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. Hassan

    It seems people are seriously misinformed and Obama is taking advantage of that. Pakistan is no Iraq or Afghanistan. It has world's one of best airforce and army. This is just cheap talk to get elected. Bash Pakistan, bash Saudi Arabia etc, because people have strong sentiments against them. But once elected he would be going their to have sound relationship. Democrats make me sick.

    August 1, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  2. KD, Dallas, TX

    Naivity is an easy word to throw out. If you follow what has really been going on with 911 and events since then, Pakistan and Afghanistan are where the real terror threats are coming from. Naivity is listening to what the president has been saying and just going with it. It's so obvious now that he put us at war with Iraq without any threat to the US being there. Why? Look up a pre 911 policy called Project for a New American Century. Iraq was never an issue before the war. It was easy for the president to gain trust and illicit action due to fear that resulted from 911. There were no Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq at the time. There are few there now. Iraq is really the result of a Civil war between three major groups fighting for control. Our American soldiers are at risk in Iraq mostly due to the chaos from a civil war, but now that it is such a weak country Al Qaeda has much easier access to them as well. Pakistan is where Bin Laden is hiding. If we did further research into the 911 funding, it has been found that Pakistan had a hand in 911, more than Iraq ever did. Although I agree with what Obama is saying, I doubt he will gain support for another war due to Bush putting us in an unnecessary war in Iraq, and taking the focus and finances away from where we needed to be to eliminate the threat we face due to Al Qaeda and Bin Ladin.

    August 1, 2007 11:02 am at 11:02 am |
  3. Josh

    If Bill the Pakistan geography expert from San Francisco can travel through Pakistan, then I think our troop can probably do it. No one claims that it would be an easy war – I don't believe there ever has been one. But I think it is better to try to go after them rather than to let them burgeon back to their pre-9/11 strength. Oops, we already did that by wasting 5 years in Iraq.

    August 1, 2007 11:05 am at 11:05 am |
  4. David, Gilbert Arizona

    I'm not sure who is more naive, Obama or the people posting here. Pakistan is our ally not our enemy. U.S. troops are already in Pakistan fighting along side Pakistani troops.

    I agree with Obama that the war on terror should be fought in Afghanistan but to say he would invade an allied nation if the president of that nation did not do his bidding makes Obama out to be an idiot.

    We work WITH our allies, not against them, especially when they have nukes of their own.

    Obama's inexperience shines through brighter and brighter each day.

    August 1, 2007 11:07 am at 11:07 am |
  5. lavelle

    When i look at the comments from the many Obama haters, I question there strategy on fighting Al queda. We should pull out of Iraq and just sit here and let Al Quieda increase even more? Come on stop trying to be so political and call Obama names for trying to keep america safe. Your screaming bloody murder for a man who is taking the fight to the people who killed 3,000 people? Politics are thrown out the window when inocent people continue to die from exremist. We should say we cant do,wont do and not even try to keep this country safe by going after al quieda? yeah whats your bright ideas for keeping us safe?

    August 1, 2007 11:12 am at 11:12 am |
  6. Ziad, Atlanta GA

    Everybody keep saying Osama is in Pakistan without any solid evidence. Its just opening fire in the dark, thinking you are killing all the enemies. And what if we don't find him in Pakistan, whats next? India? I mean come on. This way we'll make more enemies. Sending troops all over the world is not the solution.

    August 1, 2007 11:13 am at 11:13 am |
  7. Randy, Lakeland, Florida

    President Barack Obama!! God, I pray that we can say that one day soon! This man is by FAR the most intelligent and qualified person running for office on either side. The perfect ticket would be either Obama running with Edwards or Biden as his VP. Anyone who has studied the Middle East would know that Obama's plan is right on the money! My full support of time and money is going toward his campaign.

