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. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    And now, the Obama plan for combatting terrorists:

    "Duck and Cover" followed by the tried and true "Stop, Drop and Roll."

    Is this REALLY the party of Truman? Is this REALLY what the once great Democratic Party has become? Wimps, appeasers and apologizers? Truman must be spinning in his grave.

    September 13, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  2. Miguel

    It’s seems to me that the Senator has giving up hope in the American Armed Forces and there is nothing worse then that for a soldier. Obama may as well hand over a silver platter to Iran. He’s willing to attack enemy forces in Pakistan but draw the line on Iran? Senator Obama has how many years of military experience? What I found most disturbing is that General Petraeus has reported Iran being directly involved in killing American Soldiers. Yet not one Senator has asked General Petraeus what his plans are to counter Iran, None the less, it seems like Senators go deaf when the hear “Iran.” Ask the General what he need for success not failure. Obama if you can’t support, leave the strategies to the Generals that won’t turn their back on the troops. Unlike you the general is not planning on failure, Senators that share the same view as you are going to force Him to plan for failure. Your lack of support for the troops shows, your inexperience in world politics shows.

    September 13, 2007 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  3. April, Montara, California

    The fact that Obama is ready to speak the truth and offer sensible solutions reinforces his position as an agent of change for this country. The fact that his remarks elicit so much hostility is a reflection of the historic resistance to change that all visionary leaders face. Obama has the courage, the intelligence, the empathy and the tenacity to be a great President. America needs Obama, not more of the same.

    September 13, 2007 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  4. Zennie abraham, Oakland, CA

    Senator Obama's right on with his take. Bush seems to be at war with the Mid East and the US's going to pay for it if he keeps it up.

    September 13, 2007 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  5. Jessica, Wisconsin

    Wow! I really can't believe what I am reading in these posts.

    Barack Obama is the one guy running for office that tells it like it is. He often says the things that we don't want to hear but need to hear. He is not just pandering.

    Anyone who has been following Obama's campaign would know that he doesn't WANT to bomb anyone but would take appropriate action if it was necessary. War & military action would never be his first choice but his last. Rest assured though that he would do whatever was necessary to protect America – the country he loves & believes in.

    In his speech he does address Iran and points out that Iran is a serious threat. But he would start with diplomacy – direct and intense. Many of you miss the point that he would also be working to restore our standing in the rest of the world and that we would not be dealing with Iran on our own. There is much more power in a united policy with our allies (I can assure you that we would have many more of those under an Obama presidency than we do now). This idea that direct diplomacy is kowtowing is just plain wrong! A strong president is not afraid to talk to anyone and I don't see how you can expect to reach any kind of accord or agreement without speaking to people. Even if we don't like those people. All of our great foreign policy achievement have been reached because of diplomacy.

    As far as the accusations that Obama thinks he is in charge of the military and thinks he can tell this president what to do – Obama does not think he is in charge of the military. He is laying out his plans for the Amercian people (who he does not claim to speak for) to consider and judge. He wants us to know what we are voting for. Someone needs to tell our President how to conduct foreign policy – in fact we should all be standing up for what we believe in. That is what this country is about. I will also note that he is not the only candidate who is doing this.

    Obama has great understand and respect for the constitution (unlike Bush). He taught constitutional law and would work to restore the damage done by this administration.

    The post advocating the continuation of this war by saying that lives should not be lost in vein is really sad. I would ask you to consider how the troops that are currently serving and Iraq and their loved ones would feel about this justification. Also, how do you think those fallen angeles would feel about their ultimate sacrifice being used as justification to continue a failed policy.

    I do not see anyone commenting on Obama's plan to address the humanitarian crisis in Iraq and the region. As usual people are not considering that the innocent civilians of Iraq are caught in this mess. The are and have been paying a huge price for this nightmare. I have yet to see any of the other candidates address this issue.

    Obama has put together the most comprehensive strategy on Iraq of any of the candiates. And as he says there really are no good choices but I believe he has made the best of the bad choices available and he has my full support.

