Barack Obama: U.S. presidential election, 2008/On the war in Iraq
|This article is part of the
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of Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and
the 2008 presidential election
|Democratic ticket "top tier"|
He gave the speech nine days before the the Joint Resolution to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq (H.J.114), commonly known as the AUMF, which was passed October 11, 2002.
Obama was not a U.S. senator at the time, and thus did not, as the Agence France Presse argued, "face therefore the high-stakes choice which confronted Clinton, fellow candidates Senator Joseph Biden, Chris Dodd and former senator John Edwards, who ... all voted in October 2002 to give Bush power to wage war in Iraq."
- "On Iraq, on paper, there's not as much difference, I think, between the Bush administration and a Kerry administration as there would have been a year ago. There's not that much difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who's in a position to execute."
Obama: "lives of the bravest young Americans wasted" in Iraq
In a March 31, 2007, interview by CNN's Wolf Blitzer with 2008 presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) who was in Iraq, McCain said "Failure is catastrophe. Failure is genocide. Failure means we come back. Failure means they follow us home." During an April 1, 2007, telephone interview with Sen. Obama, Blitzer asked Obama "What if he's right? What if he's right, and what you're proposing and a lot of Democrats are proposing results in genocide in Iraq?", to which Obama responded
- "Well, look, what you have right now is chaos in Iraq. After having spent hundreds of billions of dollars, after seeing close to 3,200 lives lost, what you now see is chaos. And there's no end in sight."
While speaking at a campaign rally at Iowa State University on February 11, 2007, Sen. Obama "said the Iraq war 'should never have been waged,' adding, 'We now have spent $400 billion and have seen over 3,000 lives of the bravest young Americans wasted'," Celeste Katz reported in the New York Daily News.
On February 12, 2007, while campaigning in New Hampshire, Obama told reporters at Nashua, "What I would say — and meant to say — is that their service hasn't been honored, ... because our civilian strategy has not honored their courage and bravery and we have put them in a situation in which it is hard for them to succeed." 
Obama "hastened to say ... that he did not mean to disparage the troops' sacrifice," Katz wrote. "It is not at all what I intended to say, and I would absolutely apologize if any [military families] felt that in some ways it had diminished the enormous courage and sacrifice that they'd shown."
Support / Opposition to the War in Iraq
2002: prescient, perhaps, but not a "courageous leader"
On October 2, 2007, at DePaul University in Chicago, Obama is to give his "defining Iraq speech", Mike Allen reported in The Politico. In a pre-speech analysis, the Associated Press's Ron Fornier wrote:
- "Nobody can dispute that Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war from the start and, with striking prescience, predicted U.S. troops would be mired in a costly conflict that fanned 'the flames of the Middle East.' But nobody should accept at face value the Illinois senator's claim that he was a 'courageous leader' who opposed the war at great political risk. The truth is that while Obama showed foreign policy savvy and an ability to keenly analyze both sides of an issue in his October 2002 warnings on Iraq, the political upside of his position rivaled any risk. And, once elected to the U.S. Senate two years later, Obama waited months to show national leadership on Iraq. Even now, as he hopes to ride his anti-war credentials to the White House, Obama's views on how to end the conflict differ little from those of Democratic rivals who voted in the fall of 2002 to give President Bush authority to wage war."
2004: Campaign for U.S. Senate
William Finnegan wrote May 31, 2004, in The New Yorker:
- "The left in Illinois, as it happens, is monitoring Obama for similar trimming toward the political center. When his speech at the antiwar rally in 2002 was quietly removed from his campaign Web site, activists found that to be an ominous sign. It is traditional, of course, for politicians to tack to the center after winning a primary, hoping to attract swing voters. Earlier this month, when major newspapers (including the Times) and leading Democrats (including Illinois’s other senator, Dick Durbin) began calling for the resignation of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as a result of the Abu Ghraib prison-torture revelations, Obama criticized the Administration's Iraq policy, but added, 'I have no doubt about Donald Rumsfeld’s sincerity.' Deciding Rumsfeld's fate, he said, should be left to President Bush."