    August 1, 2007 11:15 am at 11:15 am |
  8. Tutu Borås Sweden

    I am black man but i strongly believe that America is not yet ready for a black presidents, judging by the recents uterance of Obama.
    He claimed that he would engage Castro, Iran, Syria etc in the first year.
    he wants to pull the solders out of Iraq.
    Now he wants to go inside Pakistan.
    If shows he lacks experience and does not understand what he is talking about. America should watch out for him

    August 1, 2007 11:16 am at 11:16 am |
  9. Dan

    Yeah, Pakistan is our ally as long as Musharraf's shaky regime holds power. Just wait until he's overthrown.

    August 1, 2007 11:17 am at 11:17 am |
  10. Mary, Washington DC

    I think this is really a strong speech, and correct me if I'm wrong, the first comprehensive plan on terrorism by a Democratic candidate...that's a big deal considering it is the most critical issue of the day. I think it's bold to call a spade a spade: If Mushariff won't get OBL, then the next American president, regardless of who they are, must be committed to doing so.

    August 1, 2007 11:18 am at 11:18 am |
  11. Josh

    Right, let's continue to work with our "allies" who continue to do nothing about the terrorists training inside their borders. As long as we call them "allies" they can do whatever they want. Hey, while we are at it, lets sell $20 billion in arms to Saudi Arabia! I think I remember that the majority of the terrorists on 9/11 were Saudis, and the majority of the foreign terrorists in Iraq are Saudis, but they are our "allies"!! Oh, and I think Kind Abdullah and Bush have a pretty good financial relationship, too. But as long as they continue to help us win the "War on an abstract idea that has existed for over 4,000 years" then lets keep our hands off.

    August 1, 2007 11:19 am at 11:19 am |
  12. Wallace, Philly, PA

    Everyone just needs to wait for his delivery.

    August 1, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  13. Mtai, Washington, DC

    He won't get my vote. By spreading its modern day colonial regime and seeking to democratize other nations under the guise of fighting terrorism the U.S. is wrapped in a web of reap what you sew. Bring the troops home and then send them to Pakistan? Doesn't make much logical sense to me. Seems he wants to continue to make the U.S. the most hated country, the largest violator of human rights atrocities by forging ahead with yet another war. The U.S. doesn't want it with the Middle East. I say no to Obama in '08!!!

    August 1, 2007 11:23 am at 11:23 am |
  14. Raj, Seattle WA

    I have always been a republican and will hopefully be one for the rest of my life. I have been saying all along that the root cause of the terror is Pakistan. They're the ones who created taliban in the first place so how can we expect them to destroy it. Afghanistan is their playground and they are playing with us and acting to support the "War on terror" when as a matter of fact they are using us for money. Osama's in Pakistan along with all his henchman. If i were the president, i would take troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan and go on an offensive against Pakistan. Besides, we can always get India to help us and that way we won't use out troops that much. Hopefully a republican candidate says the same thing otherwise i might, again i MIGHT just consider voting for obama.

    August 1, 2007 11:24 am at 11:24 am |
  15. Melisa, Springfield, Illinois

    “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"

    Um, that word, WAR is appropriate for the subject at hand-yet is it possible that his idea of fighting a war is through relationships with the characters of interest?

    I hope so. War doesn't decide who is right, it only decides who is left. I wish the madness would stop and I wish for America to grow strong within its own America, again.

    We are becoming weak; to say that America is great is only to say it! WHERE IS IT! The world is creeping up and they are curious and our special characters of interest are sitting and waiting and if OUR leaders keep it up we will be a broke joke and under someone else's rule-whether is be economically or we actually start speaking Chinese-

    All great Empire's fall, look at history and look at how and why it happened. Get Real America, and do it fast.

    August 1, 2007 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  16. John S. Chicago, Illinois

    Gutless COWARDS are the people whom changed their view of Obama for saying he will try to find the people responsible for 9-11. Are you people so dumb to realize that this war in Iraq is a disaster designed to help bush and his cronies to make billions of dollars off the death of american lives. what the hell. aparently you people dont care that osama bin laden still is living in pakistan and planning on killing more americans. unlike the iraqis who were content to be shmoes. if we would have gone the tough route, the righteous route from the beginning, we could already have bin laden by now. THIS COUNTRY IS GOING TO HELL, unbelivable selfishness and ignorance will be the downfall of america. This is a bright person, far brighter than any of us. just listen to the man talk for a while, instead of being all "oh i lost all respect cause he said he wanted to find bin laden."