    September 13, 2007 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  6. Vish

    This whole garbage about how the middle east doesn't like "our" way of life is absolute crap. They really don't care how we live "our" lives, they just don't want us interviening in their politics. Is it any surprise that England and America have been the target of the majority of terrorist attacks in the last 7 years? Do you see the Eifle tower getting bombed, or CERN (in Switzerland) being destroyed, or any other country that has stayed out of the politics? NO! They HATE us because we always mess there countries up! We install leaders and pay them to benefit us and then when they achieve enough power and control they turn on us and what do we do? go in mess things up even more by killing them!
    Its not this crap that they don't like our values, they don't care about our values! they are angry (terrorists) because we keep invading their territories for political reason.

    Also, Obama's speech in October of 2002 was almost as prophetic as the nostradamus, if you haven't read it, you should because it basically forewarns of the exact problems occuring right now! The man is intelligent, he has character, hes not paid off, hes a great speaker, and he is mentally strong, the perfect candidate to pull us out of the brainwashing mess we've been through.

    One key piece of advice for American politics: STAY OUT OF MIDDLE EASTERN POLITICS!!!! Its not that hard! nobody interviened when we were in Civil War in the 1800's, we seemed to have figured it out, im pretty sure they can too.

    September 13, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Susan, St. Louis, MI

    Obama is the only candidate who called the war FROM THE BEGINNING. He is the only one with any sense that could possibly get us out of this mess.

    He's got my vote because he's the only one who has a solid plan that might actually work.

    September 13, 2007 12:08 pm at 12:08 pm |
  8. Tammy, Denton, Maryland

    Senator Obama is the INTELLIGENT and SANE voice among the irrational who unfortunately run our government.

    September 13, 2007 12:12 pm at 12:12 pm |
  9. barbara, NYC, NY

    can not wait to see you lead us. we are certainly tired of this administration's lies and killing innocent human being. I wonder how GWB sleeps at night when American kids and innocent iraq's are dying while his two daughters have been shielded with secret service and now we can see all what they do is have fun with the boyfriends and getting married while other American kids are dying. I am not an American but I have lived in America for the last 15yrs and all I can say is something not right!!! If American kids are providing national security to the country by being out there in a harms way, so should the laura's and bush's kids and cheney's and mrs cheney. Or are some kids special than others?

    September 13, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  10. Portland Oregon

    I have an honest question here..

    Why can we have bombs, but no other country can?

    Seriously, help me out here. What is the criteria for being able to have a bomb?

    Arent WE the only ones who have ever used one to kill a quarter million civilians?

    September 13, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  11. Alex - Washingon (state)

    I don't see what the problem is with having a president who has COMMON SENSE.

    Unlike the people who have no family in the military, and think we can go here and there invading on whims.

    Explain to me why I should part with my dad for a third time, or my mom for a second, so that you can continue to drive your SUV.

    Maybe if you drive to learn how to SPELL, I might be a little less offended.

    Thank you Barack, for giving me hope, and keeping me sane.

    September 13, 2007 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  12. RJ, AZ

    I love all you people posting about how ignorant and unqualified Obama is when we're clearly "making a difference" over in the Middle East. I can tell you this...Obama certainly knows more about the current situation than any of you almost assuredly ignorant, unqualified, inflammatory individuals. I wonder how most of you consider yourself qualified to even begin to judge him or any other political candidate for that matter. I also wonder if by "making a difference" you mean we made a huge freaking mess of things. Heck, I'm convinced...let's "make a difference" in Iran as well!

    September 13, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  13. Bob LaFavor, Woodinville, WA

    Iran must NOT GO NUCLEAR. If they do, it is sincerely the divine will of God himself as He allows Satan to 'teach' God's own people the lessons that they refuse to learn. It has happened repeatedly throughout history, as the Bible clearly shows. Only with Iran and a nuclear capability, the catastrophic results could truly spell an impending doom for all of God's children including secular innocents. Wow, I can't believe Obama would seek to allow this to happen. Ofcourse, he does have some Islamic roots. Beware and be afraid.

