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. Vincent, Tamaqua Pa

    Obama just keeps getting worse and worse.

    August 1, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  2. Jeremy Washington,DC

    Oh yeah real smart. I wonder how Pakistan will respond when we start pouring troops over the border. Tactical nukes anyone???? He won't get my vote in 08'.

    August 1, 2007 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. Joe Detwiler Maineville, Ohio

    You can certainly see why not to vote for Obama with these kind of statements. So this is how he wants to thank one of United States best allies.

    August 1, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. JR, Lisle, Illinois

    Go Obama! I have been wondering since March 2003 why the heck we invaded Iraq and not Pakistan. Let's go into Pakistan and Afghanistan and end this war once and for all!

    August 1, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |

    Obama wants to attack Pakistan?

    No. He wants to strike at "high-value terrorist targets" within Pakistan if President Musharraf fails to act. Read for comprehension, my friend.

    "Musn’t we get approval from the U.N. and Congress first?"

    To strike "high-value terrorist targets" within Pakistan? Absolutely not.

    "Won’t that make the rest of the world hate us?"

    The rest of the world will hate us if we capture or kill Osama Bin Laden? Absolutely not. Get real, Righty.

    "Won’t that create more terrorists?"

    Striking "high-value terrorist targets" within Pakistan will create more terrorists. I doubt it. What's creating more terrorists is being hunkered down in Iraq killing innocent Iraqis over a war that was started over WMD lies. Stop comparing Apples and oranges.

    August 1, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. Vince Phoenix, AZ

    It is obvious that continued pleas to actually READ what the man said, before making an ignorant and uneducated post continue to go unheeded. SEVERAL of you have posted knee-jerk reactions to a sound-bite headline. Shame on all of you. If you are making your voting decision on this headline and NOT 'all' of what he said in his speech, then I say that your decision was made before you even saw the headline.

    August 1, 2007 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  7. Paul, Saint Louis MO.

    Does Obama not realize that Pakistan is a sovereign nation and that he can't just start fighting 'terrorists' on lands that the United States has not gained permission to do so? Part of embrassing the diplomatic process he says he supports so much is working through the proper channels to take actions like the one's he speaks of. The UN exists for this, as well as the direct dialogues we have with President Musharraf. Here's yet again another example of how little he either understands about the international process, or his willingness to say anything to make people like him.

    August 1, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  8. Antony, Dallas, TX

    I am shocked by some comments made in here. People do not actually read the entire speech before posting a comment. He clearly said" if there is actionable intelligence" he would go after Al Qaida in Pakistan "IF PRESIDENT MUSHARAFF DOES NOT ACT!!!!". Gosh some people are so shallow. Misisnformation is dragging us under. Barack is right and this should have been done 5 years ago. If you had an enemy who had attacked your family and you knew for real where he is hiding, you would not go after him simply because he is in your neighbors backyard? Foolish thinking!!! GO BARACK.

    August 1, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |


    August 1, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  10. Tehmina, NYC, NY

    I am SO GLAD AND RELIEVED that SOMEONE has finally had the courage to step up and say that PAKISTAN AND AFGHANISTAN ARE RESPONSIBLE for the state of IRAQ today. I was not very convinced by Mr. Barack Obama (incidently, his name Barack comes from the Arabic Muslim "Mubarak" or "baraka" – meaning "blessing" which makes sense considering his middle name is Hussein, so it would be "blessings on Hussein", something commonly said by Shite people) as a good candidate for president, but saying he will put troops into Paksitan to take out terrorists there, I am fully convinced is he is THE RIGHT CANDIDATE. Any future president NEEDS to absolutely think about taking out Pakistani terrorists in that country. They are running rampant there and all the training to kill people worldwide is coming from Pakistan and Afghanistan. But the bit about saying he will spend more money helping bail out Afghans, that part does not sit well with me. Haven't they been bailed out enough? If it had not been for Pakistani trained terrorists, we might not be trying to find Al Qaida in Iraq right now.

    August 1, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  11. Tim, Austin, TX

    What a cheap way to get to top of headline news by making a provocative statement against a country which has been our closest ally in war on terror!

    Obama has no idea about the terrain where he _suggests_ Osama can be hiding. Why hasn't the US military with its trillions of dollars of surveillance equipment not provided any convincing intelligence on where Osama can be? Obama appears to be as naive as Bush. The latter invaded Iraq on faulty intelligence and now Obama wants to follow his blindness in preparing this nation for another war on un-proven and incomplete intel.

    This country deserves a sensible leader and Obama is not one of them!

    August 1, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  12. james, san antonio, tx

    Very well said by Obama.

    Piss off our nuclear capabale alies (Pakistan) and make more enemies in the east.

    August 1, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  13. Nash, Chicago IL

    So u want to pull ur troops from Iraq and plug 'em into Pakistan ??? And u think this will not create any more mess than it did in Iraq?? and u actually think this will eradicate terrorism once and for all?? and u think that US troops , after all the hitting it got in Iraq and Afghanistan, will be spared by Pakistan Army ?? Were u talking about Pakistan .. ur ally on war on Terrorism?? So lets get it straight ... u want to wage war on ur ally??
    Man ... why did i ever believe u can make a better president???

