The thing that gives me hope about Obama:
OBAMA: But the — but I do think it is important for us to set a date [for withdrawal from Iraq]. And the reason I think it is important is because if we are going to send a signal to the Iraqis that we are serious, and prompt the Shia, the Sunni and the Kurds to actually come together and negotiate, they have to have clarity about how serious we are.
It can’t be muddy, it can’t be fuzzy. They’ve got to know that we are serious about this process. And I also think we’ve got to be very clear about what our mission is. And there may be a difference here between Senator Clinton and myself in terms of the four structures that we would leave behind.
Both of us have said that we would make sure that our embassies and our civilians are protected. Both of us have said that we’ve got to care for Iraqi civilians, including the four million who have been displaced already. We already have a humanitarian crisis, and we have not taken those responsibilities seriously.
We both have said that we need to have a strike force that can take out potential terrorist bases that get set up in Iraq. But the one thing that I think is very important is that we not get mission creep, and we not start suggesting that we should have troops in Iraq to blunt Iranian influence.
If we were concerned about Iranian influence, we should not have had this government installed in the first place.
We shouldn’t have invaded in the first place. It was part of the reason that I think it was such a profound strategic error for us to go into this war in the first place.
And that’s one of the reasons why I think I will be — just to finish up this point, I think I will be the Democrat who will be most effective in going up against a John McCain, or any other Republican — because they all want basically a continuation of George Bush’s policies — because I will offer a clear contrast as somebody who never supported this war, thought it was a bad idea. I don’t want to just end the war, but I want to end the mindset that got us into war in the first place.
That’s the kind of leadership I’m going to provide as president of the United States.