In 2002, as the conventional thinking in Washington lined up with President Bush for war, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against going to war, and to warn of an occupation of undetermined length, costs, and consequences. As president he is fully committed to ending the war in Iraq.
Obama believes we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in so immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Under the Obama plan, a residual force will remain in Iraq and in the region to conduct targeted counter-terrorism missions against al Qaeda in Iraq and to protect American diplomatic and civilian personnel. Permanent bases will not be built in Iraq, but efforts to train and support the Iraqi security forces will continue as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.
Obama believes that there is no military solution to Iraq’s political differences, but the Bush Administration’s blank check approach has failed to press Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future or to spend their oil revenues on their own reconstruction. Obama’s plan offers the best prospect for lasting stability in Iraq.
Obama believes that America has both a moral obligation and responsibility for security that demands we confront Iraq’s humanitarian crisis—more than five million Iraqis are refugees or are displaced inside their own country. Obama will form an international working group to address this crisis. He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find sanctuary. Obama will also work with Iraqi authorities and the international community to hold the perpetrators of potential war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide accountable. He will reserve the right to intervene militarily, with our international partners, to suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq.