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Obama's Warning to Pakistan
Drives Democratic Debate

His Democratic rivals essentially agree with message to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf. (Reuters)

It was just one line in a very long speech, but Sen. Barack Obama's warning to Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf continues to reverberate. Does it prove he's tough and smart, as his advisers claim, or naive and irresponsible as Sen. Hillary Clinton put it a week ago?

For the second consecutive week, the Illinois Democrat's foreign policy pronouncements have become front-and-center in the Democratic presidential race. A week ago he was in an argument with Clinton over his willingness to meet with leaders of hostile nations. Now much of the rest of the Democratic field has jumped him for signaling his willingness to launch cross-border military activity into a sovereign nation and ally.

In both cases, the differences between Obama and his rivals may be smaller than they sound. Most of the others in the Democratic field both favor tougher diplomatic pressure on Musharraf to prevent terrorists from using Pakistan as a safe haven and staging ground. Most also believe, as Obama said, that if there is actionable intelligence showing the location of Osama bin Laden or another prominent terrorist leader, the United States would take action to kill or capture them.

Obama's alleged sin, according to the criticism he received after his Wednesday speech on terrorism, was being as explicit as he was that he was prepared to put U.S. forces inside even without Musharraf's explicit consent. That could be through the use of cruise missiles, a lethal drone like the Predator or, as his aides made clear, U.S. forces ordered across the border.

As Sen. Chris Dodd put it, "As commander in chief, I would take the steps necessary to defend the American people, beginning with hunting down Osama bin Laden and stopping terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons. But I will not declare my intentions for specific military action to the media in the context of a political campaign."

The reality is that many of his rivals agree with his policy, if not his willingness to state it publicly. "The way to deal with it is not to announce it, but to do it," Sen. Joeph Biden said yesterday at the National Press Club. "The last thing you want to do is telegraph to the folks in Pakistan that we are about to violate their sovereignty."

About the same time, however, Biden's staff put out a release calling Obama a "Johnny-come-lately" on the topic of terrorism, the thrust of which was that Obama was suggesting a series of steps that Biden had proposed much earlier. Nothing in it directly criticized Obama's hawkish threat.

John Edwards's team put out a statement from the candidate that emphasized "maximum diplomatic and economic pressure" on Pakistan. In an on-camera reaction later, Edwards seemed closer to echoing what Obama had said.

Clinton, in an interview with American Urban Radio News Networks, sounded equally hawkish about going after terrorists in Pakistan or elsewhere, if more circumspect. "She will take whatever actions are necessary to kill or capture bin Laden but wouldn't telegraph how we would do so," campaign spokesman Phil Singer said.

Robert Gibbs, Obama's communications director, said the candidate and campaign advisers have no second thoughts about the speech and the uproar it set off. "Everyone feels very comfortable," he said. "This isn't something we thought about three days ago. It's been in the works for weeks. Lines weren't added to make up for what we said on other things. This is a policy he believes we should be implementing to fight terror."

In the CNN/YouTube debate, Clinton's answer to the question of meeting with foreign leaders without preconditions sounded more sophisticated and nuanced than Obama's -- even if they are not far apart on the need for a more open diplomatic approach to rogue nations than practiced by the Bush administration. In his terrorism speech, Obama chose provocative language to display his determination to wage a war on Islamic terrorists.

Obama's terrorism speech was a broad outline of his thinking about one of the preeminent issues of the campaign. What he has attempted to highlight is the degree to which his presidency could instantly change worldwide perceptions about the United States, by virtue of the color of his skin, the experiences he absorbed by living abroad as a child and his willingness to break from some of the conventions of the past.

He continues to walk a fine line between sounding fresh and sometimes appearing green, between being the candidate who can offer an appealing break from the past and one whose inexperience may give people pause. But he is showing no lack of willingness to put his ideas and his arguments on display, nor a determination to defend them against any and all his rivals.

--Dan Balz

By Post Editor  |  August 2, 2007; 12:35 PM ET
Categories:  A_Blog , Dan Balz's Take  
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The fact is that the Bush policy on going after Al Qaeda in Pakistan has failed. He has done as much in getting Al Qaeda in that nation as George Washington did, but Washington had an excuse. Al Qaeda didn't exist yet. Obama should be applauded for going after our nation's enemies.

Posted by: jamht72 | August 7, 2007 1:50 PM | Report abuse

One thing that bothers me is that the Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are playing so much politics. They both are trying to prove themselves smarter and better than the others not by doing what they feel is right but what they feel possible voters maybe think is right. It is, in my opinion, hurting them. They are playing into the Conservatives' hands and its wrong. Edwards is much more honest and straight-forward on the issues. Liberals shouldn't support the use of brute force and building of military because liberals use logic and using military force to fight terrorism is simply not logical. It is a war that needs to be fought with education and by other means. Edwards will be a much better candidate. Period.

Posted by: ntb29 | August 6, 2007 8:21 PM | Report abuse

Justwodering you dont get it do you. You say you are not afraid by the cave dwellers. It was the same thing back during the vietman war where instead of cave dwellers were people living in mud and thatched houses. Its not the medivel ages. Wake up. Here battles are not decided by who wins in the field warfare is far more complex. By simply wiping out your enemies doesnt mean you have won .Their legacy lives on. Those sympathetic to them(in this case about 1.3billon) will completely turn against you when you violate the soverinngity of loved muslim nation. And especially if that nation is a nuclear powere and has in the past demonstrated the capability of producing deadly terrorists at an exponentiol rate. Remeber what happend to the soviet union in Afghanistan because of their easteren neighbours
To defeat an enemy you must defeat its ideaology first than himself

Posted by: EqanAsif | August 4, 2007 8:28 PM | Report abuse

"Well, yeah, considering that people living in caves planned and carried out the biggest mass murder in U.S. history on 9/11. I still can't believe, almost 6 years later, these people are still running around free."

