August 1st, 2007
01:45 PM ET
3 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. Sean Thomas, Peoria, IL

    the dirty secret of the "war on terror" is Pakistan!

    Here is a country that trains all the terrorists in the world, and likely is hiding Bin Laden. not only that, the whole army is radicalised and it has rogue scientists selling nukes on the black market.

    A terrorist Islamic nation possessing illegal nukes ! and this is an "ally" in the war on terror ?

    Obama knows the score – we need a new guy like him to step up and make America great again – my vote's for Barak

    August 1, 2007 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. Josh

    "Obama DID NOT say attack the government of Pakistan. He said attack the terrorist within the borders of Pakistan. It doesn’t matter what he said, we are only going to read the HEADLINE. I’m worried for us…we are sooooo lazy to read."

    Thank you.

    August 1, 2007 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. Keith, Wake Forest NC

    I agree with the need to take it to Pakistan and Afghanistan instead of or more so than Iraq but have believed all along that the "war on terror" should be fought in a covert manner using global, national and local law enforement.

    August 1, 2007 11:54 am at 11:54 am |
  4. Matt, Albany, GA

    I'm with Obama! After Pakistan we can occupy London. We can finally fairly tax the poor and finance this.

    August 1, 2007 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Joe Ossai, Bedford, NH

    Thanks you my future President. The world need a US President with a brain. I can't wait to call you my President. THANK YOU

    August 1, 2007 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  6. nogibbons.blogspot.com

    (Videotape, January 23, 2007)

    MR. KEITH OLBERMANN: Would you reach out immediately to the Syrians and the Iranians, even with the tensions between this country and Iran?

    SEN. CLINTON: Absolutely. I don’t see it as a sign of weakness, I see it as a sign of strength. You know, our president will not talk to people he considers bad. Well, there are a lot of bad actors in the world, and you don’t make peace with your friends. You’ve got to deal with your enemies, your opponents, people whose interests diverge from yours.

    (End videotape)

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20024553/page/2/

    August 1, 2007 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. Bob, New York, NY

    Sorry Mr Obama but if you really want to take on terrorism you go after Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. You decrease their source of revenue to fund terrorism by taking advantage of the US national resources instead of driving up the price of oil by importing oil and gasoline to the US. You build nuclear reactors and increase the supply of electricity which can be used to power battery powered cars.

    The current environmental policy of the US directly funds terrorism.

    Oh and Mr Obama, before you volunteer to be president you may want to re-read the Consititution. Seeing as how the leadership of this nation is to act for the good of the American people first and foremost. Not sit back and worry if were going to offend this nation or that nation because they don't like our policies

    August 1, 2007 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  8. Brian Tampa, FL

    "“Obama DID NOT say attack the government of Pakistan. He said attack the terrorist within the borders of Pakistan. It doesn’t matter what he said, we are only going to read the HEADLINE. I’m worried for us…we are sooooo lazy to read.”

    Thank you.
    ""

    Yeah great idea, I'm sure on the flip side the US wouldn't mind foriegn troops running operations on our soil as long as they didn't attack the Government.

    August 1, 2007 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  9. R A Shepard, Williamstown MA

    I would hate to say this, but in this case, Obama is not right. Pakistan has been a helpful ally in this war on terror. Admittedly they still harbor some terrorists, but you have to look at the implications fo violating Pakistani Soverignty or, unsettling President Musharraf. India and Pakistan are the closest they have been to peace since Pakistan's inception.

    We cannot go galavanting around unsettling leaders when we do not have a viable option. Democracy in Pakistan and in the Middle East is not tenible in the short run. There is a history of strong man leaders holding their countries together since these countries recieved independence.

    While I understand what Obama is suggesting, and I know he is trying to get tough on terror, threatening to take military action in Pakistan is not the right option.

    August 1, 2007 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  10. Pete, Chicago, Ill.

