Mr. Obama, an Illinois Democrat who is seeking his party's presidential nomination, said the Bush administration's Iraq policy has made America more vulnerable to attack, and has weakened the country's position in pressing the president of Pakistan, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, to close down terrorist training camps.
"If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act," Mr. Obama said today, "we will."
In the second major foreign policy address of his campaign, Mr. Obama outlined a series of proposals intended to fight global terrorism, including a plan to send at least two additional brigades of American troops to Afghanistan to reinforce counterterrorism operations there. At the same time, he said, he also would increase nonmilitary aid to that country by $1 billion.
Mr. Obama, who is seeking to establish his foreign policy credentials in the wide field of presidential candidates, delivered a harsh rebuke of the administration's strategy in Iraq. But the blame, he said, goes far beyond President Bush.
"Congress rubber-stamped the rush to war, giving the president the broad and open-ended authority he uses to this day," Mr. Obama said. "With that vote, Congress became coauthor of a catastrophic war. And we went off to fight on the wrong battlefield, with no appreciation of how many enemies we would create, and no plan for how to get out."
Mr. Obama, who had not yet been elected to the Senate at the time of the war authorization vote in 2002, is working to persuade Democratic primary voters that he has strong judgment in the foreign policy arena. Other candidates have questioned whether he has the experience a president needs.
Last week, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, a Democrat of New York, and Mr. Obama traded heated remarks about the wisdom of meeting with hostile dictators without preconditions in pursuit of peace. Mr. Obama said that he would, while Mrs. Clinton said she would not, a distinction that Mr. Obama has seized upon to show that he is a candidate of change.
"It's time to turn the page on the diplomacy of tough talk and no action," Mr. Obama said. "It's time to turn the page on Washington's conventional wisdom — that agreement must be reached before you meet, that talking to other countries is some kind of reward, and that presidents can only meet with people who will tell them what they want to hear."
The Clinton campaign did not offer a response to Mr. Obama's address today, which was delivered at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Mr. Obama did not mention Mrs. Clinton by name in his 35-minute speech, but he alluded to their disagreement several times.
"The lesson of the Bush years is that not talking does not work," Mr. Obama said. "Go down the list of countries we've ignored, and see how successful that strategy has been."
The New York Times