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. A Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    Are you people that stupid? How many times does it need to be said? IRAQ DID NOT ATTACK US ON 9/11!!

    July 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  2. Texas Liberal

    Iraq is a distraction from the important problems that America is facing.

    It would not have been worse if Bush and Cheney had chosen to invade Brazil instead of Iraq. We would still have thousands of dead soldiers being shipped home, except from South America. The world would be no safer from terrorists. The budget would be just a big a disaster. Conservatives would be yelling "Support our boys in Brazil!" and "Our boys in Brazil have not died in vain!"

    Oil prices would be a little lower today if we had invaded Brazil, actually, because Saddam Hussein would still be selling oil on the black market and that would exert a downward pressure on oil prices.

    The only reason we are still in Iraq is because we invaded Iraq. In short, the purpose of the War in Iraq is to repair the damage done by our invasion of Iraq. Our soldiers there, like the soldiers who died in Viet Nam, have died for no reason.

    July 15, 2008 11:06 am at 11:06 am |
  3. Ken

    carolflowery...... The severely ignorant right speaking up again in feeble defense of this failed [R] administration and its war effort in Iraq. The shrill backlash is now familiar: anyone who questions them and their policy is unpatriotic and 'hates' the military. The goal is to bury dissent and democratic analysis by the public: a first step in a descent towards totalitarianism.

    And while demonizing the current messenger of protest, the right forgets that this war of THEIRS is being led by a hypocritical putz, who didn't have the guts to go fight in a war that he was proselytizing for when he was warm and safe on daddy's college campus. Just as it was then, he and his neo-true-believers now think its just fine to send and sacrifice the sons and daughters of OTHERS to fight in a war that suits their political agenda.

    As the messenger of protest in this story suggests: let's get on with the real fight on terror. Apparently the right has no stomach for the real fight.

    July 15, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  4. Marcus Allen

    "This war diminishes our security, our standing in the world, our military, our economy"

    Wrong, wrong, wrong and wrong.
    Our National security is better, no more attacks here.
    Our standing in the world improved, Libya, N Korea disarmed nukes.
    Our Military performed outstandingly well.
    Our Economy problems are NOT directly coupled to peacekeeping in Iraq.

    I'd love to agree with Barrack, but his steady stream of Anti-American rhetoric is wearing awfully thin. The last bit about bolstering our economy by withdrawing troops a completely weird proposal. Just think what the price of oil would be if Iran invaded Iraq after our retreat? Well?

    July 15, 2008 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. Tina

    carol, janey, obama is a disgrace,

    maybe it would help if you actually READ the article instead of the headline. CNN is the one who writes the headlines you know.

    Many of you should start closing your mouths and open up your minds a little. You might actually learn something.

    July 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  6. Jamaal Kansas

    We should have got Osama Bin Laden 7 years ago but no we are in Iraq because Bush wanted to finish what his fater never could and that is get Saddam Hussein. Now Saddam is dead and Bin Laden is in Afghanistan Sipping Lattes and watching while while Americans are losing there live in Ira

    July 15, 2008 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  7. Robert seattle wa

    Come people lets be real war cost money and if we keep on spending money the way we have we will be where africa is at now . I know alot a people don't understand obama and thinks he is just talkin . but if each one of u people would just sit back and read and research what this man stands for then u might change your opion about him . For the years that I have studied politcs I have learned that the first people to go negative is the main one who would vote some like bush into office twin and now we are on the verge of hitting rock bottom as a country and the same people who voted for bush is at it again . just remember u as a person decided at one time in your life to change the way you are as a person so stop lookin to the left and come to the middle and we might just have a chance to see another election obama 08

    July 15, 2008 11:10 am at 11:10 am |
  8. The truth

    He's just trying to avoid the New Yorker magazine cover by focusing on Iraq again, which was the main reason people hate Republicans (when Iraq and Mid East have become democracy countries one day, you all the hypocrite haters will see how our sacrifices make us the greatest nation).

    Come on Barack, you're too sneaky, but there will be kind of New Yorker magazine and Japanese monkey ad to come, not because of Republicans (like your jihad supporters and darling media do to always blame the Republicans), but because it is the truth, your truth color, senator (inexperienced senator but yet want to lead the country).

    July 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  9. HAM

    I have 21 years of service... I've spent a year in Iraq embedded on an Iraqi FOB as an advisor. I've spent an addtional year is other CENTCOM locations. I've lived, worked and fought with the Iraqi people. Most of you have no idea what you are talking about.

    Going in is no longer an issue... we are there. Leaving will cause genocide... so if that's what you are comfortable with... so be it. But don't be under any false hope that it will lead to anything else.

    For those of you on here who have served... I'm not speaking to you... Your opinion has my respect on this issue.

    July 15, 2008 11:11 am at 11:11 am |
  10. Ian

    Make your pick everybody. Do you want to go to war with Iran or Pakistan?

    July 15, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  11. Lorna, NY

    If we had used diplomacy prior to entering this war, this country would have been better off. But, since we have hot heads in office, we are where we are today and we deserve it. WE PUT THESE IDIOTS IN OFFICE. This election is too important for us, we need to do our research, pay attention to what is going on, because any decision we make will follow us for the next 4 years.