My point was, which you apparently failed to grasp,that if people in the most powerful country in the worlds are so afraid of cave dwellers who have little of no resources but a great deal of evil intent, may be it is not a good idea to start a fight with someone who actually have some resources.

Posted by: justwondering | August 3, 2007 8:11 PM | Report abuse

All this controversy convinces me that America, as a whole, is mentally challenged.
The mentally challenged in the White House and his idiotic exploits have taught no one about changing course and acting as a country with some morality and leadership.
The days of acting as cowboys is over and to avoid dialogue ,even with the despots, is not a sign of maturity.
All that I hear is...Bomb, bomb, bomb.
What the hell does anyone think will the reaction be from the so called enemy.
Grow up, for gods sake and talk some sense.

Posted by: callaspadeaspade | August 3, 2007 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I am overall an admirer of Obama, but it's disappointing to see him trying to appeal to the jingoistic instincts and naivety of certain segments in America. Yes, we all want to avenge 9.11., but at what cost? Pakistan is not a piece of meat on our cutting board; if we invade it, they WILL manage some ways to respond. Pakistan may not have helped us enough in capturing OBL now, but we can be hurt so much more if we turn their populace from an indifferent one into a hateful one. Do we really want to exchange OBL's body, "live or dead", with a raged mass that consists of 160 million Muslims with a few nuclear bombs and an assortment of missiles piled in their basement? Where is the world sympathy going to go when we invade, even under the noble banner of fighting terrorism? America is a young nation, and in many aspects, it can be just as "immature and naïve" as Obama--this is why we had Vietnam and now Iraq. How much longer it will take for us to learn the limitations of our power and instead take a broader perspective now and then?

Posted by: liyou_account | August 3, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

"At the risk of being crude, are these people from the same country where everyone seems to living in mortal fear that a handful of people living in caves are planning to destroy their way of life."

Well, yeah, considering that people living in caves planned and carried out the biggest mass murder in U.S. history on 9/11. I still can't believe, almost 6 years later, these people are still running around free.

Posted by: dougcriss | August 3, 2007 11:57 AM | Report abuse

"The liberal nutjobs and socialist (democrats)on this blog need to pull their collective heads out of their butts. Pakistan is a proven nuclear power...they have demonstrated they have nuclear capability. Just what do you think would happen if a leader not friendly to the United States gained power there and we attacked uninvited? You idiots live in la la land."

So now the American military - the greatest fighting unit in the history of mankind - is supposed to afraid of ... Pakistan? Oh God, if that's true, we really are lost.

Posted by: dougcriss | August 3, 2007 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Judging by the number of posts in favour of bombing/invading Pakistan, most people on this board seem to be happy and in fact enthusiastic about the prospect. Several are quite cavalier about it by saying that there's nothing Pakistan could do other than complain about it.

At the risk of being crude, are these people from the same country where everyone seems to living in mortal fear that a handful of people living in caves are planning to destroy their way of life.

Posted by: justwondering | August 3, 2007 10:30 AM | Report abuse

Senator Obama is right in at least one thing in how to deal with Islamic terror ... that is to shift the limelight to Afghanistan-Pakistan. He is wrong to commit to operational tactics on how to do this.

Hot pursuit of Islamic insurgents into Pakistan-held Kashmir was something India's hard-line right-wing nationalists proposed when they first came to power in the late nineties. But it fizzled out in the face of the many hurdles, both military and political, and nobody talks about it anymore.

Senator Obama runs the same risk if he commits publicly to such tactics.

It seems to me he is not so much talking about what he would do were he to become President but more about how he can close the gap between him and Senator Clinton before the Primaries.

But by sounding muscular, he is fast becoming the Democratic Party's John McCain, pandering to right-wingers for support. He is bound to fail.

Posted by: sar1turbo | August 2, 2007 10:16 PM | Report abuse

The liberal nutjobs and socialist (democrats)on this blog need to pull their collective heads out of their butts. Pakistan is a proven nuclear power...they have demonstrated they have nuclear capability. Just what do you think would happen if a leader not friendly to the United States gained power there and we attacked uninvited? You idiots live in la la land.

Posted by: Disgusted | August 2, 2007 9:51 PM | Report abuse

Pakistan is a nuclear power with intercontinental missles. Chris Dod said it best "invading a nuclear power, who is an ally" is the height of stupidity.

Pakistan is not a new friend of the USA. Pakistan was a founding member of SEATO and CENTO (Asian NATOs), and a cold war ally that fought on the side of the US against the USSR. Pakistan also supported the USA in Korea and Vietnam. However Pakistan is the most mistreated "friend" in the world. It is un-American to treat friends they way the US has treated Pakistan. The USA and the West walked away from the Afghan mess and left more than 30,000 mercenary fighters that it had imported from the Arab world for Pakistan to deal with. On top of that sanctions were imposed on Pakistan right after the Afghan war, and Pakistanis felt like used "Kleenex". The world owes Pakistan a big debt for the destruction of the USSR.

The Wazirisitan deal was approved by President Bush as not being anti-American.

