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. James, New York, NY

    Doesn't matter if we aren't invading Pakistan. Any direct military action by the US with the backing of the Pakistani government will further destabilize Pakistan. If you read the news some of you people might understand how fragile the situation is in Pakistan. But of course the fact that some radical portion of the Pakistani goverment could end up with nukes isn't that big a deal.

    To top it all off by pulling out of Iraq you are guaranteeing yourself one hell of a mess which we will end up having to go back in and clean up. As it stands we are keeping Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia from backing their respective sides. We are also to some extent keeping Turkey from going in and beating the crap out of the Kurds in general.

    Obama's plan would be nicely titled "The Total Destabilization of the Middle East and Destruction of the American Economy" because the price of oil as it stands will only be a happy dream once the top blows of this kettle.

    But like they say, a people who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. And the US has forgotten all the lessons they have learned from the Civil War up to and including World War II

    August 1, 2007 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  2. Paddy, Charleston, South Carolina

    Any such action would be seen as an act of war, an act of war against a nuclear capable ally. What crack is he smoking? Arent things unstable enough in Pakistan as it is without launching a strike against soverign territory? What would such a stirke achieve? Probably the distruction of a few bildigs/tents and the deaths of a handful of zealots who will be quickly replaced. Juxtapose the "pros" with the "cons" which are thus:

    1)The loss of any cooperation from Pakistan
    2)Destabilisation of a nuclear armed state
    3)A certainty of very serious retaliation from Pakistan against US interests in the region not least from the ISI

    I think recent history has shown that world isnt simple and you cant use force to resolve every problem. Terrorism can only be stopped by ceasing indoctrination into the ideology. Blowing up some buildings/tents in Pakistan is not going tp achieve that.

    I'd expect such a glib, cheap soundbite from Donald Rummsfeld not Barack Obama.

    August 1, 2007 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  3. ObamaWillGetOsama, Kanawha, Iowa

    Obama didn’t say we were going to go to war AGAINST Pakistan, or even Afghanistan. He said were going to get “on the right battlefield”. He also spoke of developing partnerships and drying up terrorist support. He’s talking about wrapping up the Iraq mess, making the right deals with our Allies, and fighting WITH them (not AGAINST them) against the real threat (which is and always has been the REAL Al Qaeda), and finally getting Bin Laden, and getting even for 9/11! He’s talking about not acting like we need Musharraf’s permission to fire a cruise missile at a meeting of terrorists! Now I KNOW I’m voting for him, here in the Iowa primary!

    August 1, 2007 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  4. McEmtol, Lagos Nigeria

    Hi all, I was enraged when i read the CNN post but when i checked out the full speech at "" i couldn't but feel so proud of Obama.

    I think we need to ask the question. What is the media after. TO wreck this guy by distorting what he had said? I think this kind of journalism should not just go unchecked.

    August 1, 2007 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  5. RA Las Vegas, NV

    Has the Democratic Party lost its mind, or just its soul? Just please remember what our real veterans have sacrificed over the years for this country. Not Barack Obama; and where do you think he will generate all the capital to fund all these battles he specks of? I personally do not think he has the experience or mussels too handle what he is proposing and/or promising. Sounds just all his colleges (cronies); likened too mercantile shop keepers in disguise from Iraq as well with all the rest of our senators today. Most beguiling among the crowed seats in the house and the halls in congress of mendacity is none other than President George w. Bush and his counterfeit war polices reach all the back to his ill gotten presidency. I just cannot believe some of the just that is circulating today and how gullible people are today. Do you really think that man wrote the speech all by his lonesome?

    Is he just plain nutty? Or should he be getting information from Sparks Collage of Useless Knowledge! If he thinks we need to go after Afghanistan and Pakistan; developing a battle on that turf is death senescence’s not only for our troops in Iraq; we all will suffer the same fate.

    August 1, 2007 07:17 pm at 7:17 pm |
  6. Tom, Austin, TX

    Mr Obama you are a man without substance. You have spoken about your foreign policy and you quite honestly look dumb and ill-prepared to lead us anywhere but further chaos.

    I think you must be trying to prove something or making someone happy. I am not sure how can any sensible american vote for you knowing how knee jerk and shallow your perception of the world is.

    I do not believe america is ready for the _change_ you have been touting in your candidacy. You've got nothing better on the war-mongering Bush-Cheney philosophy.

    August 1, 2007 07:26 pm at 7:26 pm |
  7. McEmtol Fat, Lagos Nigeria

    To start with, I am a fan of both Clinton and Obama but when i read the different posts, i found many people just do a comment blindly without reason and this is largely due to the fact that sides have been taken and we just take whatever the guy on my side say to be unmistakeable. an example is from the debates, I wonder why nobody noticed Senator Joe Biden's oustanding performance so far. When i first read the CNN article i became disappointed in Obama despite the fact that I just like this guy. But when Lavelle refers us to read the entire article from "" I found it was a great speech that the media have distorted for God knows why.
    my point is we should try as much as possible to reason out of context the subject instead of blindly following candidates. Senator Clinton was clearly wrong in the last issue of name calling cos within context they were actually saying the same thing except that she changed her mind.
    God Bless america

    August 1, 2007 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  8. AJ, Seattle, WA

    So what happens when the terrorists shift bases to Iran, and then North Korea and then Syria .... ? And he is talking about giving the same military force that has failed terribly in Iraq, an order of magnitude bigger challenge Frankly the US military has a lot to prove before they can be set off on a grandiose plan to conquer the world.