Attacks Hillary Clinton for Iraq vote
"Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.) tried [October 2, 2007,] to gain the high ground on Iraq over Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (N.Y.), his chief rival for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, by charging that the nation’s leaders 'got it wrong' by going to war," Mike Allen wrote October 2, 2007, in The Politico.
Although Obama "did not name Clinton in his remarks about Iraq, but his allusion was clear," Allen wrote.
Fact check: Obama v Clinton voting records
- 2002: Clinton "voted for the October 2002 resolution authorizing the Iraq war, while Obama (Ill.), then a state senator, publicly opposed the war." 
- 2004: In July 2004, Obama told New York Times that "he was not sure whether he would have voted against the resolution had he been in the Senate." 
- Since 2005: Obama's "voting record has been virtually identical to Clinton's. 'Senator Obama voted $301 billion in funding. So did Senator Clinton, ... Senator Obama voted against a definite withdrawal date. So did Senator Clinton.'"  See Obama's June 21, 2006, Floor Statement on Iraq Debate.
- 2006: In October 2006, Obama told the New Yorker's David Remnick that "senators who saw intelligence reports on Iraq may have been justified in voting for the invasion. 'I didn't have the benefit of U.S. intelligence,' he said. 'And, for those who did, it might have led to a different set of choices.'" 
Fact check: funding/ending funding for war in Iraq
Regarding Congressional actions to end the Iraq War in the 110th Congress, on April 1, 2007, Obama said in an interview with the Associated Press that "Congress will provide the money for the Iraq War without a withdrawal timeline the White House objects to if President Bush vetoes the measure."
Obama said Congress "will ratchet up pressure on Bush to change course. But, the Illinois senator says he doesn't think the Senate will end war funding."
"Obama's opposition to the Iraq war in 2003 is unquestioned," Ben Smith wrote April 4, 2007, in The Politico. "But what was a sharp anti-war line on the campaign trail in 2004 – when he said he favored voting against funding the war – turned into a more pragmatic Senate performance, where Obama has taken a less aggressively anti-war tack than fellow Democratic Sens. John F. Kerry (Mass.), Russ Feingold (Wis.) and others.
"As a review of their votes by the website TPMCafe showed last week, Clinton and Obama have almost identical voting records on Iraq in the Senate; they cast different votes just once, when Obama voted to confirm Gen. George Casey as the Army chief of staff and Clinton voted against his confirmation.
"Obama's choice of pragmatism over confrontation has long frustrated some anti-war figures, and their sentiment boiled over after Obama's comments to an Associated Press reporter in Iowa last weekend," Smith wrote.
Fact check: voting record
"On substantive questions of foreign policy, one of Barack Obama's most effective -- and perhaps only -- methods of distinguishing himself from Hillary Clinton has been touting his opposition to the invasion of Iraq. Though Obama's opposition was expressed in a twenty minute speech on the floor of the Illinois state legislature, the credibility his anti-war stand has granted him is well-deserved, and it should remain a central issue in the primaries," Max Blumenthal wrote April 2, 2007, in The Nation.
"Given the way Obama has voted on Iraq-related bills since his arrival to Congress, however, any attempt by the junior senator to cast himself as a genuine anti-war candidate is disingenous. Greg Sargent and Eric Kleefeld have compiled a side-by-side study of Obama and Hillary's votes on Iraq-related bills and what they found is startling.
"Of 69 votes related to Iraq, Obama differed with Hillary on only one: He voted for the confirmation of Gen. George Casey and she voted against it. In no way does Sargent and Kleefeld's study negate the importance of Obama's oppositon to invading Iraq, but it does add some nuance to an otherwise simplistic debate," Blumenthal wrote.
- $31.6 billion for operations and maintenance
- $15.46 billion for procurement of aircraft, missiles, weapons, combat vehicles, and ammunition
- $10.2 billion for military personnel
- $3.7 billion for the Iraq Security Forces Fund
- $1.96 billion for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Fund
- $1.91 billion for the Afghanistan Security Forces Fund
Fact check: setting a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq
Speaking January 14, 2007, on CBS's Face the Nation, Obama, "reluctant to commit himself to any vote blocking spending for the war, [joined] Democratic leaders in calling for the start of a phased withdrawal starting over the next four to six month[s] and [called] Bush's new plan 'stay-the-course-plus', Mark Silva wrote in The Swamp, the Chicago Tribune newsblog.
