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. Henry Ketron

    This is ridiculous posturing! Imagine just lobbing weaponry inside a sovereign nation!! This is crazier than Bush's policy of pre-emptive strike, particularly if you're only going after a rag-tag band of ragheads with only small arms thousands of miles away from the United States! By this knee jerk response to show he can be the Commander in Chief for the pollsters–he's not only making himself look even less statesman-like but a little reckless. Clearly, he isn't ready for the top job! As a conservative democrat (probably independent soon) I'm appalled.

    August 1, 2007 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  2. M, Cleveland, Ohio

    As I see it, there are two kinds of people in the US:

    1. Those who apparently can't read and, thus, base their opinions on brief news articles that spin what candidates say.

    2. Those that search the whole truth, read candidate's speeches, reflect on what was said in its entirety (keyword), do their own research, and then form their opinions.

    I'm a #2. Frankly, I'm really sick of having to deal with the presidents and laws voted for and supported by the #1s. We are outnumbered by these ignorant people.

    To the #1's: think about the last time you voted. Chances are you were part of the 80% of people that originally voted FOR the war against Iraq. Learn from your mistakes. Think about who you want to vote for, then remember how WRONG you were before, and then change your vote to a more reasonable candidate.

    To the #2's: patience, people, patience.

    August 1, 2007 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  3. Bubbaman Racine WI

    I sincerely hope Obama realizes there is a distinct difference between a full scale war -and- what is currently occuring in Iraq.

    I would like to hear him say – "when I'm president I will release the hounds of war. I will give orders to destroy anything that isn't wearing an American uniform."

    August 1, 2007 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
  4. Jordan, Seattle WA

    This thread is ridiculous for two reasons.

    On the one hand, you have a bunch of idiots reading taglines, making assumptions, and ignoring what Obama actually said. Now, I can understand people disagreeing with what he said after reading the full speech, but judging by the comments, pretty much nobody did.

    Secondly, I find it pretty funny that Obama's biggest critics in these posts are quick to point out his so-called inexperience, and so criticize all his statements in regard to foreign policy. Of course, I guess they're just that much more knowledgeable than him.

    Until Obama serves in the senate longer, he won't know what the common, poorly informed, voter already does I guess. All of you should send him foreign policy briefings, because apparently he wasn't gifted with the same common sense that you geniuses were.

    August 1, 2007 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  5. Vincent Phoenix, AZ

    30% of us are stupid! And if you posted a knee-jerk reaction to a sound-bite headline, then guess which margin you find yourself in. R.E.A.D. what the man said. You got "the stupids" posting like he's launching nuclear missiles on Jan 22nd '09. (geez, this is exactly why this once proud country is in the crapper right now!)

    August 1, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  6. Dan, TX

    If you haven't read the speech, please do not post a comment. It is very clear which posts are from people who care enough about this to have read the speech and which are from people who prefer ignorance to thoughtful politics. Please state "I have read the speech and here are my comments" so that I can skip the comments from those who have not read it.

    August 1, 2007 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  7. Austin, Boulder CO

    Too many assumptions are being made about the tactics Obama wants to use in the region. He is just stating that the the people who hold the greatest threat to the US are in Afghanistan and Northwestern Pakistan. Here is expanded explination from the same speech.

    "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 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  8. JOHN



    August 1, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  9. Kim Midland MI

    FINALLY – Someone is talking about Pakistan, which is clearly the biggest threat, by far, than Iran, Iraq or Afganistan.

    Which country already has nukes?
    Which country is headed by a rather unpopular man who was swept in to power by a coup>
    Which country has a vast "no man's land" of territory that even their own government is afraid to police?

    It seems like we are just one coup away from launch in Pakistan. About time this gets the exposure it needs.

    August 1, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  10. Vincent Phoenix, AZ

    Well said, Jordan of Seattle!!!! WELL SAID!

