AFP – September 4, 2008
Barack Obama said the US troop surge in Iraq had succeeded beyond anybody's "wildest dreams" prompting Republicans to say he showed poor judgment by at first opposing the operation.
The Democratic White House nominee argued however that there still had not been sufficient political reconciliation in the US-occupied country, in the latest tussle over the war ahead of the November 4 election.
Obama's Republican opponent John McCain has repeatedly hammered Obama for his initial opposition to the troop surge, of which he was an early and outspoken proponent.
"I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated," Obama said in an interview on Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor."
"I've already said it's succeeded beyond our wildest dreams."
Republicans pounced on Obama's comments, arguing that his opposition to the surge, which is credited with helping reduce raging violence in Iraq, proved he did not have the judgement required of a potential US commander-in-chief.
"There was someone who believed we could win in Iraq and anticipated the success additional men and women in uniform could have -- John McCain," said Danny Diaz, spokesman for the Republican National Committee.
"Obama is on the wrong side of history and left to his own devices, America would have lost a war, retreated from the enemy, and ceded Iraq to the terrorists."
The Democratic presidential nominee however says his opposition to launching the Iraq war in the first place proves that he has superior judgement to McCain.
He also accuses the Republican presidential candidate of wanting to keep US troops bogged down in an endless war.
Obama says he would start troop withdrawals immediately if he is inaugurated president next January, and believes he can get most American soldiers out of Iraq within 16 months.
The Democrat also said in the interview that it was "unacceptable" for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon, and although he has said he would offer talks to Tehran, he would never rule out the option of military action.
"It is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon; it would be a game changer," Obama said.
"I would never take military action off the table."
Last updated 09/09/2008