Obama said "If there are ways that we can constrain and condition what the president is doing, so that four to six months from now we are considering a phased withdrawal… that is the area that I am most interested in supporting," Silva wrote. 
On January 17, 2007, following her weekend trip to Iraq, Senator Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) "called President Bush's plan to send more troops to Iraq 'a losing strategy' and proposed placing new limits on the White House’s conduct of the war," Patrick Healy wrote in the New York Times. "Hours after Mrs. Clinton’s announcement, Mr. Obama said that he, too, would support a cap on troop levels."
On January 30, 2007, "Obama introduced the 'Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007', which calls for a goal of all U.S. troops to leave Iraq by March 31, 2008, in a phased redeployment worked out with military commanders," Lynn Sweet reported January 31, 2007, in the Chicago Sun-Times.
- According to the Wikipedia, "Obama sponsored 152 bills and resolutions brought before the 109th Congress in 2005 and 2006, and cosponsored another 427." None of these were related to ending the war in Iraq.
- Additionally, "once Obama got to Washington [in 2005], he made only one Senate speech on Iraq." 
"Earlier, he refused to vote for an amendment [introduced June 21, 2006] by Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) that would have, as Obama said, bring the troops home on a 'date certain'" Sweet wrote.
"Yes, the Obama plan seems to be rather reminiscent of the Kerry-Feingold Amendment defeated last summer," Dave Schuler wrote January 31, 2007, in Outside the Beltway. "It adds a troop freeze, changes the dates, and adds provisions for benchmarks and withholding of economic support. Obama doesn’t appear to have been a co-sponsor of Kerry-Feingold."
"On June 21,   Obama took to the Senate floor to say, 'A hard and fast, arbitrary deadline for withdrawal offers our commanders in the field and our diplomats in the region insufficient flexibility.'
"Obama started moving toward setting a timetable in the weeks leading up to his announcement of his 2008 Democratic presidential exploratory campaign," Sweet wrote January 31, 2007.
On November 20, 2006, Obama said  that "a 'precise' timetable for U.S. troops to leave Iraq should be mapped out by the president, military commanders and, when possible, with Iraqi government leaders," Sweet wrote. "However, at that November 22, 2005, speech before the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Obama said he was not suggesting an 'overly rigid' timetable.
"The gradual switch in approach seems to be tied to the reality of the Democratic presidential primary," Sweet wrote.
Related external articles
- Patrick Healy, "Clinton Camp Challenges Obama on Iraq," New York Times, March 22, 2007.
- Greg Sargent and Eric Kleefeld, Comparison of Hillary and Obama votes on Iraq," Election Central Blog/TPM Cafe, March 30, 2007.
- Mike Glover, "Obama says Congress will fund Iraq war after expected Bush veto," Associated Press (San Diego Union-Tribune), April 1, 2007.
- Brad Friedman, "Obama Gives Away Store --- Says Dems Willing to Cave to Bush on Iraq Funding Bill. Negotiation Skills Not Strong Point for the Illinois Senator, Presidential Hopeful...," BradBlog, April 1, 2007. "[UPDATE] Question's Arise Surrounding AP's Reporting of Obama's True Position [UPDATED AGAIN] Fox 'News'/Brit Hume Quote Us in order to Slime Obama...."
- "Obama Says Congress Will Fund Iraq War," Associated Press (Los Angeles Chronicle), April 2, 2007.
- Robert Naiman, "Senator Obama, Congress Has Many Options Besides Full Funding Without Withdrawal," The Huffington Post, April 2, 2007.
- Blake Dvorak, "Daily Kos: 'Obama Caves to Bush'," The RealClearPolitics Blog, April 2, 2007.
- Max Blumenthal, "Obama = Hillary?" The Nation, April 2, 2007.
