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. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Iran is an Islamic nation made up mostly of Shia Muslims. The Shia are "God's warriors" by definition.

    Iran has a long history of anti-American sentiment. Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, the last Shah of Iran, aligned the Iranian government with the United States during the late 1960's.

    At the same time the United States was undergoing its own "revolution" of sorts, flower power and all that. The sexual freedoms and materialism the United States views as a normal modern society is seen by the Shia as decadence and an afront to religious doctrine.

    When the Shah was overthrown the action was also viewed as an expellation of the United State's influence in the country. This mindset led to the U.S. Embassy invasion and the hostage taking. Relations between the United States and Iran has never recovered.

    Obama is WAY wrong when he says diplomacy between the two nations has never been attempted. The statement may be true with the current administration but attempts at diplomacy date back to the late 1970's.

    Iran is not going to be swayed by threats and saber rattling. They will do what they feel best for their country and their religious beliefs.

    An invasion of Iran will not be an easy task either. "God's Warriors" have proven very resilient and willing to do anything required to protect their way of life. During the Iraq invasion young Iranian Shia men voluntarily ran across Iraqi mine fields killing themselves in order to clear a path for their advancing army. This is something completely unthinkable to the citizens of the United States.

    You people that think of the United States as some invisible force that all should bow down to better think long and hard. War is ugly. Do you want your soldier sons watching Iranian children voluntarily throw themselves on mines because they believe so strongly in their cause? That's the difference between our cultures and both think the other is wrong. That will never change.

    September 13, 2007 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  2. Mike, NY

    I for one am petrified at the abundance of pro-war comments here. It's hard to believe so many people actually support invading Iran because it has a nuclear program (which is conforming to international standards). It's also amazing that some are saying that Obama has no right to lecture Bush on foreign policy because he's only a Senator. That's why Congress exists: to check the powers of the President.

    When the Iranians send a peace envoy to the US apologising to the american people for their unconscionable behavior then I will support direct negotioations.

    When did we apologize to Iran for meddling with their domestic affairs? When did we apologize to Palestinians? When will we apologize to Iraqis? Our President won't even apologize to non-citizens we've tortured and held captive. We shouldn't refuse direct diplomacy, thus favoring war, until Iran apologizes. We're not in kindergarten.

    September 13, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  3. lavelle

    If you look at the fools on here, you can see how easy they supported the Iraq war and look what we have over there! There is no evidence that Iran has nukes or even wants to bomb the US. If they strike Israel then the US should strike. We are fighting the wrong war and now were picking another fight and looking to start another wrong war. You people are crazy you just want to bomb everyone and have the human race extinct! That’s when you’ll be satisfied I swear there are some crazy nuts on this planet. And you have the nerve to call this man crazy! loll he's talking about pulling the world back together stopping all of this BS fighting. You people are nuts why don’t you enlist and go fight! Crazy

    September 13, 2007 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  4. Murray Jones, Wonju, South Korea

    I've read about all I can stand from you hooligans. Firstly, the complete lack of ability in articulating our English language effectively by either of those whom I would agree with or not, causes me to disagree with all statements collectively. Learn how to speak, spell, and write people! What good is it for you to have an opinion if I am as confused at your writing as an audience would be at a band playing instruments with the lights off? Come on, put a little more effort into your grammar and syntax.

    By the way, if we pull out of Iraq, and tolerate the rest of these islamic idiots, we can be sure of IED's going off in our cities. Oh, no, wait! I'm wrong, that will never happen! I am willing to place my confidence in people that are willing to murder children to never, ever find a way to America and slaughter us! Yeah! They (islamic fundementalist idiots) would have absolutely no disire to do that. They were completely satisfied after the first twin tower attacks, the Cobar Tower attacks, and 9/11!

    I think you all are completely ignorant of the current world situation. Wake up! These people want to kill you and your families. For all of you who have children, think of this: Your precious, sweet little girl or boy, still a toddler, being slaughtered in front of your very eyes. At this point, you are subdued, and unable to come to the aid of your screaming child. You, his or her father/mother, the only one's that child takes comfort and refuge in, can't do a thing to help them. All you can do is watch as the blood slowly leaves their bodies, there eyes filled with fear and disbelief at the complete loss of their parents unable to do anything for them. How does that sound? Must sound good. You're letting it happen. To hell with you. I have my weapon. Thank me later when your child graduates from college and makes a free life for him/herself. Cowards.

