August 1st, 2007
01:45 PM ET
12 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. 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 |
  2. Kelly, Providence, RI

    I am disappointed; I was an Obama fan. It is exactly this sort of “go get ‘em” rhetoric that resulted in the quagmire that is Iraq and it reflects a complete dismissal of the complexity and nuance of global politics. Pakistan is one of the most populous countries in the world, nuclear armed, and borders Iran, Afghanistan, China, India and Iran. It has been ruled by dictatorship for more than half its history (since 1947) and every elected government has been prematurely sacked. The current political situation and the “Islamicization” process is far more complex and vulnerable than Obama seems to think it is. Any military intervention in the country would surpass the nightmare in Iraq. Even the most elementary analysis would make clear the myriad reasons why it would be detrimental to attack Pakistan. It reflects Obama’s poor judgment, his ineptitude at foreign policy and is indicative of the same sort of shallow, cowboy bullying that has cultivated the state of panic that exists today.

    August 2, 2007 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. DJ, Los Angeles, CA

    We should do exactly that. Make a secret troop build-up to launch a major offensive. Don't disclose it to anyone.

    Pakistan is not in a political position to seriously hunt down the terrorists, without risking a revolt similar to what happened in Iran 1979.

    We need to just seize the iniative and deal with the consequences later. Pakistani's will protest but they won't be able to blame their government.

    I question the Bush Administration's commitment to winning the war when we let the enemy regroup and thrive in so called "ally" territory.

    August 2, 2007 01:11 pm at 1:11 pm |
  4. Diego R. Baltimore, MD

    In a Wednesday interview with American Urban Radio News Networks, Hillary Clinton adopted a similar position to Obama's on unilateral attacks within Pakistan's borders.

    "We have to have a much smarter relationship with Pakistan and the military of Pakistan to build credibility and support for their taking the actions that only they can take within their own country. But clearly we have to be prepared.... if we had actionable intelligence that Osama bin Laden or other high-value targets were in Pakistan I would ensure that they were targeted and killed or captured."

    Ok people...please start bashing Hillary too...I guess she's "naive" as well.

    August 2, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  5. Terry, C. Ohio

    It appears you people are trying to find any reason to not vote for Obama a Black man. Keep it up...Hillary will not see the inside of the White House without the Black vote. Remember that!!

    August 2, 2007 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  6. James, NY, NY

    Obama's ideas for Iraq and Pakistan make Bush look like a genius.

    Stop drinking that "Al Sharpton/Jesse Jackson Everyone is Racist Kool-Aid" and think for yourself. It isn't the white people infatuated on whether or not Obama is "black enough". When people don't like Rice, Powell or a conservative black person it is A'Ok. When it is a liberal black person getting criticized for anything under the sun it is racism.

    Anyhow get a clue, racism still exists. Racism is also not confined to any one race. As long as there are people out their screaming racisim everytime something happens it will always be a problem

    August 2, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  7. Davinho, Silver Spring, MD

    To: Kelly in Providence, RI-
    You say you are Obama fan, so explain this to me: Why on earth have you not taken the time to read his speech in its entirety? Don't you value the truth? Don't you prefer to read what Obama actually said as opposed to running with a misleading headline from CNN??
    As a fellow Obama supporter, I'm very dissappointed in YOU.

    I'm still waiting for the Obama bashers to begin attacking Hillary Clinton for agreeing with Obama. She said the same thing Obama said, so c'mon people...let's have some equal bashing time for Hillary

    August 2, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  8. saad

    Iraq: 26 million people, no airforce or nukes, does not grow its own food, weakened by years of sanctions

    Pakistan: 165 million people, has 100 nukes and missiles to deliver them, 4rth largest army in the world, has an airforce with f16s, grows most of its own food, GNP is 450 billion US$ (US aid in comparison is a mere few hundred million $).....

    so let me get it straight – obama wants us to get out of iraq and attack/ alienate Pakistan instead? Is that smart?

    August 2, 2007 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  9. saad

    several thousand pakistani soldiers have died since 9/11 policing the tribal areas such that pakistan has the second highest number of casualties in the war on terror.