- Brit Hume, Special Report: "Bloggers Furious," Fox News, April 2, 2007.
- The Blogometer, National Journal, April 3, 2007.
- Ben Smith, "Obama Faces Battle Over Iraq War Opposition," The Politico, April 4, 2007.
- mcjoan, "Why Message Matters," Daily Kos, April 11, 2007.
- "Three Candidates, Three Big Foreign Policy Speeches: McCain," Hotline Blog/National Journal, April 11, 2007. McCain: "I hope Democrats in Congress will heed the advice of one of their leading candidates for President, Senator Obama, and immediately pass a new bill to provide support to our troops in Iraq without substituting their partisan interests for those of our troops and our country."
- "Obama: 'No good options' in Iraq," UPI (Washiington Times), May 13, 2007.
- Lynn Sweet, "For war funds, or not? Obama pressed to explain opposition to Iraq spending as Senate candidate vs. votes for it in office," Chicago Sun-Times (also here), May 14, 2007.
- Shailagh Murray, "Clinton, Obama to Back Vote to Cut Off Funding for Troops in Iraq," Washington Post, May 16, 2007.
- David Espo, "Obama: Stop funds for troops. Shifts position on Iraq war issue," Associated Press (Chicago Sun-Times), May 16, 2007.
- Michael McAuliff, "Iraq votes set to fail - with Bam & Hil backing," New York Daily News, May 16, 2007.
- "Senate Approves Iraq Funding Bill," Think Progress, May 24, 2007. Both Clinton and Obama voted "no".
- Jim Rutenberg, "Obama Returns to 2002," The Caucus Blog/New York Times, October 11, 2007.
- David Sirota, "Obama On Iraq: Laudable or Damnable?" The Huffington Post, November 11, 2007.
- SusanUnPC, "Obama Talks the Talk, But Where's the Walk?" No Quarter Blog, December 12, 2007.
- eRiposte, "Tim Russert Peddles Fraudulent 'Fairy Tale' Claim to Help Sen. Obama's Campaign," The Left Coaster, January 14, 2008.
Obama vs. McCain
- Jonthan Stein, "Obama and McCain -- We've Got Ourselves a Pissing Match, Folks," MojoBlog/MotherJones, May 25, 2007.
- Mark Silva, "McCain to Obama: It's 'flak jacket'," The Swamp News Blog/Chicago Tribune, May 25, 2007.
- Helen Kennedy, "Prez hopefuls join together - to hurl mud. Giuliani vs. Hil, then Bam vs. McCain as left & right get downright nasty," New York Daily News, May 26, 2007.
- "Obama Responds to McCain and Romney," YouTube link at AMERICAblog, May 26, 2007.
Criticism from and for Australian Prime Minister John Howard
On February 11, 2007, the day after Obama announced his candidacy in Illinois, Australian Prime Minister John Howard criticized Obama's plan for Iraq, saying that, if he were a terrorist, he "would put a circle around March 2008 and be praying as many times as possible for a victory not only for Obama but also for the Democrats," the New York Times reported.
Obama responded to this criticism by suggesting that, if Howard was so adamant about his support for the Iraq troop increase, then he should "call up another 20,000 Australians and send them to Iraq," a reference to Australia's comparitively small troop committment (1,000 troops at the time) and President Bush's proposed troop surge in Iraq. He further suggested that Howard's support of the current policy and criticism of his proposal was otherwise a "bunch of empty rhetoric," the Times wrote.
Related SourceWatch articles
- ↑ Barack Obama's Iraq Speech, WikiSource, accessed January 14, 2008.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 "Obama hits back in Pakistan row," Agence France Presse (The Raw Story), August 7, 2007.
- ↑ Roll Call Vote: H.J.114, Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, U.S. Senate, October 11, 2002.
- ↑ S.J.Res.46, Authorization for Use of United States Armed Forces Against Iraq, sponsored by Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), with 16 cosponsors (including Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.)), introduced October 2, 2002.
- ↑ Eric Ruder, "Meet Barack Obama. The Democrats' New Liberal Star," CounterPunch, August 3, 2004.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Mike Allen, "'Window of opportunity'," Playbook/The Politico, October 2, 2007.
