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. ZQ, Santa Barbara, California

    These remarks will haunt Senator Obama, during his campaign and during his presidency if he is elected. Stirking inside Pakistan's territory would only create more religious extremists. Musharaff need encouragement and help to eliminate such extremist, not threatened. No one have and no one will win a war in tribal Pakistan. Read History.

    August 1, 2007 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  2. detroit, mi

    let me get this straight; the 9/11 hijackers were saudi and bush just gave billions to them for more arms. is that right?!?! pakistan is not the problem; what happened to the "cia and fbi"!?!? weren't they supposed to be after this guy. why the heck haven't they found him yet. and further more, how many more countries are we going to tick off before we realize the incredible harm we have done on our reputation. wake up usa! killing more people is not going to save us. trust me.

    August 1, 2007 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  3. Kash, ,Houston Texas

    And by the way which Intelligence is every one talking about? The same intelligence which our great secretary of state brandished in front of the UN when we were going into Irag. Weapons of Mass destruction any one?

    So now all of those who support action against Pakistan are calling up intelligence from the same group of agencies as a reason to go to Pakistan.

    Mr. Obama knows it would not be wise to attack a country of 160 million with nuclear warheads and 600K plus army, who is he kidding we have no more troops to send anywhere else.

    He is just doing this to gain politcal mileage. The problem is that although he is getting political mileage here in the US as I can tell by the comments which are being posted, on the other hand he is sending a very bad message to the people of pakistan. Guess what we want you to help us but if you dont we will come after you.

    And that to because of the same intelligence we had when we went into Iraq.

    Oh yes the world will support us this time, weapons of mass destruction remember that.

    It would be wise to remember an old saying

    "To Kill a mosquito you dont need an elephant"

    Go after Osama by all means do it through good intelligence and law enforcement.

    Remember all the major Al-qaida activist that have been caught have been through the help of pakistan government. Loose that support then get ready for opening the pandoras box.

    And there is nothing naive about that!

    August 1, 2007 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  4. Lorinda, Seattle, WA

    Finally. Someone willing to do what should have happened after 9/11. Osama bin Laden started this war on the American people- and fled to Pakistan. That was side-stepped by the Bush administration. An "ally" does not harbor your enemies- let's wake up to that. Bush has wasted billions of dollars and American lives fighting his fathers war in Iraq and has yet to provide true safety and diplomacy as our president. Osama is willing to face it and take on our current administrations errors. He has my support and my vote.

    August 1, 2007 01:06 pm at 1:06 pm |
  5. Pat R., Burlington, WI

    As a die-hard Republican, I've been listening carefully to the Democrats, because Guiliani is the only Republican that peaks my interest. Finally, Mr. Obama has said something of substance, something that resembles a thought-out plan, not the usual save-the-world generalities. I agree and would support the refocus the war on terror to Pakistan and Afganistan. Nicely done, Mr. Obama !!

    August 1, 2007 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. TC, Oklahoma City

    This is one sharp, realistic, in your face with the truth individual. He reviews the facts, goes over every possible solution, and makes a decision base on not just what will help us in the short term, but what will benefit us for the long haul. And in doing so, he not only gains the respect of the people, but respect from other nations as well.

    Smart people understand that while war is an ugly thing, sometimes you have to do what you have to do in order to keep even uglier things from occurring. He gets that. People (smart) all over the world get that. That is why other nations like him so much.

    I’m a Dem, as well as a Vet, and proud that he is taking a stand on terrorism, and erasing the avoid war at all cost stigma that has been placed on Dems. Not that I am pro war, but some wars have to be fought in order to have peace. Besides, he is not saying he would just go and attack without just cause, nor is he saying he would not give our so-called alley the opportunity to do the right thing; but what he is saying, is that if they don’t do the right thing, then prepare for some red, white, and blue up the Waazoo.

    It’s a great feeling to know that he’ll be a president that will not always say or do the most popular thing or that with the least resistance; but the right thing…the things that will make us a better nation, a fairer nation, a nation that is once again viewed as the greatest in the world.

    Obama for President,

    You got my vote.