    Another Bush for president. Only the color of the face is different. Another warmonger and corrupt already politician.
    Down with him!
    Pete

    August 1, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  11. Tim, Chicago IL

    Some of you people really are blind. Read what he actually said, not just the headline!

    "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.”

    Only one of those five actually talked about Pakistan and Afghanistan. Its the physical war part. Thats why its called a WAR ON TERROR. If there's going to be fighting, why not fight the right people?

    Keep in mind there are four other things he talks about that are incredibly important that this administration never even THOUGHT of doing. This is why he should be President.

    August 1, 2007 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  12. Susan S. New York, NJ

    The END NEVER justifies the means. Whereas Obama's intentions may be worthy, the manner in which he is suggesting we go about it, is downright ludicrous. Entering another country without that country's permission and consent is invasion. Invading another country and causing countless civilian casualties is only going to reenforce most of the world's view of the U.S. being egocentric, arrogant and irresponsible.

    The proposition is as outrageous as allowing the Iraqi army to invade Washington D.C. because the U.S. cannot get their act together in Iraq.

    If every country in the world had this vigilante approach and took matters into their own hands, there would be mayhem in the world.

    August 1, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  13. Keith, Wake Forest NC

    Bob, New York, NY....

    I agree with you totally and what you say Obama supports as well. I support many "climate change/global warming" policies myself as they achieve a great deal in helping the "war on terror". Whether you agree with the science or not is one thing, but whatever we can do to not rely on middle eastern oil, we'll be better for it in the long run.

    Mr. Coffey, Raleigh, NC...glad to see there is some reason in our neck of the woods.

    August 1, 2007 12:13 pm at 12:13 pm |
  14. Lee Nelson, Atlanta, GA

    Obama, like all the rest in Washington, don't get it. This is not a war that can be fought with troops. This is a war of ideas. Killing Bin Laden at this point would be worthless. It would only increase his number of followers. Unfortunatly due to all the bungling of this administration the only stradegy that will work at this point is to protect the homeland at the ports and borders. Get out of the middle east. Start a 10 year project to find and develop new froms of energy besides oil and wait 3 generation for this to pass.

    August 1, 2007 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. tom, mission viejo, ca

    Obama isn't the only naive person in this country, who simply thinks terrorism is to be stamped out by killing a few terrorists here and there.

    Terrorism is like WWII kamikazes. You don't fight kamikazes, you fight Imperialist Japan. We're not in this battle to kill terrorists, but to stop facsist Islamists. Those radical Muslims work their nefarious deeds across the whole Middle East, in Saudi Arabie, Yemen, Egypt, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, you name.

    There is not one 'right' country to go after, people! You have to start somewhere and change the whole region.

    Iran is now sandwiched between Iraq and Afghanistan (US forces). Syria is cuaght between Iraq and Isreal (US and allied forces). Democracy and a chance at leading a productive life will keep people from being suicide bombers.

    The Middle East is a demographic time bomb. Over 30% of the population is younger than 25 years old. These people have no jobs and little prospects of earning a steady income in backward economies. The Islamic revolution in Iran has done nothing in 30 years and the young generation is pro-West. The want change, too.

    Iraqis are voting. Afhanis are voting. Women in Saudi Arabia are now voting and can hold local political offices. Syria is out of Lebanon. Libya is giving up its WMDs and wants to join the world again (slowly). Egypt is showing some signs of granting more political reforms. Things are changing. But it takes more than 5 years!

    It took the UNITED STATEs of AMERICA some 10 years to come up with our Constitution, and during that time had to deal with insurrections, as well. Yes, in our own country. The US was fighting in Germany for 5 years and then occupied that land for another 10 years, too.

    Too many people want quick fixes and immediate gratification. Get real. Do we just live with hijackers flying planes into buildings? Or shooting down passenger jets with missles? Or blowing up subway trains? Destroying buildings with hundreds of casualties?
    Ripping people to shreds with explosives in markets, discos, and churches? Do we live with terrorists killing Olympic athletes and thousands of other innocent victims?