    September 13, 2007 02:21 pm at 2:21 pm |
  5. lavelle,Rochester,NY

    Why invade Iran when you can invade Pakistan instead?

    Posted By CppThis : September 13, 2007 7:25 am

    You see this is why we are in this war now. If you go back and listen to his speech regarding Bin Laden and the Terrorist you idiots are so afraid of. He said if we have the intelligence to strike bin laden and the Pakistani president wont strike??? WE WILL! Idiots he's not going to bomb the Pakistani people only those who killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11 that’s the fight we should be fighting!

    September 13, 2007 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  6. Eric, from THE Republic of Texas

    Vish wrote:

    "They really don't care how we live "our" lives, they just don't want us interviening in their politics..."

    Uh, are you kidding me? Did you miss the most recent AQ video this week? The message: ditch democracy and the notion of individual freedoms, and bow to Islam... in other words, you will have no peace with us until you all convert.

    And I quote from another pivotal point in world history:
    "This morning I had another talk with the German Chancellor, Herr Hitler, and here is the paper which bears his name upon it as well as mine... We regard the agreement signed last night and the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, as symbolic of the desire of our two peoples never to go to war with one another again... This is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street, peace with honour. I believe it is peace in our time."

    Arthur Neville Chamberlain
    Speech at Heston Airport, 30 September 1938, in The Times 1 Oct. 1938. Source: Oxford Book of Modern Quotes(pdf)

    And the furor's response to the notion of "peace in our time":
    "If ever that silly old man comes interfering here again with his umbrella, I'll kick him downstairs and jump on his stomach in front of the photographers."
    Adolf Hitler, after the Munich Agreement.
    Quoted by Sir Ivone Kirkpatrick, The Inner Circle, Macmillan (1959), p. 135.

    A nuclear Iran would never be a threat to the decadent Western World, right?

    September 13, 2007 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  7. Danielle Clarke

    Danielle Clarke enlisted in USMC + a Vietnam vet honorably discharged august 74 MOS6075 + i never killed anyone thank God.

    Only one man is speaking the truth.

    Barack Obama

    If you want to drive a big car / suv then send "your" kid to war to fight for the fuel.

    If you really care then stop wasting fuel.

    When i got out i opened a recycling center in 76. I started building energy efficient homes and ever since i have driven only when needed. I hate people who go on senic tours while others are dying for them to waste and abuse fuel.

    I dislike nascar. I dislike boat enthusiast. I dislike 4 wheelers. I dislike all those who waste fuel and don't think about where the fuel comes from.

    Today i don't even own a car. I share a hybrid with an elder friend. We only use it to go shopping for food and even then we buy bulk.

    Americans are abusers of energy. It would take 3 earths if the rest of the world used and abused fuel like we do.

    Either support a draft for those who want to waste fuel (send their kids to war) or support a system that controls how much fuel everyone can use.

    September 13, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  8. Danielle Clarke

    Friday I was at the Pennsylvania democratic state committee meeting in camp hill Pa. They were holding a meeting with over 300 hundred Pa. democrats in attendance

    There was a woman = Renee George Martin (special assistant for legislative affairs for the commonwealth of Pennsylvania) Who shared the following

    . She spoke about The USA fighting Iraq due to Sadam Husein selling oil in euro's versus dollars. She also mentioned Iran was doing the same and this was the reason Bush wants to attack Iran. She also mentioned that Pemex was the Mexican petroleum company that was altering its sales to America

    She said Mexico's petroleum corporation PEMEX would only sell America oil for 7 more years. She said they need it for their future use.

    She said Mexico's "Pemex" is our number 2 supplier. She said Canada was our number 1 supplier. She said Brazil and two other countries also sold their oil in euro's. She said if all oil producing countries sold their oil in euro's that America would collapse. She said china owns almost a trillions US dollars in bonds as well as the middle east owns even more in American bonds. She said the middle east holds the most and china is number 2.

    Renee mentioned Henry Kissinger who cut a deal in the 70's with all the oil producing countries to sell their oil in dollars.

    I know Governor Ed Rendell is working hard to get windmills and solar and smart meters for Pennsylvania's citizens
    I am wondering how open other states are with regards to what seems to be an incredible great opening of the truth by the democratic party to its people here in Pennsylvania.