In the past few years more than 1000 Pakistani soldiers have lost their lives fighting the Taliban and the Al-Qaeda. Several hundred Al-Qaeda have been sent to the USA for trial including KSM (Khalid Sheikh Muhammad), who President Bush mentioned as the mastermind of the 911.

The Taliban was a construct of the CIA and was armed by the CIA, ISI and the Saudis as a counter to a resurgent Russian-backed communist party and an antidote to the civil war in Afghanistan. Pakistan supported the Taliban in conjunction with the CIA who were arming it right up till 2000. The Taliban were visiting Governor Bush's ranch in Texas.

I need to point out the fact that Pakistani pleas for sanity in Afghanistan were ignored in 2001. Those who want to understand the irked Pakistani must know that the in 2001 the US installed a non-Pashtun, anti-Pakistan government in Kabul. The must also know that NATO allows the puppet Karzai government to continue to bark at Pakistan. The Pakistanis also know that despite being clod war allies for 50 years, Pakistan was threatened with annihilation in 2001. They also remember that $450 million paid for F-16s was never returned. Neither were the planes ever delivered. The delivery of Soya beans does not make up for paid-for but undelivered F-16s. Pakistanis also remember that the world and Afghanistan abandoned 2 million refugees in Pakistan. The Pakistanis also note that the world does not support the liberation of Kashmir

To put salt on open wounds, the US signed a Nuclear deal with arch-rival-India, not the major Non-NATO ally (Pakistan). Many Pakistanis wonder why $30 Billion were offered to Turkey to support war in Iraq, while Pakistan only received 1 billion to Pakistan for fighting Al-Qaeda and the Talibaan. You need to look at the situation with sanity and calm. Selective amnesia is the favorite tactic those who have an agenda. President Ayub Khan in 1966 said is best in his best selling book Pakistanis need "Friends no Masters". Pakistanis desire want and cherish American friendship however Pakistanis are not the "little brown brothers" who can do the bidding of anyone. Pakistan is a 150 million strong nuclear state and a crucial pivot on the war on terror. President Musharraf said it quite bluntly, "no one can do more" and the West will go down on their knees and fail if Pakistan without the help of the ISI and the Pakistan army. Those who deal with Pakistan need to learn some manners and some appreciation of the sacrifice of 600 Pakistani soldiers who died fighting the war on terror. Pakistanis are sick and tired of lectures on "do more".Pakistan and Pakistanis cannot do more. If anyone can find others who can do more, please use them!

Actually the USA should do more in helping Pakistan and Pakistanis building a modern and moderate Muslim nation that is friendly to the world.

2 million Muslim kids died destroying the USSR. Today, Pakistan is suffering because of the failed policies of Britain and the USA. The blowback faced by many is because of the short sighted policies of London and Washington.

When the US planted an anti-Pakistan government in Kabul, Mr. Karzai (the mayor of Kabul) threatened Pakistan to cover his incompetence and inept narco-warlord government.

All military analysts agree that America cannot fight in Afghanistan without Pakistan.
Pakistan helped the US as a friend, not as a paymaster. No amount of money is enough for lost Pakistani lives. It is insensitive to place a Dollar value on the heads of 700 Pakistani soldiers who lost their lives fighting the terrorists. It is crass to place a monetary value on the hundreds of Pakistani civilians who died because Pakistan has been supporting the American war in Afghanistan. Neither the government, nor the people nor the president of Pakistan are indentured servants of anyone. Pakistan was helping the US as a friend and an ally.

Selective amnesia fails to mention that for the past 60 years, Pakistan has been supporting American policies, and was the founding member of SEATO and CENTO. Pakistan was a cold war ally fighting the USSR and the defeat of the "Evil Empire" in Pakistan led to the implosion of the USSR. 2 million Pakistanis, Afghans and other died in defeating the USSR in the 90s. Back then Pakistan paid more than $450 for F-16s. It is a matter of historical record that Pakistan never got ht money back and did not get the planes either. Then one wonders why there is anti-Americanism in the world!

For helping the US in Afghanistan, an anti-Pakistan government was installed in Kabul that proliferated drugs and failed to take control of the country!! It is articles like this that perpetuates a feeling of un-appreciation among Pakistanis, and reinforces the image of ingrate Americans. This ungratefulness, and the "do more" mantra creates anti-Americanism in South Asia. Because of its persistently, invective, biased and bad reporting, the paper is fast becoming irrelevant as far is news is concerned.

For all of President Musharraf's faults, Pakistan is forging ahead with a 7% growth rate and record foreign reserves. Pakistan is the fourth largest state in the world, and a nuclear state advancing at a phenomenal rate of economic growth. She has motorways that can only be the envy of South Asia, and is building bullet trains and huge new cities in Baluchistan and Sindh. Pakistan is attracting huge investments in automobile and technology. Just in the past few weeks Dubai based companies are investing $26 Billion Dollars in two islands. Pakistan's FTA with China will be a boon to Pakistani and Chinese industrialists who are setting up 6 Chinese industrial zones in Pakistan to build and then export Chinese goods from Pakistani soil. Powers outside Pakistan want to destroy this friendship.

Pakistan will move ahead and is moving ahead.

Posted by: moinansari | August 2, 2007 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Barack Husein Osama is not naive. He is a puppet simply repeating the lines given to him. Thank you for showing us your true colors. Now that we know you people will not elect him.

Posted by: moinansari | August 2, 2007 9:38 PM | Report abuse

We must hunt Bin Laden down and kill him. Anyone who is protecting him is harboring a criminal. Pakistan needs to be told in no uncertain terms--either they take care of him or we will do it for them.

