Obama on the Record: Turkey Town Hall

The first question, if I understood you correctly, is the suggestion that even though I present a different face from Bush, that the policies are the same and so there’s really not much difference.

And, you know, I think this will be tested in time because as I said before, moving the ship of state is a slow process. States are like big tankers, they’re not like speedboats. You can’t just whip them around and go in a new direction. Instead you’ve got to slowly move it and then eventually you end up in a very different place.

So let me just give you a few examples. When it comes to Iraq, I opposed the war in Iraq. I thought it was a bad idea. Now that we’re there, I have a responsibility to make sure that as we bring troops out, that we do so in a careful enough way that we don’t see a complete collapse into violence. So some people might say, wait, I thought you were opposed to the war, why don’t you just get them all out right away? Well, just because I was opposed at the outset it doesn’t mean that I don’t have now responsibilities to make sure that we do things in a responsible fashion.

When it comes to climate change, George Bush didn’t believe in climate change. I do believe in climate change, I think it’s important. That doesn’t mean that suddenly the day I’m elected I can say, okay, we’re going to turn off all the lights and everybody is going to stop driving. Right? All I can do is to start moving policies that over time are going to obtain different results.

And then it is true, though, that there are some areas where I agree with many of my friends in the United States who are on the opposite political party. For example, I agree that al Qaeda is an enormous threat not just to the United States but to the world. I have no sympathy and I have no patience for people who would go around blowing up innocent people for a political cause. I don’t believe in that.

So, yes, I think that it is just and right for the United States and NATO allies and other allies from around the world to do what we can to eliminate the threat of al Qaeda. Now, I think it’s important that we don’t just do that militarily. I think it’s important that we provide educational opportunities for young people in Pakistan and Afghanistan so that they see a different path. And so my policies will be somewhat different, but I don’t make any apologies for continuing the effort to prevent bombs going off or planes going into buildings that would kill innocents. I don’t think any society can justify that.

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