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 special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • 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: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: Training Coordinator - Financial Services

£32000 - £38000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A highly successful, inte...

Recruitment Genius: Supply Chain Administrator

£8000 - £10800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Supply Chain Administrator is ...

Recruitment Genius: Client IT Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Client IT Account Manager is ...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor