August 1st, 2007
01:45 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama: Shift fight to Afghanistan, Pakistan

Obama discussed his ideas for fighting terrorism on Wednesday.

WASHINGTON (CNN) –Sen. Barack Obama says he would shift the war on terror to Afghanistan and Pakistan in a speech he delivered Wednesday.

In his speech, Obama, D-Illinois, said things would look different in an Obama administration: “When I am president, we will wage the war that has to be won, with a comprehensive strategy with five elements: getting out of Iraq and on the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing the capabilities and partnerships we need to take out the terrorists and the world's most deadly weapons; engaging the world to dry up support for terror and extremism; restoring our values; and securing a more resilient homeland."

Obama says the war in Iraq has left Americans more in danger than before 9/11.

"The President would have us believe that every bomb in Baghdad is part of al Qaeda's war against us, not an Iraqi civil war," Obama will say. "He elevates al Qaeda in Iraq - which didn't exist before our invasion - and overlooks the people who hit us on 9/11, who are training recruits in Pakistan."

Despite the challenges, and potentially destabilizing effect U.S. military action inside Pakistan could create, Obama said it was important to remain enagaged there. "There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again," he will say. "It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf won't act, we will."

Obama also reiterated his disagreement with the Bush administration's diplomatic posture. "It’s time to turn the page on the diplomacy of tough talk and no action," he 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."

Obama also said he would create an international intelligence and law enforcement infrastructure to address terrorist threats from Indonesia to Africa.

Obama delivered his remarks at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

–CNN Political Desk Editor Jamie Crawford


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iraq • Race to '08
soundoff (299 Responses)
  1. A, LA

    I do believe Obama shot himself in the foot with that comment. Americans are plain sick of WAR and he's already rallying for lighting yet another? He hasn't even offered a well thought out plan to get out of Iraq. Please, no more gun slinging shoot em ups in the White House.

    August 2, 2007 12:10 am at 12:10 am |
  2. Juanito, New York, NY

    Wow....I'm appalled that in the year 2007, with the internet and information at our fingertips, so many people posting here are so ignorant. Are you too lazy to READ the speech before forming an opinion ABOUT the speech? What is wrong with you people? This is the exact reason why 41% of Americans believe SADDAM was behind 9/11.

    God help us all...ignorance will undo our beloved nation.
    Do yourselves a favor and READ the speech...Jesus Christ!

    I'm also appalled that CNN is misleading readers with the headline, and is not pointing out that Hillary has the exact same position as Obama when it comes to striking at Al Qaeda within Pakistan's borders....CNN is in the tank for Hillary.

    Pathetic.

    August 2, 2007 12:21 am at 12:21 am |
  3. Sal

    I call this extreme incompetence and a hurrah for people who follow this kind of idiotic ideologies.For starters, living in posh mansion and studying in Ivy leage schools Does not make you a expert on Intl relations and that is exactly why we stand where we are!
    Pakistan is a ally and has been a ally, much tested and proven to every test than any other so called allies that we have. What has ever israel done for USA? they bombed one of our aircrafts and have tried to steal our secrets many many times. All other arab allies are comwards and corrupt. Pakistan has proven its role in Afghan war and is the only country which was the biggest force in ending the cold war.
    People who support obama on these comments live thousands of miles away from war lands and pakistan and have no idea what so ever that how it is to win hearts of people and countries who are constantly teasesd by media and our government wrongfully. The way our embassies and consulates behave with other nationals is embarassing and disgusting, and trust me no diplomacy or aid can offer remedy to the way our media portrays other nations and how our foriegn service officers behave with their nationals. And then we say, do this , do that! i am sorry , are we an empire now????

    August 2, 2007 12:39 am at 12:39 am |
  4. Saad Asad, Islamabad, Pakistan

    What's all the rumpus about? Come on in...invade my country. The people here have done nothing but fight for centuries. Its their core competency so to speak. And right now they are killing each other...and when you come in they'll kill you...only it will hurt more than iraq considering that the country has the 7th largest population in the world.

    The tribal regions (terror havens) that we often read and talk about have always been autonomous (read independent) and they always will be. Niether the pakistani government nor the american government can do anything about it unfortunately. The only way to tame them is to kill them all or buy them...and prior to the US...the soviet union and the british have tried to control them with force with little success. Money is the only answer...give them something better to do than fight. :D

    Finally one last thought...how many people around the middle east must die before 3000 american lives are avenged? I mean hello...since the war on terror began the number of people killed in all theatres of action has been 100s of times more than 3000. And all for what? Is the world really safer?

    August 2, 2007 12:57 am at 12:57 am |
  5. Jim Clearwater Florida

    So Obma want to invade another country and the Dems call tat Leadership? LOLROF THe left is willing to talk tough and fight a war where we have no troops. NO WAR UNLESS A DEMOCRAT IS PRESIDENT should be your new motto,

    August 2, 2007 01:06 am at 1:06 am |
  6. JC, Baltimore, Maryland

    Ok here is how it works. you are in charge of the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan what some claim is the most rugged and goforsaken land on earth. how do you get by? well you can get by by ferrying things over the border or by sheltering people in the impossible to reach places where you live. if you live in the most inaccessible place on earth an plenty of people are happy to pay you to keep it that way you will not take kindly to the other local strongmen, in this case Musharaff trying to crack down, so you do what you can to put him on the defensive. but what if everyone was watching? crime often happens in the worst neighborhoods because no one cares, but if the tribal lands were scrutinized and the U.S. could attack there at will then if I were a terrorist I would move somewhere else. Somewhere less conspicuous. For the U.S. to exercise a zero tolerance policy for terrorism makes it harder for those ensconced in the region to linger. A Pakistan rid of foreign terrorists and autonomous tribal leaders is a more stable and secure Pakistan. Obama is doing them a favor. That is at least one way of looking at it.

    August 2, 2007 01:23 am at 1:23 am |
  7. Steve, Eugene, OR

    Many here have expressed support for launching a military campaign in Pakistan. I am highly skeptical that this would be at all successful. Consider the following:

    1. Pakistan has nuclear weapons.
    2. If Pakistan is destabilized, then Jihadists might gain control of those nukes.
    3. What steps could be taken to ensure that intervention in Pakistan doesn't have an outcome similar to the campaign that Israel waged against Hezbollah last summer, or worse?

    August 2, 2007 01:55 am at 1:55 am |
  8. steve, baltimore, md

    How do you invade/ attack troops in a country with declared nuclear weapons, half a million army, an airforce, longe-range missiles finally a population of 160 million people.

    Just to be clear, iraqs population by comaprison is a 40 million....

    I was hoping to vote for Obama but now I have changed my mind.

    August 2, 2007 04:06 am at 4:06 am |
  9. Daniel, Dunnellon Florida

    Why is it that the only Politician who wants to end the war and change our foreign policy so as not to endanger the United States is Ron Paul? These people who are running need to understand that we didn't vote in Democrats to see the war run from the Dem perspective. The war in Iraq is a mismanaged mistake, hitting another country like Pakistan would bring such world wide contempt that we would be bigger targets that before, only this time, nobody would sympathize with us.

    August 2, 2007 04:13 am at 4:13 am |
  10. Ali Bangash, Baltimore MD

    As a moderate Pakistani studying in the US, I am highly disappointed with Mr. Obama. It shows to me that he has little sense of geopolitics and foreign policy.
    Only in the last few weeks, several Pakistan army soldiers and officers have died in suicide bombings and terrorist attacks.
    Since 2001, several hundred Pakistan army troops have died fighting terrorists. In fact, Pakistan has the second highest number of casualties second to only the US in the "war on terror". None of this gets reported in the mainstream US media.
    Most Pakistanis, like myself, have no sympathy whatsoever for violence but we do dearly love our country.The sad fact is that Mr Obama has fallen prey to ignorance.

    August 2, 2007 05:11 am at 5:11 am |
  11. Joacim Praest, Copenhagen, Denmark

    This is just great! We're losing one fight... lets try with another country! Iraq is just as small as a bean, if you look at Pakistan! There are living 156,7 mio. people in Pakistan (26 mio. in Iraq). It would be completely idiotic to go in to Pakistan. As someone not coming from the United States, i'm kind of worried to see not only Republicans but now also Democrats have no knowledge of the world outside the United States. If he does get elected and start a war against an ally, he would make United States more isolated (if it's possible) in the world, than they all ready are. So i beg you Americans... Vote for Clinton-rather you like her or not she is the only candidate who has great knowledge about the world and would be able to have a responsible foreign policy.

