August 1st, 2007
01:45 PM ET
9 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. lavelle

    I call that leadership, come right and say what people are afraid to say. We know who attacked us but the American people for some reason forgot about 9/11. Well Obama didnt and he's showing why he should be the President of this country

    August 1, 2007 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  2. A, NY, NY

    Finally, someone who has the guts to go after Pakistan and Musharrah, who pretends to be our friend but provides safe-harbor and training grounds to terrorists of the likes of Osama bin Laden. Pakistan is a major problem, and unless we address it now, our country remains in real danger of another strike. I wonder what Obama would say in regards to the Israeli-Arab conflict? Would he agree to speaking to Hamas, who is gaining more strength in the region as reported today in the WSJ? Would he agree to the selling of millions of dollars of US technology to Mid-east "allies"? How about our heavy favoritism for Israel? Would he agree that is the fair and correct course of action?

    August 1, 2007 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Doug, Indianapolis, Indiana

    This clarity of vision and purpose is why he'll be our next president.

    August 1, 2007 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  4. Matt, Austin, Texas

    Many people are against the "war on terror" as a whole, due to the fact that you cannot wage war on an abstract idealogy. However, Obama is absolutely correct when he says that we need to focus on the areas that are actually training children and young adults to join al Qaeda and the Taliban, and leave this civil war in Iraq to be fought between the sects there. It's a disgrace that the United States hasn't found and eliminated the threat from bin Laden and his closest cronies.

    August 1, 2007 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  5. ReadBtwthlins

    Lets pull our troops out of Iraq and send them into Pakistan?? How naive..

    August 1, 2007 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  6. LeftyLosey

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

    And who's going to pay for that Obama..?? "The Rich"

    August 1, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  7. Providence, RI

    Again, it proves that Obama is "naive" in respect to foreign policy. Sending troops to pakistan will be a bad strategy, because it will escalate and spread the Islamist extremism around the world. Pakistan is our ally on war on terror, and Obama wants to invade our ally. It is not Pakistan that we need to send troops to; Pakistan needs to change its leader, Musharaf, who came to the power by military coup. Musharaf is a failure on war on terror.

    August 1, 2007 10:28 am at 10:28 am |
  8. Jeannie in Sacramento, CA

    I concur.... leave Iraq, go into Pakistan and get back into Afghanistan so once and for all, we can GET BIN LADEN. If Musharraf doesn't let us in despite actionable intelligence of al Qaeda activity in Pakistan, we should declare Pakistan a terrorist nation and hit it, as we did Afghanistan in 2001. Enough of the same wishy-washy non-action in Washington. I agree with Barack Obama.

    August 1, 2007 10:29 am at 10:29 am |
  9. Adam, Boston MA

    So let me get this straight... Obama will end the war in Iraq- bring the troops home for a couple days- then wage full scale war in Pakistan and Iraq? So much for the Dems spitting rhetoric of troop exhaustion.

    August 1, 2007 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  10. Bill, San Francisco, CA

    As an American citizen who has travelled through Pakistan and currently attends a well-accredited US university, I can tell you that if the US government thought they could traverse the difficult terrains of Iraq and Afghanistan, they havent seen anything yet. Pakistan is a much more complex and diverse terrain than both countries put together, and has nuclear power. Obama thinks that by suggesting something different he can get more votes when he just proves he doesnt know squat. Support this move into Pakistan and you support the countless deaths of more American soldiers. With this statement I've lost all respect and support for Obama.

    August 1, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  11. Ashar Irshad. Houston, TX

    I guess I am not a Obama fan anymore. Is this guy for real? Are you kidding me????

    August 1, 2007 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  12. Lynn, Sparks Nevada

    I have always wondered why Pakistan is hiding Bin Laden and Bush does nothing. It does not make sense. Obama is pointing this out. I think Obama will use pressure such as foreign aid to make Pakistan do the housecleaning itself, but there are some real questions as to why we tolerate terrorists in Pakistan and then invade Iraq. Iraq is the wrong war. And we should definitely threaten Pakistan, instead of standing by and wringing our hands, wishing they will do something. This is not a naive position. It is practical.

    August 1, 2007 10:45 am at 10:45 am |
  13. Josh

    I don't understand how it is naive to pull our troops out of a civil war and put them in places where they can finally go after the people who actually attacked us on 9/11. If they are in Pakistan, we should go there. If Pakistan is our ally in the "War on Terror" (that phrase doesn't even make sense), then they should do something about the REAL al-Qaeda terrorists that are training and recruiting there. If they don't, then our stance as allies isn't logical...unless you use the logic of this administration.

    August 1, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  14. John Thomas, Edina, MN

    When will everyone realize that we simply CANNOT AFFORD to police the world, no matter what the stakes are??? The USA is going broke and we're just about at the point of no return. It's time to wake up, people, and get someone into office that understands how deeply indebted we are as a country and that we cannot continue our military globe trotting! We need RON PAUL in office!