    When i googled PEMEX and 7 years i got many links about corruption of their petroleum company.,TSHB:2006-45,TSHB:en&q=pemex+sales+to+united+states+ends+in+7+years

    and i found this link here talking about the end of oil from Pemex which is what she said would happen =

    And when i googled it in reference with china and euro's and dollars i got

    September 13, 2007 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  9. Danielle Clarke

    a few blogs i wrote you might want to read

    Pakistan's Future: Building Democracy, or Fueling Extremism? – Statement Before the Senate Committee On Foreign Relations Washington, DC JULY 25TH 2007

    IRAQ WAR Background who is fighting + why = how Barack Can bring Peace

    "Somebody Had to Speak Out. If Not Me, Who?" – Maj. Gen. John Batiste Fired by CBS News for Anti-Iraq War 'Advocacy'

    "When we change presidents, it is understood to mean that the voters are ordering a change in national policy. Since 1945, three different Republicans have occupied the White House for 16 years, and four democrats have held this most powerful post for 17yrs

    September 13, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  10. Columbus, OH

    This man needs to be president. He is dead on and tells it like it is. Anyone who thinks we should invade Iran is only asking for another Iraq-like war. Oh, and I love how he points out that "The bar for success is so low that it's almost buried in the sand."

    September 13, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  11. Ramin , London , England

    1. Thoes are supporting barak obama to don't invade IRAN can't understand how is danger near U.S.A and world, I'm as a Iranian warning you invade IRAN now untill times run out.

    2.IRAN is different with PAKISTAN because IRAN is the country with the natural resourses such as gas and oil that unfortunetly in hand of terrorist Ayatollah's and you magine in future how they are will too much dangerouse than now for whole the world .

    September 13, 2007 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  12. Mark VA.

    Obama is right! What the blind neocons don't realize is that we're better able to confront the threat of terrorism and the threat of Iran gaining nuclear weapons if we do in a way that give us the initiative. The dump grap for influence over Iraqi oil by Haliburton and Bush has left us in a vunerable position. We borrow a Trillion dollars from China to pay from there money grab in the Middle East. Our military posture is so weak that Iran is pursueing nuclear capability and there's nothing we can do about it. Bush your legacy may very well be that you sold your country out for a dollar. We have to elect Senator Obama for President now!

    September 13, 2007 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  13. Sean, Santa Barbara, CA

    Why are there people in America so defensive of Israel, If you want to protect Israel then leave America and move to Israel. No wars for other countries! They are supposedly a strong military country, so then they can take care of themselves. I forgot, but what exactly do we personally get from Israel again?

    September 13, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  14. E. Caldwell Philly, PA

    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.

    Posted By Cary – Lowell, IN : September 12, 2007 11:41 pm

    Genocide is happening everyday in Africa, mainly Darfur, and we sit back and do nothing. If you are so concerned about genocide, why are we so quiet on this topic? ( you dont have to answer that we all know why) What does Iran and Isreal bickering have to do with us. It would be sad to to see us jump to the aid of Isral, when we do nothing of the horrible autrocities that are being commited by the thousands everyday in Africa. And to all that believe Iran is the next threat to the US. I have a little bit of sad news for you. Like Iraq, Iran does not have anything close to the military capabilty needed to carry out an even close to successful attack on the US. If by chance they tried with the little fleet of naval vessels they have, they wouldn't make it out of there own waters. Iran and the US are very aware of that. And again there longest range missle that they tessted most recently barely makes hitting Isreal. I'm no mathmatician but that tells me that if they tried to send a nuclear missle over to the good ole US of A, it would fall terribly short of its target in the atlntic ocean somewhere, if it even makes it this far. It always amazes me how peolple beleive whatever they hear without forming there own decision and doing a little reserch on things of this much importance. I'm glad some of you aren't running this country.

    September 13, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  15. K Grand Rapids, Mi

    Obama says what the people think. It's obvious the press is beginning to already 'sell' what the bush administration wants us to believe and 'fear'about Iran. Mr. bush can own nukes, Israel can own nukes.....who are they to go around the world dictating whether another country ought to? Arrogance is the legacy of the Bush administration.

    Why are we building a military base on the border of Iraq and Iran? We have no intention to leave the region. That is why Mr. Bush refuses to bring home our troops. It has nothing to do with our national security- but rather-who is the top dog in the middle east.

    September 13, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  16. Suma John

    May the lord God almighty bless you, use you as a good tools to deliver the lost and fustrated Americans.