    Is Obama proposong that we alienate the government of Pakistan such that it withdraws 100,000 troops from its tribal areas? Is obama then willing to put that number of american troops and possibly much more in a nuclear state?

    August 2, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  10. Waleed - Sterling ,VA

    well i just have to say that why are people trying to blame pakistan when in real everybody knows that musharaf if the only president from pakistan who has helped the US so far in terrorism....if you go to pakistan and see how much changes have been made and so many anti-terrorist missions have happened, Musharaf is doing a great job on helping out to clear terrorism and keeping US out of Pakistan....bcoz everybody also knows that Bush wants to do the same thing to pakistan that he has done to Iraq(destroying it)...but then Musharaf is a very smart and a good president, yes hes made some mistakes but he has done alot of good things............THANK YOU!

    August 2, 2007 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  11. RA Las Vegas, NV

    Barack Obama is so far out in left field, I cannot even understand how he will find is out of the game. Let alone; to accomplish all that he says he will in 5,840 days.

    Joe Biden really hit the nail smack dab square on the head this go around and sunk it completely in only one very swift and light blow. I did read Barack Obama’s counterterrorism speech in its entirety, and honestly, I do not know were this guy is coming from? He speaks very loosely and doses say a lot; what kind of dialog dose he expects to receive, and how is he too seek out in obtaining all the funding for his five step plan? Wow!!! Did he write the entire speech all by him self? Listening to him speak, seem as he should take up acting or reserve a little more time in rehearsing his lines. Not saying Joe Biden is the best choice; But dose American want President Bill Jefferson Clinton as our first gentleman? So I believe our choices are clear and are slim too none at these junctures in the path; with respect too our democratically nominated candidates.

    How dose an inexperienced senator; such as the likes as Obama; get some idiotic notion or impression that he will be elected for the highest office in our land? I do not know exactly how many times he wrote in his speech (when I am President and/or as President will do this); at least over a dozen times, and only with his ridiculous five (5) step plan. He is promising to save the world like he some kind of god or something; what is in his mind? Dose he think he is some damn dead pharaoh that has come back from the after life!

    Well he had better get started right away, or his plan is already domed for failure weather he is elected too the Presidential office or not. Dose Barack Obama’s even process the true qualities and capabilities for even the thought of handling the most powerful office in our Nation? Or dose he believe American citizens are the most ignorant people on our plant? But then again maybe some/most are just increasingly; inherently stupid and dose not pay any attention to their own livelihood and wellbeing!

    Because he will need a lot more than just one hundred (100) days from the start, just to fulfill his 5th step plan that needs to be implemented priority one, and cover all his bases in doing so. Obama is nothing but a fish bowl of democratically placed double talk rhetoric all over again. If he plans on double talking our Nation while asleep at the wheel; he had better start his plans right here in our home land first. I do believe the American masses are intelligent enough too recognize the difference between the sand and water by now, even if they may be increasingly; inherently stupid.

    I have reached the point of no return when it comes to making a decision for 2008 Presidential candidacy involving Barack Obama to sit in a disgraced throne occupied by previous administrations in the oval office of our White House; that he cannot possibly be filled with some sense of morality and integrity. When I will no longer give a second though or even consider his candidacy and I suspect it is mostly because of his display of his own in-experience rather than his actual potential. In any case he would benefit from being his own man once again to follow through his law practice and stop pretending to act with resistance to fatigue. Rather than pandering to what his staff perceive as the best answers for his own audience and sounds like his words may be dictated by others. We already have someone on board liken to him sitting their now.

    P.S. Just for the record; personal opinions expressed in this comment are those of the writer are constitutional rights.

    August 2, 2007 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  12. Marsha, Portland, OR

    And this is why I am not voting for Mr. Obama.

    August 2, 2007 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  13. ammara, jakarta

    Excuse me, but the country you are talking about ie pakistan is the home to absolutely normal "alive" human beings, not some anthole or insect home that can be attacked anytime. Who is Mr. Obama, by the way, or every one else here in support of him, to decide the fate of millions of people desiring a peaceful life? and who gives you the authority to attack any land whenever you desire?
    America is not the only nation under attack from terrorists. Rather i should add that presently Pakistan herself is the nation most badly suffering from acts of terrorism. And above that, our all efforts and sufferings are being creamed on top by the thankless people like Obama. How frequently does America come under a terrorist attack? Try coming to Pakistan and measure the frequency. And all this has been fueled by America herself. And if the "great" leaders like Obama keep giving statements like these, it will only add up to the magnitude of the threat our world is facing today.