    August 1, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  7. Josh

    I like reading the comments of people who say Obama doesn't know what he is talking about and other comments that came from people who clearly haven't read or heard the speech. I'm sure he just wakes up and decides that he knows things. The fact is that ignorant people have overtaken this country and this blog and until we start to actually read and think about what is going on and stop making heated, partisan arguments based on a spun and well-manufactured CNN or FOX headline, this country is going nowhere but down.

    August 1, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  8. ME, Bloomfield, NJ

    Well said Obama! You are the first person I saw in the past few years after 09/11 that said the right thing..."getting out of Iraq and on the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan". This is what this President should have done right after 9/11 but it is not too late yet.

    I am not the citizen on the US but will get my citizenship next year and I will surely vote for you.

    August 1, 2007 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  9. Disappointed in Warmongering Dems, ATL, GA

    If you want to see how fast you can incite a global war by Muslims against the west, by all means, invade Pakistan. This is warmongering madness at its absurd height. I would have hoped for better from Obama, clearly I was mistaken.

    August 1, 2007 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  10. KD, Dallas, TX

    I have to admit, I responded without first reading the entire speech. I agree with Kevin in Houston, TX that 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 also 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.

    We are way to quick to respond. The media has been very guilty of manipulating words here to get readers. It is such a sad situation, as Obama clearly has what it takes to do what is right for our country. He cares for our country as a whole and not just for personal benefit (as Bush has done). The ignorance that lives in this country voted Bush in twice. We cannot afford for that same ignorance to hop on this bandwagon and not vote for someone who represents good and not evil. All we all want is for everyone to be more informed!!

    August 1, 2007 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  11. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Kevin ~ Houston, TX


    Uh..Kevin.. what DO you call using military force in a sovereign country that opposes your intervention??

    Talk about moronic – you REALLY think lobing a few missiles after Bin Laden (who likely is already dead) – perhaps killing a number of innocent Pakistanis will be ok with Musharraf and the Pakistani people?

    How about we send YOU as the envoy over to Pakistan after the military action and you explain how we didnt "invade" their country. Does that work for you??

    August 1, 2007 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  12. Josh

    And to those who say that Obama "is done" need to wake up and realize that this so-called "War on Terror" is not going anywhere no matter who is President. I'd like to know who those people are going to vote for and what their plan is for the terrorist threat. What we are deciding in November 2008 is who will best lead us in that "War" and who will best unite the country behind the fact that we have to fight it. Personally, I hope that Obama is that candidate, but good luck to anyone who is unlucky enough to get elected.

    August 1, 2007 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  13. Brien B., South Windsor, CT

    The fact is that Obama has a true sense of what it means to be a part of the international field. He recognizes that there are real threats out beyond our borders that can affect those of us here.

    Barack Obama is ready to be logical, decisive, and take over the situation that Bush has created in what I believe to be a very logical way. When it comes to foreign policy, Obama is not emotionally driven, which is extremely important.

    From what Barack Obama is saying, it can be expected that the only military action this country will take in the future is to deal with a credible threat to this country in a concise way.

    Barack Obama is indeed the best candidate for Presidency of this country.

    August 1, 2007 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  14. Robert, Edwards AFB, CA

    The majority of the people posting here either didn't read the article or have HORRIBLE ready comprehension.

    Shame on CNN for the sensationalist headline.

    August 1, 2007 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  15. Lorinda, Seattle, WA

    Hello- My article was posted and the last sentence has "Osama is willing to face it..." It should read "Obama". Could you PLEASE REVISE! Thank you!

    August 1, 2007 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Jon NY, NY

    Obama has no idea what he would be getting "US" into. Its ridiculous to declare a war before you have any sort of tangible strategy and worse, before you are even in a position to be doing so.
    Ideally, we would be able to go after those harbouring the real "terrorists" but we have to realize that we are already such a defecit that our great grandchildren will have to pay for the bad seeds we will have sown.
    Many have stated that it will only escalate distaste and ill-will of the radical Islamic followers. We also forget after so often being shown how much they hate us that many Americans don't realize that there are many out there who do not wish the US harm although they may ridicule us for our pompous actions. Do we really wish to wage a neverending war? We're so close to coming to a conclusion even though it is not without loose ends. We would be waging a Holy War, cleansing the world of "terrorists" just as we view them doing the same to us. Let's just bring closure to this and be done with it.

