September 13th, 2007
06:42 AM ET
9 years 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. Jim in Minneapolis

    Obama would consider missile strikes on Iran
    By David Mendell | Tribune staff reporter
    September 25, 2004
    Article tools
    E-mail Share
    Digg Facebook Furl Google Newsvine Reddit Spurl Yahoo Print Single page view Reprints Reader feedback Text size: U.S. Senate candidate Barack Obama suggested Friday that the United States one day might have to launch surgical missile strikes into Iran and Pakistan to keep extremists from getting control of nuclear bombs.

    Obama, a Democratic state senator from the Hyde Park neighborhood, made the remarks during a meeting Friday with the Tribune editorial board. Obama's Republican opponent, Alan Keyes, was invited to attend the same session but declined.

    Iran announced on Tuesday that it has begun converting tons of uranium into gas, a crucial step in making fuel for a nuclear reactor or a nuclear bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency has called for Iran to suspend all such activities.

    Many more could follow......
    Just shows all politicians are the same.
    Would like CNN Political ticker to follow up on his bellicose rhetoric....

    September 12, 2007 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  2. Peggy, tallahassee FL

    Hot topic, that is why Obama is the man for the job.

    September 12, 2007 10:21 pm at 10:21 pm |
  3. bprossersme

    What a dangerous suggestion. Obama clearly has no idea of matters of governing.

    September 12, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  4. Enzo, Wayne, NJ

    who died and made him the expert on "Islamic intentions"? show us your reasoning and drop the rhetoric. and you want us to vote you in? I'm not a GOP fan but you ain't the answer either.

    September 12, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  5. james , san antonio tx

    i say we bomb Iran. They will bite us later if we dont do it now.

    September 12, 2007 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  6. John Starnes Tampa Florida

    Thank heavens he said that out loud.....Bush and Cheney lied America into a needless war and are at it again, claiming Iran has 90% weapons grade uranium despite the IAEC stating time and again they have trace amounts of the 3.5% power plant grade. Cheney got 5 deferments in Vietnam, Bush hid behind his Dad yet both callously send our troops to danger and death without cause in quest of empire and ego and ever more wealth and power. The American people must NOT let themselves be manipulated again with their new Iran bogeyman's WMDs revisited. Both men are shameless and have damaged our nation far more than Bid Laden could have ever dreamed of doing himself.

    September 12, 2007 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  7. sonny c. v.p.,la.

    That would be so unlike Bush to create a mess & leave it for someone else to clean it up. I'm sure Poppy made sure he cleaned his room every Sat. morning before he could go out & play w/ the other kids in Texas or Maine or wherever rich kids spend their Summer.

    September 12, 2007 10:40 pm at 10:40 pm |
  8. shawny Kirkland washington

    Hum? from last time I remember president bush did not get the clear and go ahead for a war the first time out, or rather no one in the UN declared a war. EVERYONE else said "GO and we shall agree" umm this whole thing is a major issue to all our parties as I look all ways your way Dem's and repubs, as you try to pass the buck backwards and forwards all the time.Blame a president? Look into the mirror then re-think all the BS that has gone into this who mess of almost 4000 dead.Iran is deadly and we need to be out of the middle east completely. Iraq is a poor country who did not one thing Iran is the city of hell.We do not need their products fuel energy we need to cut all our ties to this section of earth

    September 12, 2007 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. Lakisha St.Louis, Mo.

    Obama is a Natural Born Leader

    September 12, 2007 10:45 pm at 10:45 pm |
  10. Scott Braswell, Renton WA

    A nice try by Obama, but too late in my opinion.

    Congress has already given Bush the power to attack Iran in a preemptive strike. In addition, the green light has been given to use tactical nuclear weapons on hardened bunkers and underground labs 'where no other munitions will suffice'.

    Regardless of Iran's activities in Iraq, attacking their country with nuclear weapons in response to thier attempts to build one of thier own IS ABSOLUTE INSANITY.

    According to the CIA Iran is at least 5 years away from building a functional ICBM. There is NO NEED to invade a third country, and use 'baby' nukes to help get the job done.

    If Bush does this, the credibility of our country will be ruined for decades, assuming it doesn't start another world war.

    September 12, 2007 10:47 pm at 10:47 pm |
  11. Rob Quinn, Fort Mill SC

    President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from Iran has repeatedly said that Israel should be wiped off the face of the earth and that the U.S. should be next. Mr. Obama DO YOU THINK HE IS KIDDING? He, along with other rogue regimes, are waiting for the U.S. to tire of fighting wars abroad so that he can wreak havok. We can withdraw from Iraq and bring our soldiers home and mind our own business, do you think that will cause President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to back off his stance? NO! If we allow him to go unchecked, we will regret it!

    September 12, 2007 10:48 pm at 10:48 pm |
  12. Wesley Quinn, Charlotte North Carolina

    Mr. Ahmadinejad should be on Saturday Night Live. What a jokester.....NOT. Let's do as Mr. Obama says and leave him alone. NUKES...NUKES...NUKES. raining down on non muslim nations. Great idea Mr Obama.

    Your foreign policy is a joke. I'm not saying that President Bush is correct on all accounts but give me a break. We have to take seriously the radical statements of a madman.

    Wake up AMERICA!

