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. John, Santa Ana Ca

    Obama is just saying what people want to hear without thinking of any consequences. That is exactly what we need, another cow boy, just black this time in the White house ! I dotn think Obama has has idea what he is talking about. He is just concerned about getting votes by saying what the people want to hear ! Go vote for him and start another war, fund it with your tax payers money while the trade deficit increases and our jobs move to China and India so in 10 or 20 years we become a poor uneducated country where there is no work. Maybe than the terrorist will stop coming after us !! Or wait.. maybe we can mind our own business instead of meddling in affairs of countries around the world .. Nah .. that would be too much to ask from a nation of Cowboys !

    August 1, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  2. Linda - Albany, NY

    That's rich...another President that never fought in a war, waging war?

    August 1, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. Alex Laguna Niguel, CA

    If your read this speech and say that he is naive and you are a registered voter you should unregister immediately because you are too ignorant to be deciding the fate of our nation
    Read the entire thing, hes right and his willing to actually say what he means.

    August 1, 2007 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  4. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    "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.”

    Yeah – I have no doubt Pakistan Government will receive our troops with open arms! Wait... if I remember correctly when Bush was negotiating with Pakistan the deal was we would not enter their country but they would run raids on the borders in support of our efforts.

    Granted Pakistan has rougue elements within the military... but exactly is Obama going to convince the Pakistani people to allow our soldiers on their soil with arms and the likely event of "collateral damage"???


    August 1, 2007 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  5. Erik

    Go Obama! Put the focus back where it belongs. Finally someone that makes sense. You go after the people who committed the crime. Obama in 08!

    August 1, 2007 12:31 pm at 12:31 pm |
  6. Keith, Wake Forest NC

    Bob, New York, NY/Mr. Coffey, Raleigh, NC,

    I believe both Obama and Clinton stated they would only support more nuclear power if the matter of disposing the waste and cost could be much better managed.

    I agree with this stance on nuclear and think we should aggressively pursue other renewable and alternative energies that have been on the brink of acceptability for quite a long time. Of these, I don't think corn ethanol be included as its usage hurts the food supply and it looks to be that switch grass maybe be the best overall ethanol solution.

    August 1, 2007 12:32 pm at 12:32 pm |
  7. Terry, Columbus OH

    You people who are against Obama don't get it. He is trying to change for the good the way this country is run politically, he is engaging the youth of this country and they are beginning to participate in the process. Both parties seem to forget that we the people can remove them from office in November 2008. For the Black person (Tutu Borås )that said this country is not ready for a Black president, you need to consider staying in sweden. Candidates say things they regret later except for Bush, he stands by every word he says. When Obama becomes president I hope he surrounds himself with people who are honest and not afraid to disagree with him. Not unlike the present administration we have now, totally incompetent! It's time to give the DEMS the power to correct the cuts for the rich, conservative Supreme Court Judges and any other idiotic law are idea that Bush/Cheney/Roe have concocted for the last 7 years. For those of you who continue to blame Clinton, please, please get a life, the IRAQ war is BUSH's mess and always will be his war, that's his legacy!!!

    August 1, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  8. John Beacon NY

    I think Obama is absolutely right Pakistan might as well be harboring Osama Bin Ladin because they certainly are doing nothing to kill or capture him.

    August 1, 2007 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  9. Cornelis Pieterse, Wilton, New Hampshire

    Obama is not talking about invading Pakistan, but strenthening the international forces already there, and creating a comprehensive political and economic strategy against terrorism. About time! That should have been done 5 years ago. It would have saved us thousands of American and Iraqi lives and billions of dollars. Those who call this naive, are naive.

    August 1, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  10. jean,tampa,fl

    While I understand that he did not say he will not attack the government or the general citizens of Pakistan, he really doesn't understand the complexity of the situation. The result of Iraq can not be used as a predictor of how Pakistan will result. I am sure about one thing, that every citizen of Pakistan will become a troop. One thing that makes a country angrier and more hostile than anything is to have foreign troops on its soil. Every citizen will join together on this. They are not afraid. Let's be honest, if a country does not like what's going on here and invades OUR soil, what do you think we're going to do? Sit like lame ducks? It's a normal response. How could we expect that? More radicalism WILL be created. I am not sure why the U.S. has to mess with an ally and not be more patient. Perhaps this plan was already in the works, and perhaps this is why the U.S. is working out some 'special' arms deals with India. Our governement unfortunately is not honest about its intentions or its actual plans.