    August 1, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  17. Priscilla, San Marcos TX

    this contridicts what obama said a month ago. nothing but giberish.

    August 1, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  18. Edward Los Angeles, CA

    First, let's see if he is elected President. Second, once in the Oval Office, reality strikes and realizes it's easier said than done.

    August 1, 2007 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Claire, Chicago, IL

    This speech contained so much more than a statement about fighting terrorists in Pakistan. It was a comprehensive, well-reasoned plan for enhancing global security and American's relationship with the world. I urge all of you to read the speech in its entirety.

    Here's a particularly interesting idea from the speech that doesn't look like it made it into news articles:
    "I will also launch a program of public diplomacy that is a coordinated effort across my Administration, not a small group of political officials at the State Department explaining a misguided war. We will open "America Houses" in cities across the Islamic world, with Internet, libraries, English lessons, stories of America's Muslims and the strength they add to our country, and vocational programs. Through a new " America's Voice Corps" we will recruit, train, and send out into the field talented young Americans who can speak with - and listen to - the people who today hear about us only from our enemies."

    August 1, 2007 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  20. Larry, Chicago, IL

    Let's all move to Canada

    August 1, 2007 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  21. Nicole, Chicago, IL

    Read the full text of the speech before commenting:

    "As President, I would make the hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid to Pakistan conditional, and I would make our conditions clear: Pakistan must make substantial progress in closing down the training camps, evicting foreign fighters, and preventing the Taliban from using Pakistan as a staging area for attacks in Afghanistan.

    I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges. But let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. 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.

    And Pakistan needs more than F-16s to combat extremism. As the Pakistani government increases investment in secular education to counter radical madrasas, my Administration will increase America's commitment. We must help Pakistan invest in the provinces along the Afghan border, so that the extremists' program of hate is met with one of hope. And we must not turn a blind eye to elections that are neither free nor fair - our goal is not simply an ally in Pakistan, it is a democratic ally."

    August 1, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  22. Faraz Jafri, Richmond, VA.

    Obama how smart you can possible be? May be you need to first resolve Iraq then think about fighting other wars. Stop wasting taxpayers money as you will not get elected with these radical views. This is one things about Democrats that they never have there story straight… get the troops out of Iraq … then send the troops to Pakistan .. WTF …

    August 1, 2007 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Brandon Walker, CT

    obama is an IDIOT neoconservative.

    were not attacking Pakistan.. they have nuclear weapons. we dont attack countries with nuclear weapons.

    Obama would also 'fight terrorsim' by pre-emptively nuking Iran. this guy is no different than Bush.

    August 1, 2007 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  24. Josh

    "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."

    Name a candidate that has experience with dealing with terrorism on a presidential level. Uh.........none of them. The closest you can come is Hillary Clinton, and I doubt she was in the Situation Room while Bill was making executive decisions.

    But you know who probably was? Secretary of Defense, head of CIA, Secretary of State, and many other Cabinet leaders. Being a president isn't necessarily about being the most educated (as noted by TWO Bush victories) or the most experienced. It is about being the most capable of surrounding yourself with the most educated and most experienced people to help make informed decisions, and then being able to effectively communicate to the American people and to foreign leaders about the policy decisions. Obama has pleged to do this by saying that he will surround himself with the best and the brightest, regardless of party. That is what I want in a president.

    So, to those saying Obama has a "thin resume", I challenge you to find another candidate in the field that has ALL the components of a good president – not just "experience" dealing with terrorism.

    August 1, 2007 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  25. Erik

    Hey I just read the full speech at

    CNN and the other news outlets did not report the full message he was sending. I truly believe they want to destroy this mans campaign. He had some really good point that I fear will never make the air. The news agencies did not do a good job at reporting what he was truly saying. Seems the "SPIN" really comes from CNN, FOX, AP...need I go on? I wish there was a better way for the candidates to get their messages out with out the scary headlines and biases of the media and political parties.

    August 1, 2007 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
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