Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Obama Proposes Attacking Pakistan

ABC is reporting that Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama is set to make a speech, which is clearly designed to show how tough he'd be on fighting terrorism.

From the ABC article:

In a strikingly bold speech about terrorism scheduled for this morning, Democratic presidential candidate Illinois Sen. Barack Obama will call not only for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, but a redeployment of troops into Afghanistan and even Pakistan — with or without the permission of Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

"I understand that President Musharraf has his own challenges," Obama will say, according to speech excerpts provided to ABC News by his campaign, "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."

Sounds good, but let's look at this from a realistic perspective for a moment.

Just a week ago, it was Obama that made some reckless comment about initiating a dialogue with nations like Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela, setting off a huge firestorm. And now we hear how the Illinois senator wants to get tough on those holed up in the northern region of Pakistan. My, how we travel.

Hillary responded by called the statement naive. And for a brief moment, I think she's right on something. He is naive, not only for his commets last week, but for thinking something like this would work.

Obama must not think that this has already been thought of, at some point along the way. It has, and it has been nixed for some very good reasons. Anyone that knows anything at all about military tactical operations can clearly understand how difficult this would be. Obama needs to ask himself one pointed question, from a tactical standpoint. If success has eluded us in the desert where there are many that support our efforts, how much easier does he think this would be in mountainous regions, where there is almost no support for this kind of action at all? Trying to send in armor and troops to such an unforgiving terrain would be one of the most difficult tasks, ever asked of our military.

But if that's not enough to convince you, let's take a couple of the anti-war crowd's current arguments and apply them to this.

1. Pakistan never attacked us - In fact, they have been working with us, as much as we can realistically expect, given the political climate that currently exists in that country. Furthermore, it's one thing to alienate a dictator that openly stands against the U.S. and its interests, but it's quite another to slap one in the face that isn't. Doing this would create a huge international political crisis.

2. An attack on the northern regions of Pakistan, would result in an enormous amount of civilian casualties - That's a good one, because this is one we have heard ad nauseum, for the entire duration of the Iraq war. The people we would be targeting would simply hide in the caves, during air strikes. The people left in the open, would be the ones getting hit. Doing this would create a huge humanitarian crisis.

Look, Musharraf couldn't root out these people, it's a safe bet we would not succeed either. The only way we could do it would be to annihilate the region (which we could do). But, to do this, we would further alienate ourselves from the rest of the world, by becoming a target of condemnation from those that are already condemning us for trying to tip-toe our way through Iraq. Furthermore, by just suggesting this as a proposed strategy, Obama risks losing support from his base, which is made up of a significant amount of anti-war supporters.

No folks, this sounds good on the campaign trail. But it has little merit in the real world, unless we really want to become the pariah in the eyes of the rest of the world. So, forgive me if I just write this off as one of those "say anything to get elected" moments.


To those that think Obama really believes in what he is proposing here, take a look at this new poll.

Then ask yourself if this isn't a response to that poll. His numbers dropped significantly in one week, after his reckless comment on meeting with leaders of rogue nations. Am I supposed to believe that this was something that has been cooking for awhile in the boardroom at Obama HQ?


Greg said...

I have problems with Obama's comment, but not the same as your's, LAS.

First problem: he doesn't mean it. Like you suggest, he's simply trying to repair the damage done by his comments in the youtube debate. He trying to look tough on terrorism, but he doesn't really mean he'd be dropping daisy cutters on Waziristan.

Second problem: we're already in Pakistan. We have special forces there and we are flying drones armed with Hellfire missiles there. And we've used them.

I'm glad he's at least thinking about the problem of Pakistan.

LASunsett said...


You say:

//he doesn't mean it.//


//I'm glad he's at least thinking about the problem of Pakistan.//

What good does it do to think about a problem, when you have no intention of doing anything about it?

mdub said...

lets face it, Musharaff was put in place by the Bush Adminstration, and yet he is not delivering OBL (not to mention A Q Khan). It should be the standard, not the exception that a US president should be committed to getting OBL, with or without Pakistan.

Regarding the level of difficulty, yes, it's true...we know Afghanistan and Pakistan are tough terrain, but I wouldn't dishonor our troops by suggesting that they couldn't do it. The fact is that they simply have not gotten the opportunity.

Obama's leading the way on this and putting down a standard that frankly any Dem candidate should be committed to achieving. It's a comprehensive plan..not political grandstanding. We need more of that.

Greg said...

What good does it do to think about a problem, when you have no intention of doing anything about it?

I should have said "talking." By talking about it, others might start to think about a problem that is probably not most folks' radar screen. Especially coming from the mouth of Mr. Obama.

And, hey, best case scenario, as mdub says, he really does mean it. Maybe he really does get that we have to chase al Qaeda's leadership and destroy it wherever it may be.

LASunsett said...

Hi mdub,

Welcome to PYY.

//lets face it, Musharaff was put in place by the Bush Adminstration,//

Musharraf came to power in Oct. 1999. Bush was elected in Nov. 2000 and was sworn in in Jan 2001. You cannot blame this one on Bush.

//but I wouldn't dishonor our troops by suggesting that they couldn't do it.//

Where did I say they couldn't do it?

I said it would be extremely difficult and would need to include a level of ruthlessness in pounding the hell out of the region with ordinance, which would certainly kill many, many civilians. In addition, I pointed out that the AQ leadership would likely survive air strikes, by hiding out in caves. Once this was completed and the countless innocents were killed, the armor would have to go in and mop up. Have you ever been in a tank? They don't fair so well in the kind of terrain that they would have to engage.

This is not meant to disrespect the men and women of the armed forces and question their ability, not in the least. It is not meant to question their will. But before you go gung ho for something that would be a monumental task to achieve, you must put some critical thought into it.

Like I said in the essay, it's already been thought of and has been shelved, for good reasons.

As far as Obama leading the way, I disagree with your assessment. I think he's losing ground to Hillary after his wayward comment last week and the polls are showing it. And, I have to ask you this: Would you have supported this mission had the Bush administration took these measures?

LASunsett said...

//And, hey, best case scenario, as mdub says, he really does mean it. Maybe he really does get that we have to chase al Qaeda's leadership and destroy it wherever it may be.//


You know that 95% of the time I agree with the majority of your assessments. This one falls in the 5% that I do not.

Yes, I would love nothing more than to kill of every last bastard that had anything to do with 9/11, wherever they may be.

But does Obama get it? Hell no. As I told mdub, he is fastly falling behind Hillary in the polls and needs a boost. That's all I can see from my vantage point.

A.C. McCloud said...

Actually the Bush spokespeople just recently hinted that they are not averse to violating Pakistani sovereignty in the future should the need arise. They didn't say a full-scale invasion but ruled nothing out.

The difference being that the Bush admin makes such statements to provoke action from Musharraf (who denied he would give permission) while Obama does so to woo moderates and placate the liberals who believe Bush has completely ignored AQ.

Greg said...

Re what AC just said, here's an article.

LASunsett said...

Greg and AC,

I have little doubt that if they had irrefutable evidence on the exact whereabouts of a high value target, they would definitely try to hit it.