    August 1, 2007 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  11. Bob Hart, San Jose, CA

    Common sense 101

    Obama's strategy
    Hit the place where terrorists live – Pakistan

    Bush's strategy
    Hit an innocent place and create new terrorists – Iraq

    Finally we have one presidential candidate who sees the light

    August 1, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  12. Paul- Douglasville GA.

    There are real terrorists murdering "real" innocent people in pakistan. In Kashmir islamic fundementalists ran over 3 million Pundits (Hindus) out of Kashmir because they were not "believers". This was back in 98'. To this day the Pundits still live in holes in the ground and the terrorists murder them for sport. It is the real frontline of terrorism. Ofcourse Bush befriends the muslims. Terrorism in Pakistan is due to America doing "business" with Muslims in Kashmir. Hindus are a non-violent people of various sects, who all preach gentleness and peacefulness. They only believe in fighting as a last resort. Thier women and children have been getting slaughtered by these "muslims" for millenia. If you stupid people can't see the truth, it's because you don't want to. You don't feel it necessary to help people who are not "christians". Trust me you will not get into heaven that way.
    You don't care and you're just looking for a reason to do without a black president. Why not just choose the obvious reason? Black Americans don't need to be running the world. They have too many issues and hate every other race on earth for it. Put them into play and they'll be worse terrorists than Bush...sorry.

    August 1, 2007 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  13. V, San Diego, CA

    It's so interesting how a lot of you just type comments over one small part of the speech.

    READ THE ENTIRE SPEECH! CNN and MSM only take one small part OUT OF THE BIG PICTURE.

    I dare you READ..IT...FIRST!! THE ENTIRE THING...NOT JUST A SNIP. Then post your comment.

    Then, tell me if you still think Obama is NAIVE. He's the only one who has the whole vision.

    Don't be like Hillary who voted for the war without reading the NIE. Don't just put your two cents in about Obama's foreign policy, without reading the entire speeach. Do your homework!!!

    August 1, 2007 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  14. Shameon Themedia

    I was always a big supporter of Senator Obama but not ANYMORE. He is yet another WAR monger. I did not know Obama was such an IDIOT. Pakistan is an ally and a nuclear state. Tell him to go visit the northern terrains of Pakistan. Iraq and Afghanistan would look an easy task then.
    What happened to the idea of winning the hearts and minds of the people of the region through economical and social developments?

    GO Dennis Kucinich for 2008!!!

    August 1, 2007 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  15. Dan, TX

    Yep, it is clear that most people posting about Obama starting a war in Pakistan did not actually understand what he was saying.

    Iraq is not the right place to be fighting the terrorists. The war was to remove Saddam from power and establish a government that would want to sell oil to its liberators, thus, securing a stable oil supply. That is a useful goal. Unfortunately, it isn't working out as well as we would like. We want to help establish democracy in Iraq but, unfortunately, this will take several more years. If we pull out now, we don't secure our objective of stable oil supply.

    Obama is saying we need to work with our Afgani and Pakistani allies to fight the terrorists where they are strongest. They will need military assistance for this. We would pursue this with the ASSISTANCE OF AFGANISTAN AND PAKISTAN. In fact, putting the terrorists on defensive is so important, we should be willing to strike terrorist locations, even if it is politically difficult for our Pakistan ally. The region of Pakistan with terrorists is not controlled by the Pakistani government. Even if it is politically damaging to Musharraf, we should hit this region of Pakistan if we know where the terrorists are.

    Do we have the military prowess to carry out our mission in both Iraq and Afganistan/Pakistan? That is the question. Obama thinks we can and should reduce our military effort in Iraq to cover the needs in Afganistan/Pakistan.

    Obama gives a reasonable straightforward opinion. You can agree or disagree, but it is certainly not naive. Unless we start getting more volunteers for military service, we have to make a choice. 1) move troops from Iraq to Afganistan 2) just bring them home and lose the access to oil or 3) just leave things as they are and hope (pray?) for the best.