    September 13, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  17. RuthieM

    I feel that wind blowing. President Bush, do not attack Iran! Obama for president!!

    September 13, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  18. DeanoT

    As soon as Iran has nuclear capabilities Israel is gone and at the same time we will be hit to. This guy wants to kill the world population and world war 3 is coming reguardless of who is president. I would rather see a republican that has a backbone in office. The world is going to crap and we need to wipe out the extremists ASAP. This war will never end...face it!!!

    September 13, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  19. David, Gilbert Arizona

    Danielle Clarke,

    The single largest country exporting oil to the United States, 18%, is indeed Canada. All the Middle Eastern countries combined make up roughly 19.2% of the oil imported into the United States. 80% of the oil imported into the United States comes from countries outside the Middle East.

    As far as trading oil in euros versus dollars the economics really do not matter as much as you allude. It is more of an internet debate rather than a real economic concern.

    Trading oil in a particular currency only puts a "value" on the commodity. This value will dictate the exchange rate when going to purchase the oil.

    If I am from the country of Urungoogoo and I want to purchase oil I will save my currency, the goo, and purchase oil at the given exchange rate, whether it be the dollar or the euro. In other words I purchase dollars or euros, whichever is the driver, with my saved up goos then exchange those dollars or euros for oil.

    Selling oil for euros will not collapse the United States economy. It would only mean dollars would have to be exchanged for euros prior to the purchase of oil, in effect making the oil cost more. That's the real effect on our economy. Oil will simply cost more than it does now. If people simply downsized their cars the economic effects are negated completely.

    That kind of blows away the argument that the United States invaded Iraq because they were trading in euros.

    September 13, 2007 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  20. Chip Celina OH

    danielle Clark,

    Thank you very much for your insightful and inspirational posts and links.

    Have a great Thursday!

    September 13, 2007 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  21. Fonsia, Oceanside, CA

    It's quite interesting to see so many people who mock Obama for saying that he would go after Bin Laden.

    Six years ago, I'd wager that close to 100% of Americans, conservative or liberal, would have been in favor of getting Bin Laden wherever he is.

    So I'm curious. Those of you who disagree with getting Bin Laden, who is still plotting to murder Americans, why did you change your minds about that?

    September 13, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  22. Vish

    Eric from "The Republic of Texas", however cynical that title is, I wanted to reiterate on what I said.

    The terrorists have the power right now. They control us by fear. By saying "fear us if you don't convert", it makes cynics (neocons) start yelping about more soldiers, which in turn, creates more terrorists in the middle east that dislike us more and more! This all started with the backing of Israel by England and America. My point was, terrorists started disliking us not only because of our backing of Israel, but also because we install leaders (not just in the middle east, but that is where the economic interests are), and then those leaders turn on us once they gain power, and then we invade to kill them. In those cases we are the problem and the solution. But if we weren't the problem in the first place, would we have been attacked?

    What we needed to do was stay out of the middle eastern politics from the beginning but since that is using too much hindsight, a new solution must come to front. The solution of continual fighting is NOT the answer. Continual fighting has caused a breeding ground of terrorists, the same is going to happen anywhere else. We need diplomatic relations, not this kindergarten crap of you hit me so i'll hit you back. GROWN MEN TALK OUT THEIR DIFFERENCES.

    September 13, 2007 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  23. Tony G

    Where are my comments????????????????????.

    September 13, 2007 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  24. Joliene, Newark, DE

    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.
    Posted By Mike, West Lafayette IN : September 13, 2007 10:07 am

    Wow. That is pretty stupid to make a comment like that and then make a fool of yourself. I am not an Obama supporter and there are a lot of reasons why but none of them have to do with my lack of intelligence (I have plenty) or grammar. Overreaching comments like yours are ridiculous and provide nothing. The ability to vote in an intelligent way requires wanting to be informed and taking the steps to be informed, not being able to write out your decision in prose!

    September 13, 2007 04:39 pm at 4:39 pm |
  25. Ron, Piscataway, New Jersey

    Posted By Steve Wittlake Blaine Washington : September 13, 2007 9:29 am
    I see Oboma thinks he is in command of the military. He need to study constitutional law among other things.

    Actually it's funny that you should say that. He was a professor who TAUGHT Constitutional Law. I think he knows a think or two about constitutional law.
    Go Obama! Hey look, a smart tempered well thought out plan! You mean from our President...gon FIG!

    Obama 2008!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 13, 2007 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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