    August 2, 2007 06:16 am at 6:16 am |
  12. Kamran. NY

    To kill the Fanatics, Obama's strategy will create Counter-Fanatics, that is a new class of Fanatics. Both groups, opposite and poles apart, but both still fanatics. You cannot dig a hole to fill another. I think enlightened people of US never deserved to burn their sons in the War on Terror. It is thrown upon them by American political oligarchy and corprate interest groups. There is no best loyal ally of US than Pakistan. Pakistan supported US Cold War and helped dissolve USSR despite its internal and regional conflicts (when India and Iran were and still Pro-Russians). There's no best resource than Pakistani expertise to understand the global war on terror scenario. Pakistan is more affected by America-led war on terror. More Pakistani's are killed in Suicide bombings with in Pakistan than Americans killed within US. US should understand that its time to help Pakistan become stronger. Stronger Pakistan will be able to better control the terrorism and keep it locked and contained far away from US soil.

    United States is a great nation so this land's forefathers. It needs great leaders with vision to bring world closer together not the divisive leaders who tear the world apart. I strongly believe that if we spend the same amount of money we spent on humans killings (in the name of war on terror and so on for subsequent arms race)to relieve the global warming, the world would be a great living place. We, as Americans, as leaders of the world, have far more greater goals to go for. We have to lead the world by example, by our moral example, not by fear and counter fear chain reaction. Lets not waste our energies into these things and let's not change the living heaven into burning hell!

    Kamran.

    August 2, 2007 06:49 am at 6:49 am |
  13. NY

    On Woodrow Wilson's 100 years on creating foundation of American Foreign Policy "Make the world safe for democracy":
    I think there's a major flaw in this line....it needs revision. It should read like "Make safer democracies for the world".

    August 2, 2007 07:05 am at 7:05 am |
  14. FK, IL

    End one war and start another??? Obama, You lost my vote.

    August 2, 2007 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  15. Yvette, Las Vegas, NV

    I think it's important that Senator Obama's complete speech is read. The media has put their own spin on what was a great speech that does not say he will invade Pakistan. It partly reads, "As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.
    I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.
    And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America's commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists' program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair - our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally...."

    August 2, 2007 07:33 am at 7:33 am |
  16. Wallace, Philly, PA

    It's amazing how many people post remarks about Obama, both positive and negative. It goes to show you he truly is THE MAN. People love to hate him. It only happens to the best!

    August 2, 2007 08:57 am at 8:57 am |
  17. Wallace, Philly, PA

    It's amazing how many experts we have on this blog concerning foreign policy and the war on terror. Where do you get your intelligence from? Please reference the last intelligence briefing you received. You all are political idiots! Talk about naive.

    August 2, 2007 09:03 am at 9:03 am |
  18. Barack, Chicago, IL

    They are right about Obama. He is naive and inexperiences. He talks like Bush, wants to sound tough and attack anyone who disagrees. Hasn't he learned anything from Bush and all those liars currently in the Administration.

    August 2, 2007 09:15 am at 9:15 am |
  19. Shah Khan, Karachi, Sindh

    Hey as a pakistani citizen i respect Obama's opinion on turning against pakistan. But I think Obama is forgetting one thing and that is "It was none other then us Pakistani, who supported you when the time was rough
    against US". Don't forget that our President and our General is what we call a manly man who out of all odds going against him reached out his hands and pully you out through the rough patches of Afghanistan. Did you forget already that without Pakistani intelligence you could not even survive a month in that part of the world. I think you have forgotten about RUSSIA. It was Afghanistan who dismember Union of Sovie Socialist Republic in 13 small states. I think obama needs to go back and take some history lessons before make any decisions against anyone. Re-check your facts and figures then talk. It is totally uncool to point fingures at others when you sir, yourself needs to check yourself first.