    August 1, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    Cnn could ya'll stop misleading the public with your bogus headlines especially the headline in which you accused Barrack Obama of wanting to start a War in Pakistan... If your going to report please report the whole story and stop taking snippets from his speeches and forming your own biased agendas.


    August 1, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  12. evan, sherman oaks, CA

    Gene- learn something about the region first please. Musharaf is a radical– just bc he doesnt want to have islamic law as the basis of the country does not make a non-radical. He tried to exile the Highest judge in the land bc the judge didnt think he should have control over the gov. and the army at once. HE TRIED TO EXILE THE CHIEF JUSTICE BC HE DIDNT AGREE WITH HIM– DOES IT GET ANY MORE RADICAL THAN THAT??? Also, this a man who won power by military coup and was supposed to give up control of the army a long time ago, bc that is what the people of pakistan want, but he refused after publicly saying he would. This is a leader who the entire middle class of Pakistan is railing against, and you are worried about "the radicals" that would overthrow pakistan, please. Give the people a little more credit, and try not being ignorant for a change... That goes for everyone posting here today and ESPECIALLY FOR EVERYONE MAKING COMMENTS BASED ON A HEADLINE!!!!! READ THE SPEECH< GET BACK TO US.

    August 1, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  13. Justin

    Cnn could ya'll stop misleading the public with your bogus headlines especially the headline in which you accused Barrack Obama of wanting to start a War in Pakistan... If your going to report please report the whole story and stop taking snippets from his speeches and forming your own biased agendas.


    August 1, 2007 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  14. jose

    CNN continues to fudge the facts....bravo.

    August 1, 2007 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  15. Aaron, Montreal, QC

    For all of you idiots that think you can invade a nation like pakistan or iran....when was the last time you guys fought a war against a nation that actually had an army. American can't beat Iraq....Iraq, a country that you guys beat and bruise with economic sanctions and you think you can attack Pakistan. I think all of you forget they have the bomb and rest assure...they are not afraid to use it.
    So far you have been lucky that they have been on your side in the "War on Terrorism" but basically America is just acting like a bully.
    Everyone knows to beat the bully you just need to give him a bloody nose and he'll go running to his mom.
    Good luck. Any invasion of Pakistan will result in a full all out war that will plunge the rest of the world into it and I'm sorry to tell you...America is -A- not the nice guys and -B- not going to win it.

    August 1, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  16. Don R, San Antonio, TX

    Based on the wild and wide range of opinions, there is a general lack of historical and cultural understanding of the region of Pakistan under discussion. President Musharif struck a deal with the tribal leaders of the nortwestern tribal areas that he would not try to exercise control (where he had no control anyway) as long as they promised to police themselves and not support terrorism. This accord served the purpose of delaying the decay in support Musharif was/is experiencing for his administration by religious conservatives in his country, many of whom are high-level operatives in his own security apparatus, without whose support Musharif is greatly weakened, even though he still enjoys the firm support of the military who brought him to power. A triggering event in this sequence was the Red Mosque incident where over 100 extremeists were killed in Islamabad. Now, the tribal elders, who had never kept up their end of the bargain anyway, have announced that the "truce" is over. This may well give Musharif the political cover he needs to allow US intervention in the area, over the objections of his security apparatus and military, or at least the kick in the pants to take control of areas over which the central government has never had control before.
    How does any of this reflect on Senator Obama's statement? At least the Senator recognizes the fact that we did not need to go to Iraq in the first place, and that we did not and have not finished the job in Afghanistan. Tribal entities do not recognize international borders unless it suits their purpose to hide. Sooner or later, the tribal areas of Pakistan will need to be cleaned out. Musharif is our best bet for cooperation in this effort.

    I still do not think the Senator is our best choice for commander in chief.

    August 1, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Jon, Sacramento ~ Ca

    Nogibbons – blogspot writes,

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

    For all you critics fuming because you think Obama's words are being taken out of context – HERE is what he said, "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets, and President Musharraf won’t act, we will"

    How many of you brain-surgeons defending this statement REALLY think Musharraf, the Pakistani people, and the Muslim world is going to sit back and allow President Obama to order missiles strikes in Pakistan?

