Posted: September 12, 2007 4:56 PM
Obama Presents Four-Step Iraq Plan
In the wake of Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s testimony on Capitol Hill this week, Sen. Barack Obama traveled to Clinton, Iowa Wednesday to deliver a major address on Iraq.
In the speech, the Illinois Democrat outlined four steps for stabilizing the situation in Iraq. First, he said he would begin an immediate drawdown of troops that would be completed by the end of next year.
“Let me be clear: there is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was,” Obama said. “The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year — now.”
Once a troop withdrawal had begun, Obama said he would convene a new constitutional convention to force Iraqi leaders to reconcile their political differences. Third, he called for a “surge of diplomacy” with Iraq’s neighbors. And fourth, he said he would address the humanitarian crises in Iraq and hold accountable perpetrators of war criminals.
“The risk of greater atrocities in the short-term cannot deter us from doing what we must to minimize violence in the long-term,” he said. “Yet as we drawdown, we must declare our readiness to intervene with allies to stop genocidal violence.”
Obama also attended Tuesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing with Petraeus and Crocker. He used much of his question time to make a statement on the war.
“We have the president in Australia suggesting somehow that we are, as was stated before, kicking A-S-S. How can we have a president making that assessment?” he asked. “And it makes it very difficult then for those of us who would like to join with you in a bipartisan way to figure out how to best move forward to extricate this from the day-to-day politics that infects Washington.”
Obama, however, seemed to have not only the war on his mind, but also his own presidential campaign. Dana Milbank of the Washington Post reported that Obama could be seen reading a memo from staffers reminding him of the differences between his position on the war and New York Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton’s.
“It isn’t entirely surprising that he would be preparing some political barbs for the Democratic front-runner, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton,” Milbank wrote. “Still, Obama’s juxtaposition — contemplating the nakedly political as he prepared to question the top U.S. general in Iraq and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq — was stark.”
Obama also sent an e-mail to supporters Tuesday marking the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
“Our calling today remains the same as it was on 9/11,” he wrote. “We must bring justice to the terrorists who killed on our shores. We must devise new strategies, develop new capabilities, and build new alliances to defeat the threats of the 21st century. We must extend hope to the hopeless corners of the world and reaffirm our core values to counter the hateful message of the extremists. And we must secure a more resilient homeland.”
In other campaign news, the numbers are in and Oprah Winfrey’s star-studded fund raiser last weekend netted roughly $3 million for Obama’s campaign.
“Most of the VIPs from the entertainment industry and Obama’s best donors and bundlers — about 200 — remained at Winfrey’s estate for a long night of eating under a huge tent with chandeliers,” wrote Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Also over the weekend, Janny Scott of the New York Times examined Obama’s failed attempt in 2000 to unseat Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush.
“The episode revealed a lot about Senator Obama — now running for president, against the odds again and with a relatively slim resume,” she wrote. “It showed his impatience with the frustrations of his state Senate job; his outsize confidence; his fund-raising powers; his broad appeal; and his willingness to be what Abner J. Mikva, a former congressman and supporter, calls ‘a very apt student of his own mistakes.’”
Looking ahead, Obama is staying in Iowa through Thursday to follow up his policy speech with several town halls on Iraq. His “Countdown to Change” campaign continues on Saturday with house parties around the country. On Sunday, Obama is expected to attend Iowa Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin’s steak fry, and on Sept. 18, Obama is slated to appear at a “Countdown to Change” rally in Washington, D.C.