    God how stupid are the people of this nation?

    August 1, 2007 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  17. Mr. Coffey, Raleigh, NC

    Let me get this straight. If a group of terrorist attacked us and hid in say...Mexico, and the Mexican gov't refused capture them, we would give then a free pass? I understand now. We only respond to attackers if they hide in a country we don't like. We'll just wait for them to kindly move to a nation we'd like to attack or just surrender. Please don't let the next attackers hide in Eygpt, Jordan, India, Saudi Arabia or any of our friendly African nations.

    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.

    August 1, 2007 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
  18. Wallace, Philly, PA

    Raj of Seattle WA, your response is the most honest that I've ever heard from a self proclaimed Republican. You are just as brave as Obama.

    August 1, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  19. lavelle

    I think you guys should read his full speach CNN only spun his speach to get the reaction that he's "naive" it so funny how the media works when you readh his speach he will make you feel proud to be an american and ashamed at what bush has put us through.

    This was a great speach he is a wonderful speaker and he is getting over looked

    August 1, 2007 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  20. Ed Harrison , Pittsburgh, PA

    Pakistan has been the central source of terrorism. Read any terrorist incident in the world and inevitably you see "..had visited Pakistan to receive training"

    The simple question is, why isn't the US pressuring Musharak to act ? It needs a new approach. Maybe Musharak would feel more co-operative after a 3 day aerial bombing of Pakistan's terrorist areas

    Obama is on the right track

    August 1, 2007 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  21. Justin, Miami Florida

    People, please re-read the article and think about it for a second. Just because Obama is saying we need to move the fight to Pakistan/Afghanistan does NOT necessarily mean TROOP engagement. I think people don't realize there are other ways to fight this war than to engage troops, and Obama sees that. He also realizes where the real problems are, and he is bold enough to come out and say "I have and plan, and this is what I am going to do. Don't turn your back on the best bet this country has based on an article. The common reason people won't support Obama is b/c they don't listen to what he is really saying.

    Its our job as voters to be smart enough to tell the difference between someone who is Naive, and someone with real ideas as well as a sense of purpose and direction.

    August 1, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  22. Steve, Denver, CO

    You want to call him naive? He is only saying he will do what Bush promised six years ago. Fight terror where it lives. Good to hear a Dem expand on what "pull out" of Iraq really means.

    August 1, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |
  23. John S. Chicago, Illinois




    We are fighting Iraqis in Iraq, not terrorists, they are fundamentalist muslims that are reacting to unjustified occupation and chaos.


    August 1, 2007 11:37 am at 11:37 am |

    Obama and his advisers understand where the real enemies are. They are not in Iraq. They are in the mountainous regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan plotting more attacks and I'm glad to see that Barack Obama understands this. We (people opposed to this war in Iraq) complain everyday that Bush has our troops bogged down in Iraq while Osama Bin laden and Ayman Al Zawahiri continue to avoid death and capture. Why would you be opposed to going into Pakistan to go get them?

    Barack Obama is right.... "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.”

    What are y'all afraid of? You do want Osama Bin Laden captured or killed, right? We all know Bush and the Neo-Cons failed at bringing the real ones who attacked on us 9/11 to justice. They failed. If Barack Obama's plan won't work, can somebody on this blog put a plan on the table that will?

    Thanks for the real talk, Barack!

    August 1, 2007 11:40 am at 11:40 am |
  25. Mike, Phoenix, Arizona

    There's really nothing to dislike about Obama, but the more he discusses foreign policy the more he shows himself to be a political lightweight. I am NO Hillary Clinton fan, but she "smoked him" in the debate when he said unequivocally he would meet with foreign leaders considered rogues within his first year of the Presidency. Every time he discussed foreign policy he digs his hole deeper. He's probably future President, but he is no way, shape, or form ready to assume the mantle of that office at this point or at anytime in the next few years.

    August 1, 2007 11:44 am at 11:44 am |
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