DAYTON, Ohio (AFP) — Democrat Barack Obama lambasted Tuesday President George W. Bush's plans for a limited military redeployment from Iraq to Afghanistan as woefully insufficient to counter extremists behind the attacks on the United States of seven years ago.
Speaking to reporters here, Obama accused Bush of "tinkering around the edges" and "kicking the can down the road to the next president" with his plans to remove 8,000 US troops from Iraq in the coming months and send 4,500 to Afghanistan by January.
"At this point what it appears is that the next president will inherit a status quo that is still unstable," Obama said, adding that his Republican White House rival John McCain was bent on the same course as Bush.
The United States would continue to spend 10 billion dollars a month in Iraq while the Iraqi government sits on a 79 billion surplus fueled by booming oil prices and feels no US pressure to pursue political reconciliation, he said.
The Illinois senator said that on Afghanistan, he was "glad that the president is moving in the direction of the policy that I have advocated for years."
But he added: "His plan comes up short -- it is not enough troops, and not enough resources, with not enough urgency.
"What President Bush and Senator McCain don't understand is that the central front in the war on terror is not in Iraq, and it never was -- the central front is in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the terrorists who hit us on 9/11 are still plotting attacks seven years later," Obama said.
"Now, the choice for the American people could not be clearer. John McCain has been talking a lot about change, but he's running for four more years of the same foreign policy that we've had under George Bush.
"Senator McCain will continue the overwhelming focus on Iraq that has taken our eye off of the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11," Obama said.
"It's time to change our foreign policy," he said.
"Because seven years after 9/11, we are still fighting a war without end in Iraq and we still haven't taken out the terrorists responsible for 9/11. We heard no explanation for why (Al-Qaeda leader) Osama bin Laden is still at large, because that's where George Bush and John McCain's judgment has gotten us."
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