    August 1, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  15. Christopher, Bloomington, IN

    now dont get me wrong, obama would be a million times better than bush but are we really wanting to elect another democrat who's just going to spend billions and billions more on fighting terrorism? It's like the war on drugs in some ways- theres no true culprate or way to stop it so youve really got to start looking at solving it in other ways. maybe... i dont know... diplomacy? staying out of the middle east's business?

    August 1, 2007 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  16. RICH,NY NY


    August 1, 2007 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  17. Josh

    Bush is getting exactly what he is hoping for, as evidenced by Adam's comment, and it is what I was afraid of when the Democrats won control in November 2006. He wants the responsibility of Iraq to shift from him to the Democrats. One thing is clear: Iraq is Bush's fault. Yes, the Democrats are pontificating (probably too much) about how we should get our troops to come home. And I would love for them to come home. But, unfortunately, we do have to go after the terrorists who attacked us – I think more to send a message than anything. The fact that we have wasted the last 5 years in Iraq doing nothing but making us less safe and wearing down our military is not the fault of the Democrats – it is the fault of the Administration. However, I think the Dems should probably tone down their "Bring them home now" rhetoric.

    August 1, 2007 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  18. Boston MA

    I didnt know Obama was an hes not getting my vote

    August 1, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  19. Rochester, NY

    I don't understand how this is any better than the current situation we are in. We are still entrapped in an intangible and unwinnable "war". Rather than attacking Iraq, we'll attack Pakistan. Same war different country. Our focus should rather be rectifying this "war on terror" which is illegitimate and corrorsive. By promoting a war against an ideology, we are entrapping ourselves in a war that can never be won. You can kill the man but never the idea.

    August 1, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  20. Kash, ,Houston Texas

    Yes that would be very smart destabilize a nuclear nation, and convert the over 70% moderates in that country who have never voted for any Islamic party every into fanatics almost immediately.

    Very smart Mr Obama. Kudos for your far reaching strategic thinking.

    Maybe instead of talking about what to do next, you might want to talk about how do you get out of the quagmire Iraq where thousands of US soldiers have died in vain.

    As far as Osama and his evil comarades are concerned the best way to get them is to win the hearts and minds of the people around whose area they are surviving, this would have to be economically and through political manouvering.

    Dont give the mosquitos another chance to breed.

    August 1, 2007 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  21. Nowhere Man

    Those of you who are calling Obama naive don't get it. Obama clearly says "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and Musharraf WON'T ACT, we will."

    Obama is not talking about going blindly into Pakistan, he is talking about acting on solid intel and only if Musharraf doesn't do anything about it. It's quite simple.

    August 1, 2007 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  22. Jenny, Gainesville FL

    Obama has showed his leadership again and again. By the way, for people who said or thought that Obama plans to invade Pakistan, please read his transcript. Our coutry would be stronger if we, as citizens, read and listen carefully before responding to or commenting on what others write or say.

    August 1, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Rigso,MA

    What a hypocrite, he is so 'anti-war' but he wants to send our troops to fight in other muslim countries, what will the difference be? Pakistan is our ally, and the president there has a fine balancing act in being our ally but not alienating his own people, he is doing the best he can to keep that balance. Having him be assasinated or taken over by an extremist govt is a bad nightmare. Obama is 'naive and irresponsible'

    August 1, 2007 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  24. Alan Traettino- Ocean NJ

    Although I am a staunch Republican, I'm enlightened my Sen. Obama's words- however, I feel the need to correct his statement re: the missed opportunity for having failed to act on the actionable intelligence during the 2005 al Queda leadership meeting. His statement implies that Bush administration was the only administration that failed to act on actionable intelligence. Let us not forget the "numerous" opportunities that presented themselves during the Clnton administation. These opportunities were not acted upon either due to the potential political ramifications.
    A word to Sen. Obama- you will only win the hearts and minds of the people if you do not become part of the Washington Establishment. You have the opportunity to do great things to win the election- I firmly believe the country is not prepared for another 4 years of "Clintonism"- so take the golden ring that's being presented to you.

    August 1, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  25. hassan

    Send troops to Pakistan!!! 12 nuclear heads are sitting waiting. Doesnt make sense to go there as, again, we have a faulty intelligence and what we have done in Afghanistan and Iraq, we will do that same there too. "Finally someone has guts to go after Pakistan and Musharraf!, well, we all are fed by highly edited and biased news. "Pakistan is a safe harbor for terrorists", its funny that the people everyone calls terrorists were once trained by the CIA to fight the Russians and now for some reason they defected and stood against US and its policies. Having a typical pattern, US abandoned the clean_up in afghanistan after the war ended and hence this whole Taliban regime's existence. Think about it. If Musharraf was supporting the terrorists then he would he be a victim of three assasination attempts?

    August 1, 2007 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
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