    This problem doesn't go away if we close our eyes, turn our backs, or expect little or no sacrifice. Some things are worth taking a stand for. Islamic radicals won't stop fighting just because we do.

    August 1, 2007 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. Ziad, Atlanta GA

    Mr. Sean, could u explain "Illegal Nukes"? Whatever nukes other countries have are legal? Are our nukes legal? Get real and think outside the box.

    August 1, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  17. SJ

    Should Obama hit the US considering it was the US that created the Taliban and funded Pakistan to train the Taliban to fight the Soviets? Stupid people. Waging wars does not help. Violence brews violence. Waging these wars against muslim countries under the pretext of waging war on terrorism is working towards spreading exactly what its seeking to destroy. The supposed terrorists on those planes were saudis, not pakistanis. some of them were even found alive later on. which kinda makes the facts a bit doubtful. read the facts and news around 9/11 before supporting a decision involving a lot more innocent lives than the 3000 taken on 9/11. attacking pakistan would be the dumbest thing to do. attacking any more muslim country would be. a message to all these people supporting another war: make an informed decision when ur saying u support another way coz otherwise the blood of a lot more innocent people would be on your hands too

    August 1, 2007 12:17 pm at 12:17 pm |
  18. Aamir Ali

    Obama will flee Iraq and invade Pakistan? This fool is no different from George W Bush. It would be more advisable for Americans to learn from their military failures in Iraq.

    August 1, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. Mr. Coffey, Raleigh, NC

    "Sorry Mr Obama but if you really want to take on terrorism you go after Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. You decrease their source of revenue to fund terrorism by taking advantage of the US national resources instead of driving up the price of oil by importing oil and gasoline to the US. You build nuclear reactors and increase the supply of electricity which can be used to power battery powered cars." Bob, New York, NY

    In the debate Obama said he would support advanced nuclear power technology and Clinton said maybe yes maybe no (as usual). For a guy without substance, he is starting to string together a comprehensive strategy for america. As for Clinton, Iraq (no answer), Healthcare (no plan...again), Energy Policy (no answer). When someone make a speach people...READ IT. Not part of it.

    August 1, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  20. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    Don't you just kow that Hillary's fangs are out right now!

    Bet her people are sitting there trying to calm her down from her manic rage.

    She will most definitely attack this idea!

    August 1, 2007 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  21. nogibbons.blogspot.com

    "Killing Bin Laden at this point would be worthless. It would only increase his number of followers."

    Are you afraid to kill Osama Bin Laden?

    Who pays for 9/11? Iraqis?

    August 1, 2007 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  22. Shaam F. Houston, TX.

    Obama is not naive he is very shrewd as a matter of fact; war mongering has won a lot of elections and that is exactly what Obama is trying to capitalize on, its the American nation which is naive and may fall for this tactic yet again.

    This bandaid approach of leaving one war and redeploying to another has been tried and tested and has always failed.

    August 1, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  23. Jack, Lincoln, Nebraska

    How many of you read the entire text of the speech before posting a comment?

    August 1, 2007 12:26 pm at 12:26 pm |
  24. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    Aamir,

    The failures in Iraq are those of the Iraqi people who have FAILED to take advantage of the opportunity to construct a democratic society in which all Iraqis have a voice.

    If you remember correctly, the Americans went into Iraq and rolled over the Hussein government in the time it takes to get a Big Mac.

    If the effort to provide a safe and free Iraq fails, it will not be the Americans who are falling prey to a bloody power struggle on the streets of Iraqi cities, it will be the Iraqis.

    August 1, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  25. Joey Reyes - Corpus Christi TX. 78413

    THIS IS WHAT WE NEED AND AFTER HEARING THIS HE HAS MY VOTE!!!

    August 1, 2007 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
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