More headlines: Barack Obama on War & Peace

(Following are older quotations. Click here for main quotations.)

We have set the bar so low in Iraq

Q: There has been some stability in parts of Iraq where there was turmoil before and that any quick, overly quick withdrawal could undermine all of that and all of that progress would be for naught. The number of US casualties has gone down. What do you say?

A: I welcome the progress. This notion that Democrats donít want to see progress in Iraq is ridiculous. I have to hug mothers in rope lines during town hall meetings as they weep over their fallen sons and daughters. I want to get our troops home safely, and I want us as a country to have this mission completed honorably. But the notion that somehow we have succeeded as a consequence of the recent reductions in violence means that we have set the bar so low itís buried in the sand at this point. We went from intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government to spikes and horrific levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. Now, two years later, weíre back to intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government.

Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Los Angeles before Super Tuesday Jan 31, 2008

The surge is not working toward enduring peace

Tonight Pres. Bush said that the surge in Iraq is working, when we know thatís just not true. Yes, our valiant soldiers have helped reduce the violence. But let there be no doubt--the Iraqi government has failed to seize the moment to reach compromises necessary for an enduring peace. That was what we were told the surge was all about. So the only way weíre finally going to pressure the Iraqis to reconcile and take responsibility for their future is to immediately begin a responsible withdrawal.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 2008

Iraq takes our eye off al Qaeda & Afghanistan

We need to begin this withdrawal [from Iraq] immediately is because this war has not made us safer. I opposed this war from the start in part because I was concerned that it would take our eye off al Qaeda and distract us from finishing the job in Afghanistan. Sadly, thatís what happened. Itís time to heed our military commanders by increasing our commitment to Afghanistan, and itís time to protect the American people by taking the fight to al Qaeda.
Source: Response to 2008 State of the Union address Jan 28, 2008

$2 trillion and the loss of life in Iraq are not sustainable

I want to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in, but I want to make sure that we get all our combat troops out as quickly as we can safely. Now, the estimates are maybe thatís two brigades per month. At that pace it would be some time in 2009 that we had our combat troops out, depending on whether Bush follows through on his commitment to draw down from the surge. We donít know that yet. We are spending $9 billion to $10 billion every month. Thatís money that could be going in South Carolina to lay broadband lines in rural communities, to put kids back to school. When McCain says weíll be there for 50 or 60 or 100 years, it is not just the loss of life, which is obviously the most tragic aspect of it, itís also the fact that financially it is unsustainable. We will have spent $2 trillion at least, itís estimated, by the time this whole thing is over. Thatís enough to have rebuilt every road, bridge, hospital, school in the US, and still have money left over.
Source: 2008 Congressional Black Caucus Democratic debate Jan 21, 2008

2002: Iraq will require US occupation of undetermined length

Q: [to Clinton]: The same week that you voted for the 2002 resolution on the use of military force against Iraq, Sen. Obama said: ďI know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the US, or to his neighbors. I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a US occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that invasion of Iraq without a clear rationale, without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaeda. I am not opposed to all wars. Iím opposed to dumb wars.ď Who had the better judgment at tha time?

CLINTON: In Sen. Obamaís recent book, he clearly says he thought that Saddam Hussein had chemical and biological weapons, and that he still coveted nuclear weapons. By the summer of 2004, Sen. Obama said he wasnít sure how he would have voted.

Source: Meet the Press: 2008 ďMeet the CandidatesĒ series Jan 13, 2008

Introduced bill to redeploy troops in May 2007; it failed

Obama introduced a bill to begin troop redeployment in May of 2007 (it failed, as he must have known it would), but he has been critical of Rep. John Murthaís calls for a quick withdrawal. Again, that strategy: tacking slightly to the left while attackin the Left to make his position seem centrist. He was an early critic of the Iraq invasion, and in the most recent vote to cut off funding for the war he voted yes, but only at the last minute and without comment, following Hillaryís lead.]
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p. 73 Nov 11, 2007

Clinton has not been consistent on the Iraq War

Q: Was Sen. Clintonís answer to the opposition of the Iraq war question consistent, in your view?

