US foreign policy cannot begin and end with Iraq, warns Obama

In his most ambitious foreign policy speech to date, Barack Obama robustly defended his stance on Iraq yesterday, accusing the Bush administration of pursuing a "single-minded" foreign policy that has cost thousands of lives, tarnished America's image and emptied the nation's coffers. Ahead of a trip to Europe and the Middle East next week, Mr Obama is emphasising that he intends to use soft power – diplomacy and economic aid – rather than brute force to achieve America's aims in the post-Bush era.

If he becomes president, he says he will restore alliances that have been fractured by seven years of unilateralism from the Bush-Cheney administration. Mr Obama has repeatedly stated he will start withdrawing US combat forces from Iraq from his first day in the White House if he wins in November, transferring as many as 10,000 combat troops to Afghanistan to engage al-Qa'ida and Taliban fighters operating from Pakistan.

Mr Obama says that, as president, he would completely revamp America's approach to the world by dealing with the challenges of al-Qai'da terrorism, nuclear proliferation, energy security as well as climate change.

"For eight years, we have paid the price for a foreign policy that lectures without listening," he told his audience in a 38-minute address at the Ronald Reagan International Trade Centrein Washington. "By any measure, our single-minded and open-ended focus on Iraq is not a sound strategy for keeping America safe."

"What's missing in our debate about Iraq, what has been missing since before the war began, is a discussion of the strategic consequences of Iraq and its dominance of our foreign policy."

Mr Obama is making his first foreign trip as Democratic candidate at the weekend. He travels first to Iraq and Afghanistan with the anti-war Democrat and Republican senators Jack Reed of Rhode Island, and Chuck Hagel, of Nebraska. He then travels to Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. The highlight of the European leg of his trip will be in Berlin, before he travels to France and the UK.

Before he had spoken a word yesterday, Mr Obama's presidential rival, the Republican senator John McCain, accused him of defeatism over Iraq and jumping to conclusions before he had even put his feet on the ground. "Senator Obama is departing soon on a trip abroad that will include a fact-finding mission to Iraq and Afghanistan," Mr McCain said. "In my experience... first you assess the facts on the ground, then you present a new strategy."

Mr Obama said there was overwhelming evidence that Washington's focus on Iraq, where it has five times more troops than in Afghanistan, has caused it to become distracted from "the central front in the war on terror".

"It is unacceptable that, almost seven years after nearly 3,000 Americans were killed on our soil, the terrorists who attacked us are still at large," he said. "Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri are recording messages to their followers and plotting more terror."

For rolling comment on the US election visit: independent.co.uk/campaign08

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before