WASHINGTON -- While addressing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this afternoon, Barack Obama argued that the bar for success in Iraq should be lowered and that the "status quo" may have to be an acceptable resolution to the war.
"The problem I have is that if the definition of success is so high, no traces of al Qaeda and no possibility of reconstitution, a highly effective Iraqi government, a democratic multiethnic, multisectarian functioning democracy, no Iranian influence, at least not the kind that we like, then that portends the possibility of us staying for 20 or 30 years," Obama said.
"If, on the other hand, our criteria is a messy, sloppy status quo, but there's not huge outbreaks of violence, there's still corruption but the country is struggling along, but it's not a threat to its neighbors and it's not an al Qaeda base, that seems to me an achievable goal within a measured time frame."
Obama rarely veered off of his campaign trail points, telling Amb. Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petreaus that a plan for troop withdrawal is essential. Obama also argued for diplomatic talks with Iran, an issue that he has been criticized for by his both of his presidential rivals.
"If Maliki can tolerate it as normal neighbor to neighbor relations with Iran, then we should be talking to them as well," Obama said, "I do not believe that we can be able stabilize the situation without them."
Obama remains in Washington this evening, where he will host two closed fund-raisers. He heads back out on the campaign trail tomorrow in Pennsylvania.