A: I donít think itís consistent with the Iran resolution, for example, which specifically stated that we should structure our forces in Iraq with an eye toward blunting Iranian influence. It is yet another rationale for what weíre doing in Iraq, & thatís a mistake. Weíve got to focus on diplomacy. The president has to lead that diplomacy, which is why Iíve said I would convene a meeting of Muslim leaders upon taking office because I think we have to send a strong signal that we are willing to listen and not just talk, and certainly not just dictate or engage in military action. But the real key for the next president is someone who has the credibility of not having been one of the co-authors of this engagement in Iraq. I am in a strong position to be able to say I thought this was a bad idea in the first place. We now have to fix it. We have to be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in.

Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

2002: I donít oppose all war; I do oppose dumb war

On October 26, 2002, Obama said: ďI donít oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne. What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate, a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the Great Depression. Thatís what Iím opposed to. A dumb war. A war based not on reason but on passion.ď

In 2002, when Obama opposed war with Iraq, he knew he would run for the Senate in 2004 and this stand might cost him the election. No other major Democratic candidate for president opposed the war before it happened.

Source: The Improbable Quest, by John K. Wilson, p. 43-44 Oct 30, 2007

Surge has not succeeded because it ignores political issues

Q: Whatís your assessment of the Gen. Petraeus testimony on Iraq?

A: Well, after hearing two days of testimony, letís be clear on exactly what they said. That after putting an additional 30,000 troops in, far longer & more troops than the president had initially said, we have gone from a horrendous situation of violence in Iraq to the same intolerable levels of violence that we had back in June of 2006. So, essentially, after all this weíre back where we were 15 months ago. And what has not happened is any movement with respect to the sort of political accommodations among the various factions, the Shia, the Sunni, and Kurds that were the rationale for surge and that ultimately is going to be what stabilizes Iraq. So, I think it is fair to say that the president has simply tried to gain another six months to continue on the same course that heís been on for several years now. It is a course that will not succeed. It is a course that is exacting an enormous toll on the American people & our troops.

Source: Huffington Post Mash-Up: 2007 Democratic on-line debate Sep 13, 2007

Troops not dying in vain; but we need plans for success

Q: [to Gravel]: Were the deaths of Vietnam in vain?

GRAVEL: Our soldiers died in Vietnam in vain. In Iraq, thereís only one thing worse than a soldier dying in vain; itís more soldiers dying in vain.

Q: Are the troops in Iraq dying in vain?

OBAMA: I never think that troops who do their mission for their country, are dying in vain. But what I do think is that the civilian leadership and the commander in chief has a responsibility to make sure that they have the plans that are going to allow our troops to succeed in their mission.

EDWARDS: I donít think any of our troops die in vain when they go and do the duty thatís been given to them by the commander in chief. No, I donít think they died in vain. But I think the question is: What is going to be done to stop this war? What we need to do is turn up the heat on George Bush and hold him responsible and make this president change course.

Source: 2007 YouTube Democratic Primary debate, Charleston SC Jul 23, 2007

Increase ground forces in Iraq to decrease troop rotations

Q: What would you consider to be a ďmission completeĒ status in Iraq?

A: One of the enormous difficulties of this war has been the strain itís placed on our men and women in uniform. We have seen our Army and our Reserves and our National Guard all being stretched to a breaking point. Thatís one of the reasons why I proposed that weíre going to have to increase the size of our ground forces, so we can stop the sort of rotations that weíve been placing them on, which have been putting enormous strai not only on the soldiers themselves, but also their families. But we are one signature away or 16 votes away from ending this war. Now, if the president is not going to sign the bill that has been sent to him, then what we have to do is gather up 16 votes in order to override his veto. We canít expect that we can continue to impose a military solution on what is essentially a political problem, and thatís what we have to organize around.

Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC Apr 26, 2007

Begin withdrawal May 1 2007; finish by March 31 2008

Since January, I have put forward a very specific plan that is designed to create the last best hope to pressure the Sunni and the Shia to reach political accommodation. Thatís to let the Iraqi government know that America is not going to be there indefinitely. So, what my plan says is that on May 1st of this year, we need to begin a phased withdrawal from Iraq, with the goal of removing all combat troops by March 31st of next year. And weíve got 54 sponsors so far on the bill. Weíre gonna keep on pushing that agenda.