    August 1, 2007 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  9. E. Elliott, Orlando, Florida

    The terrorists are only one bomb away from removing Bush's buddy in Pakistan. Only billions a year in give aways have kept our friendly dictator in power. The longer he is there the more they will hate the US once he is dead. If our worthless W does not have a plan to put boots on the ground there when he dies to grab the nukes he built with his own pooe people's sweat, while American funds were holding up his regime, then the 9-11 attack will be small potatos. The terrorists will test that bomb in NYC. If this war in Iraq were not for the oil and juvenile family pride, this group along the Afgan border would have been crushed years ago. Thanks to Acting President Chaney and the 59 million fools that voted for it, we are indeed less safe than on 9-11.

    August 1, 2007 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  10. E. Elliott, Orlando, Florida

    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.

    Actually you can , but you have to have the guts to play a nasty game even more nasty than the foe. If they do not fear death, teach them the meaning. They murder 12 innocents in Baghdad, hang 120 of their captured buddies. They bomb a market and kill 50, hang 500. It would stop in a hurry. But the oil lobby does not want the Iraqi war to end. Nor does the Administration have the guts to do it right. Their oil friends have stolen 60B$ in Iraqi oil during the current regime's occupation. A broken Iraq allows this rape to continue. And it WILL continue as long as Chaney is the President, oops, forgot the lapdog in chief. They will get their kick backs after they leave office.

    August 1, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  11. Aymeric, France

    That Obama kid is more than naive, he's totally stupid and out of the realities of today's world. Would the US army TRY to invade Pakistan, it would be CRUSHED like never before. Viet Nam would look like garden party in comparison. And don't forget that China is one of the main economic and strategic partner of Pakistan !

    So easy to make a scapegoat of Pakistan to justify to total inability of the army to do his "job" in Afghanistan. Typically american !

    Enough of US imperialism ! The Fascist United States of America have become the greatest threat to the world stability. All that because a bunch of satanic governing corporate leaders want to fill even more their pockets. Nevermind if thousands of innocent people have to be bombed, nevermind if whole countries must be destroyed, if it's for the "good" of America, eh ?
    I wish American people would have balls and stand against their government, if not uproot it. Yeah, one good American civil war would bring some fresh air to the world! Alas most are brainless cowards who are too much scared to loose their sofa/TV-set and SUV. One day will come when America will have to pay for all the suffering and destruction it has brought to the world. And all the America's Gold and weapons won't help in anyway, because the bill will be of Divine origin. Patience, the monster is due to die !
    Viva la Libertad ! Death to the Tyrans !

    August 1, 2007 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  12. John, Florida

    Him. Let me cross him off the list of candidates I support. He is just as bad as the right wing. Supporting any sovereign nation is against international law, is unconstitutional, and is immoral. Obama would use nukes too. How can we support these war-mongers.

    Right now Paul, Gravel, and Kucinich are the only candidates following the constitution, following their religion, and following international law. You're nothing Obama, go join Rudy, Hilary, Fred, John, and Mitt as moronic idiots who deserve nothing but prison time.

    August 1, 2007 08:24 pm at 8:24 pm |
  13. Sam, San Jose CA

    Attacking Pakistan tribal area will be a big mess. Pakistan's people and government wants more than Amercian to kick those foreign terrorist out of their land but its not easy. Have we been able to get Taliban and Al-Qaeda out of Afghanistan where we have the control?? We need to provide those intelligence to Pakistanis to get rid of these terrorist. This is the only way out. Nevertheless, Pakistan has sacrificed more troops in the fight against Taliban and Al-Qaeda than Americans. Why dont we appreciate these facts rather then blindly calling Pakistan a non-ally.

    August 1, 2007 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  14. Ram. Sunnyvale, CA

    Invading Pakistan, what an insane thinking?, but Obama is correct that we should have first cleared pakistan-afgan border, even before thinking of attacking Iraq for 9/11. Because that border region was used to plan, train, co-ordinate not just 9/11, but even now at this moment there may be some plans going on to attack various parts of world.

    But Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan to think of to invade. I agree this carrot and stick method used by Bush administration is not working, and if that area is not cleared quickly, then it will permanently put the world in danger. I feel first we need to change Army regime in Pakistan, and then put extreme pressure……

    August 1, 2007 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  15. Jose, West Lafayette IN

    I think Obama just lost my vote. This guy talks a lot about the war in Iraq and now he wants to go to war against Pakistan?? You are kidding right??

    August 1, 2007 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  16. SandeepB, San Francisco, CA

    Obama is a nice guy but he is saying things for political mileage. Those Obama supporters who have to talk in bold and caps are showing their desperation.

