Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Obama's speech on the war in Iraq

Senator Barack Obama spoke at length to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations today. The full text of his speech is available here. Key excerpts from the Tribune report by Jeff Zeleny follow:

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) rejected Tuesday the call for an immediate withdrawal of American troops from Iraq, declaring: "I believe that U.S. forces are still a part of the solution in Iraq."

"During the course of the next year, we need to focus our attention on how to reduce the U.S. military footprint in Iraq," Obama said in Chicago. "Notice that I say 'reduce,' and not 'fully withdraw.'"

"The Administration has narrowed an entire debate about war into two camps: 'cut-and-run' or 'stay the course'," Obama said. "If you offer any criticism or even mention that we should take a second look at our strategy and change our approach, you're branded 'cut-and-run.' If you're ready to blindly trust the Administration no matter what they do, you're willing to stay the course."

"We don't necessarily need a timetable, in the sense of a precise date for U.S. troop pull-outs, but a time-frame for such a phased withdrawal," Obama said. "We need to say that there will be no bases in Iraq a decade from now and the United States armed forces cannot stand-up and support an Iraqi government in perpetuity."

After the parliamentary elections in Iraq, which are scheduled for Dec. 15, Obama said the United States should begin devising a strategy for the gradual withdrawal of the more than 160,000 troops in Iraq. He offered general recommendations, but conceded there were no "magic bullets for a good outcome in Iraq."

Still, the Democratic senator chastised the administration for failing to encourage debate or give an honest assessment of the war in Iraq.

"The president could take the politics out of Iraq once and for all if he would simply go on television and say to the American people: 'Yes, we made mistakes. Yes, there are things that I would have done differently. But now that I'm here, I'm going to work with both Republicans and Democrats to find the most responsible way out,' " Obama said. "Imagine if he did that, how it would transform the politics of our country."


Agent 31 said...

Never gonna happen. Admitting that mistakes have been made are being lumped in with the cut-and-run argument.

"Admitting that we didn't handle this perfectly would kill the troops," or something to that affect.

At this point, I'd be willing to settle for a clear plan as to how we're going to stay the course. Not just "we're gonna stay the course" but, "we're going to train a police force in this city by date X; we're going to increase defense spending for the troops by X amount; etc."

Charlie said...

While I love his shades of grey approach (imagine that!), I still have yet to see anyone lay out a plan that explains what our troops are going to do while they're there. What are our goals? If we don't withdraw now, when will we withdraw?

As far as I can tell, we have a lack of goals right now. If we can't come up with anything realistic, then why wait for withdrawal?

Anonymous said...

Subheadline: Obama kicks off '08 Vice-Presidential campaign. I love that man.

Piece of Work said...

I love him, I really do. I love to imagine the same things he does.

DoctorMama said...

I liked the Doonesbury take on how Bush sees withdrawal: if we withdraw, the soldiers who have lost their lives will have died in vain -- and if we plan for withdrawal in the future, the soldiers who have yet to die will also have died in vain.