Obama-Keyes: on War & Peace


Alan Keyes: Needed greater effort to bring in others to Iraq

Q: What would you say has been the greatest blunder of the Iraq war?

A: There could have been a greater effort, over the beginning of our efforts there, to bring in others. I would have brought others in on the political side of the equation, to help deal with the business of putting together an Iraqi government. That could still be done. But, it's absolutely imperative that we keep the security dimensions of the Iraqi war under the control of the US, so that we can make sure that Iraq does not become a base for terrorist activity, that we are able to make sure a government does not come to power that will aid and abet terrorism, that we are able to do what's necessary to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of terrorists. Those national security goals are the proper goals of our effort, and we ought to be looking to the Iraqi people and to the international community to help deal with the political dimensions of establishing a stable government there.

Source: IL Senate Debate Oct 26, 2004

Alan Keyes: War on Terror requires both intelligence and discretion

With respect to these tons of explosives, it's still not clear what the chain of possession was, and whether or not it was after the US took possession that we lost track of these explosives. All Americans are gonna look at the larger picture of whether or not we have taken steps that have effectively stopped Saddam from delivering weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. The probability of that is zero. Whether we have in fact established a base that allows us effectively to recruit the kind of intelligence that we need to deal with this situation in Iran, in Syria, and elsewhere, whether we have discouraged other terrorist-sponsoring states from continuing with their activities that could result in death for Americans, the kind of things we are doing in Iraq and in Afghanistan are only part of the effort we must make against terror, which is to carry the war to the terrorists themselves. That is part of the effort that does require both intelligence and discretion, and it is going forward.
Source: IL Senate Debate Oct 26, 2004

Barack Obama: Saddam did not own and was not providing WMD to terrorists

It's simply not true that Saddam was providing weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. This incursion into Iraq has resulted in a situation in which terrorist recruits are up. It's been acknowledged, now, by the Pentagon, that the insurgents active in Iraq are far higher. Terrorist attacks worldwide are the highest in 20 years. The notion that somehow we're less vulnerable in the US as a consequence of spending 200 billion dollars and sacrificing thousands of lives is simply not borne out by the facts
Source: IL Senate Debate Oct 26, 2004

Barack Obama: Initial military was extraordinarily successful in Iraq

Q: What has been the biggest success in Iraq?

A: The initial military was extraordinarily successful in moving into Iraq, and it exceeded all expectations, even those of us who expected the military to be successful were stunned and impressed by how efficient our military and our brave fighting forces were in executing it. But missing 380 tons of explosives being used on roadside bombs is an enormous error, particularly when the Bush administration had been warned by the Atomic Energy Commission. Keyes has suggested that somehow I'm načve to question how we've gone about this war in Iraq. It strikes me that the Bush administration has been načve throughout. It was načve to think that we'd be greeted as liberators in Iraq. It's been načve in thinking that somehow this would actually diminish recruitment for terrorism. In fact, it's accelerated it. It's been načve with respect to how difficult it's gonna be to secure the peace, and our troops and our taxpayers are suffering from those errors.

Source: IL Senate Debate Oct 26, 2004

Alan Keyes: Troops should stay in Iraq until they get the job done

Q: How long should US armed forces stay in Iraq, and how should we get them out?

A: They stay there until they get the job done. Kerry is preoccupied with an exit strategy, but if you get into a battle and the only thing you're thinking about is how to get out, I think we have a word for you-and it's not very complimentary. We are engaged in a war against terror that was started by the terrorists, that claimed the lives of thousands of Americans, that involves a global infrastructure of insidious individuals. We have seen the work they do against innocent lives in the most bestial fashion possible. To fight that war, it is not sufficient to have rhetoric, it is not sufficient to react after the fact. You have got to preemptively move against their bases, against their sources of supply, against their training camps, against the states the provide them with safe haven and infrastructure. If you do not, then they will simply prepare for further attacks.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Alan Keyes: Preemptive strike in Iraq is a right decision

In a world where we have WMD, it's not good enough to say that, "If there's a 50% chance that they could use them, I will act"-once one such attack succeeds, we could end up losing tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people. Bush has done the correct thing. He moved preemptively in Afghanistan, he moved preemptively in Iraq to make sure the American people will not again suffer even worse damage from this kind of insidious attack. We ought to stay there until our national security purposes are served. We ought to understand the national security objective is different than the political objective. It is up to the people of Iraq, and we can work with other countries, internationally, to help them establish a regime that will be more respectful of human rights, that will never again become a base for terror or involved in the infrastructure of terror. But our main objective in which we have to act, whether we have cooperation or not, is to defend the security and lives of our people.
Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Alan Keyes: There is no distinction between Afghanistan and Iraq

Q: Isn't there a distinction between Afghanistan and Iraq and our military incursions into both places?

