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. Mike, West Lafayette IN

    I find it amusing that most of the people who post anti-Obama comments are unable to write complete and/or grammatically correct sentences. That certainly that tells you something about the intelligence level of those who don't support him.

    September 13, 2007 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  2. Hackers Inc.

    So what are you idiots going to do when we pull out of Iraq too early, it becomes an infestation ground of Al Queda and then your town and our country is destroyed because of a nuclear bomb that psychotic leader supplies to terrorists?

    September 13, 2007 10:08 am at 10:08 am |
  3. Mia, Stafford, VA

    Some of the people that comment on these blogs are so CLUELESS. You take a sound bite regarding Mr. Obama views on Pakistan and run with it.

    He said IF we (the USA) had good intelligence AND the Pakistan COULD NOT/WOULD NOT act HE WOULD & Guess What, so would GW, and most of the other candidates running.

    Anyone with a ounce of foresight, can see and hear the rhetoric from our President, and be concerned that we may invade Iran. Our military cannot handle another war right now, period. America does not have to take the lead in dealing with Iran. We can't afford it, first of all! We can't even afford the war in Iraq, how much do we owe China now?

    Obama is not naive or clueless, not talking, starting wars HAS NOT WORKED! It's time for a NEW APPROACH!!!

    September 13, 2007 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  4. Dennis Turner, Laurinburg NC

    Why would we want such a gutless person as our leader. I'm sure his muslim background is part of the reason for "telling" our president what "not' to do. I think itis time we allow our "elected" leader to lead without all of this back stabbing. No matter what My President does, some yoyo from another country can find fault. When we voted Mr. Bush into office, he was and is the man we wanted not hussien junior nor mrs clinton.

    September 13, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  5. Brenda, Annapolis

    "If only he had been more prominent in 2002, we might not be in the Iraqi quagmire. We might even have stabilized Afghanistan and caught Osama by now." Will in NYC–Hate to break it to you, but do we have proof that he actually "said" anything of the sort in 2002? It sounds all good and dandy now that the majority of the U.S. population is against the war. As was my previous example, Bush also "said" Hussein had WMDs–remember?

    It'd be great for Congress to do something, but where are the votes? Bush is dead-set on vetoing anything he disagrees with, and Congress is unable to get the votes to override because Republicans believe in loyalty. My questions is why aren't these ELECTED officals listening to those who elected them in the first place?

    Tell us something we don't already know about the Iran issue Obama! The man is speaking of nothing more than his own pipe dream. Bush doesn't need our authorization–he doesn't care. It's instances like these in which we should demand more from our candidates. What does he suggest to do that will stop Bush (aside from denying him our support and authority–haven't we already done that with Iraq?).

    September 13, 2007 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  6. Max, Dallas, TX

    As a former military recruiter, I am justified in saying that this is a wonderful opportunity for all of you Obama bashers to get out from behind your computer and visit your local recruiter. So quickly we forget that those are the sons and daughters of American families. Now imagine a world where a draft is the only way that we could possibly maintain the man power for such a decision. Then look into the faces of the little ones in your family and ask them if they are ready for their mommy and daddy to make this ridiculous decision on their behalf. That is where Mr. Obama is coming from!

    September 13, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  7. Rob, Ocala, FL

    Is this man some type of "Manchurian" candidate??? Who is he to warn the president of the United States. Senator Obama consistently supports and attmepts to placate Muslim extremists with his rhetoric. Apparently he doesnt know or doesnt care that the so called president of Iran, was one of the men who took over the American Embassy in Iran and held scores of Americans hostage for over a year until Ronald Reagan was sworn in. After that our hostages were released immediately because the Iranians knew Reagan would have taken military action against them. All of Carter's negotians and pleading did nothing but embolden these extremists which have clearly stated their goal is to wipe Israel off the map. Apparently Obama has not studied history. You cannot negotiate with extremists like these people, you must carry a big stick and use it when necessary. I for one think Bush has waited to long to deal with Iran's nuclear program. Perhaps Obama will approve of actions against Iran after they develop a nuclear weapon and use it against Israel or our troops in Irag. Would OBama support use of force then???? I think the time to act is now. We do not have to invade Iran to destroy or at least set back their nuclear program. This can be accomplished through air and missile stikes. Iranian backed militants are already killing our soldiers in Iraq with Iranian supplied weapons. We have more than enough cause to use the stick right now.

    September 13, 2007 10:22 am at 10:22 am |
  8. John, Norristown, PA

    We are huge hypocrites here in the America. How dare we tell another country that they can't build Nuclear weapons but, we won't get rid of the ones we have! We are not the worlds police, we are the worlds bullies and now we are reaping what we sow!