    August 1, 2007 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  16. GM, Santa Monica, CA

    So the Democrat's answer to ending the War in Iraq is attacking Pakistan?

    August 1, 2007 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  17. Laurie McVarie Sarasota, FL

    Too many people are feeling that there is something fishy with Pakistan being an "ally".

    Two excuses that people ( prolly Pakistanis ) on this board are saying –

    1. Dont attack Pakistan, they have a very strong army.
    psst...if their army is that strong, why can't they control the terrorists ?

    2. Dont attack Pakistan, terrorists will overthrow the govt.
    duhh...if the govt is that weak, US should move in immediately to put down the terrorists!!

    Something doesn't add up here. The American people want an end to terrorism.
    Obama has the guts to say what the majority of American people are saying. For that reason alone, he should be president.

    August 1, 2007 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  18. mike sosnowski chicago illinois

    you know, lateley this guy is looking very wrong.

    August 1, 2007 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  19. KU, Washington DC

    Now I know what people meant by saying *thin political resume*. Just having the charisma of delivering a speech does not mean you are ready to take the presidency.

    Obama needs to dedicate his efforts towards developing sustainable peace, rather than involving america in another quagmire.

    August 1, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |

    "So the Democrat’s answer to ending the War in Iraq is attacking Pakistan?"

    No. Read for comprehension.

    August 1, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  21. James, St. Louis, MO

    “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.”

    This is a critical bit of nuance. He's not advocating establishing a presence in Pakistan as we have in Iraq, he's talking about discrete military strikes. Huge difference, especially when you're talking about a region that isn't even really controlled by the government in Pakistan.

    August 1, 2007 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  22. Kevin---Houston, TX

    CNN and other outlets (Drudge,Fox News,etc.) are acting irresponsibly by reducing a 5000-word thesis into one controversial sentence for a headline. I am so sick of this. This is a perfect example for why our political system is so @#$@%^$ up. All you do is make it as sensational as possible to get attention. If people would read the whole thing, they wouldn't be posting all this utter nonsense about invading Pakistan. ACTING ON SOLID INTELLIGENCE TO KILL BIN LADEN INSIDE PAKISTAN IF MUSHARRAF REFUSES TO DO IT IS NOT INVADING PAKISTAN, MORONS. There isn't a patriot in this country he would take issue with this. If Clinton had done it when he had the chance 3000 people would still be alive. Let's not get another 3000 killed to protect Musharraf, who is in power through a military coup, anyway.

    August 1, 2007 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  23. Mohammed Khan, Karachi, Pakistan

    I could not believe the nonsense I am reading on this board.

    Attak Pakistan ? Are you out of your mind?

    Let me tell you war-mongers one thing – every Pakistani will pick up arms to fight the US army. And we have one of the best army and air force in the whole world. Not to mention , our friend China will also keep its promise to defend us.

    And finally, the Pakistani govt is well justified in nuking US forces if they are foolish enough to do this.

    Dont be under any illusion. We are not Iraq. We have defeated superpower before ( Soviet Union ). If Allah wants us to defeat the other superpower, we will do it just as easily.

    August 1, 2007 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. Percy Goode, Atlanta Georgia

    This guy is done. Sorry Senator Obama, you can always go on Oprah.

    I wonder who Hillary is going to pick as her running mate???

    August 1, 2007 12:55 pm at 12:55 pm |
  25. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Bob Hart ~ San Jose writes,
    Common sense 101

    Obama’s strategy
    Hit the place where terrorists live – Pakistan

    Bush’s strategy
    Hit an innocent place and create new terrorists – Iraq

    Finally we have one presidential candidate who sees the light
    = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

    "Innocent" – is that the term you libs are now calling Saddam? You MIGHT want to come out of your self-induced haze and recall WHY we removed Saddam (UN Resolution 1441 passing unanimously after 10 years and 10 previous UN Resolutions calling for Saddam to comply with inspections and dearming). Bush NEVER said Saddam was involved with 9/11.

    Hit Pakistan? So you're proposing we invade a country with proven nuclear weaponry?

    The only light I can see is a huge mushroom cloud engulfing our ground troops in Pakistan. Obama needs to stick to the Oprah show and stay out of foreign policy!

    August 1, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
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