    August 1, 2007 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  14. JWH

    Obama vows to hunt down terrorists... The ones that actually planned the attacks of 9/11, not the fake ones fabricated to keep us hunkered down in the slums of Iraq.

    Well done, Senator Obama!

    August 1, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  15. Chatherine James, Houston, TX

    Wage war with Pakistan. Is he crazy.
    They have nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them over large distances.

    The last thing we want is Osama pushing a button for an ICBM launch.

    August 1, 2007 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  16. Anonymous

    People can take jabs at democrats or buy into the image that Obama is naive but lets all be good Americans, put all of that aside and just think about this idea. Read what he said carefully. If your a republican and this is what Bush said we were going to do (he certainly implied it "with us or against us..") after 9/11 wouldnt this be something most of would support? Doesnt it make sense? Its disingenuous to say we're policing the world by going after the very people that attacked us and are threatening to do it again. Especially considering the convoluted reasoning we've been given to justify fighting the war on terror by attacking Iraq.
    Lets give someone else a fresh chance at this finally, lets not inhibit the possibilities because Bush screwed it up so bad.

    August 1, 2007 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  17. Erik

    I remember our president standing on the World Trade center site proclaiming he was going to hunt down the terrorist who killed thousands of Americans. Republicans and Democrats and the world were behind that!

    Now for all of the warped minds lets put the situation this way. If you mother father or spouse was killed by someone and the cops knew who did it and which house they are hiding in but decided to go after their next door neighbor instead because they just don't like them. What would you do? Furthermore to make it worse they taunt you every now and then with a video release. I don't care if you are the most candy liberal or strongest republican you would want to see justice done! If it happened to you would you say "Oh its warmongering to go after this confessed criminal who killed my spouse, mother or father? Or It's not a good political move to go after the criminal it might cause other crimainals to get mad at us. Obama is right!
    Obama 08!

    August 1, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  18. Andrew, Philadelphia PA

    No one said anything about attacking Pakistan! He said we should be willing to act and take out high level terroist targets in Pakistan if their goverment is unwilling to act. He is not proposing this is another Iraq or even another Afghanistan. He does not want to invade their cities, or overthrow their government. He just would rather put American interests over Musharraf's political concerns. That's it.

    August 1, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  19. evan, sherman oaks, CA

    Seeriously!!!! Someone show me where he said he was going to invade/pour troops into Pakistan. Churchill was correct when he said the best argument against democracy is a 5 minute conversation with the average voter.. You people are ridiculous...
    He is talking about tactical air strikes and special ops forces when, and only when, Musharraf doesnt act on his own accord. What is wrong with that?

    August 1, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  20. Zain, Iowa City, Iowa

    Unfortunately, it is this very naivety and gung ho approach that has created such a big mess to begin with – We made a mess in one country now let’s divert the attention to another country and make a bigger mess. Wars are good for the economy, right! Senator Obama, with this recent statement of yours, I must respectfully decline to vote for you.

    August 1, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  21. Andrew Broussard, Springfield PA

    There are a number of things that a lot of the "Obama is an idiot" camp seems to be missing (and yes, I'm lumping everyone who is taking aim at this latest statement into that category, as that's what it boils down to):

    a)Pakistan isn't our friend, despite any assistance they may give us from time to time. They've harbored terrorists for years and the intelligence is out there that supports the fact that al-Queda is using the nation as its current base.
    b)Why is it wrong to say one day that, as a leader, Barack would talk to leaders of these "rogue" states, and the next say that if talking doesn't work, he's not afraid to use the (still) all-powerful might of the United States military.
    c)This isn't a "get the troops out of Iraq and into Pakistan" plan. This is a contingency plan and, honestly, one that should have been brought forth years ago. IF it were to be determined that Osama bin Laden was hanging out in Pakistan and Musharraf won't give him up or help drive him out, why shouldn't the United States strike? It's not like we'd be bombing Islamabad.

    Fresh, intelligent ideas and a true devotion to seeing a change in the world... That's why Barack Obama should be the next President.

    August 1, 2007 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  22. steve

    "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.

    Posted By Mr. Coffey, Raleigh, NC : August 1, 2007 11:29 am"

    Thank God some of you like Mr. Coffey are paying attention and get it

    Unfortunately most repubs just criticize Obama without actually reading what he said

    August 1, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  23. Gene Wright Moorhead, Minnesota

    Hillary is right, Obama is naive! What does he think would happen if US troops went into Pakistan musharrah would be overthrown in days and the radicals would have Pakistan's nukes. Look out anywhere in the world where these could be launched.

    Obama must not know anything about this area of Asia and the volatility there. Where has he been during his five or so years in the Senate

    August 1, 2007 03:19 pm at 3:19 pm |
  24. stracy, Las Vegas, LA




    August 1, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  25. Josh

    "You can certainly see why not to vote for Obama with these kind of statements. So this is how he wants to thank one of United States best allies." – Posted By Joe Detwiler Maineville, Ohio

    If ignorance like Joe weren't so widespread in this country, it would be pretty #&%*@ funny. Pakistan might be one of George Bush's greatest allies. But it sure isn't America's. Since when are countries that allow terrorists to train within their borders considered our "best allies"? It sounds like Joe should be in Bush's Cabinet.

    August 1, 2007 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
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