    September 13, 2007 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  9. Michael, NYC

    Some of you people are unbelieveable. Where, oh where, in Sen. Obama's speech does he imply that he thinks he can tell the President what to do? All he is doing is let people know what his beliefs and views are. All candidates, even Republicans, speak like this when making speeches. They challenge the President, the Congress, each other, whomever because it is an effective public speaking tactic. Oh, and by the way, to all of you who keep worrying about Sen. Obama's foreign policy experience, can any of you point to a candidate who has ANY REAL foreign policy expereince besides Sen. Biden and Gov. Richardson? Any of the Republican candidates? Not a one. Just because Mr. Guliani managed the 9/11 crisis, does not make him some foreign policy czar. He hasn't even been to Iraq! He left the Iraq Commission!! Everyone needs to keep a level head and realize that all of the candidates are trying to let their views through. Be critical to your heart's content, but please, for the sake of public discourse, be intelligent when you speak and not throw around epithets, lies and utter nonsense.

    September 13, 2007 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  10. Susan B., Bridgeport, WV

    I 100% agree with Senator Obama.
    War isn't working.
    Peace will.
    Even philosophers will praise war as ennobling mankind, forgetting the Greek who said, 'War is bad in that it begets more evil than it kills.'
    America is SICK of Bush's evil tactics.

    September 13, 2007 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  11. Ramin, London, England

    Come On U.S.A don't surrende to eneamy.

    September 13, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. AC, NYC

    "This is just another display of Obama's lack of foreign policy knowledge. "Let's see, Obama completed his J.D. degree magna cum laude @ Harvard and Bush by his own characterization, while @ Harvard Business School was an "average student."

    September 13, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  13. Adrian Ann Arbor, MI

    Hmm, either there are a ton of Republicans on this comment section, or there are alot of concern trolls. The kind of cynicism that pervades this page is exactly what Obama is campaigning against. The people who think that war is inevitable, and that its the only solution. Diplomacy doesn't even have a respectable place in our society anymore. People who advocate for it, are viewed as weak, when in fact, they are the opposite. Obama has the courage to stand up to people like Bush, and the naysayers on this site, and he has the boldness to say we can seek other, better solutions to our problems, and Iran is no different.

    September 13, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  14. Anonymous

    Its funny to hear everyone write about how wrong Obama is. The same group of people were probably on board when George W. wanted to go into Iraq in the first place for "national security" reasons. I didnt know national security encompassed oil. Obama makes sense and his comments are at least rational. Right now our influence over Iran is nothing becuase we are bogged down in Iraq. If we were free from Iraq our voice would be heard more effectively. Sad to say that Pakistan is already on the verge of being overthrown and that more than 60% of its citizens have more approval for Osama Bin Laden that Musharif. What does that tell you? Get a clue. Pakistan is an issue right now! I am a fighting age male that would join the cause if it came down to that because it is whats right. In addition, no one in this day would be stupid enough to use a nuclear weapon. The world outcry would be way too large. Besides, Pakistan couldnt reach the US anyway.

    September 13, 2007 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  15. sonya, atlanta, ga

    President Bush doesn't listen to the American people, doesn't listen to the congress nor his generals. Bush is dangerous with no election to reign him in. A majority of Iranians are pro US and dont think their country needs nukes. It's their leader that is crazy same as our leader. Obama is correct and the glad we have a sane intelligent man running for President

    September 13, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  16. S. Wright

    The Senate does not engage in foreign policy, nor does it advise the President or the State Department on said policy.

    After hearing Obama's statements over the past months, it is painfully obvious why that is so.

    As for negotiations with a rogue regime; Secretary Warren Christopher went to Syria twenty-one time during the Clinton Administration. He got nowhere. The same could be said for Nancy Pelosi's faux pas. Just a few days ago, Dennis Kucinich displayed his lack of understanding by attempting to try dialogue with Syria.

    These folks simply don't understand that to have a dialogue for constructive purposes it takes two parties interested in finding a solution to the problems at hand. Democrats have shown in the past, that a willingness to engage in dialogue despite this important tenet is not going to work.

    September 13, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  17. MindBender

    Why would we invade Iran to destroy a couple of Nuclear Reactors that pinpoint airstrikes can demolish?

    The more Obama talks, the more he shows he is not Presidential material.

    September 13, 2007 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  18. James, Phoenix AZ

    John from Norristown, PA

    writes, "We are huge hypocrites here in the America. How dare we tell another country that they can't build Nuclear weapons but, we won't get rid of the ones we have! We are not the worlds police, we are the worlds bullies and now we are reaping what we sow!"

    John – is the world SAFER or in greater DANGER if more and more countries develop nuclear weapons? Are we safer or at more risk if Islamic Extremists have access to nuclear weapons?