    July 15, 2008 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  12. Billy J -Austin-Tx

    Obama is dead on here. I just wish he was Hillary or Wesley Clark. Oh well.... I sure hope he gets in. Although I worry he will blow it for the Dems if he performs poorly.

    July 15, 2008 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  13. John Rhinehart

    He sure is right, and I guess 9/11 was a distraction to him as well. Where/what is his plan to fight global terrorism? In the middle east probably.

    July 15, 2008 11:14 am at 11:14 am |
  14. Jerry, Florida

    What's more of a distraction is Senator Obama's flip-flopping tactics. Which ever way the wind blows. Almost every day the Senator flip-flops on most issues just to keep voters confused.

    Also, the New Yorker's cover depiction is something that's on the minds of a considerable number of voters. Including some black voters. The Reverend Jackson???

    Stay tuned!

    July 15, 2008 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  15. Billy J -Austin-Tx

    Mike from Syracuse

    Put your money where your mouth is and join up please. We need you over there. I'm serious. And tell Cheney and Rumsfield that you want more boots on the ground. It was their idea to outsource the war, and do as much as they can with weapons (defense contractors) instead of infantry (you, if they would have you)

    July 15, 2008 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  16. Anonymous

    Looks like Barack Obama isn't doing as bad as Hillary and her supporters had hoped, wanting everyone to believe that Obama was doomed without dear old Hillary. Well apparently Obama doesn't need her.

    "A new Quinnipiac poll shows Obama leading McCain nationally by nine points, 50%-41%. Per a release, “Independent voters split 44%-44%… Sen. McCain has a slight 47%-44% edge among men voters and a larger 49%-42% lead among white voters. But black voters back Sen. Obama 94%-1%, while women support him 55%-36%. Obama leads 63-%-31% percent among voters 18 to 34 years old and 48%-44% among voters 35 to 54, while voters over 55 split with 45% for McCain and 44% for Obama.”

    July 15, 2008 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  17. D. Hendricks, FL

    He's intelligent, he's honest, and he will be my president in January.

    Oh, and he's cute as a button.

    Someone old enough to be his mother.

    Barack 08

    July 15, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  18. You can't win an occupation

    "Matt, Manchester, CT July 15th, 2008 9:11 am ET

    "I want to use all elements of American power to keep us safe, and prosperous, and free." So what does Obama propose he do, specifically, to accomplish this? His supporters get so indignant whenever people ask for specifics, it's really telling of their shallow support and lack or real substance. Let's stop patting ourselves on the back for supporting a black candidate and get down to the details of what he will actually do."

    Matt, why don't you be more specific? I think you're under the impression like so many others that he's already the president. Gramm was right. There are alot of whiners. If McCain was Black, who would you vote for? My money's on Barrack.

    July 15, 2008 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  19. Debbie, DC

    Ahhhh, it seems we're getting out of the silly season and into the serious season. It's time to bring the boys, (and the girls) HOME.


    July 15, 2008 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  20. Frank

    Obama....We are stategically in place to make Iran think twice about their flaunting international pressure of their nuclear program. They are in a corner thanks to us being in Iraq! You are laughable in your misguided rhetoric.

    July 15, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  21. Enlightened Voter

    His judgement is IMPECCABLE!!!!!!

    July 15, 2008 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  22. dave g, Minneapolis

    The whole point of the "War On Terror" is to keep the American people fearful. Just as the "War On Drugs" did. As long as we are scared, the government can and will take more of our freedoms.

    Bush and the Patriot Act and Obama voting FOR FISA!! The list goes on and on. No one is talking about this. Many people say that the eavesdropping without a warrant is fine because they don't talk to "terrorists" overseas. Well, what happens when the definition of "terrorist" is expanded?

    We've now lost Habeas Corpus. All of these new laws do not make us safer. They perpetuate the idea that we must have the goverment say what we can and can't do, rather than us telling the government. We don't need a Nanny named Uncle Sam.

    Barr '08!! for freedom and individual responsibility!!

    July 15, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  23. Eric

    what's fun with you is you never come up yourself with any fact. Beyond the complete absence of knowledge that all your posts reveal, otherwise you would have tried to contradict any point I made, it shows how GOP power is strictly based on people's ignorance. Not this time.

    July 15, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  24. jack

    Im a military member. Iraq is a touchy subject to me, for this reason I usually do not discuss it. Im hurt every time I hear of one of my brothers/sisters have died in this war but Im more hurt when I think about how there is a good chance that they are dying for no reason... I joined the military because of the benifits for myself my wife and my daughter. I realize it is a serious job and I will do WHATEVER is asked of me, however I feel what we are doing at this time is wrong. Im a "flip-flopper" I guess. After 9/11 I wanted to be the first one over there and I wasn't even active duty yet! Now that I've learned Ive changed my mind

    July 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  25. DonnieJ

    Wanting to bring the troops home ASAP shows his lack of support for them? Please! Stop-lossing and military commitments without defined goals are what's really unpatriotic and insulting to the troops.

    July 15, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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