    Change for the sake of change is meaningless. Change must be based on facts and understanding of how the world works, not how US citizens sensitive mindset works. Obama is playing to the sensitive mindset.

    Here is a thought. Obama has been in Senate for a while and he has never asked tough questions or engaged in serious discussions with Ambassadors of rogue countries. And he says will talk in the first year of Presidency? Why? Because he can cast himself as different.

    Well act first if you want to be different, dont be lazy to do good things only if we offer you White House. I think Obama is showing he is as opportunistic as all political starters are.

    Hope is good, Reality is much better. Hope is fluff, Reality is substance.

    August 1, 2007 08:49 pm at 8:49 pm |
  17. Mr. Coffey, Raleigh, NC

    We should all take vacations to Pakistan. I'm sure we'll all be welcome with open arms (guns). Maybe we get to keep our heads on the way home. READ THE SPEECH people. Never mind...just vote Hillary. She is blessed by the media and obviously represents the majority of the public who also doesn't like to read important information(NIE, Obama's speech). Why read when you have headlines or staff to give you cliff notes. :0

    August 1, 2007 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  18. Dan, TX

    James point is good except that he missed the part where Obama said he would keep some troops in Iraq to fight extremists and help the Iraqi government gain stability. How many would he leave in? From my reading of his speech it shounds like he will reduce troop strength be at least two brigades. Those two brigades would go to Afganistan. So we wouldn't have to go back into Iraq, because we'll still be there.

    Anyone disagree that this is what Obama said?

    August 1, 2007 09:29 pm at 9:29 pm |
  19. Adam Sharp, Columbus OH

    Wait, let me get this straight. Obama's plan for our nation is to invade a country (which, at this point in time is an ally) that is unstable and has nuclear weapons. I may only be 17 but I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that something tells me that invading an ally with nuclear weapons is generally not a good idea. I think Obama has faulty intelligence... his own.

    August 1, 2007 09:47 pm at 9:47 pm |
  20. lavelle

    so we should just let Osama chill live free as he pleases while you sit at home and wait for his next attack! lol come there are way more people living in Iraq way more and look what that plan has gotten us. You know you people are never satisfied and yet you have all the answers. You live in fear at home and care more about pakistan and saying it will destabilize the entire middle east? LOL come on there is no rule over there and we put so much trust in Musharrah and say "oh its so deilcate over there" well your saftey and your american citizens saftey is delicat too just ask Bin Laden! Ok so what should America do? Since you seem to hold a cabinet seat or something.

    August 1, 2007 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  21. Mark, Hartford, CT

    Since when is going after Bin Laden a bad idea? Obama spoke about "taking action", which doesn't necessarily mean a full scale invasion (in the same way Bill Clinton took action by attempting to take out Bin Laden with a missle strike). Anyone saying that Obama was specifically condoning a full-scale invasion of Pakistan is just spouting spin at this point.

    August 1, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  22. Gina, Chicago IL

    Mr. Naive is trying to act tough to redeem his embarrasment from his obvious lack of experience or should I say ignorance of diplomacy and foreign policy. Too late for this tough talk. I don't think voters are dumb & foolish to fall for his never-ending 'spin'. And by the way, I never see any sense of humility from this simpleton. How sad for him thinking that he can win the presidency. That will never happen Mr. Naive!

    August 1, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  23. Benoy

    Obama is absolutely correct. He should be our next President. He is excellent. I appreciate his courage.
    Obama told the truth and he gave the exact solutions for the threats. Please think indipendently and fairly before going for 2008 choice. Choose this courageous man for leading us.

    August 1, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  24. Walter E, Brooklyn NY

    In less than two weeks, Obama has made two significant statements that show he is not ready for the game of international politics. Trouble is, he may be playing the game of American politics very well.

    Meeting with any foreign leader under any circumstances is not something the President of the United States for both international and national political reasons. We have issues with some of these countries and they do need resolutions. We should not be willing to let our issue with Cuba remain where it is for the next ten years. The Cuban people are not our enemies and the hard feelings between our government and their government need to die before Catro dies. But the next American President does not need to get on a plane to Havanna right after his inaguration.

    Attack Pakistan? I know you want to look tough, but brother (and I mean that as a fellow American, a Christian and a black man) you were way better off looking smart.

    We've elected a tough, if not so smart President. Now, we (the American people) are looking for a smart President. We think you are pretty smart, but, I didn't need any news analyst to tell me that Hilliary gave the smarter answer in the debate.

    When you start getting bombed for this tough stance on Pakistan, look around the room and ask your people who came up with this idea: "Did you used to work for Bush 43?" That will give you two reasons to fire them for coming up with this tough stance. 1. If they answer yes, then they weren't smart or loyal enough to work for Bush. 2. If they answer no, then they don't have the strength of mind to recognize that Pakistan is a country which could very easily lead the world into nuclear war, not because they have anything against us, but because if the wrong guy were to replace a Musharif destablized by aggressive US actions in western Pakistan, there might be a big problem in eastern Pakistan along the disputed border with India and so you fire them for not considering that.

    After all, isn't the problem with the Bush administration that they didn't consider all of the possible consequences of their actions.

    August 1, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
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