The withdrawal has to begin soon. Itís time to end this war. Itís time to refocus our efforts on the wider struggle against terror, and itís time for us to work much more aggressively diplomatically both inside Iraq and regionally if weíre gonna see the kind of stability in Iraq that all of us hope for.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by Apr 10, 2007

Open dialogue with both Syria and Iran

Q: How would you include Syria and Iran in the effort toward establishing a stable, responsible, and non-hostile government in Iraq?

A: We have to realize that the entire Middle East has a huge stake in the outcome of Iraq, and that we have to engage neighboring countries in finding a solution. Now, I believe that includes opening dialogue both Syria and Iran. We know these countries want us to fail. Iím under no illusions there, but I also know that neither Syria nor Iran want to see a security vacuum in Iraq filled with chaos, and terrorism, and refugees and violence, since those could have a destabilizing effect on the entire region, including within their own countries. So, even as we remain steadfast in our opposition to their support of terrorism, even as we continue to put pressure on Iran to stand down on its nuclear ambitions, itís absolutely critical that we talk to the Syrians and the Iranians about playing a more constructive role in Iraq.

Source: Virtual Town Hall on Iraq, sponsored by Apr 10, 2007

Withdraw gradually and keep some troops in Iraq region

We must end this war in Iraq. I opposed this war from the beginning--in part because I believed that if we gave this President the open-ended authority to invade Iraq, we would end up with the open-ended occupation we find ourselves in today.

We shouldnít be sending more troops to Iraq, we should be bringing them home. Itís time to find an end to this war. Thatís why I have a plan that will begin withdrawing our troops from Iraq on May 1st of this year, with the goal of removing all of our combat forces from the country by March of 2008.

We have to make sure weíre not as careless getting out of this war as we were getting in, and thatís why this withdrawal would be gradual, and would keep some US troops in the region to prevent a wider war and go after Al Qaeda and other terrorists.

But above all, itís a plan that recognizes a fact that just about everyone in the world understands except the White House--there is no military solution to this war.

Source: 2007 IAFF Presidential Forum in Washington DC Mar 14, 2007

Longtime critic of Iraq war

The Illinois senator is a longtime critic of the war, elected to the Senate after the conflict began. In a recent speech, Obama called for a ďgradual and substantialĒ reduction of US forces.
Source: Peopleís Daily (China), ďContenders views on the warĒ Nov 23, 2006

The surge reduced violence, but at enormous cost

The bar of success has become so low that weíve lost perspective on what should be our long-term national interests. It was a mistake to go in from the start, and thatís why I opposed this war from the start. It has cost us upwards of $1 trillion. It may get close to $2 trillion. We have lost young men and women on the battlefield, and we have not made ourself safer as a consequence. I had no doubt, and I said when I opposed the surge, that given how wonderfully our troops perform, if we place 30,000 more troops in there, then we would see an improvement in the security situation and we would see a reduction in the violence. We started in 2006 with intolerable levels of violence and a dysfunctional government. We saw a spike in the violence. The surge reduced that violence, and we now are, two years later, back where we started two years ago. We have gone full circle at enormous cost to the American people.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

Begin a phased redeployment to send a clear signal

What we have to do is to begin a phased redeployment to send a clear signal to the Iraqi government that we are not going to be there in perpetuity. We should be as careful getting out as we were careless getting in. I welcome the reductions of violence that have taken place, although I would point out that much of that violence has been reduced because there was an agreement with tribes in Anbar province. Sunni tribes, who started to see, after the Democrats were elected in 2006, the Americans may be leaving soon. We should start negotiating now. Thatís how you change behavior. Thatís why I will send a clear signal to the Iraqi government. They will have ample time to actually pass an oil law, which theyíve been talking about now for years. We canít continue to ignore the enormous strains that this has placed on the American taxpayer, as well as the anti-American sentiment that it is fanning, and the neglect thatís happening in Afghanistan as a consequence.
Source: 2008 Facebook/WMUR-NH Democratic primary debate Jan 6, 2006

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 Iím načve to question how weíve gone about this war in Iraq. It strikes me that the Bush administration has been načve throughout. It was načve to think that weíd be greeted as liberators in Iraq. Itís been načve in thinking that somehow this would actually diminish recruitment for terrorism. In fact, itís accelerated it. Itís been načve with respect to how difficult itís gonna be to secure the peace, and our troops and our taxpayers are suffering from those errors.