- ↑ William Finnegan, "The Candidate," The New Yorker, May 31, 2004.
- ↑ Mike Allen, "Obama attacks Clinton for Iraq vote," The Politico, October 2, 2007.
External articles: Obama on the war in Iraq
- Tom Curry, "Obama builds foreign policy credentials," MSNBC (posted by Office of Sen. Barack Obama), November 3, 2005.
- Peter Slevin, "Obama Calls on Bush to Admit Iraq Errors," Washington Post, November 23, 2005.
- Jeff Zeleny, "Obama: Pull GIs from Iraq gradually," Chicago Tribune (posted on Obama2010.us), November 23, 2005.
- Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, "Obama Mouths Mush on War," The Black Commentator, December 1, 2005.
- Chuck Goudie, "Obama visits troops in Iraq," ABC7Chicago, January 8, 2006.
- "Minorities key in Iraq, Obama says. The Illinois senator also seeks a realistic time frame for pulling out American troops," Associated Press (The Honolulu Star Bulletin), January 8, 2006.
- Frank James, "Bush and Obama talk Iraq," The Swamp Blog/Chicago Tribune, January 25, 2006.
- Alexander Cockburn, "Obama: As He Rises, He Falls," The Nation, April 20, 2006 (May 8, 2006 issue).
- Alexander Cockburn, "Obama's Game," CounterPunch, April 25, 2006.
- William Neikirk, "Obama and Durbin divide on Iraq vote," The Swamp/Chicago Tribune, June 22, 2006.
- Lynn Sweet, "Obama, Durbin: Split on Iraq War vote," Chicago Sun-Times, June 23, 2006.
- "Sen. Obama: Iraq withdrawal should begin in 2007," CNN, November 20, 2006.
- Linda in SFNM, "Sure, Now Obama wants '07 Iraq withdraw," Daily Kos, November 20, 2006.
- Justin Raimondo, "O-bomb-a and the War Party. Barack Obama: He's more of the same…," Antiwar.com, December 18, 2006.
- Jeffrey Feldman, "Obama's 'Gamble' Frame," Frameshop, January 12, 2007.
- Mark Silva, "Obama, McCain square off on war," The Swamp Blog/Chicago Tribune, January 14, 2007.
- Lynn Sweet, "Sweet column: Obama was against war funding, now he's undecided," Chicago Sun-Times, January 15, 2007.
- John Nichols, "Obama Steps Up... And Into the 2008 Race," The Nation, January 16, 2007.
- Patrick Healy, "After Iraq Trip, Clinton Proposes War Limits," New York Times, January 18, 2007.
- Lynn Sweet, "Sweet column: Obama floats Iraq plan after Clinton puts out proposal. Obama rapid response," Chicago Sun-Times, January 18, 2007.
- David Sirota, "On Iraq, Pretending the Past Doesn't Exist Doesn't Help...Or Make It Go Away," The Huffington Post, January 18, 2007.
- Heretic, "Obama on the Iraq war," TheYoungTurks.com, January 26, 2007: "Obama was not in the senate at the time the vote was taken and nothing about his voting record suggests he would have done anything remotely as bold as voting no. Commentators who make this statement should be called on it every time."
- Greg Sargent, "Obama Introducing Bill Mandating Withdrawal Of All Troops From Iraq By March 2008," TPM Cafe, January 30, 2007.
- Ken Strickland, "Obama's Iraq Plan," First Read/MSNBC, January 30, 2007.
- Ben Smith, "Obama's Date Certain," The Politico, January 30, 2007.
- Shailagh Murray, "Obama Bill Sets Date For Troop Withdrawal. Candidate Goes Further Than Rivals," Washington Post, January 31, 2007.
- Kevin Drum, "Obama and the War," Political Animal / The Washington Monthly, January 31, 2007.
- Tom Bevin, "Glory vs. Guts: Obama & Feingold on Iraq," The RealClearPolitics Blog, January 31, 2007.