    September 13, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  14. Nancy Ramsey, Cygnet, Ohio 43413

    Yes, Senator Obama, let's by all means wait until we receive a present from a nuclear Iran in the form of an a-bomb. We certainly wouldn't want to keep America safe, now would we? Iran is a powder keg of hostility just waiting for a spark of apathy to set it off. Thank God President Bush clearly sees the threat before it becomes a fact and wants to eliminate it. You, Sen. Obama, should probably take heed and adopt some of Pres. Bush's backbone.

    September 13, 2007 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. Dan (Columbia, MD)

    This is why you'll never become President. Weakness is NOT a positive leadership trait.

    Billary has bigger stones than this joker.

    September 13, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. Colony 14 author, Mount Prospect, Illinois

    Okay, Obama. Pull all the troops out of Iraq by the end of 2008 (although your math doesn't add up if you remove only one or two brigades each month for the nxt 15 months), but if you'd withdraw troops because Iraq is not considered a threat, then shouldn't we ALSO bring home all the troops we have in other places that are certainly less of a threat (Germany, Japan, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Greenland, England etc. )? Are you ready to do that? While you're at it, how about bringing home the troops from Bosnia and Kosovo, who are still there 10 years after Clinton said he'd bring them home?

    Regardless of who becomes the next President, we'll have some troops in Iraq for years to come. Obama will not bring them all home, and neither will anyone else. Sure, the troops would be safer if they were back home, but that's not what troops are for. Police officers wouldn't be shot if they never left their police stations, but that's not what the police are for.

    You can talk nice-nice all you want, but those who are evil will continue to be evil after the conversation has ended. I'm sure many Americans never heard of Neville Chamberlain, but I think it's best that we avoid giving them a history lesson based on actual current events.

    September 13, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  17. Ron, TX

    First, he's too strong and crazy! He wants to blow up Pakistan! Now, he's too weak! He doesn't want to blow up Iran!

    Hillary and the Republicans need to make up their minds...

    September 13, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  18. Terri, Plantation,FL

    How interesting. Whenever I come to this place, I find the country's most uniformed people calling a former professor of constitutional law, a man who has been lauded by the best and brightest foreign policy experts, 'unintelligent'.

    I always wondered how this country could have been stupid enough to elect this president for a second term. One only needs to see the majority of posters to the Political Ticker to understand how that could have happened.

    When someone who was outspokenly against this war since before it was waged gives an intelligent,comprehensive and realistic solution to this administration's disastrous fiasco in Iraq, it apparently brings out the nutjob 30% who still buy the hype of the most corrupt and incompetent president in our history.

    It is any wonder the rest of the world considers us illiterate morons!

    September 13, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  19. Danielle Clarke

    Well of course we are pushing to get out of Iraq. We went to Iraq because Sadam was selling his oil in Euro's. What americans need to do is learn to conserve energy. The republicans would rather send our children to fight for oil so they can drive their large SUV's. Yes i am sure many democrats drive them as well. They need to learn to conserve as well. It would take 3 planet earths if all the people of the world abused oil as we in america do. I started a recycling center in 75 after i got out of the USMC after the first oil crisis. I also built green homes in Pennsylavania in the 90's. I am a caregiver to an 84 yr old woman and i sleep on her couch and share her home and have insulated her attic. We have changed all her light bulbs. We barely ever use air. We keep heat at 65 and wear sweaters. Did you know every time you go on a drive your killing soldiers fighting for oil? Its all of us who need to change. We also need to stop borrowing money from china and the middle east to support these wars. Its a negative cycle that keeps us hurting ourselves. What will you do??

    September 13, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  20. RA The Framing Wizard LV, NV

    I remember Barack Obama stating in a new article a while back. Quote: We need to go after Afghanistan and Pakistan; That sounds like he may has well go after Saudi Arabia, Iran and all Moslem communities.

    This was my comment to the story.

    Has the Democratic Party lost its mind, or just its soul? Just please remember what our real veterans have sacrificed over the years for this country.

    Not Sen. Barack Obama; Not Sen. Hilary Clinton: and most definitely not Oprah Winfrey; where do you think guy (Barack Obama); will generate all the capital to fund all these battles he specks of?