Posted by: cakewalk | August 2, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

We must hunt Bin Laden down and kill him. Anyone who is protecting him is harboring a criminal. Pakistan needs to be told in no uncertain terms--either they take care of him or we will do it for them.

Posted by: cakewalk | August 2, 2007 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Here's the honest truth....despite the Nixon years and the promise "never again"...our leaders are liars.

And the first one to tell it like it should be told gets caned (yes caned) by all sides!

Nothing new here, liars will always previal till they are held accountable!

Posted by: ita8111 | August 2, 2007 9:12 PM | Report abuse

Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and now Pakistan and of course Palestine. What is common among all these nations. Then we ponder! why do they hate us?. The issue of Al-Quida is not a miltary issue but of CIAs failure.

I thought Presidency is a highly diplomatic position, but we run it in the western movie style. So, we will invade a country that has more than half the population of US and is nuclear. This country is located right by China another nuclear country which has political interest in Pakistan. So, if we get credible inteligence that Osama was seen in Russia, we will invade Russia. We spend billions of our tax dollars on CIA and FBI, how can we not capture a thug like Osama, when we can grab Saddam from a cave. Afterall these Talibans were our buddies in 80s when soviets were there in Afghanistan.
All these miltary adventure talks are like killing a fly with the largest canon. We can drop cluster bombs and kill everyone in Pakistan. Would this stop the extremism. There is an easier way of handling this issue.
1. Support democracy in Pakistan
2. Buy those tribal leaders, they are not that expensive
3. Resolve the issue of Kashmir according to Kashmiris wishes. The goodwill it will bring will be enormous
4. Support people of Pakistan not military dictatorships

5. Resolve the issue of Palestine

Posted by: syed_fayyaz_hassan | August 2, 2007 9:07 PM | Report abuse

I think the issue is worth look at. Obama at least has some solutions, rather than George W. or the rest of Democratic candidates for that matter. Hilary will just be more of the status quo- too timid for me.

You have to admire Obama for being a man of his principles and not being afraid of saying what he really thinks. It's so lacking in the political arena.

Another country, however, should really be getting this much, and more attenion-
Saudi Arabia. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, yet good ol W. is there hanging out with their leader at his ranch. They have been pulling the wool over our eyes for years. Seriously, how can we continue this lie that they are an ally?????

Posted by: felixia | August 2, 2007 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Would somebody please tell Congress to stay the HELL out of our Nation's Foreign Policy while WE have TROOPS positioned in harm's way!

40 Years ago the stupid SOB would have been thrown in Jail and / or possibly SHOT!

I've said it too many times for it to come as a surprise to ANYONE: He is a CONGRESSIONAL LAWYER!

Billary is a Congressional Lawyer!

Edward's is JUST a Lawyer!



Hey Idiots in Congress-STFU and just pass some decent Legislation if you are even remotely capable of doing YOUR Jobs!

Like say Ninny Peloser, introducing HR:1940-Birthright Citizenship Act!-So that maybe we DON'T have to SPEND MILLIONS more providing Medical Care to Illegal's Kids, they never could afford to even pay for the Pediatrician in the FIRST place!

Nancy-YOU have set Women back 50 Years!-I'll die before I ever see another Woman Speaker!-Thanks to YOU!

Posted by: rat-the | August 2, 2007 8:48 PM | Report abuse

So let me get this straight. Bush says we won't wait for a "permission slip" from others to wage war in Iraq, but Obama is supposed to get permission from Pakistan to go after the people who killed 3,000 of our citizens? Screw Pakistan. If they stand in our way as we hunt down Bin Laden, then maybe they're not our allies after all.

Posted by: dougcriss | August 2, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

The US can't chew what it's got in its mouth already and now there is talk of it invading yet another country?
Not just any country. No sir! a country that is twice as big as Iraq, a thousand times more mountainous than Iraq, has six times the population of Iraq and just to spice up the challenge, a nuclear-armed country with the 6th largest army in the world. Does he really believe that he could quarantine the unintended (but easily predictable) consequences of such an invasion? After Iraq?!
If I understand this plan correctly, it is to invade and control an area that seen the best that Genghis Khan, the British Empire and Soviet Russia could throw at but could never control. Perhaps he should have a little chat with, oh, try the CIA about the problems they have had operating in that area - they have been there for over 40 years.
The US does not have enough money, time or resolve to go in there. Wars in this area of the world never stop; even intra-family disputes can last ten generations.
Another little thing, it's a sovereign nation but hey, why would a US president not be allowed to invade and destroy any sovereign nation they disliked?

Posted by: d.home | August 2, 2007 7:48 PM | Report abuse

Good. They are debating substance.

Posted by: KC11 | August 2, 2007 7:47 PM | Report abuse

every body was a piece of barack.

Posted by: pm_bonsu | August 2, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

At least Senator Obama has managed to provoke President Pervez Musharraf to stomp, snort, bellow and holler a little bit like he is actually alive. That's more than anyone else has been able to accomplish.

Posted by: Vunderlutz | August 2, 2007 7:37 PM | Report abuse

two things very quickly:
I will never trust the safety & security of my family to any copperhead democrats, but you folks can it is your choice.
2nd, i thought Mr Balz's insight into next year's election was very insightful. I want to see who in this country would trust edwards, clinton or obama with our national security. they can pretend to be tough all they want. But the fact still remains, they are only tough when it comes to hurling ad hominen attacks on The man who spends most of his time trying to ensure that these ingrates & their families are not eviscerated by friendly jihadis who they want to free from guantanamo. what a country eh?

