(CNSNews.com) - The troop surge in Iraq has “succeeded beyond our wildest dreams,” Sen. Barack Obama conceded in an interview with Bill O'Reilly that aired on the Fox News Channel Thursday night.
Obama not only opposed the Iraq war from the beginning, he also opposed the troop surge and predicted it would not work. Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, was a strong supporter of the troop surge.
On Thursday, O’Reilly urged Obama to admit he was wrong about the surge.
“I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated -- by the way, including President Bush and the other supporters. It has gone very well,” Obama conceded. But, he added, it still hasn’t been a total success.
“We have reduced the violence, but the Iraqis still haven’t taken responsibility, and we still don’t have the kind of political reconciliation -- we are still spending $10-$12 billion dollars a month,” Obama said.
Obama has said that as president, he would draw down U.S. troops in Iraq and send two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan, which should have been the focus of the war on terror all along, he insists.
Obama’s Web site says that “immediately upon taking office,” Obama will order an end to the Iraq war. “The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government,” his Web site says. He envisions having most U.S. troops out of Iraq by the summer of 2010.
Obama has said he would leave a “residual force” in Iraq for counter-terrorism missions and to protect U.S. diplomatic and civilian personnel. He says he would not build permanent bases in Iraq, but he would continue training Iraqi security forces -- “as long as Iraqi leaders move toward political reconciliation and away from sectarianism.”
‘We have to go after them’
In his interview with “The O’Reilly Factor,” Obama listed America’s enemies in the war on terror as Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and a “whole host of networks that are bent on attacking America who have a distorted ideology, who have perverted the faith of Islam -- and so we have to go after them,” he said.
He described Iran as a serious threat, and he repeated his earlier statements that it is unacceptable for Iran to possess nuclear weapons. That would be a “game-changer,” Obama told O’Reilly. He said he would “never take the military option off the table.”
Asked if he would prepare a military option, just in case, Obama said it would not be “appropriate” for a candidate to tip his hand on plans involving Iran.
“It is sufficient to say I would not take the military option off the table and that I will never hesitate to use our military force in order to protect the homeland and the United States interests,” Obama said. He indicated that diplomacy also would come into play.
“You’re not going to invade Pakistan, Senator, if you’re president -- you’re not going to send ground troops in there, and you know it,” O’Reilly challenged Obama.
Obama said he would put more pressure on the Pakistanis -- attaching more strings to U.S. military aid, for example.
“We’re going to provide them with additional military support targeted at terrorists, and we’re going to help build their democracy…”