    Personally do not think he has the experience or mussels too handle what he is proposing and/or promising. Sounds just as all his colleges (cronies); likened too mercantile shop keepers in disguise from Iraq as well with all the rest of our senators today.

    Most beguiling among the crowed seats in the house and the halls in congress of mendacity is none other than President George w. Bush and his counterfeit war polices reach all the back to his ill gotten presidency.

    But this war on terrorism is something he helped to get started and must do his best finish. These Islamic conflicts have been going on since the Carter years and his administration. Just cannot believe some of the injustice that is circulating today and how gullible the American people seem to be.

    Is Barack Obama just plain nutty? Or should he be getting information from Sparks Collage of Useless Knowledge! If he thinks we need to go after Afghanistan and Pakistan; stay out of Iran and Saudi Arabia. Developing a battle on that turf is death senescence’s not only for our troops in Iraq; we all will suffer their same fate.

    September 13, 2007 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  21. Danielle Clarke

    all my post have already been posted here =

    September 13, 2007 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  22. Paul Tampa, FL

    "Is this REALLY the party of Truman? Is this REALLY what the once great Democratic Party has become? Wimps, appeasers and apologizers? Truman must be spinning in his grave."

    How quickly people forget that President Truman was severely critized by the republicans for not following the advise of Gen. LeMay and Gen. MacCarthur to attack and invade China. We were lucky then to have a leader who did not wilt under pressure to appease the immature jingoistic sentiment of the right wing and take the long view as to what was in the best interests of America. I hope America is lucky again and elects another great leader with a similar long view. Mr. Obama appears to be such a leader.

    September 13, 2007 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  23. Zach, Herndon VA

    I am by all means a conservative person. But, I completely disagree with the thinking of the current administration. Bush says, "there will be chaos if American troops withdraw." There was chaos already when our troops entered Iraq so what makes leaving any different? I believe Jon Stewart was right he called it a wormhole.

    September 13, 2007 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  24. Eduardo, Los Angeles, CA

    If Obama is elected..I foresee lots more trouble for the US! Wake up America....we are not the bad guys!

    September 13, 2007 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  25. Jason Smith, Oneonta, NY

    In determining who to vote for, look at the actual statements from the candidates, and let’s try to elect somebody with a brain and one who has their own ideas. Only Barack Obama questioned the date of the Petraeus sham hearing to coincide with the infamous (though unrelated) date of 9/11, so easily manipulated people could draw admittedly false conclusions. By letting the White House get away with the ongoing travesty and foreign debacle which is Iraq, Bush also does not have to deal with the inevitable refugee crisis he has created, nor does he have to budget for the inevitable reconstruction of both Afghanistan and Iraq. Conveniently, these issues will be a burden on the next presumably Democratic administration and the American people. Now Bush is making an aggressive stance towards Iran and Syria, once again with no pretext and little fact. Only Obama discussed the fact that Musharraf is another dictator we keep propped up by "the war on terror" and our funding of his illegitimate un-democratic rule. He was immediately attacked by Republicans. Obama also mentioned one-on-one talks with foreign leaders. He was attacked. We have been SO successful under the current isolationist strategy, which has ACTUALLY only isolated ourselves from the globalized economy we were supposed to benefit from.

    Only Obama has mentioned helping Katrina victims more, while Bush and Cheney's oil and natural gas buddies benefited the most from being located in the gulf region near N.O. and then abandoned it to move to Houston!!! From an environmental standpoint, most of N.O. should be a wetland again, but from a political and human standpoint, this administration's behavior is just increasingly shameful every day it remains in power. Rudy’s whole platform is actually to politicize his unremarkable behavior after 9/11. Hillary, Obama, and Edwards at least have a coherent strategy, not calling teenagers jerks and calling any intelligent policy changes cowardice. We are not noble nor brave attacking sovereign nations for our own insatiable desire for oil to satisfy our pampered lifestyles. Romney is the only interesting GOP candidate, so of course he is not a front-runner. Ron Paul is the most intelligent GOP candidate, so obviously he does not have a chance. Finally, if I were GOP, I wouldn't run either. It is too shameful....wake up, people….

    September 13, 2007 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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