In October 2002, before being elected to the U.S. Senate, Barack Obama made a speech opposing the Bush Administration's plan to go to war in Iraq because he felt it was an ill-conceived venture which would "require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undermined cost, with undetermined consequences."
Now, as a U.S. Senator, Senator Obama has continued to critique the Administration's mishandling of this war, and believes that while our troops have done an outstanding job in Iraq, there can be no military solution to what is inherently a political conflict between Iraq's warring factions. The only hope to end this burgeoning civil war is for Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds to come together and resolve their differences. That's why Senator Obama agrees with the Iraq Study Group's conclusion that we must begin a phased redeployment of American troops to signal to the government and people of Iraq that ours is not an open-ended commitment.
To set a new course for U.S. policy that can bring a responsible end to the war, Senator Obama introduced the Iraq War De-escalation Act in January 2007. The legislation begins 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 that is consistent with the expectation of the Iraq Study Group.
The Obama plan allows for a limited number of U.S. troops to remain 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 and that the suspension is in the national security interest of the United States.