Posted by: tiecorp | August 2, 2007 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Putting a Wahtabi in the position of commander in chief is equivalent to putting a fox to safeguard the hen houseAnyone but Obama Hyssein!

Posted by: wordsmith11320 | August 2, 2007 7:22 PM | Report abuse

All I have to say is we haven't been attacked since 9/11, maybe Bush got lucky but for some weird reason I'm kind of glad it was him handling it instead of Gore.

Posted by: liatlinde | August 2, 2007 7:14 PM | Report abuse

liatlinde it is just you, and rush and O'Really and Hannity. You know, the people who do your thinking for you. BTW, Iraq never attacked us.

Posted by: acindc007 | August 2, 2007 6:47 PM | Report abuse

SO let me get this straight, Osama is hiding in Pakistan, Mushie will not go get him and Bush goes into Iraq instead, so when Obama says what many Americans have long beleived, the Dems and Pubs call him a warmonger? Okay, next time your wife is raped, make sure you use diplomatic means to get him out of your neighbors house. Face it, you folks are nothing but a bunch of partisan clowns! Stop putting your parties over the country!

Posted by: acindc007 | August 2, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

Why is it so controversial for a candidate for President to advocate military action against Al Queda which killed 3,000 Americans on 9/11? The first rule of warfare is to defeat your enemy. The U.S cannot stand by while Al Queda rebuilds in Pakistan. The purpose of Obama's speech is to give Pakistan a warning that they will no longer be treated with kid gloves. For all the people who are criticizing his speech just think of their reaction if there is another terrorist attack on U.S soil.

Posted by: steven08817 | August 2, 2007 6:34 PM | Report abuse

We already have CIA un-manned armed drones flying around Pakistan and are doing our best not to hurt anyone's feelings because we're already so hated by the populace over Palestinians & Iraq & don't want to give any control we may have with Musharraf whos running on political fumes. I agree with Obama - so what about feelings & this tenious relationship. Send all troops tonight from Iraq into Pakistan - hunt down our real enemies & show the Taliban a good example of whos next. Kennedy was inexperienced with foreign policy too - we're only talking about this today because he was President & did the right thing by standing up to Russia without going for the nuke button during the Cuban missile crisis. I'm still undecided, but Obama takes a strike away from prior misteps in my book with this one.

Posted by: garyjhale | August 2, 2007 6:28 PM | Report abuse

The difference between Iraq and Obama's talk of potentially going into Pakistan is huge. If there is a country right now that is harboring the people who attacked us on 9/11, and the other is a country that never harbored them. 90% (if not higher) would love America to go in and get Bin Laden if Pakistan won't. 6 years is roo long.
Also, Obama never went to a madrasses. Stop throwing out false information. Its a sign of ignorance or potential-bigotry

Posted by: mcmahon10 | August 2, 2007 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Don't fixate on Musharraf. He will join his extended family (his brother and his son)in the US if things get too hot.

The problem is the Pakistani military establishment (especially those in the mid and lower levels with strong roots in Pakistan and don't have the option of jumping ship like Musharraf). This military establishment (especially the ISI) is what calls the shots in Pakistan.

The Pakistani military establishment's current short term policy seems to be do as little (of what America is asking of it) as it can get away with as possible. Their long term goal is to wait out the current American pressure while sticking to what they have perfected over decades which is to train and export Islamic terrorists. These terrorists who are under limited control of the Pakistani establishment are then used for purposes of low intensity conflict with their neighbors (India and Afghanistan) and as a cash cow to extract military and economic benefits from the west (in return for reining in the said terrorists).

So there is a perverse benefit to the Pakistani establishment to perpetuate the status quo. The only way to break this status quo, IMHO, is for the aggrieved parties (US, Europe, India, Afghanistan) to band together and drain the swamp that is Pakistan. There would be a high cost to be paid especially by India. But the end result, Pakistan being absorbed into a secular, democratic Indian Union would be worth the effort. America will gain by democratizing and westernizing a large chunk of humanity (in its mold) and gaining access to a large market.

Posted by: peddagunnu | August 2, 2007 6:01 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me. When a Republican talks about invading a country, people cry murderers but when a Democrat talks about invading another country, people call it peacekeeping.

Posted by: liatlinde | August 2, 2007 5:55 PM | Report abuse

priceisright - while I agree that Hillary, and not the other candidates, are pouncing on Obama's words like raw meat, I have to say she's right. The first diplomatic contact between two countries should never be between the leaders directly. First you send subordinates who test the waters, feel things out. If they make mistakes they can always be dismissed as the mistakes of underlings and corrected. Only at the later stages do the people at the top meet. Even with Sadat and Begin there were lower level contacts before Sadat flew to Tel Aviv in '77.

I hate to use the C-word, but Carter was proof that purity of intention, like Obama's, is not enough. You need to have savvy, experience and the willingness even to get a little blood on your hands so they won't have a lot on them later. How many lives in the Middle East have been lost because Carter just had to piss off the Iranians by letting the Shah into the US for his operation? A Hillary might have been able to salvage some relationship by kissing off the Shah and providing some stability - no hostages, no jihad, less support for Hezbollah. Obama's already a good man, but he needs to learn more if he wants to be a good president. If he can, then he'll win my vote back. Till then, I'm shifting to Hillary.