- Francis L. Holland, "Obama's Iraq Bill Sets Date to Restore Republicans' Foreign Policy Credibility," MyDD, January 31, 2007.
- Lynn Sweet, "Once opposed setting 'date certain'," Chicago Sun-Times, January 31, 2007.
- Jackie Calmes, "Obama’s War Dance," Washington Wire/Wall Street Journal Online, January 31, 2007.
- Dave Schuler, "The Obama Plan," Outside the Beltway, January 31, 2007.
- Sam Graham-Felsen, "Obama Steps Up on Iraq," The Nation, February 1, 2007.
- AJ in DC, "Obama's Iraq plan," AMERICAblog, February 1, 2007.
- Paul Street, "'Without Question'? On Growing Military Opposition to the Invasion of Iraq," ZMag, February 11, 2007.
- "Obama Plan Has a Critic in Australia," New York Times, February 12, 2007.
- "Obama fires back at Australian premier on Iraq," The Honolulu Advertiser, February 12, 2007.
- Jackson Simpson, "Barack Obama Attacks Australian and American Soldiers' Sacrifices," The National Ledger, February 12, 2007.
- Greg Tinti, "Video: Obama Says Lives of Troops That Have Died in Iraq Were 'Wasted'," The Political Bull, February 12, 2007.
- "Obama Restructures a Remark on Deaths," New York Times, February 12, 2007.
- Jackson Simpson, "Barack Obama Attacks Australian and American Soldiers' Sacrifices," The National Ledger, February 12, 2007.
- Joseph Grosso, "Barack Obama: The Great Vague Hope," ZMag, February 12, 2007.
- Celeste Katz, "Troops not 'wasted'. Obama clarifies remark, continues pounding Iraq war as avoidable mistake on N.H. stump," New York Daily News, February 13, 2007.
- "Obama clarifies comment about Iraq war dead," Rutland (VT) Herald, February 13, 2007.
- Ellen, "FOX News Smear-Fest Against Obama Includes Blaming Him For Terrorism Escalation," News Hounds, February 13, 2007.
- Niall Ferguson, "Sure, Barack, you voted 'no' to war in Iraq. That was the easy part," The Telegraph (UK), February 18, 2007.
- Michael R. Gordon and Patrick Healy, "Clinton Says Some G.I.'s in Iraq Would Remain," New York Times, March 16, 2007. Note: "(Senator Barack Obama, a rival of Mrs. Clinton, has said that if elected president, he might keep a small number of troops in Iraq.)"
- Richard Johnson, "Bill Rips Times' Hill Bashing," Page Six / New York Post, March 16, 2007.
- Patrick Healy, "Obama Disputes Bill Clinton’s Take on War Views," The Caucus Blog/New York Times, March 16, 2007.
- Dan Balz, "Clinton, Obama Camps Spar on War," Washington Post, March 20, 2007.
- Jake Tapper and Jonathan Greenberger, "Words of War: Clinton Camp Muddies Obama's Anti-War Stance but Record Is Clear," Associated Press (ABC News), March 20, 2007.
- Maria Sudekum Fisher, "Obama urges voters to oppose war," Associated Press (The Politico), May 13, 2007.
- "Sen. Obama Shifts on Using American Forces in Iraq to Blunt Iranian Threat," The Fact Hub/Hillary Hub, December 6, 2007.
- Bruce Dixon, "Oprah & Obama: Corporate Marketing for a Corporate Campaign," ZMag, December 13, 2007.
- SusanUnPC, "Obama’s Campaign Nervous + C.S. About Iraq," No Quarter Blog, December 31, 2007.
- Barack Obama's Iraq Speech, October 26, 2002. Posted by Wikisource.
- Speech: "Moving Forward in Iraq," Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, Chicago, IL, November 22, 2005.
- "Floor Statement of Senator Barack Obama on Iraq Debate," Office of Sen. Obama, June 21, 2006.
- "Barack Obama on Iraq" (at a townhall meeting held at Rock Valley College), YouTube, September 30, 2006.
- "Sen. Barack Obama introduced Iraq bill," YouTube, January 30, 2007.