In an interview on NBC's Today, Fox News contributor Karl Rove falsely claimed that in 2007, Barack Obama "didn't speak out" against the Bush administration's war strategies for Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Obama advocated prioritizing the conflict in Afghanistan and repeatedly criticized Bush's Iraq war policy.
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Rove: Obama "in no position whatsoever to criticize what President Bush did." In an interview with NBC's Matt Lauer, Rove falsely claimed that "in 2007, President Obama, then a member of the United States Senate, voted against war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. If this was so vital, then why did he not speak out?" [Today, 12/1/09]
Rove: "[A]t the time, he didn't speak out on this." Rove went on to say that "President Obama is not in a place to be critical of this. He can look back and rewrite history or whatever, but at the time, he didn't speak out on this." [Today, 12/1/09]
Obama repeatedly criticized Bush's Iraq strategy and advocated more troops in Afghanistan
Obama in 2006 called for troops in Iraq to "be redeployed to Afghanistan." In a November 20, 2006, speech, Obama asserted: "The President should announce to the Iraqi people that our policy will include a gradual and substantial reduction in U.S. forces." He added: "I am not suggesting that this timetable be overly-rigid. We cannot compromise the safety of our troops, and we should be willing to adjust to realities on the ground." Obama went on to state, "Perhaps most importantly, some of these troops could be redeployed to Afghanistan, where our lack of focus and commitment of resources has led to an increasing deterioration of the security situation there. The President's decision to go to war in Iraq has had disastrous consequences for Afghanistan -- we have seen a fierce Taliban offensive, a spike in terrorist attacks, and a narcotrafficking problem spiral out of control. Instead of consolidating the gains made by the Karzai government, we are backsliding towards chaos. By redeploying from Iraq to Afghanistan, we will answer NATO's call for more troops and provide a much-needed boost to this critical fight against terrorism." [Speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, 11/20/06]
Obama did "speak out" through the very vote Rove cited, calling for a "better plan." In a press release following his vote against a 2007 war-funding bill that did not include a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, Obama stated: "This vote is a choice between validating the same failed policy in Iraq that has cost us so many lives and demanding a new one. And I am demanding a new one. We must fund our troops. But we owe them something more. We owe them a clear, prudent plan to relieve them of the burden of policing someone else's civil war. We need a plan to compel the Iraqi people to reach a political accommodation and to take responsibility for their own future. It's time to change course." Obama further stated, "After [Bush] vetoed a plan that would have funded the troops and begun to bring them home, this bill represents more of his stubborn refusal to address his failed policy. We should not give the President a blank check to continue down this same, disastrous path. With my vote today, I am saying to the President that enough is enough. We must negotiate a better plan that funds our troops, signals to the Iraqis that it is time for them to act and that begins to bring our brave servicemen and women home safely and responsibly." [Obama press release, 5/24/07]
Obama: Withdrawing from Iraq will "allow us to redeploy additional troops in Afghanistan." In a January 2007 speech on the Senate floor, Obama stated: "Drawing down our troops in Iraq will put pressure on Iraqis to arrive at the political settlement that is needed and allow us to redeploy additional troops in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region, as well as bring some back home." [C-SPAN, 1/18/2007]
Obama specifically called for "at least two additional brigades." In an August 2007 speech, Obama called for "getting out of Iraq and on to the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan." He continued: "Our troops have fought valiantly there, but Iraq has deprived them of the support they need -- and deserve. As a result, parts of Afghanistan are falling into the hands of the Taliban, and a mix of terrorism, drugs, and corruption threatens to overwhelm the country. As President, I would deploy at least two additional brigades to Afghanistan to re-enforce our counter-terrorism operations and support NATO's efforts against the Taliban." [8/1/07]
Obama: "When we end this war in Iraq, we can finally finish the fight in Afghanistan." In a campaign speech in Clinton, Iowa, Obama reiterated his support for deploying additional troops in Afghanistan, stating, "When we end this war in Iraq, we can finally finish the fight in Afghanistan. That is why I propose stepping up our commitment there, with at least two additional combat brigades and a comprehensive program of aid and support to help Afghans help themselves." [9/12/07]
Obama: It's time to "increase our military, political, and economic commitment to Afghanistan." In a December 2007 campaign speech, Obama stated: "Six years after we took our eye off the ball in Afghanistan -- the origin of the 9/11 attacks -- we still don't have our priorities straight. That's why it's time to stop funding a failed policy, to remove our combat brigades from Iraq, and to increase our military, political, and economic commitment to Afghanistan." [12/18/07]