Posted by: kargovroom | August 2, 2007 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I think that Sen. Obama is doing exactly what he needs to do right now to win the primary. He's putting forth proposals that are making news. That YouTube debate blew open the door to the primary elections so that they're finally rumbling. I think that this tragedy in Minn (God bless them all) has shifted the focus he'd otherwise have w/this speech. And that's a good thing. Becuase the "naive" and "irresponsible" attacks Biden's pressing forward so that Clinton doesn't have to attack will be fact checked. And when people hear about this they'll hear something they agree w/in the most part IMO.

He's got a lot of ground to cover to get through Feb. and he's got to do a lot more retail polotics but I can't think of a false note in this campaign so far. The Obama camp seems to be not only learning and adapting but getting better and gearing up for a real fight this fall over the issues that matter.

I like them both and it's getting really interesting now.

Posted by: Rhoda | August 2, 2007 5:41 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't ok for Bush to enter Iraq based on intelligence of wmd, which the UN and everyone else believed were there, but it is ok to invade our ally, and to talk about it in the press before we do it? Naive and stupid.

Posted by: tdrent | August 2, 2007 5:36 PM | Report abuse

It wasn't ok for Bush to enter Iraq based on intelligence of wmd, which the UN and everyone else believed were there, but it is ok to invade our ally, and to talk about it in the press before we do it? Naive and stupid.

Posted by: tdrent | August 2, 2007 5:35 PM | Report abuse

"Obama has not learned from the failures of American militarism in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his supporters havent either." What Obama has learned is that Bin Laden isn't in Afghanistan or Iraq. Bush has been "pushing" Musharraf to combat the terrorists, Musharraf has been adverting any action by blaming the tribal leaders, such a cry baby. Again, Obama is being open about reality - if they found evidence that Bin Laden or any other officials were there, they would try to kill them.

Posted by: ndkintzel | August 2, 2007 5:30 PM | Report abuse

I appreciate knowing where Obama stands on this issue, unlike Chris Dodd who seems comfortable avoiding questions.

["As commander in chief, I would take the steps necessary to defend the American people, beginning with hunting down Osama bin Laden and stopping terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons. But I will not declare my intentions for specific military action to the media in the context of a political campaign"] (Senator Chris Dodd).

God forbid a presidential candidate should tell us where he actually stands, the American people certainly aren't used to that, but maybe it's time we started demanding answers to these questions before we put these people in our White House.

Of course all the other candidates or their campaign managers are defending their nonanswers to this hard question by saying they're not going to telegraph what they would do, playing this off as if they were being asked a question on a tactical matter, instead of a statement of deeper principle. No surprise that Obama's inadvertent openness has got the other candidates running for cover.

I submit that the use of a nuclear weapon, any nuclear weapon, cannot be confined to the realm of internal tactical matters, it's far too grave a matter for that.

Posted by: cbr900rr98y | August 2, 2007 5:29 PM | Report abuse

Obama is inexperienced and should go back and start as a state Sen. He is in US Sen because his opponent dropped out

Posted by: aryansa | August 2, 2007 5:27 PM | Report abuse

So Senator Barak Hussein Obama, former attendee of a Madrassa school, wants us to attack a nation we are currently allied with?

Keep this warmonger far away from the White House!

Posted by: NeverLeft | August 2, 2007 5:26 PM | Report abuse

Note to the Washington Post:

Please stop referring to General Musharraf as "President Pervez Musharraf ". While he may have bestowed that title upon himself, he is not the elected leader of a Republic.

The title of president must by definition be reserved to those who acquire it through legitimate means, and not through a military coup. Each time the Washington Post and the other journalistic entities mistakenly refer to this man as a president, it undermines your credibility, and corrupts the definition of the word.

Thank you

Posted by: cbr900rr98y | August 2, 2007 5:24 PM | Report abuse

Hillary crowd buzz words-
Naive, inexperienced, undiplomatic.
Same old politics, keep repeating in order to tag the opposition even if its not true. (See: GWB, Cheney, Rumsfeld)Thats why people are looking for a fresh start, they are tired of the watching and hearing the same game.

Posted by: priceisright | August 2, 2007 5:21 PM | Report abuse

Naive or ignorance is not a crime nor sin, but can we really afford to elect someone who is naive and ignorant to lead us to a dangerous and unchartered future? Think of the safety of our children and grand children before you say yes or no. Think of it twice or better, three times before you decide. Then one last time, do yourself a favor. Ask your conscious: is it really worth taking such a chance and can you live with it if something should have happened to your children and grand children? May God bless our nation and give us wisdom in helping us make such an important decision.

Posted by: signaturepieces | August 2, 2007 5:15 PM | Report abuse

you make some good points. If I'm not mistaken, Musharraff had a meeting with Bhutto recently. I know I saw her pic recently...

Posted by: bsimon | August 2, 2007 5:14 PM | Report abuse

It is evident how naive , inexperienced and undiplomatic Sen. Obama is.!
This is just a false try or cry on his aprt to catch up with democratic front runner(also unelctable). Can we afford a thrid front? What happend to winning in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dan.

Posted by: dmfarooq | August 2, 2007 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Obama has not learned from the failures of American militarism in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his supporters havent either.

Posted by: jaduboy | August 2, 2007 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Though there would be massive protests following American military action, I think privately that Musharraf and many Pakistanis would be happy to get rid of the terrorists in the tribal areas.

