Before the war in Iraq ever started, Senator Obama said that it was wrong in its conception. In 2002, then Illinois State Senator Obama said Saddam Hussein posed no imminent threat to the United States and that invasion would lead to an occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. Since then, Senator Obama has laid out a plan on the way forward in Iraq that has largely been affirmed by the bipartisan Iraq Study Group led by James Baker and Lee Hamilton.
"I don't oppose all wars. And I know that in this crowd today, there is no shortage of patriots, or of patriotism. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war."
-Barack Obama Anti-War Rally, Chicago 2002
At the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations in November 2005, Senator Obama called for: (1) a reduction in the number of U.S. troops; (2) a time frame for a phased withdrawal; (3) the Iraqi government to make progress on forming a political solution; (4) improved reconstruction efforts to restore basic services in Iraq; and (5) engaging the international community, particularly key neighboring states and Arab nations, to become more involved in Iraq. In January 2006 he traveled to Iraq and met with senior U.S. military commanders, Iraqi officials and U.S. troops in Baghdad and Fallujah.
Senator Obama introduced legislation in January 2007 to offer a responsible alternative to President Bush's failed escalation policy. The legislation commences redeployment of U.S. forces no later than May 1, 2007 with the goal of removing all combat brigades from Iraq by March 31, 2008 -- a date consistent with the bipartisan Iraq Study Group's expectations. The plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain in Iraq as basic force protection, to engage in counter-terrorism and to continue the training of Iraqi security forces. If the Iraqis are successful in meeting the 13 benchmarks for progress laid out by the Bush Administration, this plan also allows for the temporary suspension of the redeployment, provided Congress agrees that the benchmarks have been met.
"Credit Obama with helping establish a framework for our politicians to move away from partisanship and think constructively about what to do about the war in Iraq."
-Chicago Sun-Times, Editorial, November 26, 2006