    I guess you would rather the world go back into the direction of Cold War, Cuban Missile Crisis, and heightened threat of nuclear holocaust?

    Policing nuclear technology is the RESPONSIBLE choice. And yes – the US will do it because few other countries have the power and fortitude. Thank GOD for America!

    September 13, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  19. Michael, Indianapolis IN

    Israel is not the bleeping United States, many christians and neo-conservatives seem to think we have to babysit Israel. This mindset is a very huge reason for our interest and failures in the middle-east, trying to protect one state, thereby isolating many arab countries, many of them have the right to believe Israel shouldnt exist because it was not on map till the mid 1900's. For those who believe Obama is been hyprocrital or soft, sure invade Iran, but instead of sending my generation to do the fighting for you, while you sit your behinds here in the US, making ignoramus comments, go fight yourself. Iran isnt stupid, first they may have the capability to make nuclear weapons, but they are still a couple of decades behind actually getting one, and what are they going to do, produce 1 nuclear bomb and use it, Israel probably has 100 folds of nuclear weapons thanks to the US, they would be annhilated if they do that...they know stop telling me Iran is a direct threat to the US...its may be a threat to Israel but this is not Israel.

    September 13, 2007 11:09 am at 11:09 am |
  20. Micheal, Indianapolis IN

    To Rob from Ocala Fl,
    The president of Iran did what we Americans would call patriotic if that incident happened here in America. They wouldnt have stormed the American Embassy if the American government had not interfered in there political process, the people of Iran democratical chose a president but because the US does not like the president they decided we are just going to replace him and put whom we want in power which is what led to the students storming the get your facts right..and stop being a freaking hyprocrite.....not only the US has the power to govern themselves everybody in the world should have that power, isnt that what we are preaching?

    September 13, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  21. Omar, Norfolk, VA

    I see that Bush and his fellow Chickenhawk Brigade are truly out in numbers today...I can clearly tell by your "statements" that you TRULY DON'T have a clue what it is to fight in a war....The nearest some of you have been to serving in the military is playing a video game on your XBOX or Playstation.

    I hope for the sake of our men and women in uniform that the Chickenhawk-in-Chief does not send our brave men and women to another skirmish for "economic" reasons.

    Semper Fi!

    September 13, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  22. Jeremy, Chicago IL

    Hey Rob from, Ocala, FL, why aren't you in the military if you are all for war with Iran? Put your money where your mouth is.

    September 13, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  23. Sarah, Pittsburgh Pennsylvania

    This man is unintelligent.

    I'll begin with his comments about not invading Iran. When it comes down to it, Iran is nothing like Iraq. Iran's leader has given several speeches where he warns the American people to convert to his religion or face the depths of hell and war. He commands us to convert or be killed. He commands his people to take action against us and promises that America will be brought down. Does Obama not pay attention to these things?

    So tell me – how would leaving Iraq make us stronger Obama? It would indefinatley make us weaker – proving that as soon as things get hard, we turn the other way and run home – nice message.

    I am not the president, so I can't speculate about the information he sees. But I have to say – that there has been a lot of talk from both political parties about the threat from Iran, because it is real. The man who is in charge of that country is the same man who took several American hostages years ago – he does not like us. Bush undoubtly has top secret information and knows more than the senator, thus urging him to take action and formulate plans incase somethign would go wrong. Iran does have nuclear capability.

    Let's hope this man does not become president. We need a president who is not afraid to fight – against illegal immigrants and terrorists. Do the American people forget we almost lost World War 2 because we refused to fight?

    September 13, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  24. Sarah, Kansas City, MO

    Iran will never bomb Isreal because some of Islams most sacred sites are located in Isreal. The rest of the Muslim world would be very unhappy if those sites were rendered useless.

    In fact, nuclear weapons are strictly defensive in that part of the world because of the close quarters they are all in.

    Bush and Cheney have been beating the war drums about Iran for some time now (with cheerleading from the side by Lieberman, the senator from Isreal). It would be extremely stupid for them to invade Iran at this time because we have no military to do it with. The one they are using now in Iraq is almost used up with the countless re-deployments that have already occurred. I would suggest to you that Bush and Cheney do go to war it would be treason for knowingly taking us into a war unprepared and without the troops to do it properly.

    To those of you who think now is the time to go to war with the Iranians, they should re-read their history about that country. Iran outlasted Iraq (who had American and Russian support) when those two countries were going at it back in the 80's. Then, after you finish your reading, if you still feel the same way, go and inlist and ask Lieberman to join you.

    September 13, 2007 11:21 am at 11:21 am |
  25. Jim, Raleigh, NC

    Not an Obama fan but I do see and hear the sabre rattling of this administration again. check out:
    and then you can put 2+2 together on this supposed accidental flight of live nukes across US airspace.

    September 13, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
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