On another point about the recent Red Mosque conflict, the extremists are seeking to gain power, even though the vast majority (from what I have read) of Pakistanis do not support them. Up until the Red Mosque uprising, Musharraf was trying to hold them at bay with soft power (limited military action and appeasement). The Red Mosque incident actually gives him an opportunity to act forcefully against the extremists. However, his political fortunes have eroded significantly in the last year. If he were wise, he would invite the exiled parties (Benazir Bhutto's PPP and Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League (N)) back to form an alliance against the extremists. Unfortunately, such a move is extremely unlikely because he thinks that only he can make rational decisions and run the country.

Posted by: mbeck1 | August 2, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Musharraf, you don't like what Sen. Obama said, then handle your business. And I'm not talking about that scrap you keep having with India over Jammu and Kashmir.

If you don't want us coming into Pakistan should the situation call for it, then break up the al-Qaeda camps or step off.

I didn't see Musharraf making this fuss when the 'Bush Doctrine' was being rolled out full force back in 2002.

Posted by: jcbcmb68 | August 2, 2007 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Obama, in an episode of premature exclamation, has finally lived down to his key vulnerability - lack of experience. Inexplicably abandoning his usual cerebral approach, he jingoistically appealed to widely noted Hillary's high school educated supporters. The strident but ultimately clumsy language will cost him and Hillary won't have to go punch for punch with him for much longer; Obama's approach is indefensible (publicly) and his supporters will begin to fear the drop of the other shoe...

Posted by: marquez_ram | August 2, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Honestly, I don't believe Sen. Obama has said anything that any Democratic or Republican candidate has not already said or written into law over the past several years. Simply repeating you didn't authorize the war is as trite as Guiliani constantly invoking 9/11. Guess what? I was against the war before it began, too. Does that mean America is ready for me to lead? Let's grow up, electorate. I have no reservations about voting for Obama in '08, though I believe Hillary has the nomination as well as the general election locked up. Obama seems to be creating some enthusiam among young and or unlikely voters, which will augment Hillary's support when she names him her running mate. It is disappointing to hear why so many people like Obama, however. None of the responses I've received of yet had anything to do with ideas or initiatives but more about how "he's a new start." Anyone who knows anything knows that not one of these candidates, save for Dennis Kucinich, will bring a "fresh start." That being said, let's stop behaving like eleven year olds and begin to demand some ideas, or some tentative proposals. P.S. Bloomberg running as a third-party candidate will result in defeat, but will hopefully set a healthy new trend in politics. We really do need more formidable third- and fourth-party campaigns to begin to emerge on the Senate, Congressional and Gubernatorial levels. Therefore, my prediction is that Bloomberg will use the enthusiasm he has generated in order to fill departing Sen. Clinton's spot on the Hill. And, as a New Yorker, I look forward to Mike stirring things up in D.C.
P.P.S. I'm a little disgusted with Fred Thompson standing in front of American flags as big as my apartment while talking about terror, yet insisting he hasn't decided if he's running. Clearly, he's using this as a means to collect more money while avoiding FEC regulations and diverting your energy toward the stale "is he going to run?" question. It's cheap and he's doing it in order to dodge real accusations. If this fat loser even picks up 40% of the popular vote, I'm throwing hands!

Posted by: legan00 | August 2, 2007 4:50 PM | Report abuse

It is curious that so many people are so hell-bent on misrepresenting Senator Obama's words. With regards to acting on actionable intelligence to take out UBL in the event that Pakistan would not, he has articulated existing US policy which none of the other candidates - of either party - would apparently differ. Yet the defenders of current policy, expected GOP candidate policy and expected Dem candidate policy all try to characterize Obama's policy as something different. Why is that?

Posted by: bsimon | August 2, 2007 4:36 PM | Report abuse

The other candidates, Republican and Democrat, seem not to have noticed that we have been pouring an ocean of American money into the corrupt government of Pakistan, and we have received little or nothing in return. If the present dictatorship is unable to find and destroy Osama and his minions, then we should de-fund them and use available means to find and capture or kill the people who attacked our country. Does anyone - outside of a small band of absolute pacifists - really believe that we have no right to go after the killers in their lairs? This is not an attack on the government of Pakistan, unless one concludes that Osama has become, defacto, the government of that country. Obama is right.

Posted by: llfwilliamd | August 2, 2007 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Dear Reporter Balz and Washingon Post Readers:

This comment will followup my just posted comment supporting the need to capture Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda in Pakistan, rather than continue to sacrifice our US GI's and national treasure in Iraq.

Think about this.

No Iraq in the history of mankind has ever attacked the U.S. homeland.

By contrast, Osama Bin Laden and his 9/11 Al Qaeda co-conspirators in Pakistan:

1) attacked the U.S. homeland on 9/11/2001.

2) have been involved in/carried out 13 of the 16 major international terrorist attacks after 9/11/2001.

3) among Osama Bin Laden's post-9/11/2001 major international terrorist attacks are:

A) the London metro attacks in 2005,
B) the Shoe Bomber headed for Miami trying to blow up the planefull of Americans in 2002,
C) the attempts to blow up planes leaving Britain for the U.S. in 2007,
D) the two different major attacks in Saudi Arabia in 2002 and 2005,
E) the Stinger missile fired at the Israeli passenger jet in Kenya circa 2004,
F) the attacks in Morocco in 2002,
G) the attacks in Turkey circa 2003,
H) possibly the Spanish railroad bombings in 2004,
I) the two separate major attacks in Egypt in 2005-2006,
among many others.

3) Osama Bin Laden, on published audiotape, just as he did prior to his 9/11/2001 attacks on the United States homeland, promised to attack the United States homeland soon, from his base in Pakistan.

