A Brief History of President Obama and the 2007 Surge of Troops in Iraq

“I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.”

- then-Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., January 10 2007, discussing then-President Bush’s proposal for a surge of troops in Iraq


"I don't think there's been any doubt that if we put U.S. troops in that, in the short term, we might see some improvement in certain neighborhoods because the militias are going to fade back into the community. That's one of the characteristics of what we've seen. The problem is that we don't see any change in the underlying dynamic which is Shia militias infiltrating the government, Sunni insurgents continuing the fight, that's the essence of the problem and unless we say that we're going to occupy Iraq indefinitely, we're gonna continue to see problems. I would disagree the bombings and the deaths that have been occurring over the last several weeks, you hadn't seen any real significant difference over what we've seen in the last year.”

- Obama to Iowa's WQAD in March 2007


“Today, 1518 days after it began, the war in Iraq rages on, with no sign of a resolution. The Iraqi people appear no closer to the settling their differences. The Iraqi government is more divided and dysfunctional than ever. The Iraqi parliament speaks of adjourning for the summer, without addressing the major issues standing in the way of a ceasefire. And our brave young servicemen and women are still fighting and dying to police someone else's civil war... In January, I introduced a plan that already would have begun redeploying our troops out of Iraq, with the goal of removing all of our combat troops by March 31. But it also would offer enough flexibility to delay our exit in the event that the Iraqis responded with meaningful steps toward peace. I still believe in that approach, which the President vetoed earlier this month. Ultimately, I think it will become the framework for a bipartisan coalition the President can't resist.

“Today, I have reintroduced that plan.

“Tomorrow, I expect cloture votes on two other proposals. One is the Reid-Feingold plan, which would begin a withdrawal of troops in 120 days and end all combat operations on April 1. The other is Senator Levin's proposal, which would create standards and benchmarks for additional funding.

“I will support both, not because I believe either is the best answer, but because I want to send a strong statement to the Iraqi government, the President and my Republican colleagues that it's long past time to change course.

“Meanwhile, I'll continue to press for my own plan, and work to find the 16 votes in the Senate to pass it with a veto-proof majority and bring our troops home quickly, safely and responsibly.”

- Statement of Sen. Obama on May 15, 2007, before voting to withdrawal US combat troops from Iraq within four months, with all troops gone by March 31, 2008


“The surge is not working.”

- Obama for American website changed in July 2008


"I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated…It's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."

- Obama to Bill O’Reilly in September 2008


"Clearly what the surge has provided is the opportunity for success to be sustained and for us to accomplish our longer-range goals in Iraq. So there was nothing that would have prevented the president from making a different decision without the surge, but it clearly has put us in a very different place in terms of where Iraq is."

-Defense Secretary Robert Gates in February 2009 after President Obama announced US combat troops would be leaving Iraq in August 2010, with all US troops scheduled to leave by the end of 2011. Gates was asked if the president would have been able to make the announcement without the success of the surge of troops in Iraq.

- Jake Tapper

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