    August 3, 2007 06:59 am at 6:59 am |
  14. hyder

    Pakistan already has close to 90,000 troops in the tribal areas since 2001. Many of these brave soldiers have died fighting al-qaeda such that Pakistan has the second highest number of casualties in the war on terror.

    The tribal areas of Pakistan, some of the most rugged terrain in the world is home to several million people. The last time any army ever went into that part of the world was in the early 1900s when the British sent twenty thousand troops to quell a rebellion. Only one british soldier returned alive. Pakistan, for the first time in its history has stationed 90,000 troops in its tribal areas.

    Sending american troops into Pakistan will achieve nothing but alienate the majority of moderate Pakistanis with the most likely consequence that Pakistan will withdraw its voluntary support for the US. How is that policy smart? Obama will get the US out of Iraq and land it into a much bigger mess in Pakistan.

    Obama talked about witholding F-16s. Well, the f-16s had been witheld throughout the 90s with the effect that Pakistan collaborated with China and now both Pakistan and China make their own fighter planes.

    Why hasn't Pakistan captured Bin Laden? Well, surely you can tell that the Pakistan army is no where near the US army in terms of budget and strength. Then why hasn't the US army been able to defeat al-qaeda in iraq? Is Obama willing to put 90,000 american troops into Pakistan to police the tribal areas? To Pakistans credit, it has captured more al-qaeda members than any other country in the world.

    Pakistan gets very little assistance from the US. Sanctions will do nothing but spew anger and hatred against the US. Afghanistan has done better than Iraq primarily because of Pakistan. Please do not let Obama destroy that.

    August 3, 2007 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  15. Eustace, NY,


    So many comments, so much confusion, so much lack of comprehension.

    I guess the media got the response it was their intention to spin the man's best intentions to their own agenda which involves favoring Clinton and the Washington establishment.

    The speech that Obama gave was a very comprehensive plan that underscores the strategies that must be employed to successfully win the so called war on terror.

    Eveyone who hasn't read the speech seems to follow the Tabloid like coverage of this story. Read BBC and you see the difference between journalism and American tabloid coverage.

    Obama did not suggest invading Pakistan. One sentence says that if we had actionable intelligence, we would TARGET those who killed Americans. As a student of international politics, how does that provoke a war with Pakistan or damage Musharraf. Those regions are almost within Afghanistan that they remain unpatrolled by Pakistan. Taqrgetting those people by no means jeopardize Pakistani's president or Pakistan. I do recall Obama in that same speech alluding to giving Pakistan as much support that he can but if they fail to act. Then America would act. There was nothing about sending troops into Pakistan in that speech.

    You people need to wake up and get serious about your research, comprehension and analytical skills...failure to do so would do you all a great disservice.

    This speech underscores vital political and military one is advocating war with Pakistan...That was the furthest thing from Obama's mind. Increased pressure, certainly....targetting those regions if Bin Laden surfaces... of course. I guess Americans would feel much comfortable if Bin Laden slep peacefully at night.

    Stop thinking with your asses and start thinking with your objective minds if that is even possible, especially since you get your information from the bias American tabloids who pose as legitimate news agencies.

    August 3, 2007 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  16. Liz

    So, the solution is to keep invading countries – leave one and invade another. How interesting!!! I feel sorry for the American Soldiers, very sorry.

    August 3, 2007 12:18 pm at 12:18 pm |
  17. EW, New York, NY



    August 3, 2007 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  18. Jayson, Yuba City, CA

    Eustace you need to remove your head from the sand and wake up. We already have hit targets in Pakistan when we had actionable intelligence on the location of high ranking Al-Qaida members.

    Also anyone who thinks that pulling out of Iraq will do more harm then good obviously has already forgotten about the wholesale slaughter of the South Vietnamese people after we left. Of course the South Vietnamese were promised that we would come back and bomb the North if the ceasefire was broken but as usual we showed how dependable the US really is in the long run.