I submit, for your consideration, that the foregoing shows that we have nothing to fear from anyone in Iraq, and we have everything to fear from Osama Bin Laden, and Al Qaeda, in Pakistan.


Jackson Rip Holmes

Posted by: holmesrip2 | August 2, 2007 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Any policy has risks. But Bush*s policy was to invade a different country, that had neither WMDs nor Osama bin Laden. Like, if we*re upset with Venezuela, then let*s invade Ecuador.

Obama*s policy proposal is his attempt to get our foreign and military policy back to being aimed at the REAL danger.

Posted by: cwh2 | August 2, 2007 4:27 PM | Report abuse

If we bombed high level Al Qaeda targets from the air, IN PAKISTANI TERRITORY, what would Musharraf be able to do? Nothing, but complain.
Obama's tough rhetoric shows the world that others besides only candidates with an R in front of their name can fight and protect the country.

Posted by: BadBilly | August 2, 2007 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Doesn't he know that Pakistan has a "real" army and air force and nuclear weapons? What does he expect them to do when we invade their national sovereignty? "the need to take action across the border in Pakistan" means invasion, if you are Pakistani and not an egocentric American.
Talk about Bush/Cheney thinking!!--unless, you believe in Nixonspeak re: Cambodia
Hillary's comments are even more disappointing. She passes a chance to look like a statesman(woman) so she can prove she's just as macho as the boys.

Posted by: drjane2005 | August 2, 2007 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Obama is naive, inexperienced and corrupt? People are so used to desribing GWB they can't help but say the same thing over and over.

Read the text of Senator Obama's speech delivered yesterday and you'll find a sophisticated, well-defined approach to fighting the extremists. For those who don't like the tough talk towards Al qaeda, sac up!

Imagine that, a candidate with a real plan.

Posted by: BadBilly | August 2, 2007 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Obama, a clear-headed Democrat. You go, Obama!
Otherwise, here is a definition:

Richard Carlson: a zombie has no will of its own. you see them sometimes walking around blindly with dead eyes, following orders, not knowing what they do, not caring.

Bob Hope: you mean like democrats?

The Ghost Breakers (1940)

Posted by: IIntgrty | August 2, 2007 4:15 PM | Report abuse

You guys are reckless. Pakistan is a nuclear power and has one of the largest populations in the world and you would violate their territorial integrity?

Are you proposing that it is OK for countries to launch raids in other countries without permission?

Is it OK for Russia to launch a lightning raid on London to apprehend a certain billionaire they would like to capture?

This is a very slippery slope we're standing on the top of.

Posted by: michael1977 | August 2, 2007 4:14 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: BadBilly | August 2, 2007 4:13 PM | Report abuse

What happened to President Bush's statement that all seemed to agree on in 2001, "You are either are on our side or the terrorist's side." If you harbor bin Laden and Al Qaeda in your territory than you are on their side. Too bad Bush and all the other candidates from both parties only talk tough about getting Al Qaeda but don't actually do anything. Pretending they are in Iraq is the equivilent of sticking your head in the sand.

Posted by: info4 | August 2, 2007 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Dear Reporter Balz and Washington Post Readers:

I agree with Senator Obama that "we are fighting the wrong war!" and our troops should be capturing the 9/11 attackers--Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda--in Pakistan, instead of creating havoc in Iraq (once we discovered there were no weapons of mass destruction to justify a self-defense war there).

Which, of all, Presidential Candidates is best on national defense and national security?

In my opinion, it is now Senator Barack Obama, who insists on the most basic war strategy everyone agrees upon--we must capture the 9/11 attackers, Osama Bin Laden and his Al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan, before they carry out Osama Bin Laden's January, 2006, audiotape, promise, to attack the U.S. homeland again!


Jackson Rip Holmes

Posted by: holmesrip2 | August 2, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

I thought that Obama was just a naive, inexperienced doofus whose massive corruption in Illinois has been shielded by the liberal media.

Now, we see that Obama is a naive, inexperienced AND DANGEROUS doofus whose massive corruption in Illinois has been shieled by the liberal media.

Posted by: gideonssword79 | August 2, 2007 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Obama is just saying these things to get attention.

Posted by: liatlinde | August 2, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

So if all the other candidates would do the same thing, what is the fuss? They show the lack of courage of their convictions if they won't admit to the voters what they would do. I like the fact that Obama is not being coy with us. He is an honest guy compared to the others who would dodge the issue and then condemn him.

Posted by: goldie2 | August 2, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

So if all the other candidates would do the same thing, what is the fuss? They show the lack of courage of their convictions if they won't admit to the voters what they would do. I like the fact that Obama is not being coy with us. He is an honest guy compared to the others who would dodge the issue and then condemn him.

Posted by: goldie2 | August 2, 2007 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Pakistan,as everyone knows has had several bouts of military dictatorships, the latestis that of Musharraf's.Just as the British colonial lpower was powerless in dealing with the tribals of the North west Frontier, their successor Pakistan finds it equally difficult if not impossible to rein in these basically lawless feudal set ups.Any attempt to clean up Waziristan of Obama bin Laden will have to be preceded by evacuating the peace loving among the tribals to safe locations and then launch a blitzkreig so that Obama and his henchmen wouldbe donewith once and for all. To aliencate the people ofPakistan before any drastic action will be politically puerile, as many muslim countries, takeit forgranted that theU.S.A isnow Shaitan aka Satan. Divakaran,not a muslim from Bangalore.

Posted by: cerebral1 | August 2, 2007 3:32 PM | Report abuse

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