Obama: Now Is The Time For Iraq Withdrawal

Logan: "You do have a situation seven years on into this war where Osama bin Laden and all his lieutenants and all the leaders of the Taliban, they're still there. They're inside Pakistan."

Obama: "It's a huge problem. First of all, if we hadn't taken our eye off the ball, we might've caught them before they got into Pakistan and were able to reconstitute themselves. So we made a strategic error. And it's one that we're going to pay for, and unfortunately the people in Afghanistan have paid for it as well.

"But we now have an opportunity to correct that problem. One of the, if you look at what's happening right now in Iraq, Prime Minister al-Maliki has indicated he wants a timetable full withdraw. That is the view of the vast majority of Iraqis as well. We've seen a quelling of the violence. We haven't seen as much political progress as needs to be made. But we're starting to see some efforts on the part of the various factions to deal with some of the issues that are out there.

Logan: "Token efforts at best."

Obama: "They are token efforts at best. But if we have a timetable and they suddenly see an urgency behind the fact that the American troops are going to be leaving and that they need to get their act together, then this is the perfect moment for us to say, 'We are going to shift our resources. We're going to get a couple of more brigades here into Afghanistan. We're going to be willing to increase our foreign aid to Pakistan.' In exchange, we're going to expect that Pakistan takes much more seriously going after al-Qaeda and Taliban base camps on their side of the borders."

Logan: "What would be a 'mission accomplished' for you in Afghanistan?

Obama: "Well, a 'mission accomplished' would be that we had stabilized Afghanistan, that the Afghan people are experiencing rising standards of living, that we have made sure that we are disabling al-Qaeda and the Taliban so that they can longer attack Afghanistan, they can no longer engage in attacks against targets of Pakistan, and they can't target the United States or its allies."

Logan "Losing is not an option?"

Obama: "Losing is not an option when it comes to al-Qaeda. And it never has been. And that's why the fact that we engaged in a war of choice when were not yet finished with that task was such a mistake."

Logan: "Do you believe the war on terror can't be won if Osama bin Laden is still alive and if he's still out there?"

Obama: "I think there would be enormous symbolic value in us capturing or killing bin Laden, because I think he's still a rallying point for Islamic extremists. But I don't think that by itself is sufficient. I think that we are going to have to be vigilante in dismantling these terrorist networks."

Logan: "Okay, last question: There is a perception that you lack experience in world affairs."

Obama: "Right."

Logan: "Is this trip partly aimed at overcoming that concern, that, you know, there are doubts among some Americans that you could lead the country at war as commander in chief from day one?"

Obama: "You know, the interesting thing is that the people who are very experienced in foreign affairs, I don't think have those thoughts. The troops that I've been meeting with over the last several days, they don't seem to have those doubts. The objective of this trip was to have substantive discussions with people like President Karzai or Prime Minister Maliki or President Sarkozy or others who I expect to be dealing with over the next eight to ten years.

"It's important for me to have a relationship with them early, that I start listening to them now, getting a sense of what their interests and concerns are, because one of the shifts in foreign policy that I want to execute as president is giving the world a clear message that America intends to continue to show leadership, but our style of leadership is going to be less unilateral, that we're going to see our role as building partnerships around the world that are of mutual interest to the parties involved. And I think this gives me a head start in that process."

Logan: "Do you have any doubts?"

Obama: "Never."

  • Lara Logan
    Lara Logan

    Lara Logan's bold, award-winning reporting from war zones has earned her a prominent spot among the world's best foreign correspondents. Logan began contributing to 60 Minutes in 2005.