    YOU have got to be kidding!

    The reaction would be swift and severe. The calls for retaliation would swell causing a greater concern because of Pakistan's possession of tactical nuclear weapons. IF you think this is hogwash... how happy would YOU be if Pakistan lobbed a few missiles into New York City attempted to kill an anti-pakistani militant?

    You'd be ok with that, eh?

    August 1, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. Anonymous

    when United States attacked iraq it was tottaly differnt military if u attack Pakistan and its 1 million strong army and not including all the out side force from all the muslim world who will join in the fight against U.S. there will be anew world war in hand

    August 1, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Hey it's BLACK BUSH!

    August 1, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  20. Kyle, Champaign, IL

    I love how everyone who commenst on here is a forgein policy expert. LEAVE IT TO THE PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY RESEARCH IT! Us stupid Americans have this misconception that we know whats right in terms of what's going on over there, when in reality, most of us have never set foot outside of this country. And if we have it hasn't been to some place like Iraq. I feel that they only people that should have jurisdiction here are the soldiers who are fighting the war and the people who have the ability to affect their course of action. I.E. the current administration (which is unlikely to happen) or the new democratic one (hopefully).

    Obama '08

    August 1, 2007 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  21. Andy D. full transcript of the speech

    August 1, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  22. Erik

    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.

    Respose: I am I going crazy or did we not attack a country who was deemed to have weapons of mass destrcution! Isn't this what we were told? So its okay to attack a country that did not do anything to us but we can't take action against the people who attacked us. People who don't reconize the Pakastani government anyway. Obama did not say attack the country of Pakastan just use diplomatic and millitary efforts to go after those who attacked us on SEPT. 11th! All of this is stupid! Learn to face the truth instead of lies and spin America. If a republican or Clinton gave Obama's speach a parade would break out in every town. Obama is right!

    August 1, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. Kay, Las Vegas

    Let me start by saying I would love to see a president of COLOR in office but the unfortunate part is that with all the remarks and slander, and he is not even in office, I don't think it's going to happen. I also want to say that the government is so messed up that it doesn't matter WHO is in office things are not going to get better and people are so quick to say he is this and that but no body is perfect and I'm sure if any one of these people who are posting negativity they would be WORST off than Obama in this situation. My words to Obama would be keep fighting and if you don't win it wasn't meant to be because someone might try and do something stupid. (wink,wink)

    August 1, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  24. Mike, NY, New York

    I support Obama, but you can't fault him for his words. President Bush has left him, or any other candidate with no other choice than to continue the war on terror.

    He will leave Iraq which is great and use strong intelligence to make an educated and calculated move into Pakistan (if necessary). I'm sure he will work with the Pakistani government to get things done. It is the American people who are naive thinking that he would be quick to judgment and cause us future instability. You have to learn to see through rhetoric.

    And anyone who makes up their mind, Republican or Democrat, before learning all of the facts - is a fool. There are things I agree with Republicans on and things I agree with Democrats on, but I will ultimately vote for whom I feel will bridge that gap and make policies to that effect.

    To me Obama seems to be that person, however I was rather impressed with Chris Dodd and John Edwards as well.

    August 1, 2007 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. Jane Parkar, SFO

    I just wana say one small thing to you guys Pakistan consists of 90 % moderate muslims who dont even give a damn about the extremists but when you would attack Pakistan our country would face 100 % exterimist to defend Pakistan which is not an ordinarry county it has a 200 million population 4 biggest army in the whole work, airforce, navy, nuclear capabilites intercontinenatal nuclear capiable missles they would bring the war to the US and would slaught every soldier we would put on Pakistan ground as this country would be the biggest country which the US face after Germany in the world wars with so much stregth so 10 % extermist would then be represented by the whole population of the country and pluss Pakistan back is covered by China who would never let US attach Pakistan.

    August 1, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
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