    September 12, 2007 10:54 pm at 10:54 pm |
  13. Mike, New York, NY

    I am not interested in voting for either Hillary or Barrack...that said, this guy is nuts. We HAVE to invade IRAN. When they get the nuke, world war three will start. This guy is a novice that has no concept of the issues...

    September 12, 2007 10:57 pm at 10:57 pm |
  14. Christian, Tampa FL

    What I don't understand is, why doesn't someone point out the increasingly obvious aspect of this war: that it is harming our national security, instead of improving it?
    An unacceptable portion of our National Guard equipment and manpower are in Iraq, where they are certainly NOT guarding our nation. As Obama has said, the money we're wasting on this war could've been applied to our own security. A trillion dollars is a lot.

    We need to stop wasting our resources on a country that doesn't care about us, and instead apply our tax dollars and military strength to defending our borders and ports, improving our infrastructure, and replacing our lost military equipment.

    The Iraq War is only going to continue to suck life and resources away from American interests, and it must end now!

    September 12, 2007 11:01 pm at 11:01 pm |
  15. Sam, Detroit MI

    I believe that Obama, among many others, did not vote to require congressional approval for an attack on Iran. It was an explicit bill that saw no major media attention. There is bipartisan support for a lack of authorization for attacks on Iran just as there is bipartisan support for continuing the war in Iraq. His words are just posturing to pretend that there is a difference between the people in power.

    September 12, 2007 11:13 pm at 11:13 pm |
  16. Roberto, Tampa, FL.

    Barack Obama is the leader America has been waiting for. We need to nominate him, not Hillary.

    September 12, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  17. Ray, New York NY

    American people say NO to a war on Iran

    September 12, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  18. Matthew Cook, San Jose, Costa Rica

    Good job Barack Obama! It looks like we are starting to get some real leadership in Washington. Now please get our troops home or cut funding for this disastrous war.

    September 12, 2007 11:17 pm at 11:17 pm |
  19. Sean

    It's good to see that we finally have some prospect of intelligent leadership in Obama. Many say that it is not important that he opposed the war in Iraq back in 2002, but I disagree. I think its very important to have a leader with the foresight to understand the possible negative outcomes of war rather than getting caught up in hype, like Hillary and Edwards were.

    I think Obama has what it takes to lead this country in the future, and I am confident that he will end up winning the primaries and the general election in '08.

    September 12, 2007 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  20. Lioness, Washington DC

    CNN: for once, you did the right thing and actually reported fully and comprehensively on Obama's speech without merely concentrating on the withdrawal strategy, which is not new, and, instead alluding to his stance on other issues like Iran in what turned out to be a very broad, comprehensive speech.

    You outdid the rest of the media. I am giving you credit where credit is due.

    Obama's words are, as usual eloquent. I am glad you quoted him.

    September 12, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  21. Winston Hsia, San Antonio Texas

    Mr. Bush;

    What is after IRAN? Let me guess, Russia?

    September 12, 2007 11:28 pm at 11:28 pm |
  22. Chudi Otis, Reston, VA

    Wow! So every American is shocked and no one has given a comment on this piece till now?

    Thank God for obama!!

    September 12, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  23. SFT, Elgin, IL

    This is a carefully constructed plan that is multifaceted and uses all of the leverage that is possible for an American President in a way that begins to solve this hedious humanitarian & political crisis that Senator Obama understands is more than simply an inept invasion of Iraq. This is clearly a man who knows how to solve problems in a careful thoughtful manner considering all aspects.

    September 12, 2007 11:29 pm at 11:29 pm |
  24. Tricia M Charlottetown PEI

    I wholeheartedly agree with Sen. Barack Obama's views on the Iraq War and the consequences of involving Iran. Senator Obama stated, "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."

    I too have heard those same eerie echoes for some time. I have great fear if the Bush Administration is not curtailed now they will find and use yet another excuse to initiate another war against Iran. We are in the midst of a war now that is militarily unwinable and has seen very little progress over the course of six years.
    If this Administration chooses to put Americans at greater risk by defying all logic and common sense and iniating a second war, the horror of the past eight years will be nothing in comparison.

    If every Nation does not see this as the greatest fear for our world's future they should.

    If this administration gives Iran cause to defend itself, America will need every military member around the world to join forces. And that will not be a small feat. Currently, the military forces of most if not all American allies have been worn more than thin due to the current Iraq War. The Bush Administration may find themselves fighting a second battle alone.

    For those who can't see why this election is so very important, not only to America but to all Nations of the world, I can only hope Senator Obama has turned the light on.

    The Leader of Russia is resigning, the Leader of Japan is resigning, Pakistan's Leadership is in turmoil, Britain has a new Leader who is not in favour of the current occupation in Iraq. In short, should the US stir up another needless hornet's nest in Iran they won't find support from Nato Allies so easy to come by. Especially given their current, less than favourable, ratings in Iraq.

    September 12, 2007 11:33 pm at 11:33 pm |
  25. Cary - Lowell, IN

    Um Earth to Barack, Earth to Barack. The President of Iran just avered that Israelis shouldn't "have life. " Sounds like the little man is planning on something akin to genocide. Oh, let's just pretend that's not really happening.

    September 12, 2007 11:41 pm at 11:41 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8