Obama visits troops in Iraq

Monday, January 09, 2006

Senator Barack Obama is taking a close look at just how long American forces should stay in Iraq. He is on a journey to the Middle East that has taken him and other U.S. senators to Iraq this weekend.

The Congressional Delegation or "CODEL" as the state department calls it, has now wrapped two days in Iraq. Senator Barack Obama was among four members of Congress Sunday flying to areas outside the safety of the green zone to meet with American and Iraqi military commanders on the ground.

As insurgent car bombers and suicide attackers try to block the road to democracy in Iraq, they may be planting the seeds of civil war.

This weekend in Baghdad, Illinois Senator Barack Obama says he is troubled by the thought that once U.S. forces start withdrawing from Iraq, civil war will follow.

"It is certainly a possibility. But what we can do is give those Iraqis who are interested in setting up a peaceful accommodation that space, that room and that time in order to accomplish that," said Sen. Barack Obama.

Chuck Goudie: But will it have been in vain though if there is civil war once we pull our military out?

Obama: Well I have not changed my basic view this was a poorly conceived mission from the start. One of the frustrations I have is the incredible execution by our military of carrying out flawed orders of the administration."

Obama is reluctant to imply that U.S. losses will have been in vain, especially as he meets with soldiers from Illinois serving here in Baghdad.

The Illinoisans are among thousands of troopers stationed around the American Embassy compound located in sup Baghdad, Iraq, one of Saddam Hussein's sprawling, ornate palaces. Next to Saddam's backyard pool -- a reminder of the tyranny that was -- Chuck met with Obama; Missouri senator Kit Bond and Indiana senator Evan Bayh. They are in Iraq during a break in Congress to check the war's progress and when the troops can all be brought home.

"I don't think you can just circle a date on a calendar," said Sen. Evan Bayh, (D) Indiana.

Senator Bayh, an Indiana democrat who is a member of the armed services and select intelligence committees, says these next six months will define whether there is success in Iraq.

"Do these people want to live together in one country? If the answer is yes, we can help. If the answer is no, then no matter what we do, they won't be able to succeed," said Sen. Evan Bayh, (D) Indiana.

"Ultimately, there is no military solution to problem here. Our military-they are doing exactly what they should be doing. But they can't force Iraqis to live together," said Obama.

Sunday night Senator Obama headed to Amman, Jordan, and will then spend the rest of next week in Israel, meeting with both Israeli and Palestinian officials. Obama will be joined by leaders of Chicago's Jewish community. Those visits come at a time of great uncertainty in Israel after the Prime Minister's recent stroke.

Monday night at 10 on ABC7 Chuck Goudie will discuss how the war is going according to some Chicagoans in the middle of it and then on Tuesday he will be in Israel with exclusive, complete coverage of Senator Obama's visit there.

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