    We failed the Cuba rebels, we failed the South Vietnamese, we failed the Kurds, we failed the Shiites in Souther Iraq, and those are just the best examples of our failure to back up words with action. And people wonder why nobody trusts us to do what we say we will. But I guess you wouldn't mind the death toll from our failures to continue piling up

    August 3, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  19. toe, Atlanta, GA

    It is only natural that the US would attack Pakistan. They have attacked Iraq, to whom they supplied weapons to fight Iran. They have attacked Afghanistan, to whom they supplied weapons to fight the Soviet Union. This would be attacking Pakistan, to whom they supplied weapons to fight India. Looks like the US doesn't have a clue as to which side they should take, when it comes to the Middle-East and S.Asia..

    August 3, 2007 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  20. Waqqas, Karachi, Pakistan

    Its US failure to capture Osama and putting blame on Pakistan is not called for. Pakistan has paid a very heavy price on being the front line ally on the war on terror. Paksitan doesn't need to provide safe heaven to Osama, its the US who will be in trouble if Osama is captured and is put in front of world press and judicial courts. Many secrets will be revealed that will shake high-ups in the CIA and past / present US governments as we all know Osama is US's ex-love.

    August 4, 2007 03:17 am at 3:17 am |
  21. Joanna C. Fairfax Virginia

    I have seen many comments on this blog which critisize Barack's suggestions of an "attack" on Pakistan. I have only one thing to say to these critics. DO YOUR HOMEWORK. When I read that same one line about sending our troops to Afganistan – I had the same reaction. "What is this man saying now?"
    Please take the time to go back and read the whole speech which includes a five point plan to address terrorism. Then look at Obama's past actions, what he has said in speeches, how he has investigated problems. This is a well seasoned man who, I beleive will not draw us into a new war unnecessarily.
    He is different than Bush. Bush said that he would use the military option only after all other alternatives had been explored. That did not happen.
    Obama's actions have shown that he is completely capable of making well thought out decisions. Please go back and read the entire speech. It would be an unwise to judge his five point plan on one statement.

    August 5, 2007 01:04 am at 1:04 am |
  22. Melvin, Chicago, IL

    Obama is ABSOLUTELY no native!

    You will change your own perspective if you work at your local police station, FBI, or White House.

    What police officers know and you don't know. What FBI agents know and you don't know. What Senators and US President know and you don't know.

    HOW DARE ARE YOU by calling them a NATIVE?!?!?! FIRST you work as a [position here] and tell us what do you think of Obama's statement! You may have a vital point on favor or oppose Obama's statement.

    For me, I favor Obama.
    Hey Obama, GO FOR IT!!

    August 6, 2007 05:04 am at 5:04 am |
  23. Q St Petersburg, FL

    Its time for unity... somehow if the egos could be put aside it would be nice to see Hilary work with Obama instead of against... They would make a great team as president & vice president...

    August 6, 2007 09:38 am at 9:38 am |
  24. REC, SLC, Ut

    Obama is not naive. He doesn't have enought experience to be naive. Inexperienced yes, stupid, yes. How in the hell do you think we could possible attack in a soverign country with nukes that the Moslims are dying to get hold of. That's all we need is a Moslim country with nukes and right next to India with nukes. India would use nukes in a second against a muslim terrorist country armed with nukes. As far as good intelligence – the whole argument as to why we shouldn't have gone to Iraq is because faulty intelligence. Our intelligence and our security etc isn't any better that it was before we went to Iraq and I surely wouldn't want to trust it as a reason to go into a country that could end up a terrorist nuclear capable country. There'd have to be pictures and fingerprints (absolute proof). First let's close the borders and rid this country of the terrorists that have entered in the last six years.
    I hear Obama answering questions because he doesn't want to appear inexperienced but too many times what I heard was naive or downright wrong because he is completely inexperienced but then so is Hillary. Remember Bill's not with her. But Hillary you are inexperienced .... no I'm not I have Bill!

    September 2, 2007 06:27 am at 6:27 am |
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