Source: IL Senate Debate Oct 26, 2004

Saddam has no connections to Al Qaeda nor to 9/11

Q: Is the Iraq War the right war at the right time?

OBAMA: There was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. This war has made us less safe. Osama bin Laden roams free in the hills of Afghanistan.

KEYES: The breathtaking naivete of the assertion that there is no connection between Al Qaeda & Saddam Hussein when Saddam was providing payments to the families of Hamas suicide bombers who had ties to Al Qaeda. I worked on the National Security Council staff. Maybe thatís why I understand the situation a little better than Barack Obama. Those ties are real and we cannot afford to let them operate.

OBAMA: I donít think that Mr. Keyes knowledge of the situation is better than Donald Rumsfeldís or the other experts who have confirmed that there was no connection between those who perpetrated the attacks of 9/11 and Iraq. This was an ideologically driven war. But now we do have a hotbed of terrorism to fight in Iraq.

Source: Illinois Senate Debate #3: Barack Obama vs. Alan Keyes Oct 21, 2004

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

Q: Youíre 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, Iím not somebody who can say with certainty that a year from now or six months from now weíre going to be able to pull down troops.

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

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 thatís going to require our help.
  2. But itís also going to require the help of the international community, which is why we have to internationalize this process. Iím 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, itís important that we get our reconstruction moving. The reconstruction process that has taken place has been completely inept. And thatís not simply my estimation, thatís 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

Get al Qaeda hiding in hills between Afghanistan & Pakistan

OBAMA: We know right now, according to the National Intelligence Estimate, that al Qaeda is hiding in the hills between Afghanistan & Pakistan. And because we have taken our eye off the ball, they are stronger now than any time since 2001. As president, I want us to fight on the right battlefield, and what that means is getting out Iraq and refocusing our attention on the war that can be one in Afghanistan. And that also will allow us to free up the kinds of resources that will make us safer here at home because weíll be able to invest in port security, chemical plant security, all the critical issues that have already been discussed.

DODD: I think itís highly irresponsible to suggest we may be willing unilaterally to invade a nation who weíre trying to get to be more cooperative with us in Afghanistan and elsewhere.

CLINTON: I think it is a very big mistake to telegraph that and to destabilize the Musharraf regime, which is fighting for its life against the Islamic extremists.

Source: 2007 AFL-CIO Democratic primary forum Aug 8, 2007

Other candidates on War & Peace: Barack Obama on other issues:
IL Gubernatorial:
Pat Quinn
IL Senatorial:
Richard Durbin
Roland Burris

Newly elected in 2008 & seated in 2009:
AK:Begich (D)
CO:Udall (D)
ID:Risch (R)
MN:Franken (D)
NC:Hagan (D)
NE:Johanns (R)
NH:Shaheen (D)
NM:Udall (D)
OR:Merkley (D)
VA:Warner (D)

Newly appointed in 2009;
special election in 2010:

DE:Kaufman (D)
CO:Bennet (D)
IL:Burris (D)
NY:Gillibrand (D)

Announced retirement as of 2010:
DE:Kaufman (D)
FL:Martinez (R)
KS:Brownback (R)
MO:Bond (R)
OH:Voinovich (R)

Up for 6-year term in 2010:
(13 Democrats; 15 Republicans)
AK:Murkowski (R)
AL:Shelby (R)
AR:Lincoln (D)
AZ:McCain (R)
CA:Boxer (D)
CT:Dodd (D)
GA:Isakson (R)
HI:Inouye (D)
IA:Grassley (R)
ID:Crapo (R)
IN:Bayh (D)
KY:Bunning (R)
LA:Vitter (R)
MD:Mikulski (D)
NC:Burr (R)
ND:Dorgan (D)
NH:Gregg (R)
NV:Reid (D)
NY:Schumer (D)
OK:Coburn (R)
OR:Wyden (D)
PA:Specter (R)
SC:DeMint (R)
SD:Thune (R)
UT:Bennett (R)
VT:Leahy (D)
WA:Murray (D)
WI:Feingold (D)
Civil Rights
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Social Security
Tax Reform

Other Senators
Senate Votes (analysis)
Bill Sponsorships
Policy Reports
Group Ratings

Page last updated: Nov 22, 2009