "value" has decreesed by $1,000,000.00
    the oil companies stand to make Billions in profit in Iraq-you do the math.

    July 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  3. Just Curious!!!!

    Tony - PUT UP OR SHUT UP!
    Typical politcal rhetoric. All politicians talk, lie. Don't tell us, show us


    July 15, 2008 10:06 am at 10:06 am |
  4. OBlahBlahBlahBama

    In all due respect sir, dont you realize there are soldier's families that are laying their lives on the line that probably find your words very offensive no matter what you or others might think. By the way, they are doing their job they were hired to do. They are finishing their work.
    Unlike you who has never completed anything but a couple of books and speeches, oh yeah, and graduating from our most prestigious law schools. You couldnt have done this without a secure country.

    carolflowery....beautifully said!!

    July 15, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  5. Obama The King?

    Just say the word Almighty Barry – and all the world problems will be healed!! Perhaps Barry is the Distraction?

    July 15, 2008 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  6. the takeover

    Thank You Senator Obama...you are on point with this one. The conflict in Iraq was a mistake from the word go. If the people of iraq wanted democracy that bad they would be marching and dying for it themseleves a long time ago. As easily as the are killing are brave men and women with rsb's they could have got Saddam. Like Obama, i was againist going to iraq. Why the heck would you attack a country that was no threat to you no means what so ever?

    July 15, 2008 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  7. arun

    Dear carolflowery

    Which part of his speech should the brave men and women of the armed forces find offensive ? And how does getting out of Iraq make America insecure ? A failed economy sure does. And you can thank Dubya for that.

    July 15, 2008 10:09 am at 10:09 am |

    Barack Obama is wise beyond his years......his presidency will change America and the world. Obama2008

    July 15, 2008 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  9. Erik

    Such wisdom.

    July 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  10. WoMaN4McCain

    notfallinline.org sounds like that bitter knoxville guy that used to comment on here. I bet he's a puma-tard. And he still sounds bitter.

    July 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  11. beevee

    I think the war is dragging down our economy and we sould soon seek a way to come out it and reestablish ourselves as a world leader in everyway.

    July 15, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  12. Anon

    translation: "I have no idea how foreign policy works so let's please stop talking about it."

    July 15, 2008 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  13. Kyle Indianapolis, Indiana



    July 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  14. Scott, Wichita

    If you really think that Iraq distracts us, just nuke it.

    We can cover every square mile of the planet in radioactive fire 5 times over.

    If we don't have a "distraction" like Iraq, our military will atrophy, and be completely useless when the next conflict arises

    July 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  15. Kris Hussain from AZ

    TESTIFY My friend. The war is a major distraction. Lets bring back our standing in the world and be proud.

    July 15, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  16. Michelle

    Yap, yap, yap!

    All you do is talk! How about SPECIFIC and REALISTIC plans?

    Do you ever actually DO anything other than give speeches and
    run from one official title to the next without doing anything REAL?!

    Sir, you are an amateur!

    Folks, read the article in New Yorker even if you don't like the cover.
    It's an eye-opener!

    July 15, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  17. 11 Bravo

    Exactly!!! Why are we in Iraq, when bin Laden is in Afghanistan? I'll tell you why:

    Because "Saddam tried to kill my daddy" © Dubya

    What a colossal waste. We should be going after the people that actually attacked us, not settling old scores.

    July 15, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  18. Jerry in Boston

    ANOTHER "major speech"??

    Get over yourself already Obama.

    During his trip to Palestine, does he plan to re-deliver the sermon on the mount? That Jesus dude, didn't do a vey good job first time around.

    July 15, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  19. Nichole Krist

    I am so hopefull, I pray that he means what he says. We need our America back, I love America, but we are not what we used to be. I'm embarrased of what we have become. I really feel if he reallly believes in what he is saying we could be so great again.

    July 15, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  20. Dem 4 Obama, PA

    I find it so interesting that some say Sen. Obama is "just speeches". First, this is the election season. He's not president, so what presidential action can he take? Second, his speeches outline issues and decisive plans for resolution. So really the "just speeches" comments are just rhetoric from opponents with no real basis.

    Also interesting, is that Sen. Obama as drawn much focus back on the forgotten war in Afghanistan. That is where the terrorists are and it was he, not Sen. McCain or Pres. Bush, that drummed home that point again and again and finally people are listening!

    He is well-informed and has the skill for cutting through the smoke and identifying the real problem. He also is not afraid to tell us the truth about what the resolution will involve. He's a leader!

    July 15, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  21. RM

    Obama's referring to Iraq as a 'distraction' once again illustrates his awful lack of experience in foreign affairs. This guy is amazingly impressed with himself and dangerously ignorant of what's going on in the world.

    Instead of pontificating proudly, he could explain to those 27 Iraqis murdered by Al Quaeda yesterday, and the thousands of others killed and maimed in the past, why their defense and wellbeing is a distraction. What's REALLY important to Mr. Obama? Getting elected?

    July 15, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  22. Chuck Rush under the bus

    Republicans dont want to capture Bin Laden,hes been their ace in the hole.

    July 15, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  23. rice, bryan

    i know that limbaugh, and hannity, and bush, and mcbush will tell you that when obama taked office america will be in grave danger. but really, how much safer are you now, than before 9/11? your president wanted to sell ports to a country that harbors terrorists. this administration had an illegal bidding process that allowed haliburton to take control the oil fields in iraq. this admistration lied about wmd's, still looking i guess!! bin laden, the master mind behind 9/11, was allowed to get into pakistan. and your president said that we would follow him into any country that harbors terrorists, another lie. iraq was a smoke screen that put the american soldier into harms way for personel profit. and the al-queda network is just as strong if not strong than they were before 9/11. this war was supposed to be about getting back at the terrorists that struck on 9/11, but we now know that was a slight of hand trick to make us look the other way. the admistrations campaign strategy was to scare the american people into voting for the most corrupt president in history for the second time. no one is saying the american soldier is blame for what is going on in iraq, or afganistan. the point is completely being missed by people who want to listen to limbaugh, and hannity, and o'reilly, who would tell you that a democrat will get you killed. and unfortunately, the small minded people who listen to these people will believe them. the nazi's had no choice but to believe thier government, if not the were killed. but in this day of making up your own mind, and getting your own information, we still get ours from the propaganda machine of the republican party.

    July 15, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  24. Jesse, Burnsville, MN

    Obama is talking about supporting our troops by creating a logical plan and then people like "carolflowery" try to throw it back in his face by saying he is turning his back on the troops.

    What world are you living in carol?? Do you think it is logical to support our troops by putting them in harms way for a misguided war.

    By the way, you say "finishing their work" but NO ONE has ever given me a clear indication of what "finishing their work" or "winning this war" even means.

    The "War on Terror" is the same as the "War on Drugs". They can never be won. You can't win a war against an ideology. Until Americans understand that, we will be stuck wasting billions of our tax dollars and making our country more financially insecure.

    July 15, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  25. Dan J

    Distract us? Irregardless of whether or not we created this problem, it is now a huge problem, not a distraction. Iraq will easily spawn huge long and short term complications if not handled properly. It isn't a mere annoyance, its a real issue. He can't just brush off its significance like that. Obama's lack of experience and expertise really scares me.

    July 15, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
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