WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama’s comments on the United States’ role in Iraq have evolved over the years, up to his decision Thursday to renew military action. Here are some of those comments:
As a state senator in Illinois: “I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences. I know that an invasion of Iraqwithout a clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East and encourage the worst, rather than best, impulses of the Arab world, and strengthen the recruitment arm of al-Qaida. I am not opposed to all wars. I’m opposed to dumb wars.
As a candidate for president, Obama said the United States should not use its military to solve humanitarian problems and that preventing a potential genocide in Iraq wasn’t a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces there. “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.
“The analogy we use around here sometimes, and I think is accurate, is if a jayvee team puts on Lakers uniforms that doesn’t make them Kobe Bryant,” Obama told The New Yorker, speaking of the Islamic State inIraq and the Levant. “I think there is a distinction between the capacity and reach of a bin Laden and a network that is actively planning major terrorist plots against the homeland versus jihadists who are engaged in various local power struggles and disputes, often sectarian.”
June 13, 2014:
“In the face of a terrorist offensive, Iraqi security forces have proven unable to defend a number of cities, which has allowed the terrorists to overrun a part of Iraq’s territory. And this poses a danger to Iraq and its people. And given the nature of these terrorists, it could pose a threat eventually to American interests as well.”
June 19, 2014:
“We also have an interest in making sure that we don’t have a safe haven that continues to grow for ISIL and other extremist jihadist groups who could use that as a base of operations for planning and targeting ourselves, our personnel overseas and eventually the homeland.”
August 7, 2014:
“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale — when we have a mandate to help, in this case a request from the Iraqi government, and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye. We can act, carefully and responsibly, to prevent a potential act of genocide.”
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