    August 2, 2007 09:17 am at 9:17 am |
  20. Anonymous

    this is just a ploy to try get americas cricket team in the running... australia is next

    August 2, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  21. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    All I can say is THANK GOD none of you are making the decisions that guide the fate of our country!

    August 2, 2007 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
  22. Erik

    Everyone posting against Obama's speech is full of crap! If you read the speech you would see he he's not advocating war he’s' trying to protect Americans! He putting the focuses back were it belongs unlike Bush, Clinton and all of the other irresponsible politicians who started a war with a innocent country. THEY ARE THE WARMONGERS! All you guys seem to have your own agenda trying to tear down Obama! I bet you this, if you ask any of the presidential contenders if they would take the opportunity to get a criminal terrorist they would say YES! If they didn’t say yes the press and voters would have a field day saying they are weak on terror. Even Giuliani agreed with Obama on Charlie Rose last night. If Clinton or any Republican came out and said this everyone would be ecstatic! If some thing happened again everyone would want to know why the government isn't doing anything. Like crabs in barrel you HATER'S just want to support your own choice president or agenda! You’re just a little jealous your spineless corrupt candidate did not speak up sooner! Before you tear down Obama how about you learn where your politician of choice stands on the tough calls. If it were you mom, spouse or father who died on 911 you all would be screaming for justice. This crap against what Obama is saying is a slap in the face of the victim’s families and the soldiers that died for no good reason in this stupid war against innocent people! OBAMA IS REAL! BELIEVE THAT!

    August 2, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  23. lavelle

    And you know what else is funny, not one presidential hopefull has disputed anything Obama has said. There looking for a way to counter his terrorist plan but they cant because it is straight to the point strong and something we may have to consider. We are more worried about an ally who is not making an effort to get Bin laden but yet we should just continue to let that ride? We still owe the 3,000 Americans that!

    August 2, 2007 12:19 pm at 12:19 pm |
  24. Workahlic, Hunt Valley, MD

    Well...watched a report on CNN just a few minutes ago about Obama's speech, and the reporter was Candi Crowley. In this report, CNN showed Hillary Clinton saying "...if we have actionable intelligence about high-value targets in Pakistan like Bin Laden and his deputies, I would strike to have them killed or captured."
    This comment was made by Hillary earlier this year...where was the outrage? All you clowns attacking Obama...where were you when Hillary said the exact same thing?

    Sheesh.

    August 2, 2007 12:53 pm at 12:53 pm |
  25. Eustace, New York, NY

    Can I pose one question to all who have reacted to the Headlines? How many of you have actually read the speech in its entirety?

    I've read that speech in its entirety atleast three times...that Pakistani posture is a last resort. This comes after he outlines increasing aid, educational support and arming the Pakistani government with all it needs to take out terrorists. He says if Pakistan fails to act then we will. In that sentence alone he promises to give the Pakistani government a chance. In that speech he said nothing about invading, he said if there were actionable intelligence he would TARGET THOSE TERRORISTS. Is that something so wrong. To me that is hardly invading and so much more practising fundamental military common sense strategy. I guess we should ignore the threats and see what happens again. That seems to be the attitude all you nay sayers have.

    The many other postures he outlines in this comprehensive FIVE POINT plan unfolds in a way that does not have to lead to targetting those terrorists in Pakistan (ONE POINT)if the other measures are followed. If often bothers me that we are able to react based on headlines which are spun enermously by the msm to carry out their own agenda.

    Barack Obama carefully yet forcefully proposed a sophisticated and feasible plan. When one committs to attending an international islamic forum to redefine the American struggle against extremism. That is highly indicative of a man who gets the severity and complexities of this war on terror. While taking into account the military matters, he consistently noted the battle of ideas and perception. He called for setting up America Houses, Development Teams to work to create immediate impact on peoples lives while in conflict ridden areas. All of these key points have been forgotten. Instead we focus on what the media tells us to focus on.

    READ PEOPLE READ AND NOT BE TAUGHT BY THE MEDIA AND SPIN MASTERS. That speech was a very common sense, multilateralist, internationalist speech. It was a perfect balance between common sense and common troubles.

    August 2, 2007 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
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