A: There is not. One of the problems with folks who haven't really had much experience in dealing with terror is that they don't understand that we are in fact faced with a global infrastructure. Saddam was providing, for instance, payments to the families of suicide bombers who were moving against the Israelis. Bin Laden made it very clear he was doing so on behalf of, he said, the Palestinians and their cause. All of this suggests is the reality that we are not dealing with discrete elements here. We are dealing with a single war that has a front in Afghanistan, a front in Iraq that has a covert series of fronts that we don't hear much about, but in which our people are presumably going after the cadre of terror, that has a financial front & other fronts. To deal with this as if we're dealing with discrete little episodes is to show that you have no real understanding of the danger that we face.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Alan Keyes: Bush didn't have the wisdom of hindsight in the Iraqi War

OBAMA: The Bush administration could not find a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. WMD are not found in Iraq. And so, it is absolutely true that we have a network of terrorists, but it takes a huge leap of logic to suddenly suggest that that means that we invade Iraq. Saudi Arabia has a whole bunch of terrorists, so have Syria and Iran, and all across the globe. To mount full-scale invasions as a consequence is a bad strategy. It makes more sense for us to focus on those terrorists who are active to try to roll them up where we have evidence that in fact these countries are being used as staging grounds that would potentially cause us eminent harm, and then we go in. The US has to reserve all military options in facing such an imminent threat- but we have to do it wisely.

KEYES: That's the fallacy, because you did make an argument just then from the wisdom of hindsight, based on conclusions reached now which were not in Bush's hands several months ago when he had to make this decision.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Barack Obama: Terrorists are in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran

OBAMA: The Bush administration could not find a connection between Saddam and Al Qaeda. WMD are not found in Iraq. And so, it is absolutely true that we have a network of terrorists, but it takes a huge leap of logic to suddenly suggest that that means that we invade Iraq. Saudi Arabia has a whole bunch of terrorists, so have Syria and Iran, and all across the globe. To mount full-scale invasions as a consequence is a bad strategy. It makes more sense for us to focus on those terrorists who are active to try to roll them up where we have evidence that in fact these countries are being used as staging grounds that would potentially cause us eminent harm, and then we go in. The US has to reserve all military options in facing such an imminent threat- but we have to do it wisely.

KEYES: That's the fallacy, because you did make an argument just then from the wisdom of hindsight, based on conclusions reached now which were not in Bush's hands several months ago when he had to make this decision.

Source: [Xref Obama] IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Barack Obama: Invading Iraq was a bad strategic blunder

If a driver of a car, your car, drives it into a ditch, there are only so many ways to pull it out. And so, Kerry is going to be doing many similar things to what Bush is doing in terms of making sure that we do the best we can in Iraq. That doesn't mean we don't fire the driver, and it doesn't mean that we don't examine carefully what lead us to be in this ditch in the first place. It was a bad strategic blunder-and that's not simply my estimation. That's the estimation of a number of Republicans.
Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Barack Obama: We must make sure that Iraq is stable having gone in there

Q: You're in favor of keeping troops in Iraq. How long?

A: The War on Terror has to be vigorously fought. Where we part company is how to fight it, because Afghanistan in fact was not a preemptive war, it was a war launched directly against those who were responsible for 9/11. Iraq was a preemptive war based on faulty evidence-and I say that not in hindsight, or Monday-morning quarterbacking. Six months before the war was launched, I questioned the evidence that would lead to us being there. Now, us having gone in there, we have a deep national security interest in making certain that Iraq is stable. If not, not only are we going to have a humanitarian crisis, we are also going to have a huge national security problem on our hands-because, ironically, it has become a hotbed of terrorists as a consequence, in part, of our incursion there. In terms of timetable, I'm not somebody who can say with certainty that a year from now or six months from now we're going to be able to pull down troops.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Barack Obama: Advance the training speed and get the reconstruction moving

    We have to do three things in Iraq.
  1. We have to advance the speed with which we are training Iraqi troops and security forces so that they can stabilize the country, and that's going to require our help.
  2. But it's also going to require the help of the international community, which is why we have to internationalize this process. I'm under no illusions that the Germans and the French are going to be sending troops in any time soon, but we can get them to put more resources into the training and infrastructure required to secure the Iraqi borders and the Iraqi streets.
  3. Finally, it's important that we get our reconstruction moving. The reconstruction process that has taken place has been completely inept. And that's not simply my estimation, that's the estimation of the two ranking Republican Senators on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, who issued a blistering attack on the Bush administration. Highly unusual and it indicates how badly botched this job has been.
Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

Barack Obama: Democratizing Iraq will be more difficult than Afghanistan

Q: Afghanistan has just conducted the first elections in its 5,000-year history. They appear to have gone very well-at least, up to this point. Is that not a hopeful sign for Iraq, and for the elections that we may be seeing there in January?

A: It is an absolutely hopeful sign for the people of Afghanistan. As I have stated unequivocally, I have always thought that we did the right thing in Afghanistan. My only concerns with respect to Afghanistan was that we diverted our attention from Afghanistan in terms of moving into Iraq, and I think would could have done a better job of stabilizing that country than we have in providing assistance to the Afghani people. All of us should be rooting for the Afghani people & making sure that we are providing them the support to make things happen. With respect to Iraq, it's going to be a tougher play. I don't think any of us should be rooting for failure in Iraq at this point. This is no longer Bush's war, this is our war, and we all have a stake in it.

Source: IL Senate Debate, Illinois Radio Network Oct 12, 2004

  • The above quotations are from Senate Debate, between candidates Barack Obama (D) and Alan Keyes (R), on Illinois Radio Network, Oct. 12, 2004, and Oct. 26, 2004.
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Other candidates on War & Peace:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
John Edwards
John Kerry

Third Party Candidates:
Michael Baradnik
Peter Camejo
David Cobb
Ralph Nader
Michael Peroutka


Democratic Primaries:
Carol Moseley Braun
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Bob Graham
Dennis Kucinich
Joe Lieberman
Al Sharpton
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